May 10, 2012

'the pupil of the eye' ~ the beauty of black people

"O thou who hast an illumined heart! Thou art even as the pupil of the eye, the very wellspring of the light, for God's love hath cast its rays upon thine inmost being and thou hast turned thy face toward the Kingdom of thy Lord."

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 113)
in the immeasurable depth of beauty, Baha'u'llah referred to the African people of the world as 'the pupil of the eye'.  Abdu'l-Baha further elucidates on this analogy, describing the pupil as 'the very wellspring of the light'.  it is quite an extraordinary analogy.. it enables me to appreciate how the pupil is able to instantly adapt to its surroundings, how it is the source of light which emanates from our souls, reflecting that which is before it.  i feel it is a magnificent and awe-inspiring comparison to the people of African descent..

living in ghana, i'm surrounded by people who feel a deep pride for who they are as a people.  in general, they hold themselves in a certain manner which typifies dignity, oftentimes adorning themselves with certain dress which depicts their culture.  surely there are many Africans who have this pride as well, emanating a sense of wholeness to who they are.  this pride, however, has nothing to do with the spirit of being like 'the pupil of the eye'..

in a very different experience is the African-American and people of African descent throughout the Americas whose ancestry is from slavery -- that long and indescribably painful passage through which the African people passed in the name of colonization -- and which have faced the evil of racism and the myriad forms of racial prejudice from the white cultures surrounding their life experience for hundreds of years.  deep in the psyche is a battle against inferiority as well as wholeness beyond the color of one's skin..

whether one's ancestry is rooted in traditional culture and history from one of the many black African countries, or one's ancestry is a result of slavery, seeing oneself or others as 'the pupil of the eye' transcends  pride and wholeness.  meditating on this analogy and internalizing releases a spiritual force into the world, leading all of us to the most appropriate attitude in our hearts toward the black peoples of the world..

furthermore, if people of non-African descent can take this analogy deep into the recesses of their heart, their hearts will regard the African people with exquisite beauty and purpose, with honor and respect, for they will see with both an inner and outer vision the unique ability and role that the African people contribute to humanity..

if people of African descent absorb this analogy into the core of their psyche, they will be uplifted and ennobled, carrying within them a most special and beautiful view of themselves -- not a vain glory but a dignified, spiritual glory which will enable them to tap into their capacity to serve humanity adorned with the glory of God..

i continue to hold this analogy close to my heart each and every day and strive, as i press onward as a white Baha'i who has much love for people of African descent, to grasp the essence of what this analogy means..

"Thou art like unto the pupil of the eye which is dark in colour,
yet it is the fount of light and the revealer of the contingent world."

-`Abdu'l-Bahá


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