Healing The Spiritual Community’s Racism
Whether you consider yourself religious, spiritual, ethically conscious, or simply a moralistic atheist… we need to talk. Specifically, those who claim to be ‘spiritual’ or ‘conscious’ — more so the self-proclaimed leaders, coaches, healers, and teachers who believe they hold the ‘vibes’ that will bring a new paradigm to the world, push and promote the idea(s) of ‘unity consciousness, and especially those who are white.
A lot is happening right now. A lot. It can be overwhelming and to say that 2020 is an extremely emotionally charged year is the understatement of all understatements. We are all tired… exhausted, really, and a lot of confusion and fear is present in our world right now. We are being tasked with addressing many things at once, and to dig deep in dark and dirty places of our internal and external world that are hard for the empathic heart to go to. Ultimately, these places require healing as individuals… and as a collective.
For those in the limelight, there is a strong burden of accountability since you are the ones others reach for and seek answers from. It is an undeniable fact that you can sway and influence the perceptions and actions of others through your presence, and actions. You have people learning from you, living vicariously through you, and seeking their healing by walking in your footsteps. Some even spend their time and money to be in your presence and to receive your guidance in their personal experience because they value your potential impact on their journeys.
I am of the firm mindset that to be a fit leader and to be in true service to the world, one needs to acknowledge that they are a fallible being with their own inherent weaknesses first and foremost. If you are to set a true example that embodies what almost all of you have espoused into the world, you need to have enough integrity to acknowledge that until you take your last breath, you are learning. As long as you are learning, you are evolving. You are a perfectly imperfect being, and that’s ok. As within, so without.
When you try to convince yourselves and claim to others that you are ‘perfect’, you create harm. You harm yourselves by creating the space of needing to always be perfect and seen as such, allowing no room for learning or growth, while simultaneously harming those who look to you as an example by encouraging their desire to be perfect also.
For all the ‘enlightenment’ we all wish to believe we hold we still don’t know everything… never will… and we have limited bandwidth for how much we can absorb. It’s imperative to acknowledge cognitive biases. This includes resistance to addressing painful truths and realities, which often results in spiritually bypassing through lenses of denial that allow too many forms of harm to continue. This sabotages the entirety of what we claim to represent. It enables the lingering toxicity of the ‘old paradigm’ to fester below the surface inside of ourselves, and unfortunately, in our community. It is the opposite of healing.
And for all of us, leaders or not, we have a lot of work to do. Many of us share the sentiment that when one of us hurts, suffers, or experiences any manner of injustice, it wounds all sentience. With that in mind, the longer we refuse to hold the compassionate presence of heart and mind to look at what’s happening now, from a perspective of oneness, and act as true healers, the longer we resist bringing the greatest possible amount of healing available for the whole world.
Healing, as we all know, requires us to go back to the source of the wound to understand the modality and extent of the healing needed. As a transcendentalist mystic, I firmly believe we must hear as much as we can that the collective is communicating and respond in the most benevolent ways to achieve true states of ‘Unity Consciousness’ or ‘Christ Consciousness’. To do anything less, while claiming to be conscious, enlightened, or ‘woke’, is blatant tone-deaf hypocrisy.
To our credit, I truly believe that the majority of us have chosen this path because we have empathic hearts and a passionate desire to love and heal ourselves and others. We have the desire to right what feels wrong, find and create balance to what feels imbalanced, to bring solutions to the challenges being faced on our planet, create true justice, and to ensure that the needs of all people are met. We do this with a commonly shared belief that we can assist humanity in accessing the highest states of heart and mind and actualizing its co-creative superpowers. We’ve been taught and encouraged to hold the vision of planetary wide authenticity where all of nature thrives in it’s truest divine essence.
Now, before I continue, I am going to ask you to take a moment to close your eyes and sit with your hand on your heart, your mind and body relaxed, breathing in the love of your ancestors, exhaling gratitude for the intensity of their experiences over thousands of years and hundreds of generations it has taken to bring you and I here right now. Think of all the intense work, intelligence, innovation, imagination, creativity, love, dreams, fears, trial & error, blood, sweat, and tears it has taken from those behind us that had to survive all of the famines, natural disasters, plagues, wars, freezing winters, scorching summers, genocides, incurable illnesses, all manner of pain, struggle, and the sheer will and determination it has taken to get us to this moment. A moment when we have access to the very technology we are using to communicate with each other, with so much knowledge and wisdom, so much insight, transparency, and so much connection…
Now that you’re back and you can feel that… I want to remind you that not all of us, or our ancestors, have had it as hard as others to get here. Many of those who will read this have come from the spheres of privilege I have walked through in my life as a white person. Think about the lack of diversity that was present without us noticing it at the time. We were programmed to not notice, but in hindsight, it was obvious. Think of how many of the spaces you’ve lived in, played in, learned in, and gathered in were disproportionately white and the nature of our ability to be in those places was mostly based on privileges that others didn’t and mostly still don’t have. That is not to accuse the community as a whole of intentional exclusion but to point out a lack of intentional inclusion. A blindspot we have shared for far too long, and we have a lot of pressure and power to change.
