I recently posted as guest author on the website of my mentor and guide on the Yoga path. I tell you this to save me rewriting a lot of the carefully crafted piece that I did there… you can read it if you’re interested here >>> https://swami-nishchalananda.com/2020/07/02/possibilities-for-social-justice/
Here’s a small extract from that piece… give you the flavour of where we’re going today.
Now many people are saying enough is enough and this wonderful worldwide movement against racism has started up. May it continue. Why did anyone ever think Black Lives didn’t matter? Some people are on the bandwagon of course, but that’s ok. As long as we raise the profile of the fight. And it has been a fight in which many have died. If you have a brain, you know that discrimination by race lives in the world of sheep, automatons, robots, any entity that can be programmed. We can all be programmed actually, couldn’t function unless we had patterns of knowing how to do things.
However, the further possibility for us humans, is that we can use our minds to see how we can evolve, understand what is this life. It’s been my experience that on such a journey of enquiry we soon start to see that we are all part of the same life, the vital force behind all life, therefore to focus on differences is only of use in a football match etc where we’re having fun. Or admiration… like you might say…’ooh I wish I had curly hair like you’! Used in blind ignorance to create reasons for going to war with someone/a whole bunch of people, well… that just takes us backwards in the effort to make this planet of ours an enjoyable place to live.
Do you cross the street to get away from someone because they’ve got brown eyes, and you have blue eyes? Well racism is that irrational and sheeplike. And that’s actually an insult to sheep. How about socks? Do you have something against people who wear green socks?
Welcome to Stupidland.
Ok enough of that Rant!! What the above-mentioned article went on to say is that if we can mobilise so much of the innate Goodness in people to stand up against injustice, why not just… keep going… and look at the gross injustice that is distribution of wealth and resources on the planet. Which is kind of where I left off last time in this blog. I’d started thinking, what is the point of bringing the financial models we’ve used in the West, into a place where people live a relatively hand-to-mouth existence. Capitalism for god’s sake, teaching people how to screw their brothers and sisters until someone ends up at the top of the pile.
Let’s go back a step… when you go to someone else’s culture, the polite thing to do first is to understand that culture as much as you can (being from a different one). Don’t wade in and start deciding how you’re going to help them …. remember ‘voluntourism’ projects where the whites build a library for people way out in the bush who haven’t had the chance to learn to read. Ok that’s an extreme example but that stuff happens.
If you can read the culture a bit better, and that only comes with sensitivity, and time spent with people, then they can guide us how to use skills that we might have, but they haven’t had the chance to learn. Let me give you an example: A friend of mine who is one of the Yoga teachers in the group we established in Katete District, said recently ‘Initiative is not taught here’. I have seen that schooling can be repetitive so you are just fed information with no training in how to make sense of it. But it was like that in the UK when I was at school… it really depends on the teacher.
But there’s a point here. Through seeing decision making processes happen, people who have lost that skill can regain it. I trained three of my good friends how to teach Yoga. It was hard because I had to learn how they were themselves learning what I tried to get across. Then slowly we ‘adapted to each other’s way of thinking’. Now they are awesome Yoga Teachers, African style.
What am I saying. Don’t try to teach people from a different Culture things that you think they should know. Spend the time, years if necessary, learning from them. Guess what, you may just find that your life has been enriched in the most wonderful way. And the projects to improve people’s living standards, if that’s what they want, will come from that learning process naturally, not forced.
Finally, back to the Main Subject of this blog…. Ketty. She’s been starved of her Schooling by this Covid business, but she’s been joining in the Yoga classes, really loving it. She has great ability to teach. It was funny watching her teach adults at the Lodge how to do Jigsaw puzzles (they’ve never seen in this part of the world), also she gets very businesslike when she’s teaching me Sign Language. So maybe she’ll become a teacher of Yoga for both deaf and hearing people. That would be something.
Lot’s of Love from us all.