New Afrikan Spirituality

will-smith-morocco-colours

Soundtrack: Bob Marley – “Africa Unite”

For several reasons, this year has been a time of pretty intense self-reflection for me. One of the main things that I have been reflecting on is my own spirituality. It really dawned on me at the beginning of Black August that I had some cognitive dissonance surrounding my spiritual beliefs; meaning that I had some beliefs which contradicted each other. With me being the philosopher that I am, that was unacceptable for me. On this last day of Black August, I have been inspired to share what I have come up with on the subject of spirituality, as it relates to not just me but to all Afrikans in North America.

Let’s start with the term New Afrikan. The United States style of slavery was the greatest crime against humanity that the world has ever known. For three hundred years, people were brought to this country from all over West and Central Africa, and completely robbed of a knowledge of their history, their language, their families, their gods, and their culture. People from dozens of distinct ethnicities were brought to this place and forged in the furnace of oppression into one new people; a naturally Pan-Afrikan people. That is why we use the term New Afrikan to describe ourselves. It also explains why our spirituality and our culture is naturally, and of necessity, a mixture of practices from across the Afrikan continent. That is the nature of who we are as a people.

But let’s go back to before the Afrikan Holocaust. In the West Africa of the 1500s there was already a mixture of expressions of spirituality. We had not only the various kinds of Afrikan Traditional Religion, but we also had people practicing Christianity and Islam and Judaism or the Hebrew religion. West Afrika was the cultural capital of the whole world at that time in history. The world’s largest university was in Timbuktu. The world’s richest man (and the richest person of all time) was Mansa Musa, ruler of the Mali Empire. People came from all over the world to study and do business with the people of West Afrika. Those visitors also influenced us in various ways, not the least of which was spreading their religions among us. (This is very oversimplified but I don’t have the space to fully explain the inter-cultural dynamics of 14th century West Afrika.)

Even earlier than that, starting about 70,000 years ago, people started leaving our ancestral homeland in Afrika and venturing out to populate the rest of the world. Those Afrikan people went into Asia and Australia and the Pacific Islands and the Americas and eventually formed very new cultures in response to the various kinds of environments that they moved into. But all of them maintained some of the influence of our earliest Afrikan human Ancestors.

So our Ancestors who were brought to North America to be made slaves came from various Afrikan cultures. And they were forced to abandon almost all of their various cultural traits. Give thanks though that some aspects of what makes us Afrikan could never be stamped out, they just live in our souls. Over the course of our sojourn in this land, we’ve also been exposed to people from all over the world.

All of our distant cousins, descended from those adventurous Afrikans who left home tens of thousands of years ago, decided to come to Amerika in the 19th and 20th century to take advantage of some of this land of opportunity that they were told about. And of course, there were those who had already been living in this land for tens of thousands of years before the Europeans came. So this people from all over the Afrikan continent came to America and got introduced to people representing all of the various ways of being human that have been developed on the planet. And we have taken all of those cultural inputs and filtered them through our unique Afrikan soul algorithm to output a new kind of swag that has taken over the cultures of the whole world.

New Afrikan culture, especially our cultural expression called Hip Hop, has become the dominant cultural expression for the youth of literally our whole planet. I believe that is because we are an amalgamation of the whole world, with some one-of-a-kind Afrikan spices put into this melting pot. So we have a vibration or frequency that the entire global population can resonate with.

But let’s remember that we started this American experience by having our cultural roots stolen from us. So we are still in the process of intentionally reconstructing who we are. That especially applies to how we choose to express our spirituality. I believe that we should embrace our various influences in how we reconstruct our spirituality. Let me reiterate my earlier point to make it more clear.

Humanity started in Afrika. For over a million years, the only place where human beings could be found was in Afrika. Afrika is the womb that shaped us as a species. At a certain point, we started venturing out into the rest of the planet and discovering new ways of being human; while we were simultaneously spreading all over Afrika and discovering various ways of being an Afrikan kind of human. After 70,000 years of wandering the Earth, all of the world’s various kinds of cultural expression were finally brought back into one place: in North America, but especially within the hearts and minds of the New Afrikans. The cultural boomerang that started in ancient Afrika went all around the planet and ended up back at the Afrikans living in America. We are the repository of the cultures of all peoples, from all eras, and all parts of the world. It is our privilege and our responsibility to take the best part from all cultural expressions and form them into one seamless, wonderful New Afrikan culture.

And we have already done so.

Many of us have latched onto the primary defining characteristic of Afrikan spirituality which is veneration for the Ancestors. The Afrikan view is that death is only a part of the cycle of life. Those who have died and gone on to the Ancestral realm are several steps closer to the Divine than we are, but they are also connected to us because they live on within us. So our best way of communion with the Divine is to maintain positive relationships with our Ancestors who are very much willing and able to serve as the bridge for us to the power of the Unseen.

There is also a large swath of our culture that has latched onto the traditions of Asia. One of the hallmarks of Asian spirituality is the focus on the breath and the Qi, or the energetic life force that makes us alive.  The people of Eastern Asia have focused on refining this practice for thousands of years. What is called Traditional Chinese Medicine is all about managing one’s energy to optimize health and wellness. New Afrikan people have been undergoing very serious study of these disciplines for many decades and have become some of the world’s greatest practitioners of modalities like meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and Tantra.

Many people are aware of the very intimate connection between New Afrikans and what are called Native Americans or American Indians. I’m not a fan of either of those terms but I’ll use Native American. The Native Americans practiced a spirituality characterized by a focus on having very healthy relationships; with the Earth, with all living beings, and especially fellow human beings. They had the utmost respect for the plants and animals that they lived around. And the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy served as the foundation for the United States’ founding documents focusing on liberty and equality of all people. The colonizers didn’t have any direct knowledge of what that looks like from their experience in England but the Native Americans were able to demonstrate what it looks like — which included having a great deal of respect for the wisdom and the power of the women in their society.