I will be blunt — there is no reason, ever, to have white people at our festivals (that can be rather classist as it is) leading ‘indigenous ceremonies’ from other cultures (like ‘cacao ceremonies’), wearing headdresses, or other blatant forms of cultural appropriation. There is no excuse, other than arrogance and white supremacist programming, for those who are obviously white and claiming far away indigenous blood or past lives that are intended to justify these behaviors. I am also saying this to the event organizers that allow this or even invite it in and pay for it. Stop it.
No, you’re not a tantra practitioner, but you can still practice sacred sexuality. The very idea of sexualizing tantra, which likely does not mean what you think it does, was through a warped Western interpretation that had nothing to do with its original definition or ancestral practice. The tantras, the sacred texts associated with a deep path that involves far more than sex, had been chastised by British colonizers as early as the 19th century, badly translated later by Sir John Woodroffe, and finally, had the sexuality of it all extracted and popularized by Aleister Crowley, the man who inspired the modern-day Satanist movement.
While there were a lot of pre-Christian practices around sexuality in Europe that seem horrendous from a modern perspective, there are still many examples of sacred sexuality and sex magick that one could master from the Gnostics, Pagans, Romans, Greeks, and other early European cultures. Many of them are just as ancient, if not more ancient, than the tantras themselves. Fancy!
Moving on, how is it that we have taken ‘yoga’ and turned it into an $84 billion industry and fashion style, instead of the dedicated lifelong spiritual path it is, while roughly 300 million people in India (that’s almost the entire population of the United States) are still living in poverty? How ‘woke’ and ‘present’ can we be when this is the world we as a community have fostered and continue to enable?
And while we’re at it, let’s be honest about the whitewashed religious programming that has also seeped into our beliefs, our tools, our marketing, our art, memes, and our practices that we have co-opted from others. If we are going to blend Christianity with New Age Spirituality, let’s end the charade of Jesus and all angels being white men, often with blond hair and blue eyes. There were no white people in the bible.
We have a lot of work to do. Most of us have European roots that we need to heal. Our sacred lineages and practices that were destroyed or buried by our own people through religious wars and inquisitions are begging to be rediscovered, reclaimed, and resurrected. Through no fault of our own, we lost the connection to our history and experienced our own destruction of ancestral wisdom and knowledge. This is likely why we have lost the innate sense of reverence for cultural and ancestral preservation in just a handful of generations, which has evolved us into a toxic community standing atop the spoils of cultural appropriation and theft, while still believing ourselves to be righteous.
By the time colonization & imperialism were pillaging, violently ravaging, and destroying populations and cultures all over the planet, many of our ancestors were comfortable at home in varying parts of Europe diving into the Age of Enlightenment because they had the privilege to do so. Eventually, this led to sitting on stolen land in North America dwelling on Transcendentalism. All of this was happening while our brothers and sisters of color were being enslaved, or worse, all over the planet. Everything we preach comes from the philosophies of these two movements and a lot of what we’ve been doing in our practices comes from the programming of what they were intending to undo and eliminate.
The grandmothers of the New Age Movement were the daughters and wives of ‘high society’. While they were fighting the patriarchal aristocracy in their own ways, they also had been granted great privileges and resources from that system to do so. It is with these privileges and resources that they could be able to learn and practice spiritualities that were considered subversive at the time so freely, travel & explore, as well as teach it to others without needing to monetize the spiritual philosophies they were sharing. It kept it pure in an idyllic and sacred way. And yet, since the 1970s, a primarily white community has been systematically destroying what is sacred to the teachings of the new age ideologies as well as culturally appropriating from other cultures as part of an insidious ancestral pattern. We have capitalized sacred ceremonies and traditions that belonged to our ancestors and others as a birthright.
The way people like Margaret Fuller, Helena Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and Alice Bailey were doing it created a form of elitism from the beginnings, and by no means am I saying that the spiritual path should only be for those with trust funds and silver spoons. Understandably, we all require some measure of financial resources to exist and/or thrive right now, but we must take a macro and micro look at what type of energy we are carrying into our intentions when we monetize sacred practices, whether they ‘belong’ to us or not. All we are doing is painting glitter and sprinkling fairy dust on the broken systems we wish to defeat by replicating their detritus structures of oppression.
To be clear, I do believe we should receive remuneration for the healing services and education that we offer. However, that does not mean we have any right to monetize something that does not come from our own ancestral lineage, even if a token member of that culture granted permission. When we culturally appropriate and capitalize on ancient wisdom and medicines of other cultures, we are only continuing the patterns of imperialism.
