“Africans have a thing called Ubuntu. We believe that a person is a person through other persons. That my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.”
- Bishop Desmond Tutu
An Anthropologist who had been studying a remote African tribe for a long time played a game with a group of children from the tribe. He put a basket of fruit under a tree and told the children that they would race to the tree and whoever got there first would get the basket of fruit for themselves. When he gave them the signal to run, the children all held hands and ran together and then sat around the basket and ate the fruit together as a group. When the asked the children why they all ran together when they could have had more fruit for themselves. A girl from the group replied, “How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?” This essential philosophy of Ubuntu has been summarized as, “I am because we are.”
The basic idea of family therapy is similar in that we experience ourselves in the context of our relationships with our family, friends and those around us. The dynamics of our family conflict and communication profoundly impacts our thoughts and actions and our experience of ourselves. Our unconscious actually doesn’t know the difference between blaming others and blaming ourselves, because regardless of whether we criticize others or ourselves, the negative emotions are residing in our psyche and are impacting our mood and self-image. When we criticize others, we criticize ourselves. When we harm others we harm ourselves. When we judge others, we judge ourselves.
This thinking leads to the idea that our human nature is fundamentally relational and is linked to others and ultimately is connected to the whole of the Universe. We experience the true nature of our Soul in our connection with others and with the larger universe around. Beyond your perception of yourself as an individual is the experience of your fundamental connection or unity with all of life. This spiritual experience is something that mystics and teachers from all faith traditions and philosophies have been describing since the beginning of recorded history. From the perspective of this experience of unity, we are all different aspects of the One, experiencing Itself from different points of view.
On a personal level, your self-talk constantly supports the fear-based thinking of your ego and reinforces the repeating patterns of conflict or conflict avoidance in your life. STOP THE INNER DIALOGUE with a daily meditation practice. Don’t take my word for this. Give yourself a chance to experience this for yourself. Be willing to have a daily spiritual practice for yourself. Scientific research supports the benefits of meditation. Here’s a link with a good summary of some of the current research on this subject:
A few basic methods of a daily spiritual practice can be helpful. Here are some elements that can help with an effective mediation practice:
Elements of an effective daily meditation practice:
- Sit in silence with straight posture and breathe deeply and evenly. This reverses the fight or flight impulse and begins to calm your mind.
- Recognize your fears and constant thoughts that disrupt your inner calm. Recognize your fear-based thinking and release all these thoughts by letting them flow through you as they pass out of your mind. As thoughts of your daily life or your fear-based thinking or your wandering mind disrupt your calm, continue to focus on your breath and practice releasing all your thoughts.
- Imagine a light right in front of your face and focus on this light to the exclusion of everything else. Imagine this light is made of pure unconditional love and feel this love filling your whole being. Know yourself as this love. Know it as the deepest part of your nature as a child of God.
- Sit in the experience of unconditional love and connect with your Source. The more you tune your mind into the experience of unconditional love, the more you will relax and find your center in the stillness of the moment.
Mindfulness is finding your center amid the business and chaos of your daily life. To practice mindfulness, simply remember the feeling of unconditional love you felt during your morning meditation. Use this feeling to find and hold your center during the difficult times of your day when your patterns of conflict are escalating. When you hold your center, you can learn to remain calmer during stress and become less reactive to the conflicts of your life and use more wisdom and good judgement in responding to your difficulties.
You can do this,
Ubuntu theology is the South African Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu's Christian perception of the African Ubuntu philosophy that recognizes the humanity of a person through a person's relationship with other persons. Drawing from his Christian faith, Tutu theologizes Ubuntu by a model of forgiveness in which human dignity and identity are drawn from the image of the triune God. Human beings are called to be persons because they are created in the image of God.