The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner (Q): As a researcher in public policy, I spend a lot of my time trying to understand the marginalized sections of the society. By marginalized, I mean slum dwellers, tribal populations, and the rural sectors in India. They are marginalized in many ways, because although our government’s policies have been trying to look at their welfare, they have not yet been able to implement its goals. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that these people are almost voiceless, and their needs and problems are not heard. What I am keen to understand is, do you think an understanding of spirituality could help to alleviate these gaps and help in implementing these policy processes better?
Acharya Prashant (AP): See, where do these inequities, dissimilarities and exploitations come from? They are not mandated by the heavens. And there have always been inequities, and man has always been exploitative. The reason lies in our fundamental biological constitution.
When you go to the jungle, how much compassion do you see? You do see some kind of cooperation there, right? And that too is for the sake of survival, food, and sex. Compassion is very hard to find in nature. Exploitation you can find very easily; opportunism you will find at every step. Every organism is caring just for itself. It’s just that in the jungle, the animals do not have sharp intellects, so they cannot carry on with their exploitativeness and opportunism for too long.
Man is an animal at his core, but a very gifted animal — gifted with intellect. The result is that mankind suffers from problems that no other species does. We not only exploit other species, we exploit members of our own as well, and we do that at every pretext possible. In the last four decades, we have lost more than sixty percent of our wildlife. Now, just let that sink in — four decades and sixty percent of wildlife is gone. Some of the most abundant animals on this planet are just the ones that we slaughter for meat; only they have been allowed to proliferate. And they are not being allowed to proliferate, they are forcibly bred and cultivated. All others have been wiped out.
Now, that exploitative tendency we take to our own brothers and sisters as well. So…