The Same and not the Same

By reading many books and developing an argumentative tendency, it is quite common today that young people get into arguments with others. Once a young man aged 22 years went to Sankara. When Sankara was giving spiritual lessons to his disciples he interrupted and asked Sankara if all human beings in this wide world should not be regarded as equal since the same kind of blood flows in all of them. Sankara smiled at this young man and said that the blood flowing in that youngster is hot and fast and so he was trying to push things too far. It is not possible for man to distinguish between permanent and impermanent things. One can adopt the notion of non-duality or advaita in one's own thoughts and attitudes but it is not possible to equate everything in the world in practice. The young man insisted that this does not seem right. He stated that to him, the proper thing appeared to be to treat all living being in the same manner.

Sankara recognised that if this young man was allowed to go on in this strain, he was likely to reach some absurd conclusions. Sankara decided at once to teach him a lesson and immediately asked whether he had a mother. The young man replied that he had a mother who was alive and that he respected her very much. He again asked if the young man was married. The young man replied that he was married and that his wife also had come with him to the ashram. Sankara then asked him if he had a mother-in-law. The young man replied that the mother-in-law was quite hale and healthy. Sankara again asked if he had any sisters and the young man replied in the affirmative and said he had two sisters. Sankara asked if all these people were women. The young man asked how it should be otherwise. Sankara asked if he regarded all of them as equal and was treating all these people in the same manner and if in particular, he was treating his wife as mother and his sister as his mother.

In this world of multiplicity one has to recognize qualitative and quantitative differences. Each electric bulb is varying in power and wattage. Therefore the light radiating from the bulb is not due to electric current. The current is the same everywhere but the difference arises from the bulbs with different intensities. God's power is like electric power and our bodies are the bulbs.

 

Source: Chinna Katha I, 69