It is interesting to see people who claim to believe in equality between human groups actually making statements or accepting logic chains that lead in the opposite direction. I suspect it is a conflict between the head and the heart: between intelligence/knowledge and wisdom.
The trick is this: what you are taught in childhood nestles in deeply, is set in stone. Your intelligence sorts information but rarely goes deeper than your basic sense of reality. If these basic beliefs are incorrect, but in alignment with socially agreed upon consensus, this is like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
The “heart” on the other hand, here represents the beliefs that we can sense connect us with love. Ultimately, with spirit. Spirit says All Are One. We are all connected. The intellect says “This or That.” And I suspect that the war between them can tear people apart.
I was torn to pieces as a child. Torn between cultures, races, gender identities. The world was going to eat me alive, and I had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. No tribe to protect me. THAT was why I went into the martial arts: I had to become my own squad of warriors if my poet and healer were ever to be safe. And the pain was horrible until I found my way out.
If you say you believe in human equality, but cannot forgive yourself for your own sins and failings, you do not understand human nature enough to admit the terrible things that happen when people feel they have survival needs. Under such pressures as hunger, lack of air, deep loneliness, we fall back on the most basic circuitry, leading to some truly ugly behavior: drowning swimmers taking down the lifeguard, honest people stealing bread, honest people embracing lies, loving people making political decisions that represent hatred and fear to others, if not in some impossible to determine objective sense.
I could not accept my own fear, and my shame of it, my fear of what it might mean (that I was small and weak, that I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or mustn’t, that I was a coward) was vastly more damaging than the emotion itself. The emotion was just a feeling. The guilt, blame, and shame tore my heart out for decades.
I see this, fear of the fear, clearly with racism and sexism, for instance. But it also manifests in religious bigotry. Politics is damned near BUILT on it. All major religions claim to embrace a “do unto others” attitude, but when in conflict, they are great at accusing each other of being almost demonic, while excusing similar behaviors when committed by their own adherents.
Is it possible to look at the pain in the world through this lens, without guilt, blame or shame, but also without excusing the monstrosity, or allowing monsters to breed and kill our children? I believe it is. I cannot KNOW, because I’d have to be outside the system to really evaluate statements made within it. But it is interesting that the chakra symbol for “spirit” is outside the body. If so, and I see this as representing thousands of years of elevated thinking on the subject, then the question is: what happens if I remain aligned with this ideal, while simultaneously serving the needs of the more fundamental (or “lower”) drives.
Remember: you can “awaken the kundalini” (align the full power of your humanity) from the “bottom up” or from the “heart out” but never from the top down. That means that trying to focus on spirit or intellect before you have actually grounded yourself is likely to destroy you. But beginning with survival and then slowly re-aligning your sexuality, power, emotion, and communication with each other, moving TOWARD spirit, can be exquisite. OR…simply start with love, and simultaneously seek the root and the flowering.
THIS was my journey. A prayer: “God, how can I be in the world, but not trapped by its illusions? Trapped by my own weakness?” Asked that question a thousand thousand times, in front of a hundred different teachers, on my knees in prayer and cross-legged in meditation and fighting for my honor in a hundred different martial arts schools…until the illusions fell away.
And I forgave myself, and the world. We’re all just human beings, children seeking love, our fear masquerading as anger, our violence stemming from that same witches brew of survival drives justified by our philosophies.
We do what we think we must, to survive.
What I’m saying is that we don’t have to incrementally build on what has gone before. We actually have a NEW OPPORTUNITY to leave behind the guilt and shame and fear, simply by forgiving ourselves, forgiving our ancestors, but not trying to say the past didn’t happen, or that it doesn’t influence the present. THAT is how we build the future.
If this is true, and valid, what does it say about the illusions we fall into, and how we might view some basic conflicts so that we can move beyond them? With the caveat that anything I say is caught in the system, as all words arise from that sea of poisoned milk (called “Halahala” in Sanskrit, I believe), I just offer some thoughts.
