By Daaji Kamlesh D Patel
When the mind is fogged with prejudice, universal acceptance remains elusive. Prejudice conveys the idea of preconceptions which remain blind to reality, truth, facts and figures. It abandons regard to proven or observed facts in service of one’s honour or self-importance. It feeds the ego. In service of the ego, it creates a sense of superiority which divides the ‘superior’ self from the ‘inferior’ others.
Prejudice can be positive or negative. When a person is ennobled without a reason, it is a form of positive prejudice. Similarly, a negative form of prejudice manifests when a person is denigrated without an objective basis.
The opposite of prejudice is being able to judge without self-serving biases or preconceptions, to consider all the facts and figures holistically and realise the value of another. This faculty of discrimination is referred to as ‘Viveka’, the ability to discriminate right from wrong.
Unfulfilled desires or whims can cause inner restlessness which provoke anger. This anger seeks out another to blame, compromises our faculty to discriminate, allows prejudice to take hold and ultimately, loosens our self-control to prove who is right or ‘superior’.
Fear too is a potent catalyst for prejudice. In a state of fear, it is difficult to see right from wrong. Racial prejudice and injustices often arise and proliferate through the fear and hatred of the ‘other’. Where the notion of the ‘other’ remains, there is non-acceptance of humanity as one.
Rooted in prejudice is the conscious choice to desert reason, wisdom and the calling of the heart, which always whispers against our prejudices. To suppress this voice of the heart repeatedly is unnatural and creates an inner heaviness. Overtime, we can lose our connection with our heart, which can make us self-centred. This can compromise our ability to learn from others, treat others with kindness and can also distance us from those we care about. Prejudice can also make us shirk our responsibility towards others.
In spirituality, we move away from our ego to realise our collective humanity. The humble recipient has more to learn and seeks to learn from others.
Openness in character results from our conviction in knowing right from wrong. This conviction originates from purity of the heart when the self-serving ego is subdued. It allows us to build the courage needed to not let fear sway the mind to prejudice or anger cloud the discriminatory faculty of the mind. Conviction and courage allow us to keep prejudice at bay and to not cave in when met with real-life situations which test our character.
Meditation offers a path to realise and expand the purity of our heart. Without purity there is no unity, and without unity there will always be prejudice. Further, meditation on the heart helps inculcate love and acceptance which are crucial to casting away any prejudices.
Some ways to clear the fog of prejudice are: Cultivate love and prayer in the heart; imagine peace pervading everywhere; be open, receptive and determined; think others to be greater; resist the impulses of a critical mind; work on yourself all the time for more and more refinement; and develop a universal vision.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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