And of course, New Afrikans have been influenced in many ways, both good and bad, by the descendants of Europe. Slavery and colonization and genocide aside, the Europeans have one particular aspect of their society that we have benefited from greatly, which is science and technology. The European tendency to never be satisfied with the current state of things and to constantly push for more and new and better, has resulted in the laptop that I am typing this on and the world wide web that I have done so much research with and so many of the other modern comforts of life that we enjoy. Science and technology provides the way out of many of the problems that Afrikans experience, both within the continent and throughout the Diaspora. We have much to learn, and we have learned much, from the Europeans and their dedication to the principles of science.

An authentic New Afrikan spirituality, that embraces all that we naturally are, includes all of the above aspects and more. We should feel no shame about adopting what is viewed as an Asian practice or a Native American practice or a European practice. It is our job to seamlessly blend all of these traditions together in a way that properly respects and honors our uniquely Afrikan heritage while simultaneously embracing the uniqueness of our real life experience here in North America.

As a final thought, the primary guiding principle in how we reconstruct our culture and spirituality must be the liberation of our people from the colonization and oppression that we are currently living under. Any belief or practice which doesn’t help us move toward Self-Determination and national liberation can be discarded because it doesn’t represent the best part of what we have to choose from. We must have the intellectual and spiritual courage to examine all of our beliefs and practices from the perspective of “does this help me and us to become more free or does it make us more dependent on others?,” “does this make me more unified with the rest of my New Afrikan family, or does it make us more divided?”

Building a New Afrikan spirituality which acknowledges all of who we naturally are, while also pushing us toward greater levels of Self-Determination and Liberation, is the privilege and responsibility of our generation.

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QUEEN MOTHER

Queen_Mother_Moore

Soundtrack: 2Pac “Dear Mama”

I want to shed light on two most unfortunate results of our 450 year sojourn as Afrikans in the wilderness of North America. One result has been that we don’t recognize how rich of a culture we have; and we don’t celebrate our successes and our great ones nearly enough. Another related result has been that we have adopted our colonizers’ attitude toward women, and therefore we have never given the proper credit to our Sheroes and Heroines for their relentless work toward carving out a space in this Hell hole where we can feel like full human beings.

Fannie Lou Hamer is one of those Sheroes who has been overlooked by our community. She is sometimes mentioned as a footnote in the Mississippi freedom struggle for her role in creating the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. But we don’t generally talk about just how big of a deal it was to challenge the Mississippi Democratic crackers in such an open fashion. Nor do we ever see Black History Month presentations about the Freedom Farm initiative that Fannie Lou Hamer gave her entire life to, working to ensure that poor Afrikan people would never have to go hungry. We have to do better about honoring her legacy.

Another of our Sheroes is Ella Jo Baker. Ms. Baker first came into prominence in the 1930’s as a leader of the Young Negroes’ Cooperative League. The League was a national organizing effort to create cooperatively owned businesses and jobs with a livable wage for our people during the height of the Great Depression. Ella Baker later went on to be a mentor and counselor to the biggest names of the Black Liberation Movement. She was a field secretary with the NAACP throughout the 1940’s. In 1957, she moved to Atlanta to bring some organization to Martin Luther King’s new Southern Christian Leadership Conference. When the sit-in movement began in 1960 and evolved into the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, it was Ella Baker who taught them how to organize people and gave them the strategies that would make SNCC so successful throughout the South. Her influence was reflected in the nickname she acquired: “Fundi,” a Swahili word meaning a person who teaches a craft to the next generation. We do ourselves a major disservice by not showering Ms. Baker with the utmost of praise at every given opportunity.

But I was inspired to write these words at this time because yesterday, July 27th, was the 119th birth anniversary of the one and only Queen Mother Moore. She was born Audley Moore, in 1898, in New Iberia, Louisiana to Ella and St. Cry Moore.  Moore’s parents passed away before she completed the fourth grade.  Following their deaths, she dropped out of school and moved to New Orleans with her two younger sisters, supporting them by working as a hairdresser.

She continued to educate herself, reading the works of authors like Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois. When Marcus Garvey came to New Orleans to speak in 1917, an 18-year-old Moore was in the audience. She was carrying two firearms because Garvey had been arrested the night before and the community was determined that no further foul play would occur on their watch. After that day she became a very devoted follower of Garvey. She moved to Harlem in 1922 to work in the headquarters of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Though Garvey was deported in 1927 and his movement waned afterwards, Queen Mother Moore was just getting started.

In 1933, she joined the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA). She was inspired by their position that a revolution was necessary in this country and she was interested in the theory they had about the Black Belt South. At the time, leading Communist theorists challenged Marcus Garvey’s Back to Africa approach by saying that Afrikans in America should take control over the southeastern portion of this country where our Ancestors had lived and toiled and died for hundreds of years.

Queen Mother Moore ran as a communist for New York’s state assembly in 1938. She began to have tension with the communists throughout the 40’s as she pushed them to do more concrete work around the rhetoric of a revolution in the South for Black empowerment. She left the CPUSA in 1950 and founded a new group, the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women (UAEW); feminist and revolutionary and Black nationalist and Pan African.

In 1957, Moore and the UAEW began to push the issue of reparations for the oppression of Afrikans in America. They began a campaign to encourage our people to file a formal reparations claim with the U.S. government before the end of 1963 (100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation). To advance this agenda, she moved to Philadelphia and led the National Emancipation Proclamation Observance Committee (NEPOC) in 1962. Tasked with planning the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Moore and her followers converted the commemoration into an opportunity to develop a national reparations campaign. The NEPOC developed a reparations claim for approximately 36 million dollars in back pay to be used for emigration back to Africa for those who chose that, and cultural and economic development for those who wanted to remain in America.

