How do we look at the issues of immigration, refugees, and religion from a perspective that honors interfaith spirituality, while not taking sides with any single religion? We have every reason to consider these issues from a moral and spiritual perspective in this year when the world refugee population has hovered around 65 million people.
Moreover, the government of the United States
of America has recently shocked many US citizens, and I trust, the rest of the Americas and much of the world, with its treatment of immigrants, especially the forced separation of children from their parents, but also, more recently, with the Supreme Court ruling upholding Trump’s ban on human beings entering the US from predominantly Muslim countries.
Above, I kept emphasizing the words ‘people’ and ‘human beings,’ hoping that we will remember that we are all human, and therefore all equal. In particular, an interfaith, universalist spirituality generally views all human beings as souls who come from God, and who return to God. In this understanding, we are all equal: equal in the eyes of God; equal in the eyes of the law; equal with regard to human rights; freedom; and democratic governance; and of equal worth and value in terms of having the same right to be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity.
I would like to invite us to look at the issues of immigration and refugees from the perspective of the yoga philosophy of the chakra system of the body, and also from the perspective of the words, life, and ministry of Jesus Christ, which are so very different from what many purported ‘Christians’ are representing as ‘Christianity’ today in the USA.
First, a personal note: at age one-and-a-half, I myself was a refugee. I was born on the equator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo way back when it was the Belgian Congo. During Congo independence, we lived in the southern region of the Katanga Province. Because the Katanga Province is rich with minerals, it tried to secede after Congo independence, and so there was the threat of violence.
My mother had to evacuate my older sister, brother, and I as refugees into what is now Zambia. My father, who stayed in the Congo, was warned when there would be shooting at night, and told to hide under his bed; that’s how he survived. I am super grateful to the country of Zambia for possibly saving our lives. I now ask all humans in all nations of the world to commit ourselves to saving the lives of refugees, especially those fleeing violence, around the world.
Jesus Christ was also a refugee as an infant. After his birth, King Herod heard of the birth of the ‘king of the Jews,’ and sought to kill all infant boys, so Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to Egypt to raise him in safety. As an adult, Christ constantly spoke of the importance of feeding the poor, and did it. He constantly spoke of serving, healing, and blessing others, and did it. Jesus Christ said, “as you do it unto the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do it unto me.”
Surely, refugees and immigrant children are among the ‘least of these’ in the eyes of the world. If Trump’s policies have shown nothing else, surely they have shown that view: immigrants, poor people, and refugees are, for this administration, “the least of these” among human beings. By contrast, Christ’s point was that no one is less than anyone else, so welcome others and show compassion to them.
This form of compassion can be called the embodiment of the Sacred Heart of God.
What does all this have to do with the chakras? As I point out in my award-winning new book, Truth and Illusion: The Politics of Spirituality and How One Person’s Lie Is Another One’s Truth, our chakra system represents our spiritual, emotional, and cognitive growth, both in this lifetime, and through many lifetimes. Therefore, our attitudes toward immigrants and refugees reflect our level of development along the chakra system.
The chakras are centers of spiritual energy, including the life force and energies of our souls that keep us alive. The chakras are located along our spines, from the base of our spine to the top of our head. There are seven chakras: the root or base chakra; the spleen or sacral chakra; the solar plexus chakra; the heart chakra; the throat chakra; the brow chakra or Third Eye; and the crown chakra.
Clearly, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Lady Kwan Yin, Mother Mary, Paramhansa Yogananda, and other saints reflect the most advanced levels of development in the crown chakra on top of our head. This is why the halo represents such saints: the halo was apparently something some early Christians had the ability to see, for it is the glow of the intense energy of a saint in the crown chakra.
Because of their complete level of development along the chakra path, the saints and Ascended Masters like Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, Lady Kwan Yin, and Paramhansa Yogananda all lived a life of compassion, service, and unconditional love for all human beings, especially the poor and vulnerable ones. If alive today, they would be among the first to welcome, feed, clothe, and shelter homeless refugees and immigrants seeking to live and work for a better life for themselves and their families.
Indeed, many saints have embodied the Sacred Heart of God, which may be equated with a fully developed heart chakra. Even regular human beings with a well-developed heart chakra will seek to spread compassion to children, refugees, immigrants, and other vulnerable human beings (and animals, generally, too!).
However, that has not been the response of many of our government officials nor of many Americans. Many Americans have the response, “We have to take care of our own first.” That attitude represents the fear-based version of our root chakras.
The root chakra is all about our family, creating a family, nurturing a family, and protecting a family. This attitude can extend from ‘my family,’ to include ‘my team,’ ‘my nation,’ ‘my ethnic group,’ ‘my religion,’ and so on. When the root chakra sees the world as ‘us vs. them,’ it is fed by the energy of fear, and we then divide the world into families of which our own is the most important one, and many ‘other’ families/teams/nations are to be defended against, fought against or at least competed against. When there is sufficient love in the root chakra, we instead see everyone as belonging to one big family all around the earth, so we seek to love, nurture, and protect everyone and everyone’s children.
As we progress through the chakra system, mostly by adding in more love, but also by energizing the feminine virtues equally with the masculine virtues,* we get to the heart chakra, which is activated through unconditional love. At this level, we may love only our own family members unconditionally. However, when we are fully activating the heart chakra, we bring that unconditional love, like a saint, a true guru, or a bodhisattva, to love all the world.
We need humanity to love each other more, not less, so that we will all develop along the chakra system to that place where we all love each other unconditionally, rather than fearing each other in some competitive system in which we think someone else will take our jobs or profit off of us at our expense. Our governments need to reflect the values of democracy and interdependence, in which we understand that, especially given the nature of our global connections, we are indeed one big family.
Immigrants and refugees are ultimately a gift to remind humanity that we are One family around the world. May it be so!
Love and Light,
*For more on how we develop through the chakra system, please read Truth and Illusion, winner of the Silver Medal for Religion (Eastern/Western) in the 2018 Independent Book Publisher Awards: