In a country which thinks itself to be the greatest champion of democracy, and quite often pontificates on democracy from a pedestal of superiority to other nations, white police officers are killing innocent black people in cold blood. Similarly, in the same country, when a film maker made a feminine version of the all male movie “Ghostbusters”, it received a large number of virulent criticism from the boy’s club in Hollywood, to such an extent that some commentators wondered how can such a violent prejudice still exist in the 21st century.
These two examples show that how much deep rooted such things are in our human psyche. The Indian concept of samskaras can throw some light in understanding the roots of these human maladies.
Whatever we have thought, felt, done or experienced in our past history – individual, collective or racial – leaves a deep sunconscious impression in our psyche, which are called samskaras in Indian psychology. This includes whatever the white-skinned people or the male psyche has thought or felt about or has done to the black-skinned or to women, for example the sense of superiority, slavery, oppression, domination, abuse, violence. All the external “reformations” or “enlightenments” – social, political, cultural or eductaional – brings a certain amount of refinement to our surface conscious being but they don’t have much impact on these subconscious impressions. For example, every male, however broad-minded, enlightened, progressive, feminist on his surface mind, may have some residue of a raw, untouched chauvinism in his subconscious depths.
These hidden subterranean prejudices can creep into our conscious mind or secretly influence our thoughts, feelings, behaviour and actions. The few white police officers who killed black people or those who physically abuse women are only expressing in their actions what a large number of people think or feel or want to do in their mind but suppress in their action or behaviour.
On the rise of Donald Trump in the US electoral scene, Emily Thouson, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston College, Massechuessets writes “Mr. Trump is channelling a deep racial resentment that has existed in this country since its founding”
What is the remedy? As I have indicated earlier, external reformations are not enough but they are also needed because they create the mentality and an outer environment favourable to the higher values of freedom and equality. But a lasting solution to the problem lies in an inner freedom which can come through the elimination of the roots of these prejudices from its subconscious soil. This can be achieved only through an inner discipline of consciousness, by entering into our subconscious with a higher-than-mental intuitive light and vision, which may be difficult even for a seeker walking consciously on the inner path. But we have to begin somewhere and slowly build a system of education and culture of inner awareness and deep thinking.