The Cult of Comparison in the West


People in the West often cry and whine about some perceived privilege others have. But not in India and many countries throughout Asia. This cult of comparison has infected the hearts of many in the West, which is a special type of sickness stemming from a trained tendency towards competition and comparison. What an immature society and culture we have created in the West, so sick with jealousy and envy. But, astonishingly, there is always an insane justification for such a mental illness for those infected by this disease. Luckily, as I said, places such as India generally are not victims of such immaturity. In contemplating this cult of comparison, I think about my restaurant waiter friend in Pushkar. He is quite the character. Every day when I would see him, I would ask how he was doing. He would always reply, “This is a perfect life.” Some may say, How can he be so content “just” being a restaurant waiter? Well, he wasn’t sold on the illusion of the American dream, where one must be “special” in order to be validated by others and society at large. Isn’t it silly that we feel we need to be validated by the world instead of being content with who we are naturally?


Often, those who work their whole lives to gain that validation realize that it is not an American dream but rather a nightmare, and the torture on their souls in chasing this illusion leaves scars on their hearts that, in most cases, are irreversible. My friend, on the other hand, doesn’t even know what the American dream is and has no idea that people outside of India try so hard to be noticed and validated. He can’t grasp the concern about trying to be special. His contentment arises from not having such illusions drilled into him daily by a society and culture that does not care for you. He is not “just” a restaurant waiter but rather a brilliant restaurant waiter. He doesn’t need millions of dollars, loads of unnecessary material possessions, or validation from others. Why? Because he is content with his plight in life, and nothing is more fulfilling than being content with where you are in life. He has no idea of specialness, so, as a result, he has no desire to be somebody special. He is not looking over the fence or scouring the social media feeds for what others have and what he apparently lacks because he has no desire to measure his life against others.


His liberated content state of mind we can all have if we accept where we are in life, and if that needs to change, then do something about it rather than measure your life against others. Take ownership of your life and realize that in most cases, a lotus flower indeed grows out of the mud, but that doesn’t make that lotus flower special; rather, it has its own unique path in life if you allow your life to grow as it intended without comparing your path to others. These are the lessons one can learn from being away from cultures that continually promote lack due to the preposterous idea that you are not good enough. But when you realize you aren’t more special than anyone else, you realize you are good enough as you are and that this is truly a perfect life when you stop complaining about privilege and comparing your life to others. When you stop complaining or see no need to complain like my friend, then you come to the realization that the real privilege is to be alive and breathing in this moment together. What a blessing we all have to be graced with the amazing lives we share together, exactly in our right place, as naturally ordained by the Ultimate.


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