- In terms of gender, men and women are both caught in the priorities of “The Selfish Gene”–the drive to produce the maximum number of grandchildren. Both men and women are caught in a straightjacket that is not determinative but strongly influential. An emergent behavior that touches everything we do if we aren’t careful. Unless you believe women are stupid and cowardly, or that men are monsters who enjoy dying young (and violently) there is something going on here other than the common narrative of domination and submission. There is nothing in gender interaction that cannot be explained by the fact that what is good for a species isn’t necessarily good for individuals–and that SOME individuals are just bad people, just as some are unusually good. Death is GREAT for a species–it allows evolution. Sucks for individuals. Much of what we see could be explained by an equation: from the perspective of crankin’ out those grandchildren, “women’s dreams and men’s lives are disposable.” Each side has illusions about what life on the other side is like. Men are conned into believing it is great to march into cannon fire, women that they shouldn’t try to compete with Da Guys. Humans are such silly creatures–but considering that our population has increased, along with our social organization until the natural world that used to dominate us is now in danger FROM us…apparently it kinda worked. But we are in an era in which peak population, firearms, the industrial revolution, and effective birth control have offered a gender freedom unknown to our ancestors, a leveling of the playing field, a chance to ask very different questions. The way ahead is forgiving ourselves, and each other. If men REALLY are advantaged by the current situation, they will fight to the death to maintain their power. But if the con game has stolen from BOTH sides, and also conferred advantage to both sides…all you have to do is wake up from the Matrix, and we walk into a better future. Anyone who thinks women are inherently more peaceful and wonderful haven’t looked at the statistics of what happens in female-female relationships, or if the woman is larger than the guy. Just as much violence and domination. If you can understand that women have made less geographical discovery, art, and science largely as a matter of the roles we’ve played up until this point, you can cut men some slack too. Otherwise, you are a bigot.
- In terms of race, the black-white situation in America (my piece of that pie) required a few years of serious thought to pierce that illusion (if in fact I ever did! That thought certainly devils me). Because the simple answer is pretty obvious, and can be heard wherever radicalized members of either society gather. Either blacks are intellectually inferior, or whites are morally inferior. That’s the simple equation, heard in chat rooms, Facebook threads and barber shops across the country. Sometimes thinly veiled behind polite speech, but there it is. And the conflict with the heart/spirit here is trying to believe in equality of the soul, while being unable to reconcile history. IF YOU CANNOT SEE HOW YOU, PERSONALLY, HAVE DONE TERRIBLE THINGS WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU NEEDED TO, you will never be able to understand how it happens on a social level. All that happened is that America had a need for cheap labor, and tried different things before settling on Africans. That the harvesting of Africans was possible not because of genetics but because of differential levels of development over the last few thousand years of history, a mere blink in the 250k years of human history, and even less than that in the progress of primate evolution. That that labor was more valuable in some areas of the country than others, and considered critical in the South. That social institutions and philosophies evolved to support it, and those mythologies survived the War that ended it. That because there was no equivalent to the “Truth and Reconciliation” panels in South Africa following the fall of apartheid, or the massive anti-Nazi education following WW2, what I call the CSA–the Current Southern Apologia–was allowed and encouraged to fester (reinforced by literature and film), promoting an entire raft of justifications, distractions, half-truths, irrelevancies and outright lies to promote the idea that nothing unusually bad had happened. In human history? Probably true. In American history? Compared to what happened to the Native Americans, probably true. In comparison to what happened to the armies of immigrants who FOUGHT to get here? A bizarre and venomous fabrication, because there is no way to follow that conclusion without concluding someone is inferior. Why was this collection of mythologies important?
- To protect from guilt and shame and cries for reparations and revenge.
- To protect from fears of moral inferiority. Remember: if you believe in equality, there is only the problem of developing the intellectual chunks to fill in the gaps between worldly experience and spiritual insight. This ain’t easy: there IS massive work to do to understand human history without needing to fall back on tropes of superiority/inferiority. But it is an exhilarating, joyous process. But if you DO believe in inequality, under the polite rhetoric? Then I suggest that your “fall back” position if you lose your belief in SUPERIORITY is a swing of the pendulum NOT to “equality” but to feeling like the scum of the earth, like a manic becoming depressive. If I can’t be superior, I must be inferior. That is the opposite position. The CONTRARY position, equality, real equality, was never really on the table at all.
Why is the CSA so damaging? Denying the severity of what occurred leads naturally to a “why can’t you just get over it?” which leads to a “they can’t get over it because they just aren’t as strong and smart.” Sorry, but I’ve heard that logic countless times over the decades of my life, from white bigots and even people striving to be “liberals” and most horribly, from black people themselves, scared and confused and no more perceptive than their white brethren, but at effect instead of cause.