We have to acknowledge this and talk about it!
We don’t need to feel guilty. We just need to be willing to address it honestly, and we absolutely must start making changes immediately if we have any integrity in the slightest. It’s quite easy to make the shifts by connecting to our own genetic roots. It’s easier than one might think because all of our ancestors were connected to the elements, painted their faces in wartime, had ceremonies, songs, drums, and used gifts from nature like stones, feathers, bones, and had their relationships with the animal queendom through animism.
It is up to us individually to ensure that we maintain integrity in all of our thoughts, words, and deeds. That they align with the role we wish to serve. To align ourselves as true healers, and eliminate the harm we have been causing, and admit that we require more education, and then follow up on that education (I offer some resources below). We can only do this by starting to go deeper within and look at who we have been, who we want to be, and how to bring the two together with greater clarity, wisdom, presence, honesty, authenticity, and on the path to our most empowered state of actualization.
Ask yourself the following…
- Do I have the willingness to acknowledge and understand what has happened to get me here and accept that I have been misguided by others who taught me these ways of being were acceptable, as they were misguided also?
- How can I continue to hold onto the perception or claims of being enlightened and empowered if I don’t truly embrace the power of what is coming up in the collective and asking to be healed?
- Am I willing to acknowledge and address the systemic racism that people of color are experiencing (whether I believe it to be true or not) to empower myself with greater knowledge that can be used to cut all the cords of oppression and suffering that exist inside and out of myself?
- How can I empower others to liberate themselves from ancestral trauma and social programming before I have first empowered myself to create my own liberation?
- Why might I be avoiding presence with the healing needed in the world and what it reflects about my alignment and integrity as a healer?
- Am I willing to acknowledge the pain others are experiencing en masse and address it directly without attempting to invalidate it in myself or others?
The impulse to resist and avoid going places that hurt to see or admit, and to learn about the ways we have been harmful to others when all we wanted to do is help is understandable. Yet, through the teachings we have adopted and now teach to others, we have been prepared for this all along. We know how to address and heal deeper layers of self-discovery. We know that we can shift our perspective to one of excitement about a new level up available, instead of resenting it. We also know that the sooner we transcend it, the sooner we can become a greater ally to all of humanity, and eventually, all life on Earth!
There is no conspiracy or bad guy manipulating things to be blamed, contrary to the common conspirituality running rampant in our community right now (that is, unironically, aligned with the white supremacists alt-right). This is an internal and systemic issue in our community and the world at large, which means that it’s running through each of us in some way. It’s an issue that has been wanting to be addressed for hundreds of years.
Whether or not you agree with how the message is being shared, it’s important to acknowledge that there is an invitation for us to look at any and all forms of discrimination and prejudice inside of us and the world at large. Racism is just one step on the path of addressing the forms of systemic violence taking place on the planet right now that we say we are here to heal, solve, or transmute.
The good news is that regardless of what your purpose, mission, modality, practice is, or what you bring to the world in general, you will only be enriched and able to serve in a better capacity by acknowledging the truth of the experiences people of color are having in relationship to our community, practices, and teachings. Taking the steps to put an end to ways we have been harming others, whether we did so knowingly or not, is a step toward the coveted new paradigm so many of us hold sacred. As a divine reflection of all that we ask others to consider as new ways of being or seeing, we are now extended an opportunity to do the same. An opportunity to transcend into a new level of awareness and consciousness.
Taking time out to step back and examine the truth of our ancestral roots and finding a compromise that works for everyone is a demonstration of love in action. Listening to understand and co-create collective agreements on the rules of engagement, what the boundaries are, where we have consent and where we don’t, and what is needed to relieve others’ suffering is alignment with true healing for all involved.
No ‘what abouts’ or ‘what ifs’, or excuses. No spiritual bypass. No willful ignorance. No dismissal. No denial. No attempts to justify. No more time ignoring and denying the millions of voices of color pleading with us. No ‘colorblindness’ that fails to acknowledge the beauty of the diversity in another, as well as the challenges they experience in their lives due to prejudices against their melanin that has plagued our cultures (and subcultures)for so long. None of the ‘we are all one’ rhetoric when you have not acknowledged another’s experience.
For those of us who are white, or have been raised in environments shrouded in whiteness, it is important to understand how we have been directly impacted by systemic racism. We have also been harmed and those wounds can be healed from the subtle programming most of us don’t realize we have taken. The societal programming that has created implicit biases we may not even be aware of, and it is part of the cause of an observable behavioral pattern witnessed and known as ‘white fragility’. This is one of the hurdles we need to overcome. Again, our awareness of it empowers us to have the ability to quickly heal it within ourselves and show others how to do it as well.
