Juneteenth (June 19th) commemorates the ending of slavery in 1865, when the last enslaved Americans learned that they had been freed. There have been great improvement since then in our thinking about racism and a lot still needs to be done to level the playing field for all in our great country, the USA.
Today we will discuss a unique approach in getting racial equality by developing understanding of our individual consciousness that I call the flame (of consciousness). I strongly believe that we can move beyond our fixation on race by cultivating this individual consciousness and recognizing that the flame (of consciousness) has no color.
We all know that we are born with a body and a mind. This is what we mostly work on, because this is what we know we can work on. That’s true but not completely true in my view. We are born with three assets, not just two:
- Individual body
- Individual mind
- Individual consciousness – the flame
And, we can work on all three. Even after we truly understand and realize our inner individual consciousness, we will have to come back to the mind and related means to make it happen.
The flame is the sustaining force for the body and the mind, whether we know it or not. We work on the body and mind to become successful because we know about them. There are ways to know the flame and work on it. The start can be by spending some quiet and quality time with ourselves, intermittent silence.
The existence provides us uniqueness. Our body, mind and the flame are highly individualized and completely unique. There are no carbon copies of you or me. The potentials of our unique existence also vary. Let’s examine each asset in a little greater detail.
The Individual Body
This is the most visual part of us. Many of us identify our self with the body. Others also identify us with the body. And, our body comes in different colors, heights, and shapes. Our mind starts grouping us according to one criterion or the other and then again, our minds start profiling according to their classification. I am brown in USA, someone else is black, white or yellow as determined by color of the skin. It’s based on hard facts. We look different. What lies behind the skin does not matter, who cares about what color my brain is or what color my prostate is.
I grew up in Patna, India. We are all brown there but, many of you may not know, there are different shades of brown. Different shades are not a big deal in India, but how handsome some man is or how beautiful a girl is is determined by the lightness of their color. That is one of the determining factors. Famously speaking the Lord Krishna who existed 5000 years ago was the darker shade while his friend Radha was on the lighter side.
Now, I am in the USA. We all know color of skin matters different here compared to some other places. There is a different history here. It became a big deal recently with the movement termed black lives matter after the death of George Floyd. Why is it so?
The individual and collective mind
As far as the skin color of our individual bodies are concerned, it is different. It’s a matter of fact for most of us. But we are different in many other ways. Why is the color so important? We need to look at the 2nd asset, the individual mind to understand better why it is so.
We all use our own individual minds under the influence of a collective mind. Thought leaders can influence the collective mind. There is conditioning of mind that is associated with long history of slavery, end of slavery and now assimilation of same people in the society as one.
The change in mindset is happening but is a slow process because deep inside, some still discriminate. The social status and economic conditions still have disparity. The narrative I hear is that racism puts barriers in their path that are essentially insurmountable and that for black people, life in America is difficult. If segregation was practiced based on some body attribute, be it color or height, at one time, it is easy to understand the biases and differences it could have generated. A free mixing creates familiarity and has chances of improved relations even though the color does not change.
The color is not going to change; we have to change our conversation about it. How can skin color become a nonevent, not by not using the word black or brown, but by making the use of these words meaningless. Is that possible?
How do we change the mindset? Familiarity has helped. Legislations also have helped. Social leaders also have helped. Each sad and unfortunate event have also helped. But, is there a deeper change needed?
Yes, deeper change brings a deeper realization. Deeper realization changes our thinking. Then working on the mind is not needed; it just happens. Change in the mindset is a natural byproduct of a deeper understanding. I strongly believe that cultivating individual consciousness can move us beyond how we think about color of skin and race.
The Flame (of consciousness)
When we think of or hear about consciousness, we imagine of a universal consciousness. There also exists individual consciousness that is unique to each of us that I refer to as the flame. The flame is something within all of us, but it is not the soul, or the physical body. It’s not our spirit or our mind. The flame is something intangible but something that we all have and can get to. The flame of consciousness provides the core strength to our being
The physical body is so important and helps us achieve a healthy physical state. Mind helps us educated and develop systems and policies. Mindfulness, a part of our mind, is such an useful tool. Awareness goes with the flame similar to mindfulness going with the mind. The flame is aware of everything: the sleep surrounding you and the thoughts passing through your mind and more. And, above all, we all have a flame of individual consciousness whether we are black, brown, yellow, or white.
An example that I have to demonstrate the meaning of the flame is this. I had a friend years ago, who tried to convince me to buy an electric car. He had just purchased one and every time he saw me, he would say, “Buy this car!” or “It’s worth it!” Then, after several months, he changed his tune. He was so angry with the car and told me, “Don’t ever buy an electric car!” I asked him what had happened, and he said that it was the middle of winter, he had to drive somewhere far away, and he was freezing inside of his car. But if he turned the heat on, he would not reach his destination as the car did not have enough charge. So, he had to drive all wrapped up in layers and layers of clothes, just so he would be warm enough to make it to his destination. This is a great way to think about the flame. The car itself is like our physical body; it can be different color, shape or size. The dashboard and all the gadgets in the car is our mind. But our flame is like that car’s battery. The body can protect the car and the gadgets inside, and the gadgets can all continue to operate and work (much like our mind) but without charging the flame (the car battery), the car will just slowly run out of energy. So, remember that in order to have the best body, the best mind, you must always be charging your battery … you must always be listening to your flame.
Finally, the flame has no color. Knowing this is the final freedom from the color of skin. It is quite possible that your individual flame was in a different color body in your past life or the same flame may be part of a different color future physical body that you may come back into. Even if you don’t believe in journey from life to life, you still will realize the same; consciousness has no color and your individual consciousness which is very similar to everyone else’s consciousness, also has no color .
It’s not very dissimilar to electricity and light bulbs. Electrical energy has no color, but light bulbs can be of different colors. If the light bulbs happen to be conscious beings and not know about the underlying electrical energy, they will start grouping themselves into societies i.e. tube light society, small bulbs society, full spectrum bulb society and so on.
Once the flame (of consciousness) experience becomes real, the mind cannot think of discriminating based on color, height or the size of the body. The body then becomes carrier of this flame of consciousness, an important carrier, whose primary purpose is growth of the body, mind and the flame. Understanding this and cultivating individual consciousness can help us in speeding up the process of achieving racial harmony.