Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Acts of Violence & Racism: How Should We Respond?
The members, staff, students and friends of Ananda share in the sadness and righteous outrage of yet another racially motivated murder. How can we not, both as people and as an organization that seeks to represent universal spiritual values, wonder “How long must this continue?” Our very teachings aver that we are all children of God and that behind the appearance of our separateness lays the one divine heart. The teaching of ancient India is that “We are THAT”— Tat twam asi — the Infinite Spirit made manifest. How then can racial distinctions be other than superficial?
Society’s awareness of and intolerance of such acts of violence is growing. As with the original movement of “Black Lives Matter” or the “Me Too” movement, the outrage felt by sensitive souls reflects a growing compassion even as it expresses moral outrage. There is reason for cautious optimism that attitudes and behavior are changing; they MUST change.
How, then, to respond? Anger does not quell anger. “Eye for an eye” leaves us all blind. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. died defending the principle of non-violence, non-hatred, and non-anger responses to prejudice and violence as expressions of our oneness in God’s love. Their unearned sacrifices bestowed great blessings on humanity.
We express our heartfelt compassion—our hearts ache for those abused and mistreated—and we stand by them in solidarity as the world cries out ENOUGH, let's all work together to put this old hatred and distrust behind us.
It is important, however, not to be drawn into fear or anger or any other form of negativity by the delusive power of mass consciousness. Those who wish to express their righteous indignation should do what they feel to do but when we lose our own equilibrium, our own inner peace, then we too have been infected by the virus of negativity. The best thing most of us can do is to direct our sympathy, compassion and prayers towards those who need it the most.
The stress of isolation, fear and suffering from the pandemic, and hardship and fear surrounding our economic future are already enough to trigger emotions out of proportion. Remaining, therefore, calm and even-minded is vital at this time. This is something each of us can do to help.
Lasting change in human behavior comes from an awakening of consciousness: seeing life through the eyes of another; seeing in others, our very Self. Meditation, yoga, and spiritual community are Ananda’s focus and these are by no means an insignificant contribution to positive change.
Those great spiritual teachers who have inspired the worldwide work of Ananda demonstrated in their own lives the courage to accept all who were sincere, regardless of their social status, often enduring the taunts of their society. The true races of humanity are based not on color, status or culture but in consciousness. So let us strive to uplift our own and others’ consciousness in compassion, service, and devotion.
additional thoughts beyond the statement above:
What can I do? Simple: be the change you seek! What is needed to combat racism is more than legislation, education, and other important opportunities. It is a change of heart; a change of consciousness. Ananda's worldwide effort to establish intentional spiritual communities that bring together all of who are sincere in their commitment to live by high ideals and to live cooperatively, harmoniously, and sustainably is perhaps the most important contribution to serving by example as well as precept.
Meditation offers the single most universal, nonsectarian daily practice that can change the world for the better. And it doesn't take 100%. 1% to 10% would do it.
Nonetheless, be prepared for increased unrest worldwide; increased risks for many challenging things from weather to war to depression. Thus the need for communities, virtual or residential, of high-minded, self-sacrificing Warriors of Light.
You cannot do it by yourself. Post on Facebook or carry a sign on a corner if you like but BE the PEACE that is within you and SHARE with all even when you are in difficult straights. This is not your world. We are here but briefly. Let's make it better by being better. Beyond that it will continue in its own way just as it did before you arrived and as it will after you leave.
We need perspective; we need inner peace; we need joy in our hearts. Pray, meditate, serve. Lastly, resist mass consciousness by staying centered in your Self. What is yours to do will be revealed minute by minute.
Blessings to you!