In 1960, Queen Mother started providing counsel to Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Even though she and Elijah Muhammad disagreed on many things, Elijah did adopt her idea of what has come to be called the “five-state solution.” Prior to that time, the NOI was very vague in their calls for separation from the whites of this country. Queen Mother Moore gave them a concrete solution of calling for the states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to be given to Black people as a territory of our own, independent of the United States. Malcolm especially latched onto this idea and developed it even further after he broke away from the NOI, teaching in great depth about how land is the basis of revolution. That point became the prime message of those who sought to continue Malcolm’s legacy after his assassination; leading to the establishment of the Republic of New Afrika in 1968.

When a group called the Malcolm X Society brought together Black nationalists from all over the country on March 31, 1968, they decided to declare their independence from the United States, forming the Republic of New Afrika, and laying claim to the above mentioned five states. The name “New Afrika” was chosen primarily because it was what Queen Mother Moore wanted to call us. Her status as an elder gave her the cache to give the final word on what our name would be. She was also one of the first people to actually sign the declaration of independence. She was also the architect of the role that the call for reparations played in the overall program of the Republic of New Afrika.

Moore took her first of many trips to Africa in 1972 to attend the funeral of former President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah. During that trip, members of the Ashanti ethnic group, gave her the title of Queen Mother. Everyone who knew her enthusiastically embraced calling her that for the rest of her life.

She worked tirelessly throughout the 70’s and 80’s, promoting the cause of reparations and helping Black people to see ourselves as the nation of people that we already are. She finally began to slow down a bit once she turned around 90 years old. Her last public appearance was at the Million Man March, at the age of 97. She was one of only five women invited to speak at that historic event. On May 2, 1997 Queen Mother Moore passed away at the age of 98 from natural causes in a Brooklyn nursing home.

When she was asked in 1995 how she wants to be remembered, Queen Mother replied: “I want to live forever.” And it is up to us to make sure that she does indeed live forever. We can never cease to lift up the name and the spirit of our Holy Ancestor, Queen Mother Moore.

Impeach #CRMP

(Adapted from The Bliss Book, available soon)

im·peach
imˈpēCH/
verb
  1. call into question the integrity or validity of (a practice).
    “there is no basis to Searle’s motion to impeach the verdict”
    synonyms: challengequestiondisparagecriticize, call into question, raise doubts about, cast aspersions on
    “the headlines impeached their clean image”

This acronym #CRMP is pronounced like the name “Crump.” And, I’ll start by addressing the proverbial elephant in the virtual room. Donald Trump is a horrible human being. There is, quite justifiably, a movement to be #Ungovernable under his regime and to impeach him from the position of President of the United States. However, I will attempt to show that removing Trump is not the answer to the problem that we are seeking to solve. Trump is only a symptom of a much deeper and older problem; around 10,000 years old. Getting rid of Trump will only lead to a new version of Trump stepping into his spot. #CRMP is what we must remove if we seek to make a better world and live happier lives.

#CRMP stands for: Capitalism, Religion, Monogamy, and Patriarchy. I intend to show that all four of these concepts were created around the same time, and were meant to support one another. I also intend to show that these four concepts are what stand in the way of peace and happiness for individuals, as well as the world as a whole. Now let me give some more definitions to make sure that we’re on the same page about what it is that we are discussing.

By capitalism, I am referring to the economic system in which maximizing profit is the prime motive for all economic activity. A small number of people control the vast majority of the capital, and they employ human beings and natural resources to produce goods and services which they can use to acquire even more capital.

By religion, I am referring to the type of organized religion that most people in Western society are familiar with; a vindictive God who looks down upon humanity ready to punish people for not doing what He desires — for not following the rules-laws-commandments.

By monogamy, I mean the general idea that human beings are supposed to only be in a romantic relationship with one person at a time. That having a sexual or emotional connection with someone other than your partner is a serious offense. And that this is how things “naturally” are, that there is something “wrong” with you if you don’t or can’t be “faithful” to the person you are in a relationship with.

By patriarchy, I refer to the usually unwritten and unspoken assumption in Western society that men are naturally meant to dominate over women; and that men are more fully human than women are. Men have more freedoms than women and make more money than women because men are better than women. We are taught this idea all the time, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

These four concepts together create a cultural system that serves to separate people from nature, separate us from each other, and separate us from parts of ourselves. I will show how and why that is by explaining some history.

Human beings have been on the planet, mainly in Africa, for millions of years. One of the earliest fossils of a hominid (a primate walking upright on two feet) dates back to around six million years ago. Scientists generally agree that modern humans with our current anatomy and brain size, homo sapiens, evolved around 200,000 years ago. So over the course of the past couple hundred thousand to couple million years, we have developed some habits as a species.

For the vast majority of our time as a species, all groups of humans lived in what is called the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. That term specifically refers to the combination of hunting animals as well as foraging/gathering whatever plant foods naturally grow from the ground. Anthropologists have referred to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle as being “fiercely egalitarian.” That means that everyone in the group was equal and they shared all of their resources with everyone equally. Everyone got the same amount of food no matter how much work they personally put into acquiring the food. Everyone also got the same amount of love and affection and nurturing that everyone else got. These things held true throughout time and throughout every part of the world that we traveled to over tens of thousands of years. Hunter-gatherer people in Africa and Australia and North and South America and the Pacific Islands and elsewhere have all been found to share these same basic cultural traits. As a species, we made a collective decision that this was the way that we chose to live. Why?

