The imprint of wholeness that is within us—within our DNA—is inalienably always there. Nothing can take it away, make it go away. If so, that sense of connection that coheres us with the Earth/Mother does not disappear. No matter how devastating, how total the severance seems to be.
I am thinking of ghost limbs, which continue to feel sensation and transmit this information even after the physical limb is gone. I am thinking of tree stumps whose neighbors continue to transfuse nutrients and minerals to them.
And, if so, even when egregious harm has been done (sexual violations, torture, mass murders), the actors of harm—disconnected from their web and roots of being—can be brought back to a sense of connection. Because the imprint of connection, to wholeness, is within them.
I ask how not to move further away from those that cause harm despite the urge to do so—how not to disconnect. Disconnection, I know, tends to push something/someone even more into the shadows where behaviors of harm find feast and shape.
I ask myself this, having retracted, yesterday, my poems from an anthology whose editor, I just learnt, was named as having touched another poet inappropriately. The editor-poet has neither acknowledged nor made any amends for his sexual misconduct. I asked the publisher of the anthology, who is based in the UK, to think about the nuances of responsibility and justice that land in his corner.
I ask myself this after challenging, as a feminist killjoy, the unexamined/out-of-touch/misogynist ideas of an Indian man I'd met via a dating site, around "typical Indian girls" and "Eastern style dressing and hair."
I ask myself this even as the voices and freedoms of the peoples of India are being quashed by a state wielding unmitigated power, whose anti-democratic logic is being bought into by apologists, economic neoliberals, and nationalist-fundamentalists.
I ask myself this after doing the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual labor of writing to a white woman poet who casually threw in an "ashram" while talking about literary festivals/retreats during a writing circle where I was the only nonwestern, non-white person. I wrote to her that I felt exoticized and othered and uncomfortable; I didn't tell her about the heat that arose in my body or that my thought right after she said "ashram" and even after I had interrupted her in the moment was that I now needed to prove I was not "exotic," that I belonged.
A friend reminds me that I can tell people this is not mine to hold alone. That everyone sees what is happening, and I can tell the others in the circle to speak to it.
How can I name with clarity a behavior or a string or pattern of behaviors as wrong, while still holding out for the possibility that the imprint of wholeness can reassert itself in wrongdoers?
How can I/we hold wrongdoers to accountability? How can I/we ask that they step up to take responsibility, to account for the harm done?
How can the wrongdoers step into taking responsibility remembering their own interconnectedness?
I am thinking of restorative justice and practices, where those who have been harmed and those who have caused the harm come together to talk about needs, obligations, what amends are needed. I am thinking of Angulimala. I am thinking of post-oppositional approaches.
We are them. They are us.
Is it possible to move towards "them" not to become them, but to eat away at the distance produced artificially, painfully, systematically, structurally, discursively? To devour the distance—like Kali-Chamunda lapping up with her tongue the blood of Raktabija?
What stopped the demons from multiplying was Kali devouring the blood, which on falling to the ground would have given rise to more demons.
To devour the drop of blood that would become a demon asks of us a profound spiritual/ethical commitment. To love ourselves, to love the other.
It asks of us to expand our range of holding so that it includes human-shadow-divine, Life-Death-Life. We commit ourselves to nonduality from that place where all is known as included.
It asks that we grow an unshakable sense of self that is embodied, that has the capacity to be present. That we are sovereign and restored unto ourselves.
And this is where I notice the ways in which, despite the theory and the vision, I sometimes hide in my own life. I hide from people who I perceive will judge me. I hide from myself and the knowing that what I vision is possible.
The journey to wholeness is both long and short, my friends.
I am glad to have connected with you along the way.
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