June 19th, known as Juneteenth, commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. 1865. There have been great improvements in our thinking about racism since then, but a lot still needs to be done to level the playing field for all in our country, the USA. A unique approach to getting there is developing an understanding of our individual consciousness, 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 a complete truth in my view. We are born with three assets, not just two:
Individual consciousness – the flame
We can work on all three. Even after we truly understand and realized our inner individual consciousness, we will have to come back to the mind to make the changes.
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 those and what to do about their development. There are ways to know the flame and work on it. We can start by spending some quiet and quality time with ourselves, intermittent silence.
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 what each of us can achieve also vary. Let’s examine each of these assets further.
The Individual Body
This is the most visible part of us. Many of us identify our self with the body.
Others also identify us with our body. Our body comes in different colors, heights, and shapes. Our mind starts grouping us according to one criterion or the other and then it starts profiling according to one criterion or the other. 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, but, 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 that there are different shades of brown. How handsome some man is, or how beautiful a woman is, is determined by the lightness of their color. Famously, the Lord Krishna who existed 5,000 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 differently here in USA compared to some other places. There is a different history here. This history motivates the Black Lives Matter movement and became a big cause after the death of George Floyd. Why is it so?
The individual and collective mind
The skin color of our individual bodies is different, but we are different in many other ways. Why is the color so important? We need to look at the second 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 a conditioning associated with the long history of slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic racism.
The change in mindset is happening but is a slow process because deep inside, some of us still believe in stereotypes and collective supremacy. There are still disparities in social status and economic condition. Racism puts barriers in the path of Black people that are difficult to surmount. America makes life difficult for Black people. A history of segregation based on color has created biases that continue. Familiarity improves relations, even though skin color does not change.
Skin color is not going to change; we have to change our conversation about it. How can skin color become a nonevent? How do we make the use of the words “black,” “brown,” or “white” meaningless? Is that possible?
How do we change the mindset? Familiarity has helped. Laws have helped, and so have social leaders. Each sad and unfortunate event has helped. But a deeper change is needed to bring the realization deeper. 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.
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 that we all have and can get to. The flame of consciousness is what provides the core strength to our being.
The physical body is so important, as is achieving a healthy physical state. Awareness goes with the flame similar to how mindfulness goes with the mind. The flame is aware of everything: the sleep surrounding you and the thoughts passing through your mind. It is also connected with deeper levels of consciousness.
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 a 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 will realize consciousness has no color and your individual consciousness is very similar to someone else’s.
Once the flame of consciousness experience becomes real, the mind cannot think of discriminating based on color. The body then becomes carrier of this flame of consciousness, an important carrier, whose primary purpose is help growth of the body, mind and the flame. Such a realized person can help bring changes in the society so the society can truly initiate policies and initiatives for removal of barriers to racial harmony.