As a white male, I've grown up with a level of privilege and entitlement in this world which had led me to rarely question my advantages, but worse, sometimes question the plight of those who mostly experience disadvantage and discrimination -- the total opposite of privilege and entitlement. As a person who, above all, strives to serve the greatest good of others and the greatest good of all, this is an unacceptable state. Fortunately, after being in a long-term relationship with a person of color, I've had the blessing to be able to gain a better understanding of how the dichotomy of skin color separates us in subtle ways, and how we still to this day create unfair advantages for ourselves, even in states of ignorance when we are trying to help. In this blog, I explore various ways that we, as white people, create these disadvantages, as well as how we can transcend beyond the lip service we give to people of color as we all try to erase separation and truly treat each other as equals.
Living in this world as an individual whose life is a set of linear experiences over time, we may fall into the trap of seeing things only from our own point of view, unable to see the other side of an argument because of our own lack of experience. This is compounded when we surround ourselves with others who have only had similar life experiences, resulting in an echo chamber that amplifies our own beliefs and reassures us that our positions are the correct ones.
A simple example of this can be shown any given day on social media, where we argue about concepts that have been neatly placed into dichotomies that force us to “pick a side.” Without a variety of life experiences, it becomes easy to pick one of the sides and then get swept into an argument where we disregard the experience of others, which may be different than our own.
I've had my kundalini awakened by a Siddha Yogi in India, visited ma ayahuasca with shamans, participated in white tantric yoga, become certified in reikki and breathwork, worked with the akashic records, practiced guided and silent meditation for years, experienced lucid dreaming and out of body experiences, and even once spent a night in jail, but nothing could quite prepare me for my recent 10-day vipassana seminar near Dallas, Texas hosted by dhamma.org.
I have to say first-hand that it was a life-changing experience, and in great alignment with my philosophical beliefs. The retreat taught me a new way of meditating that has made it a great pleasure to meditate for long periods of time while sitting still; witnessing sensations arise and pass with objective equanimity has also led me to approach the world in a different way.
Since being back (it's been two weeks as I write this), I've been meditating twice a day, averaging at least 90 minutes of meditation per day, and in those times, really getting to know my body, mind, and senses, inside and out. This practice is one that I can see carrying on for a long time because it is so empowering, and it allows me to journey within myself for the answers by exploring sensations arising from within. As I continue to meditate daily, I can literally feel physical healing, and I am more able to connect with others to "be there" with an few extra moments to listen before letting my thoughts and sensations lead me to a hasty response. I've also totally lost interest in facebook debates, politics, and other argumentative divisive activities disguised as worthy philosophical discussion. In fact, reading some of my older posts on this site yesterday, I can see a growth in my thought processes. Certain things, which used to sometimes consume me, have just become irrelevant, and I don't even need to try to explain anymore. "Change starts from within" has a more genuine meaning to me now. I see a vibration shift, and I can see how this helps me focus on giving more time to positive contributions. The work continues, but it's been a great start.
Here is a blog I wrote about the retreat on my Guided Meditation Treks site with more details. I highly recommend that ANYONE gather the motivation, strength, and courage to take a 10-day retreat with Goenka. It will change your life... actually YOU will change your life! - READ MORE
People get uncomfortable when called out on their stuff. I know I do, anyway. Sometimes, an individual gets called out, and sometimes it’s a group or culture. For example, I often post intense political or scientific ideas on Facebook, such as alternative views on reality that are not currently accepted by the mainstream. Most “Facebook debates” are framed into a dichotomy. Someone is either on the popular side of the argument or the unpopular side. Nevertheless, as much as we might try, it can be nearly impossible to find truth between only two choices. To take the evolution versus creation debate, I believe there is evolution, but there is also an unseen creative consciousness beyond entropy that shapes it. Since this theory doesn’t fit into the black/white dichotomy between Darwinian evolution and biblical creation, people get uncomfortable.
Copyright (c) 2015 Russell Eric Dobda