THE BLOG
09/16/2014 12:57 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2014

A Spiritual Solution to Religious and Racial Violence

In theory, the solution to the violence is very easy. However, the application is very difficult because it deals with shifting one's consciousness and learning to see beyond all the external designations of an individual - race and religion. This shift in consciousness is proposed in the fifth, sixth, and twelfth chapters of the Bhagavad Gita. The following passages are spoken by God, Krishna, and suggest the frame of mind that endears one to Him.

"A humble person sees with equal vision, an educated person, an animal, or an uneducated person." - Chapter Five

"An advanced spiritualist sees well-wishers, envious, friends and enemies with an equal mind."
- Chapter Six

"One who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, fame and infamy, and happiness and distress - such a person is very dear to Me (God)." - Chapter 12

The Gita implores us to look deeper at the individual and look beyond the body. It says to start by recognizing each other as eternal spiritual beings living within the material body. As long as we only see each other based on external bodily designations, we will constantly create distinctions in which we will feel a need to distinguish ourselves in a superior manner to others. The moment our ego makes us feel better than others, others will naturally want to demonstrate their superiority over us. This will only lead to quarrel and disharmony.

These verses and many others give us the simple yet difficult formula for putting an end to much of the violence in the world. This all sounds beautiful, but when we are insulted, we get upset, and all of the wonderful philosophy goes out the window.

I was born clothed in a brown body and always had friends from all different backgrounds. So, I never had a problem accepting people of other racial backgrounds. However, when I first became an active practitioner of my faith tradition, I started comparing my beliefs and practices to those of others. In my immature state, I had felt that my faith was superior to others. However, over the last decade, being involved in numerous interfaith dialogues and witnessing the devotion people of different faiths express to God when they pray and serve has opened my eyes to a new and broader truth, that we are all children of the same God and that the only way to please that Divine being is to cooperate and serve one another.

We have to stop walking around thinking we've got the right path and everyone else is wrong. We need to come to grips with the fact that God gave different people of the world different ways in which they could love and worship him. It's small-minded to think that God selected one group of people to bring back to heaven while leaving everyone else to rot in hell. This does nothing but stroke the ego and makes us intolerant of others; the only thing this mentality has done is kept everyone divided. Instead, it would serve us better to spend more time trying to understand our neighbor's faith.

It's like children fighting over who the parents love more. Parents aren't happy to see their children not getting along, so how can anyone please God by offending his children who choose to worship him in a slightly different way? It just doesn't make any sense.

If religious people can imbibe the universal "equal vision" paradigm, we can only imagine the shift in consciousness that could take place on our planet. The change would not only bring about a more peaceful co-existence among people of the world, but also please God. Everyone needs to participate in this shift, especially the religious leaders.

On a deep and genuine level, people of the various faiths have to accept that God has given multiple ways in which people can serve, worship, and reunite with him. We have to start to honestly feel this way and not just recite it because it's the politically correct thing to say. In order to not be fake about it, we have to seriously endeavor to start seeing everyone as a child of God and that all children are as dear to God as all others. I think God's biggest test for all of us is to see how much we can respect our neighbors' and get along.

Equally ludicrous is the idea of people hating and killing each other because of race or ethnicity. The only thing we gain from this kind of violence is more anger, pain, and suffering. Nobody wins and it's nothing more than a battle of egos where one group needs to feel better than the other.

The Bhagavad Gita suggests that we look at each other's bodies as the clothing that covers the soul. Souls in this world are clothed in a variety of colors - black, brown, white, and yellow. Would a sensible person hate another person's clothing and harm that individual simply because of the clothing he or she was wearing? This is essentially what we are doing when we bring harm to another simply because of their skin color, place of birth, or the religion they practice.