Spiritual Equality

Equality is not only a sign of the divine worker, but also represents, as Sri Aurobindo points out, a “test” for the spiritual seeker to be able to recognise the extent of work that still needs to be done. Spiritual aspirants throughout the world have used equality in one form or another as one of the key practices of their progress. Different forms of equality are based, as everything else in the manifested world, on the interplay of the Gunas of Nature. There can be an equality of resignation, through devotion or despair, founded in the principle of Tamas; there can be an equality of striving to control the response, a form of stoicism, founded in Rajas; and there can be an equality based on a philosophical acceptance or cultivated indifference, with its basis in Sattwa.

Equality is important because its absence indicates the action of desire and personal attachment. “By his equality the Karmayogin knows in the midst of his action that he is free.”

Each of these forms takes precedence at certain stages of the seeker’s development, but none of them represents the actual status of spiritual equality enjoined by the Gita. “The Gita takes them all in its large synthetic manner and weaves them into its upward soul-movement, but it gives to each a profounder root, a larger outlook, a more universal and transcendent significance. For to each it ives the values of the spirit, its power of spiritual being beyond the strain of character, beyond the difficult poise of the understanding, beyond the stress of the emotions.”

A spiritual equality goes beyond the limits of stoicism, resignation or indifference into a calm, clear, tranquil and positive acceptance and welcoming of the movements of Spirit in life, in all its forms, with a clear sense of the higher purpose and development, or at least a calm and joyful adherence to that purpose in principle.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 19, Equality, pp. 180-181