In comparison to other animals, humans are pretty weak. We don’t run very fast, we’re not very strong, we can’t climb very well, and we can’t fly. We’re really vulnerable. However, we found that our greatest strength was our ability to work together. We were able to use teamwork to make finding food and protecting ourselves from predators easier. The more we worked together in these various ways, the more we needed to communicate, the more we developed our capacity for language, which in turn caused our brains to grow, which gave us even more capacity for communication and teamwork. Our large brains and capacity for intelligence is what gave us the potential to become the dominant planetary species that we are today, but it all started with our commitment to communicating well and working together and sharing everything equally.

Because our early Ancestors foraged for whatever food the Earth provided for them, they moved around a lot. They would come to a spot where food was growing abundantly, and they would stay there until the food started to run out, then they would move to another area. Moving around all the time meant that it wasn’t practical for them to have a lot of belongings. When they arrived in a new spot, they would build huts from the grass and sticks that they found there. They didn’t wear very many clothes. They didn’t need very many cooking supplies. When they left a spot and moved on, they left their huts behind and made new ones in the next spot.

No one owned much of anything. Whatever food they acquired all ended up getting consumed. A few clothing items, a digging stick, maybe a spear, and a bottle to drink water from was all that any one person would keep. The idea of having property and inheritances was completely unknown to them.

Starting around 12, 000 years ago, people started experimenting with this new idea of taking seeds from plants that were eaten, putting the seeds back into the ground, and growing new plants from those seeds. In the Near East, it was wheat, barley, and peas. In China, it was rice and millet. In Mexico, it was squash and corn. People also started domesticating cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs; training these wild animals to start staying in one group and moving when and where the humans wanted them to. This development of agriculture between 9 and 12 thousand years ago is what scientists call the Neolithic Revolution.

For the first time, people were able to stay in one place instead of having to constantly move around for food. Apparently, that idea was very appealing to people because the Neolithic Revolution spread very quickly, all over the world. With people now staying in one spot, they were able to now start building more permanent homes made from mud and brick instead of temporary homes made from grass and sticks. They were able to start making and owning furniture and art and clothes and other items. And they began to become attached to one area of land where their food was growing. Suddenly, for the first time, human beings were introduced to the concept of “this stuff is MINE.” No longer was everything shared equally, now people started to have personal property. This was most definitely a revolutionary time in human history. Everything changed in that moment. The seed was sown for #CRMP.

With people now having these new thoughts like “this is my tree” and “that is my garden” and “those are my cows” and “this is my stream”, it naturally led to disputes over ownership. Is that tree really mine or is it yours? We didn’t have any experience with how to answer a question like that because previously nothing belonged to any one person. In fact, the Earth as a whole didn’t belong to anyone. The Earth was sovereign and all of us were just thankful that the Earth was gracious enough to share her fruits and vegetables and animals with us. But now, we needed a system for handling disputes. And the answer to “whose is this?” came to often be answered in the same way that it is in the rest of the animal kingdom. “I’m the strongest, so it is mine!”

Instead of sharing and compassion and communication being the supreme cultural values as they had been for many thousands of years, all of a sudden strength and dominance and the ability to coerce became the most useful characteristics. The strongest person became the leader of the group. The strongest group became the leader of the region. The strongest gender became the leader of the species. Physical strength and mental competitiveness were everything.

In hunter-gatherer life, no one was in control of anyone else. Males and females were equal in authority. There were no governments and employers, all people made all group decisions in a purely democratic way. Even children were not under the domination of adults. Children directed their own education and did what they chose to do, for the most part — adults still took the necessary minimum precautions to ensure child safety.

But now that the strongest people began to own things, they had to come up with ways of keeping the things that they owned. Even after they died. Men owned their home and their land and their women and their children. It became custom for a father who owned his daughter to one day “give his daughter away” to the man who would become her husband, in exchange for some money. This was what we call Patriarchy. And when a man died, he was able to pass down his belongings to his children, usually with his firstborn son getting more than all the other siblings. But the practice of passing down inheritance from one generation to another caused another conflict with the old hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Hunter-gatherer people had very few rules about who could have sex with who and when. Almost all hunter-gatherer societies were matrilineal, meaning that people traced ancestry through their mother and their mother’s mother and so on. That was because no one could ever be sure of who their father was. Sex and affection was one of the things that people freely shared with one another. People would often share a hut with whomever they were “in love with” at the time, and when the feeling passed, they would both move on to the next person whom they felt drawn to. Sometimes those pair bonds would last for several years, sometimes for months, and sometimes just for one night. All adults in the group shared the parenting duties for all children born in the group. There was absolutely no concept of a nuclear family, with one husband and one mother and several children, separated from everyone else.

But in the new world of personal property, a man had a need to know for sure that his children belonged to him, so that his property could be passed on to those through whom his life continued after he went to the grave. So it was necessary to come up with the idea of Monogamy — that two people would be wed and then it would be against the rules for them to have sexual relations with anyone else. However, those rules were mainly only applied to women. Men would sometimes have more than one wife, sometimes men would have concubines or women who live with the man but have lower status than his wife or wives. Whatever the details were, men could do whatever they really wanted to with their sexuality, but women’s sexuality became the property of their husbands.  In every post-Neolithic society in the world, the culture has built-in outlets for men to freely explore their sexuality (prostitutes, strippers mistresses, etc), while women are tightly confined in using their sexuality only for the pleasure of their husbands.

The new culture that came along with the rise of agriculture produced a need for new forms of social cohesion. Previously, the values of cooperation and sharing held everyone in a group together. The team was strong because it needed to be in order for everyone to survive and thrive. With the rise of agriculture, people still had a need for groups to work well together. Those with the power needed to make sure that everyone played by the rules and played their parts in creating wealth for those with power. This was accomplished by the creation of what we have come to know as Religion.

