I got my Master’s in Spiritual Psychology in 2013.
To me, back then, I thought that learning spirituality also meant learning social justice, since to me spirituality meant empathy meant learning about the injustices so that we could do better. I was at a school in Santa Monica, California, with mostly white privileged people, and genuinely thought that’s where I would learn about social justice as well.
It wasn’t, obviously. It took me feeling unsatisfied with my degree and continuously cast off to the margins to realize there was definitely a social division that was present in my spiritual practices as well. Absolutely everything that I held dear to me in my education ignored very important aspects of society. For a moment, in me trying to “do better”, I genuinely thought that ignoring things like racism and the patriarchy was helpful because then I wasn’t adding to the “bad vibes”. The Law of Attraction had taught me that which we give our attention to, we give energy to. So if I ignored it, I was doing a service to those suffering from racism. Everyone who believed in Law of attraction would then (and continue to now) tell you that.
Boy, was that just a bunch of privileged bullshit. It breeds lack of empathy, and is a harmful way of thinking for many people if it continues to be sold in the light-hearted fashion that has continued to be sold by “New Age” spiritualists that blame victims for their misfortune.
First of all, The Law of Attraction has too many holes in it, most of which are nicely written out here. My main problem with it is that it promotes lack of empathy. (Just google “law of attraction and lack of empathy”). Second of all, many of the psychological heroes we follow are deeply problematic one way or another. Jung was racist, Maslow stole and butchered the hierarchy of needs from the Blackfoot Nation, Gestalting (a fantastic form of therapy) was popularized by white men who had many problems themselves. Also, why was everything I learned written by white men? Where are the writings by women and people of color? This kind of problematic doesn’t stop in psychology, of course, but goes deeply into spirituality as well. A few examples are: Gandhi is said to have been racist, had unhealthy ideas of sex, and probably learned non-violence from his wife. Eckhart Tolle ignores social issues and trauma which essentially victim-blames, the Yoga movement in the USA is white-washed and mostly insults the spirituality and history behind it. Even my beloved political movements had deep problems. The different waves of feminism have been racist, ableist, and classist, and incredibly transphobic.
As I questioned everything I had ever known and loved, and saw the brainwashing and programming, I realized I had been knee-deep in it my whole life, and there was no way to get out of it because it was everywhere. Absolutely every single one of us that has been educated in post-colonial education have internalized duality and some (if not all) form of bigotry and rejection towards gender, race, class, and disabled or fat bodies. Regardless of whether we consider ourselves spiritual or not.
Every authority in my life who I had loved and respected has, (and continues to) teach me the duality of genders, favoring whiteness and thinness, rejection of disability and fatness, and encourages ignoring “bad vibes” in the form of “negative thoughts” and “feelings”. My attempts at pushing back have been seen as radical, quirky, dramatic, or over-emotional, rather than a deep awareness and ability to understand how capitalism has completely fucked us over, that White Supremacy is very much alive, that internalized toxic patriarchy has been taught to every person and Colonialism is the source of a very sick society.
I had to lose some of my privileges and be cast off before I could practice true empathy the way I sought to with Spiritual Psychology. To this day, the only person in my nucleus family that supports my radical views is my little sister. Everyone else shies away from the “aggressiveness” of my beliefs (tone-policing, yet another tool to condemn marginalized voices), sees me as exaggerated or is apathetic to my views, as if they were some personal perspective I made up.
Among my friends I am seen mostly as radical though supported, but aside from my partners, most people in my sphere of friends do not feel quite the same and with my lack of knowledge and resources, I am constantly feeling like I am not doing enough.
I suspect that most people are too busy trying to stay alive in a capitalist world depleting them of their every resource, or simply too privileged and comfortable to want to bother themselves with radical empathy. Or rather people want to be liked so much, they rather ignore what sounds like made-up concepts than face the spiritual truth of this duality. I have been guilty of all three things.
As I become more aware and my comrades and I become restless for change, Martin Luther King Jr’s famous quote rings constantly in my ears, “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.” It is not just black people and the KKK, but any marginalized voice cast aside by the “nice neighbor”. By polite relatives. By friends just trying to keep “positive vibes only”, by people playing “devil’s advocate”, by the “nice guy” who does bare minimum, by the people who think peace is in doing nothing.
It took me seeking real help to realize it was not out there, for years, to realize the government and capitalism did not care about me, or my life. And that this system had taught me to lack empathy. That it had seeped into my spirituality. And now, finally removing as many binds from my eyes as I can, I see the blindness and the complacency of most people around me. The complacency kills me. You are complacent, and therefore complicit.
I do not think I am better than anyone, as I will never be completely free of the programming. I have done and continue to do problematic things, because all of us, under a trash system, are essentially trash. A concept that Gem (@urdoingreat on instagram) helped me stomach, as I realize that the sooner we can understand this, the sooner we can become recyclable trash. Essentially never perfect, but always serving a higher purpose.
To me, there is no deeper spirituality than that of serving our planet and its every life. Any movement that does not include people of color, that does not acknowledge the land and those who care for it, that does not care for fat, trans, and disabled bodies, that does not incorporate the spectrum of our gender identity and therefore does not centralize radical empathy for human kind is only furthering our divide. In there lies what I believe to be a good human. In there lies what I believe to be good enough. There is no neutral position in a system of oppression, no matter how much we want to believe it. Especially those who benefit the most from this system. I have benefited from this system because I am cis-gendered (ie I agree with the gender that I was assigned at birth). I have benefited from this system because I am white. I have benefited from this system because I am able-bodied, and mostly seen within the compounds of acceptable “curviness”. But being a woman, and a sensitive one with mental illness has made it so that people have pushed my thoughts and ideas aside, so that I am left screaming in righteous anger from the margins wishing I could do more for the other marginalized voices.
I will question every belief system I have, criticize my heroes, and abandon those who do not stand with me; one way or another. I will share knowledge with those wanting to learn, and practice compassion with those who I see trying. But I will not stop screaming, for my anger is valid. I am screaming to all the cis-gendered men and women in my life. I am screaming to everyone with money. I am screaming to all the white people in my life. I am screaming to all the healthy people. I am screaming to the older women in my life who run away from aggression. To all the white parents. To the white men with money. What will it take for you to care enough to look at yourself and practice radical empathy towards other humans? What will it take? What do I need to do to make it worth your while? How many more people need to die? What will it take to actively give a fuck, and make your life worth something real? Something that truly impacted a planet and a humanity that needed you to care? What will it take?
You’re not doing enough, we are at the margins and we are hurting, and all you are doing is looking away. Our anger and pain is valid, a cry out in pain, a cry so that you will hear us and see us. What will it take for you to see that true bliss is not in ignorance, but in community? What will it take for you to understand equality among humans means disrupting the status quo? Means being political? Means being angry? What will it take for you to educate yourself so you can unlearn all the harmful idiotic rhetoric you keep repeating? What will it take for you to stop getting offended when you are held accountable? What will it take for you to make radical changes in your lifestyle and how you speak? What will it take for you to genuinely, truly care, and not just say you do?
Whose pain? Whose death?
Your words mean nothing. In a bleeding world, your actions are the only acceptable currency. What do you have to give? What can you change? Who can you support that is actively seeking a whole different system? What will it take for you to do this?