Reiki precepts and the illusion behind racism

As in many spiritual practices, Reiki has a list of precepts that act as guideposts towards enlightenment. Originally written in Japanese, there are many different ways to translate these in English. However, these days, when issues related to racism are constantly making the front page, one particular version of the first Reiki precept really calls to me: “Do not bear fear, for fear is an illusion."

If the root behind racism is fear, it’s then also an illusion. A matter of subjective perception. Of people wanting to see what they want to see (or fear) in others.

Take me, for example. I was born in Belgium but moved to Venezuela as a child. When the so called Bolivarian revolution started to get traction, people frequently harassed me. I was too white. Too skinny. An imperialist. I was part of the problem destroying the country. Soon, they hoped, when Chávez took power, I would be gone.

I was gone indeed. As soon as I finished my studies, I moved the the US, finally settling in New York, where I happily got lost in the most diverse city in the world.

Only a few years later the war with Iraq started during the Bush government. People who saw my European passport and discerned the slight French intonation in my mostly Spanish accent screamed at me: "Go home, Frenchy. Go back to your country, freedom hater.”

At the same time, I decided to stop attending the Belgian club meetings because members kept asking me, “Where are you from? You’re too dark to be Belgian.”

Other people also called me brown because of my Spanish accent. Often on the same day I was called a  treacherous Frenchy.

Later on, at a big multinational advertising agency (emphasis on multinational) I was told it was a pity that I spoke with the “stupid” accent. Spanish. The person who said it meant to be kind.  Other people would speak slowly to me, using 6th grade vocabulary, until they found out I was born in Belgium and then, like if nothing, started talking normally.  

Who’s right? Am I white? Brown? Smart? Stupid? Slow? Imperialist? Low class socialist? Sophisticated? Lowly educated?

Does racism make any rational sense?

It’s difficult for me to believe that it does given my personal experience.

It’s just a very convenient way to blame other people for our own problems as individuals and as societies.

So every time we feel anger towards someone, every time we feel a derogatory, racist, or sexist thought forming in our head, let’s pause and reflect on the why.

Why does this person trigger so much anger in us?

Why do we feel the need to hurt him or her?

Why do we need to feel superior, better or in the right versus the other person?

Are we just displacing self hate and self blame?

The more awareness and attention we pay to our feelings and our actions, the more we’ll understand our true nature, and the more at peace we will feel with ourselves.