It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all today yet another interesting blog. I hope you all are faring well. Today while deliberating on the topic to write for our weekly discussion, a few thoughts crossed my mind and I felt I share them in a context that could help everyone in some manner.
Before we delve into the topic per say, I must state that the premise to this discussion is one that stems from recognizing that we are ultimately spiritual beings. Earlier on, I had written a blog on Spiritual Stereotypes and thus I felt the need to make a counterpart. The reason been that we are all living in a material world and as such we have to interact with the material energy and things of that nature. As spiritual entities in a material body we have to live certain experiences which pertain to our body, country, environment, race, religion etc. However, the bottom line is to always remember that we are having a material experience and as such it is temporary. No one makes a big deal of something they know won’t last long. The trick is to actually know that it is temporary, because as long as we think it is permanent or there isn’t more to experience after our limited time here then we won’t know how to re-organize our lives to have a better experience.
That been said, we all must have been exposed to some sort of stereotype based on how we look or what race we belong to. It is no longer surprising to me when I get certain remarks from people based on assumptions they have or might have cultivated over the years. It is sort of “normal” for most people to think that every African American is a great dancer, athlete, gymnast, etc. It is also sort of “normal” for people to think every Asian kid is a Wizkid, super smart and very good at Mathematics. It also comes as no surprise that people think every Caucasian is rich and from an affluent background. Having been blessed with the grace and opportunity to visit 4 continents, I can confidently say that these assumptions are true for certain people and untrue for others. I have met Asians who are not so smart, African Americans who are bad at sports, and Caucasians who aren’t anywhere near rich. Just as there are positive stereotypes we also have the negative ones which I won’t be mentioning here so as to keep the energy on this read positive. The objective of this blog is to understand how to deal with these as spiritual practitioners in our place of worship or spirituality.
Believe it or not, these material stereotypes somehow or another creep into places of worship and prayer and instead of having our minds focused on whatever Divinity we are meditating on, we find ourselves consciously or sub-consciously looking for flaws in our colleagues. One of the biggest hinderances in our spiritual quest is to commit offences towards those who have dedicated their lives to deepening their faith and conviction about certain spiritual matters. One easy way to commit offences towards other spiritual practitioners is to judge them based on their bodily appearances. In as much as some of us try to avoid doing this physically, we may actually be enforcing certain stereotypes even without knowing. I once happened to live in a spiritual community that had a very diverse demographic and actually preached a lot about how we are not this body, however I couldn’t help but notice a pattern every time we had our meals. I noticed that the Indian bodied practitioners always sat together, the Mexicans did same, the Caucasians did same and without even trying to plan it, there was hardly a time when the temples were sat differently.
I was in the minority and probably the only person in a colored body and I took it upon myself to rotate which table I sat at. Some days I’ll sit with the Indians, another day the Mexicans and some days with the Caucasians. (I must say I really don’t like classifying people by how they look and this is just to give my readers a glimpse into the picture I am trying to paint). What this did was amazing. I began to see that every group would relate with me as if I was from their demographic and we had a mutual relationship of trust. I would also reciprocate this trust by making sure that I kept whatever discussion I had with each group strictly within it. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think about how much more progress we would make if we all could go beyond the bodily platform and associate on a deeper level. I could see that many people wanted to establish real loving connections but were hesitant because they felt they would be judged or misunderstood by members of a different demographic. This made me sad not just because I could see the tension this emptiness was creating but because I knew that each group was going off the other based on certain preconceived assumption that they had formulated over time.
Having to deal with material stereotypes in a secular setting is trying enough and many of us would rather not have to engage with that energy. What is more draining is when that energy creeps into a spiritual environment or place of worship and adherents begin to vibe off it. So, what is the way forward? My first suggestion is that whenever you go to place of worship/meditation/prayer etc., please drop off all your “baggage’s” right at the door step. By baggage’s I mean all bodily identifications, all worries, all desires, all thoughts opposing to spiritual growth, all stereotypes, all sorts of distractions be they physical such as a mobile device or as subtle as a thought process.
As spiritual practitioners we must endeavor to raise not just our consciousness but of those around us too, by our words, and actions. If we have a collective effort to achieve this, then we can be certain of positive growth in our spiritual life and less dealings with stereotypes from bodily identification. Till next week, read, share and follow for more.