How to be moral without becoming judgmental
Morality essentially centers on discerning which activities are acceptable and which aren’t. If we can’t or don’t make moral evaluations, we may become worse than animals — we may use our advanced human intelligence to pursue our animalistic desires.
Simultaneously, while making moral distinctions, we need to avoid becoming judgmental, lest we alienate people. We become judgmental when we label people based on the morality or immorality of their activities, wherein we reduce their identity to their activity. Thus, for example, we may pejoratively condemn some people for being meat-eaters even if they have several other virtues.
The Bhagavad-gita explains that we all are spiritual beings and are parts of God; there is inherent sanctity and even divinity to every living being. When we reduce people’s identity to their activity, then we are exhibiting perception in the mode of ignorance wherein we equate one small part of reality with the totality of reality (18.22). When we see the spiritual essence in everyone, our perception becomes more enlightened; it reflects the illuminating mode of goodness (18.20).
Why aren’t people’s identity and activity to be equated? Because their activity is temporary, whereas their identity is eternal. Even if they have been meat eaters lifelong. their identity extends beyond this life. By focusing on their eternal identity, which is far bigger than their present activity, we can avoid falling into the trap of judgmentality. Not only that, we can become more open-minded and resourceful enough to find out how we can help them access and activate their spirituality. And as they start appreciating and relishing non-material fulfillment, they may on their own give up the activities with which we might have otherwise equated them.
Learning to evaluate activity is essential to morality, learning to not equate activity with identity is essential to spirituality.
Think it over:
- Why do we need to make moral distinctions?
- Why is it wrong to equate people with their activity?
- Do you label anyone based on their activity? How can you avoid such labeling?
18.20: That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all living entities, though they are divided into innumerable forms, you should understand to be in the mode of goodness.
To know more about this verse, please click on the image
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