I have been heartened this past few weeks by the number of spiritual teachers from different traditions speaking out against racism and making it clear that anti-racism is part of the spiritual work and not separate from it. Eckhart Tolle, Tara Brach, Ron and Mary Hulnick, all made their position clear that they were taking action to support anti-racist work and standing up rather than standing by. I also really appreciated listening to Gangaji’s podcast Being Yourself: Meeting the Roots of Racism Within. Thanks to Sara J. Sanderson Co-founder of When Women Speak Global Network for sharing and bringing it to my attention. Gangaji and her host Barb share in the podcast that the conversation about racism is a crucial conversation to be having at this time and deeply spiritual.
I am grateful to not be alone in believing that addressing racism is not separate from spirituality. What has happened since the murder of George Floyd is a greater awakening to injustice. The protests and momentum around the globe have the potential to create real change in terms of social justice. But we all need to do our part. I am glad so many spiritual communities are speaking out. No justice, no peace is spiritual. It is the recognition that when one is suffering, all are suffering.
From positions of privilege, like my own, it is easy to be in denial of the oppression that is happening right now. Of course, I knew racism exists, but its impacts have been subtle in my life. I have been comfortable getting on with my work waking people up to their potential and showing them how to have better relationships, but I wasn’t focused on addressing systemic injustice.
I was living in a bubble of denial. I should have known better. My first master’s degree was in Cultural Geography. My thesis title was: The Ethnocentric Corral: Feminism, Postmodernism, and Cultural Geography. I am no stranger to the impact of European colonialism and the discrimination and marginalization of black people and people of color. But I had not been doing my part. I am glad to have my eyes reopened and to be reminded to be an ally.
I need to see what is. Healing comes through seeing and understanding. This makes room for compassion, empathy, and love. Denial is the opposite of seeing. It allows for ignorance and fear to run amok. None of us are completely free from this.
It is spiritual to respond to suffering.