Tag Archives: Fear

Gangs and Circles

Gangs are a product and a reflection of social domination structures. Inducing fear, guild and shame by either punishment or ideas like right and wrong are strategies that make people do what their leaders want them to do; it makes people obey and follow. This works only as long as people are ignorant of it, and if they are ignorant of it long enough, their inevitable protest or uprising will in most cases, at least at first, be conducted in a similar spirit, dominated by a similar thinking, a similar mind-frame than that of the oppressor, because that is what the people have learnt, that is what they were brought up with and so that is the behavior they know.

But human beings are able to learn from each other, as well as from their own mistakes. They are able to have insights and expand far over what we would expect of them.

It takes a different thinking, a new mind-frame, an inner revolution to become able to break the structures based on domination, authority and oppression. It takes an inner revolution to invent or rise up to a new culture, a new structure that supports life, that supports freedom, that supports the idea of mutual support and create a lasting change.

When I mention domination structures in gangs I don’t want to stress on street gangs, they play a small part, they are a dim reflection of what is inherent to most of our human connections and relations. Most of us have grown up with it in our families, in our schools – fear, punishment and reward, guild and shame, right and wrong, good and bad, we’re this and we’re that. It’s been there in kingdoms thousands of years ago, in institutionalised religions, in monarchies, in centralised governments with their justice system to now be replaced by corporations, the economic systems and the media creating these hierarchies and casts that put one above the other, and divide people into those who have and those who don’t. It is a part of us, we’ve all grown up in it, we’re all victims of oppression, more concerned about our status and what other people think of us than about our needs, our feelings, our being human.

We’re moving, people are looking for different ways, first emptiness, giving space for the new, they are experimental and are called crazy, mental, dreamers. We’ll find a way though, letting empathy in, letting compassion in.

Thinking of circles I think of groups sitting together in a perfect circle, in a way that each person can see every other person in the circle; each person can look into each other person’s eyes; all have the same point of view, at least on the physical plane. Sitting in circles is something that has been practiced for thousands of years by tribes, families, work groups, decision making groups, in situations of conflict resolution, yes also by governments. When we sit in circles today, do acknowledge the circle? Do we realise its power, do we consciously create that connection?

There is the plane that goes beyond the physical, that plane where we see each other as equal, where rank and status disappears. The spirit of a circle invites everyone to speak out and be listened to, without being judged, without being evaluated and analysed, but as a part of a bigger whole, interdependent, belonging, safe and supported.

Circles in circles and circles around circles, circles linking circles and circles extending circles, a world of circles, is that where we’re heading.

The 5 Kleshas: The Blindfold

To become aware of this union, the practice of Yoga teaches us to see past dualism and free ourselves from conditioning and preconceptions, from lower feelings and thoughts and to get over personal impurities that envelop our being. Yoga philosophers have, just as Buddhism, named a number of afflictions of our mind, the Kleshas, that distort or cloud our perceptions and effect how we think, act and feel. They are the reasons for our suffering, our impurity and our disconnection form the universal soul.

  • Avidya or ignorance as the root affliction. Avidya is the misconception of reality, seeing the temporary as eternal, the impure as pure.
  • Asmita or egoism is the identification of ourselves with the ego. We create an image of ourselves which we believe is true but which is not really us. We fail to see our whole being and our interconnection with other. We distinguish here particularly between, external (rich and poor) and internal (good and bad) perceptions of ourselves and others.
  • Raga or attachment is the attraction to the things that bring us satisfaction. The desire for pleasures creates mindless actions and we suffer when we can’t obtain. A good example are addictions simple as coffee or cigarettes.
  • Dvesha or repulsion is the opposite of Raga and means the aversion towards things that produce unpleasant experiences. We suffer when we can’t avoid, for example a room full of smokers or a cold shower.
  • Abhinivesha is the deepest of all Kleshas, the fear of death and the fear behind all other fears, ingrained in us through our survival instinct.

There are many ways out of these afflictions, different paths of yoga just as there are different inclinations in different people. A commonly used image in Yoga says that there are many roads leading to the top of the mountain – once we’re up there we all have the same view. However, the first step is always the acknowledgement and understanding of these impurities followed by self-reflection. And that is something that needs to come from inside, the desire to cleanse oneself from impurities and be free from suffering. If this desire is immanent and present, then we’re probably already on at least one of the many paths. The main four of these paths of Yoga are Karma Yoga, the Yoga of action, Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion, Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of knowledge and Raja Yoga, the Yoga of the mind or self-discipline.