Priests came to fill a myriad of roles within the group. Priests were often the judges who settled disputes between people that couldn’t be solved by simply showing who was the strongest. But the two most important functions of the priest were: 1) telling the people the instructions from God, and 2) overseeing the social rituals that made everyone feel like a part of the group.

A very effective way of getting people to go along with all the new rules in society, which people didn’t really like very much, was to tell them that there was a very powerful God who would punish them if they didn’t obey. Hunter-gatherer people didn’t believe in a God who controls everything and has the power to bless or punish people based on following the rules. But in the agricultural world, Gods now had extreme authority and very strong opinions about the behavior of people. These new Gods were very useful in controlling the sexuality of women and also in making sure that workers went to work everyday without rising up and overthrowing their bosses.

Groups like fraternities and militaries and street gangs all demonstrate the usefulness of ritual in bringing people together around a common identity and for a common cause. Religions developed rituals like animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, circumcision, tattooing, and other things that require some level of physical or mental pain in order for people to show that they are willing to sacrifice in order to be part of the group. Thereby showing that they can be trusted to go along with the rules. Anyone unwilling to get the tattoo or drink the blood would face expulsion from the group, or worse. Societies built on power and obedience must have rituals like this in order to measure everyone’s level of obedience.

A 19th century British politician known as Lord Acton famously said that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” When human beings moved from having collective ownership of all things to having personal property, the seed of corruption was sown. In hunter-gatherer life, people get a sense of security from the group’s sharing. The more you willingly and lovingly share with other people, the more secure you can feel that other people will always share whatever they have with you. The natural tendency for competition is neutralized by the social values of cooperation. But if the only safety net you have is your own personal wealth and power, then the only way to increase your sense of security is to pursue more and more wealth and power.

And thus began the Game of Thrones. That popular television series is actually a very accurate visual representation of what world history has looked like for the past several thousand years. A small group of people seize power over a large group of people. That small group makes the rest of the people work ridiculously long and hard hours to generate more wealth and power for the small group. Meanwhile, some other small group is plotting on how to take over the seat of power for themselves. And whether by political cunning or military force or covert assassination or other means, eventually most kings get their heads cut off, as Basquiat said. And there is a seemingly never-ending cycle of powerful people overthrowing other powerful people, or joining forces with other powerful people, and the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

But this cycle can only be maintained as long as the masses of the people continue to willingly give their power to the masters. When the masses get fed up and decide to use the power of their numbers, then the wealth of the masters matters very little. No matter how many dollars or coins you own, if the workers will no longer work for you, then your power is gone. The primary concern for the masters is: “how do I constantly convince the masses that they don’t actually have ALL of the power because they are the majority?”

An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest half of the world’s population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 8, 2017, the world’s richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people. It is #CRMP that allows these men to sleep at night without being in paralyzing fear that the masses of the people will rise up and slaughter them.

To be clear, you don’t have to belong to any particular religion or have taken any particular classes in school or have any particular kind of family upbringing in order to believe in #CRMP. The culture of the entire post-Neolithic world with its masters/masses relationship makes #CRMP omnipresent, permeating every aspect of life, whether we realize it or not.

To reiterate an earlier point, the fiercely egalitarian hunter-gatherer cultures shared not only resources, they also shared authority. There were no governments in these cultures. There were no police in these cultures. Even parents didn’t exercise authority over their children… I know that sounds like crazy talk. I must be mistaken, right? To give you a sense of hunter-gatherers’ parenting philosophy, here is a sample of quotations from anthropologists and others who have lived in various hunter-gatherer societies and observed them closely:

  • “Hunter-gatherers do not give orders to their children; for example, no adult announces bedtime. At night, children remain around adults until they feel tired and fall asleep…. Parakana adults do not interfere with their children’s lives. They never beat, scold, or behave aggressively with them, physically or verbally, nor do they offer praise or keep track of their development.” —Yumi Gosso et al., “Play in Hunter-Gatherer Societies”
  • “The idea that this is ‘my child’ or ‘your child’ does not exist [among the Yequana, of South America]. Deciding what another person should do, no matter what his age, is outside the Yequana vocabulary of behaviors. There is great interest in what everyone does, but no impulse to influence—let alone coerce—anyone. The child’s will is his motive force.” —Jean Liedloff, The Continuum Concept
  • “Aborigine children are indulged to an extreme degree, and sometimes continue to suckle until they are 4 or 5 years old. Physical punishment for a child is almost unheard of.” —Richard A. Gould, Yiwara: Foragers of the Australian Desert
  • “Infants and young children [among Inuit huntergatherers of the Hudson Bay area] are allowed to explore their environments to the limits of their physical capabilities and with minimal interference from adults. Thus if a child picks up a hazardous object, parents generally leave it to explore the dangers on its own. The child is presumed to know what it is doing.” —Lee Guemple, “Teaching Social Relations to Inuit Children”
  • “Ju/’hoansi children [of Africa] very rarely cried, probably because they had little to cry about. No child was ever yelled at or slapped or physically punished, and few were even scolded. Most never heard a discouraging word until they were approaching adolescence, and even then the reprimand, if it really was a reprimand, was delivered in a soft voice.” —Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Old Way

Notice that these quotations are from people living in what we know as Brazil, Venezuela, Australia, Alaska, and Southern Africa; all over the world. How did we go from a situation in which people all over the world shared this sense of equality among all human beings to a world in which inequality is so extreme that five people own as much as wealth as 3.5 billion people? How is that even possible?

Most people are conditioned to believe that what “feels right” is not a sufficient basis upon which to choose your actions. Our childhoods are chock-full of daily reminders that our primary responsibility is to follow the rules. Your parents incessantly tell you what you cannot do. Your teachers follow that up with another set of things that you cannot do. The media adds to the list of cannots. It starts with rules about not being too loud or not running too fast or not climbing too high; all things that you have a primal drive to do just because it feels good.

