One of the books from graduate school that powerfully impacted me was “Blaming the Victim”. I was in a class where I focused my work on shame—collective and individual—and got deeply immersed in how we tend to blame the victim as a way to validate our beliefs and actions. The impact of that class, and particularly the above book, has never left me. It started me on a 40+ year journey of tracking my own internal process of judging and blaming, catching myself when I can and challenging my own rationalizations about what’s happening to people locally and around the world. Even with this practice, I know that there are countless times when I engage in blaming the victim, unaware of my own biases and limiting beliefs.
As I watch the current situation in the United States—and we are not alone in our mistreatment of people we consider to be “other”—I not only feel deep heartache and distress, but am also keenly aware of how vividly a “blaming-the-victim” mentality seems to have captured the minds of those in power. That this stance lacks empathy goes without saying. The deeper problem is that blaming victims allows us to remain unaware of our privilege, of our seemingly justifiable disconnection from the suffering of others. Read More “716th Week: Blaming the Victim”
Sitting in Central Park on an absolutely beautiful morning, I find myself focusing on a daily practice I’ve taken up since the political situation in the United States became so contentious. I’d like to share it here, in case you, too, would like to engage a way to contribute each day to whatever healing may be possible for all of us.
Because of my history of growing up in a multidimensional reality, where my grandmother was a healer and collaborated actively with the “unseen world”, I have been deeply grateful to have been able to engage in what is called subtle activism. For some people, this means a practice of prayer and/or meditation. For others, it’s a practice of imagining positive energies and outcomes, offering healing energy to situations of trauma and distress, and more.
The practice I’ve taken on as a serious daily aspect of my spiritual life is to imagine the essence of universal love flowing onto the planet and into every living being, offering whatever healing and inspiration may be available. I also imagine this universal force as flowing into our human collective consciousness, touching our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with the healing essence of love. My underlying intention is to support “the greatest good for the greatest number”. This intention allows me to be fully engaged without having to figure out how we will get to an outcome that serves the greatest good for the greatest number.
What appeals to me about imagining universal love touching and filling everything and everyone is that this force doesn’t come with any belief system. Every spiritual approach I’ve encountered has identified love as the most healing force in the universe and it comes with an open neutrality, content-wise, that appeals to me. One doesn’t have to believe anything in particular to have the healing benefits of universal love. One doesn’t have to do anything at all in order to receive love—it holds no prejudice, it expresses absolutely no separateness or tribalism.Read More “817th Week: The Healing Power of Love”
Listening to a recent conversation on Buddha at the Gas Pump (www.batgap.com), the host, Rick Archer, and guest, Roger Walsh, talked about the ethics that relate to spiritual practice. This got me to thinking about the ethics of many kinds of practice, among them kindness, gratitude, generosity. As I listened to the interview, it seemed to me that an active expression of ethics is inevitably found in the ways we live, how we move through the world, the values we embrace and embody, what we do that relates to what we believe.
As this week’s practice, I invite you to focus on whatever quality speaks to you most powerfully and then explore what values, ethics, and behaviors arise from that quality. For example, if you choose kindness as your focus of the week’s practice, ask yourself what broader values encompass a life expressed with or through kindness. What beliefs and attitudes emerge naturally from expressions of kindness? What everyday behaviors arise within a context of actively expressing kindness. When you bring this exploration into the foreground of your awareness, what’s different in your interactions with others and in the quality of your thoughts about them and yourself? Keep in mind that your relationship to kindness, your ethics and values around this theme, are in addition to acts of kindness. Here, you are exploring how kindness lives in you, how it affects not only your actions but also your thoughts, attitudes, and values.Read More “779th Week: Embodying the Ethics of Practices We Engage”