Where does the mind go when there is no more air left to breathe?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I would like to continue the notion from the previous post of “life has its own restraints.”  As previously stated, when people are oppressed and denied freedom of will, then, for peace of mind, one attempts to sort out purusha from prakriti.  

Purusha as the existence of pure being becomes distinguished from the physical worldly existence of prakriti which is encumbered by “its own restraints”. 

Anything in the physical world is impermanent and subject to change. The human mind is considered to exist in prakriti and it, too, is subject to change. Ignorance arises from the steady attachment to the physical world of change without any awareness of the eternal state of pure being. Yoga is the practice to refine the ignorant, distracted, and confused mind to its misperceptions in the realm of prakriti. 

Existing in ignorance of purusha gives a perception of separation rather than union of all life. Having ignorance leads to desires such as materialism and wanting power over others rather than recognizing our shared common humanity. 

White supremacy is a shared commitment to ignorance in the belief that the color of skin entitles one to certain material privileges. 

White supremacy is an ignorant survival mentality that sees the limited resources in the changing world of prakriti, and lacks the imagination to see the creative potential of unlimited possibilities through change. The system of white supremacy murdered Mr. George Floyd over an alleged counterfeit $20.  Loss of life in exchange for an extra $20 to retain in the white supremacy bank account. Mr Floyd cried out for his right to his breathe. “Life’s restraints” in the form of oppression denied him his breath. Mr. Floyd called out to his deceased mother indicating to me that his mind may have recognized the imminent death approaching his body. His mind reached for the beyond into the realm of his deceased mother. I pray that he found his way to eternal peace with her. Faced with the ultimate of life’s restraints- death, Mr. Floyd sought his deceased mother.

This ability to rise above such adversity of oppression and even death is derived from the love, such as a call out to a loved one in the time of death.  Love is the  hope that allowed enslaved parents to envision that their children or grandchildren would one day be free. Love is a righteousness that promotes civil unrest that demands justice for all, not a privileged few. Love is courageous in knowing that one deserves to exist in spite of life’s restraints creating by a society based on ignorance. Love is gentle allowing a grown man to call out for the comfort of his mother when knowing he is taking his last breath.

Yoga is the intentional practice of self-realization. Yoga is a system of practices to bring the mind’s awareness to the realization of the interaction of purusha with prakriti.  The opening of the crown chakra signals this merging of purusha, the limitless, with prakriti, the limited. Yoga is a practice of uniting of heaven and earth. Yoga becomes an awareness of being in a body while coexisting with the unifying force behind of all life.  

Thank you to all you good people who are reaching for the “crown above the head”. Thank you to all standing up for everyone’s right to breathe all of their God-given breaths. Thank you for striving for the love, unity, and freedom of black lives and all lives, all breaths.Thank you to all who abide in the guiding force of love to uplift ourselves out of ignorance and come to the realization of our one humanity in the one creation.

Life has its own Restraints

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It was not until I turned fifty did I begin to embrace my being African American in a white world.I have often wondered about the ability to survive tragic suffering such as slavery.Where can the mind go under such circumstances and not want to die right then and there?  What gives a person the will to endure?

Dr. Howard Thurman, an African American theologian, author, and mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. during the United States civil rights era stated, “life has its own restraints.” What I take this to mean, from a yogic perspective, is that under great adversity, as when people are oppressed and denied freedom of will, the mind must search out purusha from prakriti. Purusha, as the existence of pure being, becomes distinguished from the physical worldly existence of prakriti, which is encumbered by “its own restraints”. Anything in the physical world is impermanent and subject to change. To value anything on the impermanent physical realm is false idolatry. False idolatry on something subject to change is ignorance. Ignorance causes suffering. Greed is false idolatry. Greed is the idolatry of any accumulation physical possession i.e., property or money, beyond one’s need. Greed led to the enslavement of masses of people. Even today we still suffer from such ignorance. Ignorance leads to the value of property over human beings. We often are ignorant about being human thinking that we are only the flesh and not the spirit.It is the spirit that ended slavery. It is the spirit that is now marching in the streets for Black Lives Matter.  The spirit will never die. The physical world has limitations through man’s ignorance of true reality. Turning to spirituality is seeking beyond such limitations and impermanence.