It feels great to meet up with your friends and then burst out of the house and yell as loudly as you can while running at top speed and maybe or maybe not adding in a game of Tag or Hide-And-Seek. It feels good to get up and walk around after obediently sitting down in the classroom for forty-five minutes. It feels good to play House with the next door neighbor and “I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours.” But eventually, most of us get told how wrong we are for doing these things that feel just as naturally to us as breathing.

A major part of our conditioning to be servants comes from the attitudes that we are taught to have around sex. During puberty, our bodies are SCREAMING at us that it is time to have sex sex sex sex sex. While society, whether it is preachers or parents or teachers or media, is telling us to either fear sex because of pregnancy and STDs or because God will send us to Hell for doing it before marriage. This is a major training ground for our ability to deny our own desires in the interests of being obedient to the rules. Religion and Monogamy and Patriarchy all play roles in reinforcing the prohibitions on doing what naturally feels good and right to do.

So then when you’re thirty years old and you hate hearing your alarm clock go off in the morning and you hate the clothes that you have to put on for work and you hate driving in morning rush hour traffic and you hate way your boss talks to you and you hate that your lunch break is so short and you hate that so much money comes out of your paycheck in taxes etc etc etc, you have a whole lifetime of training on how to ignore ALL OF THAT and just keep repeating the cycle everyday. And guess who decides what the schools teach and what the media portrays and what the churches teach and how the corporations are set up?? The small group of masters who overthrew the last group of masters who overthrew the last group of masters, going all the way back to the beginning of agriculture and personal property ten to twelve thousand years ago. They teach their children how to maintain control over the masses, while the masses are taught how to be better servants.

We are conditioned to believe that we are not the kind of people who are supposed to have authority over our own lives. We are conditioned to believe that other people having the power to tell us how to be and where to be and what to be is just the way things are. Our hunter-gatherer Ancestors chose for themselves a lifestyle in which all activity was self-chosen, self-directed, and imaginative or creative. If most of what you do with your life is chosen by someone else and directed by someone else, with someone else telling you exactly how to do what they have chosen for you to do, then maybe a big part of what makes you truly human is not being fully expressed. Maybe that’s why you’re not happy with your life.

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The Bliss Book goes into more detail of how #CRMP separates people from nature and separates people from each other and separates people from parts of themselves, thus making it possible for the masters to be safe from the (not) unified masses. We also go into detail about what literally happens inside of our brains and bodies when we live lives of self-denial, and how those effects are the root of the deep sadness, depression, and hopelessness that so many of us feel.

More to come.

The Healer

Soundtrack: Erykah Badu “The Healer”

healing session

In January 2014, I turned my Tantra Energy Healing practice into a business. My first year of business was quite successful, beyond what I could have imagined when I first started. At some point in 2015, I stopped advertising my business services and started taking new clients only on a referral basis. I have taken much fewer clients since then.

A slew of deaths and lost relationships in 2016 shook the foundation of my world. I had to become my own client. I had to heal myself — prevent myself from slipping into the depths of depression that my spiritual/Tantra practice saved me from years ago. I am very happy to report that my self work has paid off immensely and I am feeling pretty damn good these days.

You know how it is when you get a cold or the flu, and your sinuses are totally congested and you can barely breathe? But then eventually the cold goes away and you can breathe again and it’s like the most wonderful feeling ever in the history of feels???

It feels really good to feel good after feeling bad. In the spirit of feeling great, I wanna spread some of this joy that I have. So I am bringing my healing practice back into the public and I’m doing it with a special promotion. At some point in the first six months of my business, I offered to do healing sessions on a donation basis. Whatever donation a client deemed appropriate, I would accept it in exchange for my services. I’m bringing that back.

Starting today and until I decide otherwise, I am doing healing sessions for women for whatever donation a person is able to give. My standard fee for a standard session is $120; new or returning clients can do a donation of any amount lesser or greater than that while this offer lasts. And now the inevitable question: what exactly is a Tantra Energy Healing session?

I’m glad you asked! I will explain this as succintly as I can. Human beings are composed of energy. Another word for this energy that we are composed of is electromagnetism, or an electromagnetic field. Our brain and heart and cells and chromosomes all run on electricity. The most basic electrical unit in our bodies is our DNA.

The DNA contains the blueprint for how our bodies are supposed to look and function. Most of us are not living our lives in perfect alignment with our DNA blueprint. Our unhealthy diets and lack of exercise and stress levels and other factors affect the way our genes/DNA “express” themselves. In other words, it changes the electromagnetic field that we emit, or the “frequency” or “vibration” that we broadcast to the world.

The energy healing sessions provided by me and others like me are designed to intentionally communicate from person to person, on a DNA level, to bring a client’s frequency back into alignment with their natural blueprint; causing the person to feel more vibrant and free and fulfilled  and healthy and sexy.

Now what does “Tantra” have to do with this? In the interest of not making this post too long, I will just say that the school of healing I come from recognizes the power and usefulness of sexual energy. We believe that by intentionally cultivating the sexual energy, we can use the power of that energy to facilitate a person’s healing. So, yes, if you come to me as a client then you will probably be sexually aroused during the session. That may or may not come from me physically touching you. A primary feature of this kind of work is what we call “energy projection” or “aura massage” in which the practitioner touches a few inches away from the client’s body in order to impact the client’s energy field. But there can also be quite a bit of touching involved. That touching does not and will not include actual sexual intercourse.  Anyone who isn’t comfortable with that shouldn’t come to me for a session.

