The reality of my blackness is weighing against the fluidity of my emptiness. That emptiness which is the primordial nothingness that gave rise to the co-dependent origination of … everything … has been mostly forgotten, lost … tossed aside as irrelevant … in our psychological perception of life. As a modern day contemplative, I look back, intrinsically, on the legacy of the personage that has been assigned to me extrinsically. This physical structure has gone from being defined as African, to Slave, to Nigger, to Slave, to Negro, to Nigga, to Black, to “Black and Proud”, to Nigga, to African-American and on a more universal, holistic reference that came about through my own personal investigation into truth … to nothingness.
In light of the recent police shooting in San Francisco and on the heels of contemplating the conclusion of my thesis, Perceiving Oneness for Compassionate Action (where I placed very little faith in human beings ability to transcend the conditioned ego’s need for objectified segregation from otherness) I am left contemplating how the world views “me” from an objectified stance (the typical stance) and how I view my (our) eternal legacy as nothingness. The collision is heavy weighted.
Then I’m returned to a deeply resonating piece by Thomas Berry I read last night before I entered the dreamworld where he stated rather eloquently:
“Here we might observe that the basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the earth. If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.” (From The Dream of the Earth, “The New Story”, pg. 137)
This is a pretty profound statement, and as I was contemplating the collision of my blackness and interpenetrating emptiness, the profundity of this statement gave me a vision of black people during slavery not being able to optimistically view their condition and in need of being released from such turmoil that they had to turn to the only thing they were allowed to perceive as their salvation: Jesus. This statement gives me a vision that our confidence in the future of civilization comes through our ability to look beyond our human condition into the enormity of that which has sustained existence to this point and sensitize our perceptual capacity to its immensely powerful resourcefulness.
Thus, I’m back to contemplating the young black man who was killed by SFPD Officers, his own criminality and the ease in which we justify his being killed because of his own history of violence and criminal behavior. Yet, I still remain stuck on the question of: When does the criminal behavior of police officers become the focus of the conversation and not the justification of their continued violence against young men and people of color? When do we stop, to say, there is no justification for killing? Our collective propensity for and acceptance of violence is utterly appalling. It is markedly different as a black man who “fits the description” of many young men that have been historical victims of “justified” injustice. My blackness – in part – recognizes that people who look like me are killing people that look like me daily. On the other side it recognizes that those that are put here to protect us are doing the same thing. Then, I think about how people who justify his killing don’t understand my outrage, even looking at his criminality, because they don’t understand that continued justification means, well … continued justification for the killing of young black men. Leaving me to ask, will it ever stop? And further, as Jiddu Krishnamurti asked, “Is there any such thing as security?”
“If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process.”
Yes, “there is reason to believe”. The reality of emptiness, the nothingness that dissolves the egoistic view of “I am”, is deeply embedded in that statement and holds my attention to this moment and sees the truth in that statement, yet the reality of how I am perceived doesn’t trust it because my life, and our collective life, is not valued anymore than the lives of young men and women all over the world that are brutally killed for innumerable reasons daily. The truth of the matter is, it won’t stop until we stop justifying it.
We cannot awaken to the enormity of what Thomas Berry eloquently wrote until we are able to take a strong stance against the various anchors of ignorance that won’t allow us to be “sensitive to such guidance.” Because if we truly sensitize to the “dynamism that brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere” then we will truly understand the inherent beauty and value of each and every human life, then take much more careful consideration before we justify killing people … for whatever reason.
Yes, my blackness is heavy weighted against the interpenetrating, all encompassing, emptiness. Yet … blackness is emptiness … emptiness is blackness. 🙂