Some of us are touched directly by these events. We have known personally the pain of prejudice and discrimination because of the color of our skin or our gender identity. Most of us are touched only tangentially. What draws us to share in the joy and celebration, the grief and pain of family members, friends, and strangers on days like yesterday?
One of the yamas of karma yoga is atmabhava. Atmabhava is unity consciousness. It is the sense that we are all connected—that your joy is my joy and your sorrow is my sorrow. It is looking beneath surface differences and seeing that we all share the same hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities. Most of all, we all share the need to be accepted and loved. It is that sense of what we hold in common that gives rise to empathy. We share in each other’s happiness and pain because we can feel what it must be like to walk in another’s shoes.
Empathy takes us only so far, however. President Obama used his eulogy to point that out. Focusing on the theme of Amazing Grace, he noted that the deaths in Charleston provided an opening for grace—an opportunity to move past our blindness and recognize hard truths about the racism, both overt and subtle, that still permeates American society. What we do with that grace, he continued, is up to us. We can experience our moment of empathy and then move on or we can build on that empathy to help make the world a better place. This is the path of karma yoga—to work for the well-being of the world, knowing that we are intimately connected to every person and every living thing that lives upon it. We are all one. We are all manifestations of the Divine.
Come to Study Group this Sunday, June 28, 3:30 p.m. to learn more about karma yoga and explore how it relates to your own path. Stay for sadhana at 5 p.m. Ruscombe Community Health Center.