If you know what this healing modality is all about and you want my services, holla at me. If you don’t quite understand and you want more information, holla at me. If you think I’m full of shit and you hope I burn in hell, holla at me. I welcome it all.

You can reach out to me via social media inbox or by email at nyeusijami@gmail.com or at 636-627-1486.

Peace and love.

What’s In a Name?

Soundtrack: Rihanna “What’s My Name”

cat self talk

 

My name is Nyeusi Jami (yay- OO – see  Jah – mee)

You may know me by something else. Whatever name you met me by, I am requesting that you refer to me as Nyeusi from now on. Why am I doing this?

The last year or so has been rough for me. I have grieved over the loss of many loved ones, either by death or otherwise. This time has caused me to do some deep reflection on my life. I am re-evaluating everything about my life. Everything. What do I believe in? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to have relationships with?

One of the major conclusions I have reached is that none of the names I have been previously known by properly reflect the person who I choose to be going forward. I won’t get into why I have been a man of many names. Another subject for another time. I also won’t get into the meaning of Nyeusi Jami and why that name is a proper reflection of the person who I choose to be. What I will get into is this…

The names and descriptions that you choose to answer to say a whole lot about you. Do you desire to be called sir or ma’am, doctor or esquire, gay or fag, god or dog or nigga or bitch or master or slave or whatever the case may be…

If someone calls you by a name or title that doesn’t properly represent you, you’ll usually correct them. “I am Ms., not Mrs.,” or “I am the Third, not Junior,” or “Who you calling a bitch??” or whatever whatever. The name that you answer to is a reflection of your self-identity and your internal dialogue. Your personal “I am” determines how you carry yourself in the world.

“I am a Muslim.”

“I am a philanthropist.”

“I am a hustler.”

All that you are and all that you can be is encompassed in what you tell yourself about yourself. You can only achieve in life what you truly believe that you are capable of and worthy of. You won’t even attempt to get something that you don’t truly believe you should have. If your internal dialogue is “I ain’t shit and I ain’t never gonna be shit” then you will most definitely not be a person who strives to earn a PhD or become an executive director. If your internal dialogue is that “I am a ruler and I come from a long line of rulers” then you will most definitely not tolerate someone trying to treat you like a peasant. Everything within your being will resist that kind of treatment.

This principle is profoundly connected to my life’s work. I believe in Freedom, Justice, and Equality. I aim to contribute toward freedom for those who have been denied of it, as individuals and as groups. An unfortunate reality of being denied freedom is that often it leads to internalizing the idea that you don’t deserve freedom. It leads to an internal dialogue that seeks to justify why you really shouldn’t be free. “I’m just a sinner” or “I’m just a Negro” or some other self-defeating foolishness.

I aim for all persons and all peoples to self-identify in a way that affirms their right to freedom. That is why I refer to the Black people in America as New Afrikans, because it is a term that affirms my people as a Nation of people, deserving of land and sovereignty just like all other nations. And I participate in work that is contributing toward our eventual attainment of that land and sovereignty. By the same token, I desire for all of my people, on an individual basis, to live a life of freedom. That starts with the Self-Determination of deciding what names and titles we will answer to.

We have to give the slavemaster back his name. If you identify yourself as Black and your family goes by the name Johnson or Smith or White or any other name that you know good and damn well didn’t come from Africa, it’s time to give the slavemaster back his name. His name always has and always will signify you as his property. He didn’t give you HIS name because you had a lovely and caring relationship with him. He gave you his name because you belonged to him. And perhaps you still do belong to him, if you are comfortable with carrying his name. It’s time to give it back.

But apart from the name we carry, I implore each and every one of us to examine our internal dialogue. What are you telling yourself about yourself? When you get quiet, are you telling yourself how wonderful and talented and beautiful you are? Or are you telling yourself how inadequate and unqualified and unattractive you are? Is your internal dialogue helping you get to where you wanna go? If it isn’t, you can change that.

I’ll have to get into the subjects of meditation and auto-suggestion and such at another time. For now, please remember that my name is Nyeusi. What’s yours?

I LOVE MYSELF

i-by-kendrick-lamar

Soundtrack: Kendrick Lamar “I”

This writing is a testament to the evolution of my thinking and my activity. For years I participated in various facets of the Black Liberation Movement. From the moment that I was exposed to its existence at fifteen years old, my identity has been centered in my devotion to “the struggle” for freedom for Black people in America. Most of my activity over the years was rooted in a deep anger over the injustices that my people have received from the moment that we fell into the hands of white people in West Africa before making the long boat rides to the Western Hemisphere.

However, in 2012, my life was changed by being introduced to Tantra. I was inspired to become a Tantra energy healer and, as such, I felt the need to suppress my anger for a while. The part of me that wanted to fight for Liberation had to chill so that I could develop the part of me that wanted to heal my people from the inside out, especially our women.

About a month after being exposed to Tantra, in February 2012, I wrote a blog post that I never published. The main idea of that writing was that the Black Liberation Movement hasn’t seen satisfactory success since the 1960s because we learned how to love Black people as a collective, but we never learned how to love our individual Black selves. Part of what I said is this:

“If God is Love, and God’s domain is Heaven, then it is impossible for us to truly love ourselves and attract anything other than Heaven into our lives. If you don’t feel like you’re living in Heaven then the cause of that can be found in a lack of love for yourself, because your thoughts produce your reality. So how do we produce that love for Self? And conversely, how do we remove negative feelings toward Self? Is it possible to do so? Does the answer to those questions have any bearing on why we call sex “making love?” Can love heal people who have been the world’s foremost recipients of hate?”

I disagree with a lot of the details of what I wrote at that time. My knowledge of history has improved since then and that has impacted my understanding of what the challenges facing our people have been. I totally forgot about writing that until very recently.