All of this requires the fullest presence possible to address the issues. These are all toxic issues rooted in a form of darkness that also begs for love and light in us and the world around us. This is the ancestral lineage healing work we talk about so much. When we can admit that, regardless of how ‘enlightened’ we might be, that we are still souls having a human experience on a very troubled planet, we can fully dive in and find new pathways to empowerment for ourselves and others. What do we have to lose?
As I’ve said already, I know it stings when we realize we have been hurting others unintentionally when we thought we had the best intentions. I’ve been through it. I know all of your hearts truly want joy, bliss, peace, prosperity, purpose, passion, unity, and vitality for all life on Earth. But we can’t ignore this or any other opportunities to become the best version of ourselves for these causes.
We can do so much better and it’s time we take the deliberate actions necessary to bring ourselves into greater integrity. After all, how can we possibly hold the highest ‘vibes’ and ‘frequencies’ if we are holding resistance to addressing potential mind viruses we took on at no fault of our own?
For those of you reading this that feel ready, here is how you to start this journey, and to continue even if it gets hard:
- Educate yourselves through existing resources, such as the ones I have listed below.
- Be courageous enough to enter spaces where we are invited to remain quiet and listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters who have been silenced for many generations.
- Remain open to learning about how they are still suffering, and the ways you can help as an ally or accomplice, and what you might be doing with good intentions that are actually causing more harm.
- Be willing to acknowledge where you have been wrong, and be open to corrections as you move forward.
- Share what you have learned with others openly so that as you stop harming people, you also stop misleading others, even though it was not intentional.
- Then, focus on inclusivity in all the ways you lead or practice moving forward.
To be clear, as we move forward with inclusivity, I am not suggesting we do this by simply starting to invite the one black or brown person we know to show up and get involved, thereby resulting in even more insult added to the injury through tokenism. I mean to say that we must start taking consciously intentional actions to root out all racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and general discrimination or prejudice in our community. We need to adjust our models to reflect greater ease of access and safety in our spaces to actualize true inclusivity. We need to have sensitive conversations with ourselves and others in our community, and stop enabling those who continue their harmful ways even if it means we lose certain people or groups we have been connected to or bonded with. We have to break our patterns of elitist exclusivity in our offerings, events, teachings, and practices. Full stop. No excuses.
While it’s true that there are many reasons people of color may not be interested in what we have to offer, I have personally seen and heard more times than I can count that our spaces are not safe for the ones who are interested, are not easily accessible, do not intentionally work to include BIPOC outside of tokenism, and often incorporate patronizing displays of cultural appropriation that evoke a perception of mockery and a sense of disrespect from us. We have to do better. We have to do our due diligence and end the continual perpetuation of another subculture that blatantly disenfranchises those who our entire movement was intended to bring equality and unity with. Today.
Resources and things to know:
Groups on Facebook:
- Global Decolonization Initiative
- Healing from Whiteness: Decolonization Work for those who Identify as White
- White-Fragility & Decolonisation — No white-tears
- Conversations with White People: Talking about race
- Free Emotional Labor Club
- Free Emotional Labor Club 2.0
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Space For All: De-Centering White Privilege in Yoga+Mindfulness Communities
- Decolonizing Massage Therapy and Healing
This full-length documentary explains how the 13th Amendment in the US Constitution ‘abolishes’ slavery unless it is used as a punishment for a crime (which incentivizes criminalizing the people you are trying to oppress).
This is the elephant in the room of systemic racism and continued slavery in the USA
- ALEC is a council of large corporations that envisions and drafts ‘fill in the blank’ legislation. They distribute these out to your lawmakers to pass and enact, often without a public vote. At least 50 of these corporations utilize prison labor as part of their business practices. Prison labor falls under the 13th amendment’s loophole and is broadly seen as legal slavery with several prisons giving nothing to their labor force and only up to a maximum of $1.15 per hour in others.
- The confession from Nixon’s aide who exposes the true nature of the ‘war on drugs’ campaign and its intentions to criminalize and lock up black protestors and ‘hippie’ allies.
- Black people in the USA number 12.6% of the population but make up roughly 40% of the world’s largest prison population. Lethal force by police is disproportionately used with black people and in black neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the systemic impact of racism also puts black people in the lowest-earning demographic in the states, while never having received reparations.
- More on White Fragility and White Privilege, which include even more links to follow in them.
- Know their names and stories so you understand some of what is being addressed. Here is a digital monument to even more.
- I am also available to offer compassionate support for those genuinely going through this learning process. As long as you are truly willing to do the work necessary, I am willing to hold space for you. No judgment, no chastisement. Just love, acceptance, and support while you process and evolve.
Remember… white silence is consenting to violence that costs BIPOC lives.
If you liked this article please don’t forget to give it a ‘clap’ below, and I’m always grateful for financial gestures of gratitude for my writing. ❤️