RYS 200, 300, 500 in Rishikesh
"The immigration must stop! We're taking on too many and we hardly have enough to maintain our own standard. Other countries should accept some refugees as well..." The man takes a sip of coffee and the other man continues:
"Indeed. I mean, look at Denmark... they don't accept as many as we do! Why should we take responsibility for all these people when the unemployment among our own youth is increasing?!"
This might as well have been a film sequence from a National Geographic documentary, showing one pack of wolves chasing off another pack from their claimed territory. I could almost hear the speaker man's voice echo through the coffee place, describing animal behavior. See, this was not a conversation between two men, but a verbal expression of their Muladhara (root)-chakras. It was such a schoolbook example that it almost made me laugh! Survival of the tribe. Basic animal instinct concerned with the protection of territory. Primal fear of the unknown, of that which can't be explained, of that which is not logical but biological... the fear of being conquered and left with less than you have or less than you could have. When it comes down to it; fear of extinction and fear of death.
Later that night Sweden met Portugal in a big football tournament. My friend called me up, telling me he was going to watch the game, asking me to join him. I turned the offer down and he went on: "I really hope Sweden kicks their asses this time! Hey, I'm Indian but I live in Sweden now so I should support Sweden, right?!" Again; the voice of Muladhara-chakra: loyalty, territory, us against them... the tribal mind rising to the surface.
One of my yoga students wears a lot of tattoos. After one of our classes I asked him about their significance and it turned out several of them were symbolically related to his best friends, back in his country of origin. I find the statement of a tattoo very psychologically interesting. Without exception, tattoos are statement of clan identity, an eternal imprint of first chakra energy. Creating a tattoo with your child's name, your lover's name, your favorite football team, a flag etc. is a statement of belonging just as if we make a tattoo with a religious sign or a deity figure, it is a statement of the spiritual tribe we want to be included in. I have not yet met one single person with a tattoo who doesn't also have a deep desire of tribal belonging – concealed or obvious! It is the same with make up and clothes. Why don't I dye my hair blue or wear orange lipstick? Why don't I put on punk clothes? They're cool enough! Why do I choose a certain type of jewelry over another? Because these are symbols of the clan my mind tells me I belong to, hence my mind suggests me to decorate myself in a certain way to send a message to other members of that clan that I am one of them. But I am not! It's just my mind.
So what of it? Is tribal belonging somehow an obstacle on the spiritual path? My personal opinion is this: in definition there is bound to be exclusion. Whenever you tell me what I am, you tell me far more things that I am not. When you tell me where or to what I belong you shout at me where I don't. When you define me you limit me and when I define myself... well, that's even worse! Because whatever I define myself as is existentially irrelevant, but nevertheless it becomes an obstacle because it strengthens the identity of the ego and the attachment to the self-image I have created and spend energy on sustaining. Have you ever met a person who you cannot tell is a man or a woman? You're just passing that person in the street but your mind is immediately disturbed, because it can't relate and define. Suddenly the mind doesn't have any information to provide you with. Anything can happen! The mind freaks out and you can't stop looking at that person because you need to know. Suddenly it's very important for you to know the gender of a stranger... strange isn't it? And for how long can you sit with someone who reveals a different accent or skin color, without asking "where are you from?". I'd say maximum 5 minutes!
My friend met a man of African appearance recently. She was checking him out in a bar and as the night went on they exchanged glances with increased frequency. During the evening her mind was gradually providing her with information, judged on his appearance only; his micro braids, his cap, the baggy fit of his jeans, the color of his skin, his features, his colorful shirt... She was downloading information and by the time he walked up to her and extended his hand in a greeting, she thought she had a clear picture of the man in front of her. She was dead certain he was a Jamaican or west African musician and that he would be a fan of Bob Marley; a young vagabond. But instead of talking with Jamaican or African accent, the man in front of her spoke flawless Danish and turned out to be a software engineer born in Germany residing in Denmark on a temporary vacation to Sweden with the British pop band Blur as his favorite choice of music.
We don't need to suppress our first chakra or deny it. In fact, we shouldn't; it has served a purpose for the survival of our specie, but perhaps it is time to rise above? We need to be aware but not attached. We need to understand that whenever we think in terms of "we & them" it is the voice of our first chakra speaking, but it has no existential relevance. When we can play with our own archetypes and detach from our tribes so that we may see what is taking place symbolically, then our first chakra can relax and we need not be in fear of that which is unknown. Because there is really only one tribe; it's name is Life and we are all a part of it.