Years ago, my dear friend Cleo, a young dark-skinned man of African descent, leaned towards me, a middle-aged White woman. Near tears, Cleo talked of the emotional and psychic stress he felt, as a Black man in this society. Quietly, he asked: “What does the term White supremacy mean to you? What is your relationship to it?” My heart leapt into my throat. I gasped for air. In that moment of reckoning, my Whiteness became visible to me. My body tensed. My thoughts fragmented. I took a deep breath, seeking courage. His questions challenged the world as I then knew it. My self-identity, moral character, and personal capacity for engaging in dialogue felt called into question.
We who grieve the great injustices on Earth are called not only to change our views – but to transform at the deepest levels of our being. We are challenged to awake to the plurality of Reality. Only a metanoia – a radical change of heart, mind, and spirit – will enable us to co-create a world where all human beings flourish.
Sitting in the Fire
Reality challenges us to make a strong commitment to support diversity. To co-create a more just, more sustainable world, let us form alliances with people from diverse races, cultures, and religions. Let us engage in dialogues that catalyze mutual understanding, shared meaning, and the discovery of new ways to live and work together.
Based on my own experience, however, I offer a cautionary note. Entering into dialogue with those whose belief systems and values clash with our own can be akin to sitting in a fire. Even when we listen with the ears of the heart, fear arises. When we encounter conflicting perspectives and grievous suffering, discomforting thoughts and chaotic emotions abound. Our perceptions of the world no longer make sense.
What if everything you were taught was false?
When our unconscious beliefs about diverse races, cultures, and religions become visible, our psyches become disoriented. We resist. We equivocate. We deny, bargain, and despair. Core issues, our deepest stuck places, are activated. Unknown forces erupt from the depths of our unconscious. Our sense of self is at risk.
Only later do we realize that the dimensions through which we apprehend Reality are being transformed. With humility and gratitude, we appreciate the other as a source of self-understanding that dis-entangles us from our own distorted and limited perspectives.
Awakening Our Whole Being
Great courage, clarity, and compassion are needed on this path. Faced with my own lack of capacity, I deepened my commitment to Qigong and Realization Process, both subtle, non-dual body-centered meditation practices. Our body is our instrument of experience, perception, thought, emotion, and physical sensation. As we make deep contact with the internal space of our body, the body’s subtle energy channels open. The body, mind, breath, and energy systems integrate. The senses become refined – and we see, hear, and touch on a more subtle level.
When belief systems collapse, gentle, precise practices such as these awaken our whole being, heal us psychologically, and help us relate authentically to others – without losing attunement to ourselves. As we disentangle from habituated thoughts, reactive feelings, and overwhelming sensations, we open to a deeper reality – differentiation is not separation.
Being flourishes in this sacred space. Liberating our self from distorted perceptions and unconscious beliefs becomes a perceptual, cognitive, and embodied act of self-transfiguration.
Warm tender vibrations resonated between Cleo’s and my pulsing hearts – compelling me to become a social activist, organizing inter-racial/cultural/religious dialogues in diverse communities. Dissolving barriers to living in harmony with people from different races, cultures, and religions is a radical spiritual journey – we willingly commit to unveiling our core issues and our personal habits of twisting away from Reality. Chronic fragmentations in our psyche can be healed. Bound emotional pain from the body, energy system, and the causal level of consciousness can be released. We realize the essence of our Being is luminous – and has never been injured.
This journey is a path to self-re-creation. As we open to the body’s tremendous healing and nurturing wisdom, our experience of Reality changes. We experience wholeness rather than fragmentation, unity rather than separateness, and inner peace rather than discontent. We realize: Love is who we are. Love at this depth is the vast, unchanging, radiant consciousness to which we attune at the innermost core of our being.
Committed to realizing the true nature of Reality, let us share stories, rituals, food, music, and art with people from different races, cultures, and religion. Alive to the movement of feelings, sensations, thoughts, and emotions, let our hearts dissolve barriers and shift perspectives. In the end, the call to action is not only to co-create a more just and sustainable world. The call to action is to enter into a direct experience of Reality—unmediated by thought.
When we experience Reality directly,
our life unfolds
as our greatest offering.
Roma Hammel, PhD
Published in Kosmos Journal, August 13, 2014