Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

‘In reflecting upon opening to blackness and darkness, I considered the mantras regarding blackness from a historical collective of black people. The mantra “Black Lives Matter” brought a love movement into the world through black women warriors Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. Their mantra came from an old cry: “Black is Beautiful.” It came from James Brown’s “Say It Loud–I’m Black and I’m Proud.” From janitors on strike during the civil rights move-ment: “I Am a Man.” From Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” From Jill Scott’s song “Golden,” in which the mantra is to live one’s life “like it’s golden”-a golden black life.

The mantras honoring black people come from the same place as the cries of Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. The mantras of awakening come from the darkness of suffering, from collective assault upon the soul, spirit, and consciousness. There has been a long-standing cry for dignity by black people and other marginalized groups. It is a cry for the return of love given despite acts of hatred for centuries. The calls are from the deep caves where many bones of those marginalized were left without honor. Loud chanting is not hatred. It is rage for all that has gone against the well-being of humanity. Dark people, along with others who could see, have carried the rich, dark energy of the dark mother deities from all over the world to guard the integrity of humanity by destroying, as Mahakali would, those things that harm living beings. This destruction of ignorance can come through a collective mantra.

“Black Lives Matter” was the first chant of a collective dark body that crossed racial color lines. When others joined in the mantra, we, collectively, opened to darkness and blackness- not just black people but many others. It was the beginning of opening and seeing darkness in the world as an interrelated experience among all humans, whether it was received that way or not.’ (Opening to Darkness)

I was able to take a quick look at this new book when I was at Wilbur, and it is, as is all Zenju’s writing, heartfelt and thought-provoking.

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