Can an extreme focus on racism limit our spiritual development?
By Verona Spence-Adofo
We recently posted the question ‘Can an extreme focus on racism limit our spiritual development?’ and to be expected it caused a mixed array of feelings and responses. Due to the complex nature of the topic I’ve decided to write an article explaining the motivation behind the question.
One of the most common responses we received suggested that being in denial of racism ultimately leaves us naïve to certain situations in life particularly pertaining to ourselves and how we have been historically treated, thus leaving us ill-equipped to deal with our current reality. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Awareness in any aspect in life is always going to give you a wider understanding of any situation by increasing your perspective. If it were not for me recognising the complexities of racism and how it has influenced how we view our ancient African Spiritual traditions I wouldn’t have begun the search of learning about our ancestral teachings and the ‘Ancestral Voices’ platform wouldn’t even exist. That was a level of ‘programming’ that I personally needed to overcome in order to move forward and develop an understanding of myself and my ancestral heritage. There are many others who still struggle with this aspect due to their lack of understanding of the role racism, religion, the educational system and the media has played in constructing their perceptions of reality. So to clarify, I recognise racism exists. Many were insistent that the post meant denying racism and that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m exploring is the notion of being able to acknowledge something without letting it consume you.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you should have noticed that there has been a continuous bombardment of ‘race baiting’ stories in the media from severe tragic cases to subtle references. We’ve been faced with horrific images of people being executed on camera, murderers of people walking away scot-free and showing no remorse, open mockery and contempt for African countries, corporate companies associating black people with animals and all sorts! Literally, daily there is something else to be ‘up in arms’ about! I’ve compiled just a few headlines of what I’ve witnessed since writing this very article.
Now that we’ve established that our psyche is fed this type of narrative repeatedly, let’s get deeper into the conversation…
What we are witnessing could be perceived as a spiritual attack, as these daily messages are often stirring up emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, helplessness and frustration. Therefore, these external ‘forces’ are able to control people’s ‘emotions’ and ‘reactions’ simply by releasing headlines, video clips, articles and so forth whether they are factual or not.
When starting out on my spiritual journey 17 years ago, I was heavily into conspiracy theories and literally became OBSESSED! Everything was ‘The Illuminati’ this, ‘The Illuminati’ that. As with all situations there are positive and negative aspects, in this instance the positives were that it taught me to have an objective opinion of the world, I questioned EVERYTHING and by viewing the world through a new lens, I was able to pick up on things that I were previously oblivious to. It was at this point that I became aware of symbolism, ritual and the idea that understanding esoteric teachings could impact our physical reality. The negatives were that I became too consumed with thoughts such as, ‘The Illuminati’ are trying to kill us, they are poisoning the air, contaminating our foods, doing rituals to hurt us etc.
Whether this is true or not is no longer my concern, as I realised the necessity to shift my focus. By consuming myself with this ‘doom and gloom’ mentality I had condemned myself to a lifetime of fear. I had even decided not to have children because of the sad state of the world. Eventually I no longer worried about the rituals they were doing as I realised the importance of conducting my own and focusing on what I wanted to manifest in my own life. I took the positive learnings from the experience and moved on and left the negativity behind. The ‘conspiracy era’ was a step in my own personal development, I could have easily got stuck there. I’m telling this story as an example of what happens when you allow your mind to buy into this ‘Boogeyman’ entity. It moves you from a place of empowerment to enslavement and you feed it by giving it your mental energy.
This is precisely what is happening now as we are routinely being fed imagery that reinforces the notion of black people being oppressed, murdered, enslaved, ridiculed etc. Now I stress once again, whilst these things may be true we have to be mindful of how it impacts us spiritually.
To come into one’s own spirituality is to reclaim our own individual power. To be constantly emotionally manipulated by an unknown force daily is not power. Yet, it is a predicament that many of us have become entwined in.
One of the key teachings in African spiritual thought is to recognise the power and potential of the mind, this acknowledgement reminds us of the importance of being mindful of the things we choose to focus on and allow into our consciousness. In 2013 I was honoured to have met and spent time with Prof. Bayyinah Bello (Historian and Vodou practitioner) in Haiti. One of the things that she told me that will always remain with me was that ‘In Vodou you manifest.’ She explained that in Vodou you have the ability to manifest things into your life. Not by praying with hope, but the ability to set your intentions via ritualised prayer and have it physically manifest into your reality. (Now that’s power!). Her wisdom was also echoed by High Sansusi Zulu Sangoma Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa who also featured in our Ancestral Voices: Spirit is Eternal film when he said ‘African prayer is praying with images’.
The esoteric teachings which are the foundations of African cosmologies are well documented in the works of Tehuti (Thoth) in Kemet/KMT (Ancient Egypt) which are referred to as The 7 Hermetic Principles.
1. The Principle of Mentalism.
2. The Principle of Correspondence.
3. The Principle of Vibration.
4. The Principle of Polarity.
5. The Principle of Rhythm.
6. The Principle of Cause and Effect.
7. The Principle of Gender.
The 1st principle is The Principle of Mentalism: The All is mind; The Universe is Mental. Based on this principle we learn that we create with our minds and have the ability to shape our reality. Therefore, if we are constantly being fed negative imagery of ourselves what are we creating? The Principle of Vibration will see to it that we will continue to attract the very same thing we are apparently fighting against.
Use your mind wisely!