18.54: Comparison: The futile pastime of the mind
Comparing ourselves with others is a favorite pastime of the mind. As soon as people enter its familiarity perimeter, the mind starts comparing us with them.
However, unlike Krishna’s pastimes that lead to purification, illumination and inspiration, the comparison pastime leads only to contamination, obscuration and depression. Let’s see how:
- Contamination: If comparison makes us feel inferior to others, then we get victimized by an inferiority complex. If comparison makes us feel superior to others, then we get seduced by a superiority complex. Both these complexes contaminate our heart with self-centeredness and selfishness.
- Detention: Comparison may sometimes goad us to perform better, but that goading detains us at best in insecurity and at worst in futility. Even if we succeed in out-performing others, we remain insecure that someone may at any time out-perform us. If we fail to out-perform others, then we feel that all our efforts have been futile.
- Depression: The media exploits our mind’s addiction to comparison by holding aloft the best specimens within any comparison category: individuals with the best bodily contours, the best IQ scores, the best comfort levels and the best life-partners. Regular comparison with such ideal or idealized specimens makes us depressed, no matter how little or how much we have.
The Bhagavad-gita (18.54) indicates that when we focus on our spiritual identity: I am a soul whose happiness lies in loving and serving Krishna, then we realize that nothing material matters for our ultimate destiny. That realization enables us to see the futility of comparison, and empowers us to see all living beings equally, as parts of Krishna. This equal vision frees us to absorb single-mindedly and relish wholeheartedly the supreme joy of remembrance of Krishna and his pastimes.