When Bhagavat dwelt at Savatthi in the Jetavana, he went out with his alms-bowl to beg for food and approached the house of a Brahman priest while the fire of an offering was blazing on the altar. And the priest said: "Stay there, shaveling; stay there, wretched samana; you are an outcast."
The Blessed One replied: "Who is an outcast? An outcast is the man who is angry and bears hatred; the man who is wicked and hypocritical, he who embraces error and is full of deceit. Whosoever is a provoker and is avaricious, has evil desires, is envious, wicked, shameless, and without fear to commit wrong, let him be known as an outcast. Not by birth does one become an outcast, not by birth does one become a Brahman; by deeds one becomes an outcast, by deeds one becomes a Brahman."
The Outcast parable teaches us many things. Notably, it teaches us that when we treat victims of hardship as outcasts, we are ignoring the root cause of how that person came to be where they are. For ages we have seen people prosper while also having no moral compass.
In many ways, the game has been rigged by the wretched on so many levels that it is hard to find the root cause of many of life’s hardships. Who’s fault is homelessness, who is to blame for illiteracy or poverty? We see the effects, but we don’t recognize the root cause. This can lead to placing the blame on the shoulders of the victims.
The Outcast Parable reminds us to look past the circumstances in which you find a person, find their humanity, see that they are a walking, living breathing story just like you are. Then act upon that connection in a way that humanizes and lifts others up.
There’s enough going on the world today that is stripping us of our identities and dehumanizing us. Don’t be part of the victim-blaming system that takes away people’s dignity.