“I’m a white, male, overweight, from the South, Baptist minister. If you want to know about racism, and
the product of it, look at me.” These words were uttered by a pastor during a Hindu Christian interfaith
meeting I attended this past week. The room stood still with rapt attention for what he would say next.
“The most defining moment of my life happened at the age of 10 years old.” Being from the South he
shared that he grew up with racism. “It’s all about supremacy, about someone being on top,” he said.
What happened when he was 10 years old? His grandfather had participated in lynching African
Americans. With tears in his eyes he recounted other painful past racist actions by members of his
family. As a young boy this now grown man said, “I heard what my grandfather was saying and doing on
one side. Then on the other was Christ and God. They were diametrically opposed to each other. I made
the conscious choice at the age of 10, though I loved my grandfather, to choose Christ and God. That
one moment has changed the course of my life. That one moment has brought me to this room today.”
There was a pregnant pause of awe from his words. Every other spiritual leader was blown away by his
honesty, courage, and willingness to share so intimately with all of us. His authenticity charged our
meeting with deeper meaning and reminded us of the importance to live our truth.
When I spoke with him alone afterward, he confided further, “what gets me is some people, don’t even
have the willingness or openness to change.” He certainly did! What courage, it took for this man as a
young boy to stand up and go against the grain of his family environment. He reminded me of Swami
Kriyananda’s song, “Go on Alone”:
Walk like a man, even though you walk alone.
Why court approval, once the road is known.
Let come who will, but if they all turn home.
The goal still awaits you, go on alone.
“The root cause of racism is ignorance,” the pastor said. It was clear that he has dedicated his life to
overcoming ignorance in himself.
How do we destroy ignorance in ourselves? In the remembrance of who and what we are in God.
Children of the same One light. Children of the same One ever new joy. Brothers united by our “one life
beneath the surface”.
Like this man our calling from the Divine is to learn how to exercise courage and faith in the face of
anger and fear. It’s one thing to preach platitudes, and another entirely to live truth. As Swami
Kriyananda shares in Rays of the One Light, “Truth is one and eternal. Realize oneness with it, in your
deathless Self within.”
Through the ray of realization let’s wage battle against our own ignorance. Let’s be the change we want
to see in the world, as Paramhansa Yogananda said, “So that the hearts filled with darkness of hate will
be dispelled by the searchlight of your love.”
In Love for our United States of the World,
Driving the Rebel-King, Ignorance
By Paramhansa Yogananda
O mighty, mystic Judge of Life, I asked Thee in my hall of soul stillness: “What is sin?”
Thy whispers of silence, dim at first, grew into bright articulations of thought; I heard and understood
Thy meaning: “Sin is a rebel‐king. His name is Ignorance. Ignorance is the perpetrator of all evil, the main
root of the tree of ill‐health, the primal cause of all error and soul‐blindness.”
King Ignorance and his army of bacteria — physical disease, mental desires, dullness, and false ambition,
spiritual indifference to high truths — have been devastating the nourishing harvest fields of spirituality.
That harvest of countless fulfillments was ripe for reaping when the harsh tread of error trampled it to
the ground. I wanted to weep with despair, when I heard Thy voice whispering to me in my soul: “The
sun of My protection shines on thee always — equally on thy sunny days and on thy coal‐black,
nocturnal hours. Thou shouldst always have faith in Me, and smile, for the greatest of all sins against Me
is not to be happy. Let the ripples of unceasing smiles play over thy face. Through their transparency My
light will come to thine assistance. By smiling with determined happiness, thou wilt always please Me.”