Yesterday, we celebrated the seventh and final day of Kwanzaa. The principle for that day is Imani, which means faith. We are taught that Imani, as a Kwanzaa principle, means to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. One of the wise elders at our Kwanzaa celebration yesterday pointed out that having faith in the ultimate victory of our struggle starts with having a basic belief that victory is possible. That is an area that many of our people struggle with. We are like the biblical story of Moses and the Israelites who were afraid to go take their Promised Land because there were giants living there. We view our colonizers as unbeatable giants.

This situation is related to what I wrote back in 2012. It is my belief that we don’t have faith in the victory of our struggle and we don’t struggle as adamantly as we could because in our heart of hearts, we don’t believe that we deserve to be free. Our generations of oppression in America have conditioned us to believe that we are a people who are supposed to be dominated by someone else. As Carter G. Woodson wrote in The Miseducation of the Negro:

“If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.”

In 2017, 150 years removed from physical slavery, we are still demanding a back door for ourselves. We don’t want the best for ourselves because we don’t love ourselves. Our movement for freedom and justice and sovereignty requires many types of organizing. And now I realize that my past five years of Tantra practice has made me uniquely qualified to tackle this one underappreciated aspect of our struggle. While we are organizing to become self-sufficient in our economics and our housing and our politics and our education, we have to also be taught how to heal, from the inside out.

Our organizations are more stable when the individuals that make up the organization are able to have healthy relationships with one another. And our organizations are more stable when those individuals don’t have to take long breaks from the work in order to “get myself together.”

In 2017 I am publishing The Bliss Book, a collection of the lessons I have learned in five years of being a Tantra student and practitioner. The book explains how we can achieve a level of inner peace that cannot be shaken or penetrated by the vicissitudes of life. Our struggle for liberation is one that comes with many ups and downs. We have to be able to maintain an even keel in spite of our victories and setbacks. The Bliss Book shows us how to do that.

Prior to 2012 I spent over a decade struggling with depression. That doesn’t make me unique. Mental health is hard to come by for millions of people in capitalist society; especially those of us who have to deal with racism on top of our economic exploitation. But my mindfulness and energy healing practice has delivered me from the emotional roller coaster I spent 12 years riding. And I have given a crazy number of hours to studying the real reasons why these practices work. That has resulted in some unique insights about the human condition that I share in my book.

I was troubled internally when I first started my Tantra studies because of what I felt like was a contradiction between my desire to Build and my desire to Destroy. Make no mistake about it, I wanted to destroy the white man’s world. I prayed to God to be made an agent in the destruction of this web of systems that has contributed to destroying every indigenous culture on the earth, as well as the earth itself.

I am writing this now because I have resolved that apparent contradiction within myself. My work as a healer is part and parcel of my work as a revolutionary nationalist. The revolution can’t be successful if it is based in hate — hate for the enemy or hate for ourselves. The revolution can’t be successful until we love ourselves enough to believe that we deserve to be free. We can’t love ourselves to that degree until we heal the very deep seated psychological and spiritual wounds we have received from hundreds of years in North America. And healing those wounds is very much about “making love,” which includes what we normally think of with those words as well as much more. We will get into that “much more” at a later time, and especially in the book. Stay tuned…

 

 

Prince the Tantra Man

vanity-prince

The Prince Rogers Nelson that we all know and love was one of the world’s foremost proponents and examples of sacred sexuality.

As a 19 year old, Prince recorded his debut album. There were a couple of things that were peculiar about this 1978 album. One thing is that Prince played every instrument that is heard on the album. Guitar. Drums. Bass. Piano. Another peculiarity about the album was the inclusion of a song called “Soft And Wet,” an homage to his lover’s gushy place and its power over him. This very young man possessed artistic abilities that were mind-blowing, and he had a level of comfort with his own sexuality that was unique even in the Free Love era of the 70’s.

Prince would go on to show his virtuoso levels of musical genius on at least one album per year for well over a decade. And on every album he showed us more and more about how his sexuality and his spirituality were one and the same. In one of his greatest songs, 1987’s “Adore”, he talks about receiving approval from the Hosts of Heaven for his sexual adventures:

“When we be making love/ I only hear the sounds/ Heavenly angels crying up above/ Tears of joy pouring down on us/ They know we need each other.”

Sex to him was part of a spiritual life. The God that he worshiped wants us to have passionate-slow-intense-Tantric sex as a means of experiencing our connection to the Divine. Prince’s experience with these principles in his own life is what drove his uber-prolific creative output and his musical genius. Not only did he create a countless number of hits spanning across decades, but right now there are literally thousands of songs in the vault at Paisley Park that the world has never heard. He was kept awake for days at a time by his creative impulses. His embrace of the sexual energy that drives all of creation made him a creative juggernaut the likes of which we have never seen before and likely will never see again.

Prince turned all of society’s conditioning surrounding sex on its head and stepped on it with his high heels. Prince loved women on a level that most men cannot fathom. He appreciated the power of the feminine so much that he adopted it into his own life and his artistic persona. A woman who had sex with Prince said, “He was the most patient man I’ve ever been with. And the most complicated in terms of being in bed with. The most sensitive, the most androgynous, the most balance of male-female energy. He was the closest thing that I’d had to having a woman.”

Prince was a Tantra man of the highest order. In this inaugural edition of the Grand Trine newsletter, we have been given the gift of a recent Ancestor who we can confidently canonize as the Patron Saint of Sacred Sexuality. We can look to the example of Prince as a testament of the power of what liberated sexual energy can do in the world. And we have his music as a virtually never-ending soundtrack to play in the background of our bringing intense pleasure into the world. Let us stand together underneath the Purple Rain and Do It All Night. God wants us to.