Dignity Down Low

I learned something today.

I’ve been having trouble relating to a man at work. I admit it, I’ve been kind of cold to him lately. It stems from an incident that happened at few weeks ago between me, the man and another person. The specifics aren’t important except I felt the situation was tinged with racial overtones but I didn’t say anything at the time. I just shut down. I didn’t feel he could understand my perspective. But I have been practicing so, today, when he was near by I tried to stand in my space and breathe with my heart open.

You know what happened? I suddenly remembered something I was feeling yesterday. The market I sometimes stop at on the way home from work is in a well-heeled neighborhood. As I went into the market another women came in at the same time. I immediately “typed” her. Trim, blond, wearing a “I shop and hike in this” expensive, down vest, expensive leather backpack in lieu of purse, carrying her reusable shopping bags. I think I was thinking, “Well good for you” and not in a good way. Coming out I remembered something I could get in the drugstore next door. I drove over, hopped out and there she was again. She had walked over from the market and I think I was thinking, “How correct”. But then I thought that it was a perfect opportunity for… a bow.( Once again I refer to my favorite article;  http://www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/long-journey-bow)  I had given in to “the conceit of self”  in a big way.  So I bowed figuratively.  My judgments about her aside (greater than, less than, equal to), that woman reminded me about saving resources and I was grateful because that’s important to me.

But today I realized that there’s more to it than that. I was angry and frustrated in both situations. Since I’m African-American, I also have that added layer of what the article calls “the legacy of scraping”. That woman and my co-worker have the benefit of being part of a group that has always been at the top of the pecking order in this culture so they don’t have the same legacy. No matter what I think of their ways of being, those ways will always set the standard. And, in terms of this society, no matter what my way of being, they decide if I am “other” to the point of unworthiness. But I chose not to internalize that. As the article says,

“The path to renouncing scraping can be long and liberating, a reclaiming of dignity, and a letting go of patterns of fear. Discriminating wisdom, which we are never encouraged to renounce, clearly understands the difference between a bow and a scrape. A true bow can be a radical act of love and freedom”

I learned I choose to renounce scraping and bow in love and freedom. So, when it came to the supermarket lady, I was successful. It was hard to get over myself in the moment but I did it and I bowed.   It’s going to take me some more time with my co-worker. I’m grateful my practice led me to not just try to open my heart but to look inside it as well.

Advertisements

Prayer

I love you the divine One
With all my mind, heart and soul.
I pray I will see You in the faces
Of all those I meet.
I pray I will reflect Your love
To all those I meet.
I pray I will remember as I am leaning to the left
You are on my right.
I admit my sin as a turning away from You to pursue
myself
Let me be myself in You.
I pray I will always appreciate Your wonder
With awe and not superstition.
I love you, hear my cry.

Bayete, bayete, bayete
How Great Thou Art
All praise to your name.

I want to come to You headless
Voiceless so I can hear You
Thoughtless so I will not define
Myself, beside myself
And outside myself
But instead one in You
I want to come to You headless
Heart open so I can feel You
Only then can I define
Right thought
And right action
And they will be one in You.

I pray to that-which-is-not-different-from-everything
For the stillness that allows
The awareness of Your totality.
I pray for the quiet that is both
The eternal scream
And the divine whisper.
I pray for the blessing of these things
To come upon me, to swallow me
Until I am no more
And everything is.

(To give credit where credit is due, among other influences; “as I am leaning to my left…” is a loose rendering of a line from the Seal song “Let’s Get It Together”. See music page. “I love you, hear my cry” is from Psalm 116:1-2 and Donny Hathaway. See music page. I learned the word “bayete” (Oh hail) from a song by the same name sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir. See music page. Hmm..I see a pattern here.)

Close My Heart & Raise My Shields

So I’ve shared the article with you (www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/long-journey-a-bow) and talked about how “the bow” has affected me and how I read it everyday.  Now let me tell you what happens after I read it everyday.

I start out every morning with the article and then I move onto my prayers. I pray for the ability to “bow” to each being I’m with that day. And I pray for the ability to see the Divine in the faces of all those I’m with that day. I leave my home with an open heart and a positive attitude.

And by noon…I’m a big ole bitch! Out the window goes my desire to bow to others. I become so frustrated and defensive by what feels like ignorance and selfishness that I close my heart and raise my shields. I live in a place that is notorious for its rude drivers. After a few minutes in traffic I’m ready for boxing not bowing. And as an African-American I try to remember the part of the article that talked about the history of “bowing and scraping” that makes it hard for some of us to bow. But then someone at work will make some insensitive remark (like about hair, etc.) and I’m not about bowing at all!

A shaman friend of mine told me to look inside myself. It may be the way to discover how and why I’m letting my buttons get pushed. A therapist told me the same thing. Am I closing my heart to general injustice or am I taking it personally? Because if I’m taking it personally then it means I’m indulging in the “conceit of self”. (Greater than, less than, equal to) Oops!

So this is where I am on my journey to the bow. My goal is to keep my heart open until…. 1PM.