Srila Prabhupada in his books often writes about the “ism” mentality- patriotism, hinduism etc- the false identity of belonging to a group, even a religion. His solution was one flag under God, the knowledge that all souls are eternal fragments of God, including animals and plants, what to speak of members of different nations and religions. Knowing this, unites us with all life. Knowing this, we are automatically non-violent and caring of animals, plants etc and each other. Knowing this, we see no difference between dog, cow, human being, muslim, hindu, christian. As long as we are bereft of such vision, however, we see ourselves as part of a group- straight or gay, male or female, ISKCON or Gaudiya Math or ritvik etc. Then that identity with the group we belong to takes over- it becomes our extended false ego. Everything connected with the false ego- the need to defend (ISKCON when its right its right, and when its wrong it’s also right, the problem is your fault-finding mentality prabhu), the possessiveness (only Prabhupada’s books, only ISKCON gurus), the exclusiveness (what is me and what is not me) etc becomes applied to this group mentality. In such a mindset, loyalty is everything, as it the very definition of what I am and what I am not. It is terrifying to let go of this loyalty and realize that Krsna will protect me- even if I belong to no group, being utterly at His mercy. Letting go of group designations has its benefits however. It opens us up to the full universe of siksa coming from advanced vaisnavas in all groups. Dropping the stereotyped advanced devotee as one wearing saffron, allows one to find even more grace falling in delightfully unexpected ways. Dropping the group mentality also frees us from numerous offenses we commit from denigrating those outside our group (particularly and notably prevalent in the straight group against the gay group).
It is impossible, however, to drop designations without giving the sense of “I-ness” meaning- we cannot become nothing! Seeing ourselves as loving servants of the servants of the servants, a thousand-fold, of the gopis of vraja, is completely devoid of material designations, so it has all the above benefits. If we develop that sense of identity in a scientific way, leading to the development of our siddha deha, then ultimately such a precise sense of identity replaces the mundane identity and becomes the means of meditation on Krsna’s pastimes, and ultimately, entering into them. It is not simply a matter of “remembering Krsna at the time of death” as most devotees mistakenly believe- this and other misconceptions are addressed in “Realization and Manifestation of Your Eternal Identity” by Uttamasloka Dasa, who explores the concept by referencing and cross-referencing the various acaryas in our line on the subject, thus giving us a precise and powerful time-tested method to overcome the gross bodily or extended false ego, replacing it with our eternal designation. Having even a slight glimpse thus of our eternal ego, the mundane world of names, groups, divisions, and the quarrells thereof, the -isms and the schisms may go on…and we just think “What was that? Something wierd!”