Now some time for deep introspection. How do you treat people when it doesn't really matter?
Of course there is a strong hint of cynicism in this statement. To me it ALWAYS matters how you treat people. But for some of us it depends on who they are, whether we need them to approve of us, whether that approval will benefit us professionally or socially.
I was fortunate to be raised in a household which viewed everyone as inherently equal. There was no particular adulation or extra respect granted someone who was was wealthy or had a particular profession. Unquestionably those who had achieved personal and professional advancement through talent and hard work were to be congratulated. But much more important was their basic character. Were they good people? Did they respect others regardless of their social status or professional advancement? Did they dismiss others who had not achieved their "status".
This was the perspective I inherited.
I have been fortunate to meet particularly well-know, wealthy and accomplished individuals. It has also been my fortune to meet ordinary, every-day people. If I admit to "judging" people at all, it involves their basic human decency.
I admire those who treat others as equal when they have nothing to gain from it.
I recall attending classes at the Kabbalah Centre in Manhattan about ten years ago. The head rabbi Berg happened to be there before the classes began as was I. He walked over to me and shook my hand. I thought that was quite admirable since he didn't know me or anything about me. What followed was, however, quite instructive. He clearly mistook me for someone else, someone he was anticipating meeting. (Perhaps a large donor?) He abruptly turned away from me and walked in the opposite direction, never saying anything about the strange encounter.
I would like to believe that if I had been Rabbi Berg I would have smiled, admitted that I was not the person he had expected to meet, thanked me for coming to his center and moved on. He did none of the above.
I was rather taken aback. Here was a supposedly spiritual man, one who had made a career of modernizing Kabbalistic teaching and bringing it to one and all. I would have liked to have believed that he was a genuinely spiritual individual who would have respected every living being, regardless of whether or not they were the "one" he was expecting to meet.
This told me a great deal about the man himself.
I doubt the Dalai Lama would have acted in a similar manner.