When will we get over it? The road STARTS when the lies STOP, and they didn’t even begin to break down until about 1970. When will all be well? Not in YOUR lifetime, Bucky. Wounds don’t heal in less time than they took to inflict. Stop holding your breath. If you’re tired of hearing about it, you’d never have survived living it.
The flip side of this, of course, is blacks who disguise their fears of inferiority behind mythologies of superiority. THEY wouldn’t have behaved that way, they say. All problems in the black community are caused by what white people did…and so forth. As to this second, what is true? That the crap in our community ABOVE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE is reasonably caused by our negative history. The rest is our shit. Human shit. But what is harder to grasp is that no matter what the cause, it is still primarily ours to fix, in the same ugly way that if you got hit by a car, YOU have to do the rehab work, or you’ll never walk again.
But…if the people in that car, or their descendants, or people who LOOK like them laugh at you and suggest that you were born with your bones broken, it’s totally human to wish them harm. Oh, yeah. If you believe no car hit us, or that you would have dusted yourself off and walked away, or had fewer bones broken, or limped less, or felt less anger…you are the problem.
Yes, you. Even moreso if you spread that bullshit around. Even more if you’re smiling as you do, claiming to be a friend.
Step back, and you can see that everything in both these arenas can be understood without resorting to beliefs in inferiority or superiority, or projecting any human evil that doesn’t exist in our own individual hearts. Can I prove this is “true” ultimately? No I cannot. Even if so, can I “prove” that this kind of reasoning can be applied to issues of sexual orientation, religion, politics, and more? Can one maintain a balance that will prevent tumbling into a pit of moral relativism in which child abuse, rape, terrorism and other horrors cannot be condemned and combatted?
I believe so, but again, “ultimate” proof is not available.
Ultimately, it is a matter of faith. I BELIEVE in human equality because that is what I see and feel in the deepest moments of meditation and the calmest most centered moments of my life.
It is what saved my heart. It was the way out of the Matrix.
Because it is a common vision between all of the men and women I respect the most, WITHOUT EXCEPTION…unless they were raised in a specific environment that programmed them in childhood. Then, one can be extraordinary intellectually, but caught in a trap where that intelligence cannot be leveraged, compiling statistics that “prove” something you were taught by your parents and society, and filtering out counter-evidence that might have set you free.
The future I see rises above those dualities, beyond male-female, black-white, gay-straight, conservative-liberal, Christian-Muslim, or whatever. And the resolution of those dualities produces more energy than I can say, energy that you can use to evolve to the next level of your life.
But I can’t prove it, and don’t try to. All I can do is live it, and say that when I speak of supporting one million awake, aware, adult human beings, I speak of people whose perceptions align with this view: a future that works for all our grandchildren, in which we can leave the sins of the past behind. Our grandparents did the best they could. We can do better. The way out of the Matrix is not easy, but it is simple. It requires more energy than most people believe they possess…but all they have to do is abandon the dualities to claim it. What is the path?
- Love yourself. Forgive yourself. But also protect yourself–you cannot open your heart if you are afraid of being attacked. And you will be.
- Love one other person. Love for another human being is the cure for selfishness. It FORCES you to expand your sense of self, and once that process begins, it cannot easily be stopped.
- Understand human history without guilt, blame, or shame. Whatever your issues are, pierce the veil of human causality. There is no grand conspiracy (although there are certainly smaller ones!). Most of this crap is just emergent survival behavior, simple commands like “survive”, “produce children”, and “protect the family” grown complex.
- Find your tribe. Do NOT try to convince people who see things differently. Their beliefs are ultimately beyond logic. So are yours. They rest on a BELIEF in what human beings are, one that often must challenge apparent realities.
- Succeed. Prove that your way works. The purpose of life is happiness. If you are miserable and angry, why should someone follow your path? But if you can be happy, and successful, and healthy, and loving and loved…then those without those things will want to know how you do it. And even if they don’t…you’ve still won the game of life.
One million awake aware adult human beings. The strategy: thousands of adult, awake, aware storytellers. Anyone who believes in this vision is a brother or sister. If you cannot embrace it…I still wish you well in your journey. You’re on another track, and I hope you enjoy the folks traveling with you.
If you don’t, get off at the next station, and change tracks. We’ll be along again, tomorrow.