Through the “Negro Spirituals,” or whatever other means, to touch the intangible arose the grace to make life bearable to go on. To exist in life’s restraints but know not to be entrapped by it. The grace is the glimpses of inner being that exists beyond the torture inflicted on the flesh. This inner being that can be victorious even in the face of death. This inner being that still reaches out to me from my ancestors. I have seen in my patients from economically deprived circumstances demonstrate this inner being’s ability to survive in the midst of social structures that impede upon their lives by squeezing out the options to live a desired sustainable living. This ability to survive such adversities is derived from the love. A courageous love that knows one deserves to exist  in spite of life’s restraints in society, and a soft love that blesses when it is time to let go because of life’s restaints in the body.

So the part that I embrace about being African American is feeling my ancestral spirit in the face of white supremacy. This ancestry has given me a leg up in recognizing “life’s restraints” apart from the grace of God. Understand that I only speak for myself as one African American. For those enmeshed in the suffering of life’s restraints they may not fair so well and turn to suicide, murder, or to alcohol and substances of abuse, or whatever way to self destruct when the mind can take no more.

Those benefiting most from white supremacy have a harder time identifying the permanent, purusha, from the impermanent, prakriti, because the privileges of the impermanent are so alluring.  False idolatry is inherent in the privileged.

In honor of the spirit within me and my ancestors I am proud to be the product of a people who survived the abusive passage on slave ships, who courageously bore their own children (and the children of whites) under enslavement, and a people who the still stood up after being beaten down by whippings, and all possible forms of degradation, and a people who could and still can march and raise voices above the forces that want to make us less than.  I am not at all saying that I am grateful for slavery.  Slavery is abhorrent and a crime against humanity.  What I am saying is the force of God’s love is greater than the force of any evil. God’s love does and will survive. The fact that I am here is testimony to that.  Current protests in the streets is testimony to an undying spirit of love and unity. This spirit lives in each one of us.  It is up to each individual to connect to the infinite, impermanent, loving source of our being. None of life’s restraints can bind the spirit.

 

***NOTE: The first image is a piece by artist Christopher Martin, and has been created as part of a collaboration to support Black Lives Matter.

Ancestral Healing – by Dr. M*

Reading Time: 2 minutes

My life is built from African languages and dances long since forgotten
—–Disrupted by greed and slave ships.
My life is built on beatings, screams in the dark, and lynchings still
—–echoed in police shootings, overzealous incarcerations, and
—–babies without a village.

I live in a state of forgiveness.
—–For how else to keep from going mad with rage?
A strong heart to believe in the future
—–while waiting for my son’s safe return home.

You who profited from dollars for humans, and lost the
—–caring to be human.
You who did not say, “Stop!”
—–And instead live for conquest,
—–deviating from God’s grandeur believing yourself the greater.
In your DNA stands a grandmother as a young child smiling at the
—–lynching of a young black man.
You disassociate from your own lineage and go to the lab to create
—–“artificial intelligence,” since the atom bomb was too dramatic.
When will you return to your heart as the bedrock of existence?
—–Maybe afraid to feel the hurt of past suffering?

I have forgiven. My heart is light and strong.
Can you really look me in the in the eyes without the hatred of your burden of guilt laid down in your DNA?
Can you repent and reclaim your heart and not turn violent nor 
—–artificial?

Ultimately your life and my life share distant origins.
—–Back to God’s words of “Let there be Light.”
Everything in existence share that common ancestry.
You can only truly connect to this lineage through acceptance and
—–ownership of the horrors of slavery,
—–and then ultimately find peace with the One.

No healing can happen without attention to the wound.

 

About the Author:

*Dr. M. is a dedicated spiritual practitioner, poet, writer, and a recently retired medical doctor.  She is exploring, using the written word, the expression of her journey as a black woman in the United States at this time.