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"I am because you are"
A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed - Archbishop Desmond Tutu
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Posted on Nov 27th, 2007 by martha
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Ran across this awesome paragraph in the book
Culture and Health by Malcolm MacLachlan (p. 19):

"Bandawe (2005) has discussed a common theme that pervades many of Africa's different cultures and also distinguishes them from many western cultures--the notion of uMunthu (although the actual term differs from place to place, for instance in South Africa it is uBunthu). In Chichewa (one of the Malawian languages), the philosophy is conveyed through the phrase 'Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu' (a person is a person through other persons).
 
As Bandawe points out, this is very different from the strident individualism enshrined in Descartes' 'cogito ergo sum' ('I think, therefore I am') perspective that pervades so much of western thinking about the self."
 
This says so much for me, so succinctly.
 
I'm thinking about this and ...
 

 

THE degree of absence of thinking  IS ...

THE arbiter of ultimate spiritual awareness 

 

 

 


mimi : MOONCHILD

20 minutes later

mimi said


I like this piece. I am thinking about it too with heartmind.
a person is a person through other persons”
namaste,
mimi


buddingspritelet : packing up and heading out

about 1 hour later

buddingspritelet said


Kind of like the looking glass self by Charles Horton Cooley (for those not familiar with his work) Yeah, I know, I used wikipedia. It's late :) That picture just upped my baby meter…btw, my family thinks adoption's a cool idea and they're
researching this as I blog :-D
hugs and baby coos,
sprite




about 7 hours later

friendstacy said


I'm with Descartes (to clarify, I'm with what I read in Descartes' words, not sure if the author of that above quote had ever read him, he sure
doesn't seem to get it). But that is not how most people I know think
of themselves. Most of the people I know think of such a
thinking “self” as something bad, that being unique and individual is a
horrible fate, worse than hell. Most of the people I know have never
had an original idea in their lives, they would much rather regurgitate
someone else's thoughts. Most of the people I know view their “social
self” (what other people think of you) as more important than anything
else. They might say “what's inside is what counts” but I know very
very few people who act as though they believe it. To most people,
conformity and unquestioning obedience are virtues, while standing
alone and proud of who you are is a horrible horrible sin.


buddingspritelet : packing up and heading out

about 12 hours later

buddingspritelet said


Hi friendstacy, thank you for pointing this out. I should clarify that I was referring to the quote 'Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu' (a person is a
person through other persons). Oops, I am still new at blogging and
didn't realize people would not know what in Martha's blog I was
responding to :)

In my field of study (social sciences) from my perspective, deviance (and labeling something good/bad) is not
inherent in any act, it is society that determines that and acts
accordingly. We are social, most people cannot survive without human
contact (children and failure to thrive, stories of elderly living
alone, pysch studies on the need for 12 hugs a day), and thus, because
of this need, we act in socially acceptable ways to some degree. Even
when we stand alone, I believe we find others who stand alone and come
to some consensus, and we come together. There are those who choose
to become hermits.

I also believe that what's inside counts, I realize the power of the group intermeshed with ones needs, and I look
at the consistency of one's actions, is what they are saying jive with
what they are doing? I am fascinated by people and group behavior (I
guess that's why I'm a pyscho-sociologist :))

(p.s. Stacy, you may know this stuff-Martha, I know you do-and I'm putting it out there for those who may be unfamiliar.)

For any society to function and flow, some conformity and obedience is
necessary (structural functional paradigm). Yet, with too much
conformity and obedience, society would stagnate, so we also need some
chaos (conflict pardigm). We swing like a pendulum from one to the
other trying to find a balance between the needs of the group and the
needs of one. Studies show people tend not to like change, and hence,
focus on the person/s standing alone as the cause of the problem, make
them the scapegoat. I believe it takes someone with a strong belief in
self to stand in defiance of the group pressure to conform. And I
believe one voice, one person can make a difference. Now, whether that
difference is good or bad depends :)

As for Descartes, that's a whole other blog and, Martha, I apologize for taking so much space on
yours, not enough coffee yet (or, hmmm, too much) :-D

Hugs and peaches,
Sprite




about 12 hours later

friendstacy said


cool, Sprite. I was replying directly to the quote, though, not your comment. :-)
a self-governing populace, IMO, would not be chaos. take a good look at my ancestors. it wasn't until the notion of obedience and conformity
was brought to them by the Christian Europeans, that their problems
began.


buddingspritelet : packing up and heading out

about 13 hours later

buddingspritelet said


Hi friendstacy, hee hee, spirit spoke anyway (even though your response had nothing to do with me:) I do have to take a little more time in how
I respond to my and others posts as, in the written word without
actually seeing the person, i am never quite certain if I am conveying
what I am thinking.

I would love to hear more about your thoughts on non-chaotic self-governance where a society still continues
to evolve. I would like to think this is possible for self and for
groups, but, sigh, I still wrestle with that concept.


mimi : MOONCHILD

about 14 hours later

mimi said


I would like to hear more about UBunthu & uMunthu as a concept and how the people practise this, how they arrange themselves, how their
society is using this concept.

There are many ways for communities to arrange themselves. For instance, In Bhutan, the people
love the King. He declared that the most important thing was GNH -
Gross National Happiness. Attempts to “democratize” Bhutan are not
getting much support from the Bhutanese people. They like things the
way they are. “Things as it is” -S. Suzuki

Martha, please tell me more. Do you have further thoughts on UBunthu? Is it is
something Western society should take a decent look at and perhaps
consider. Is there something similar being pracised in the West
already?

peace,
mimi



mimi : MOONCHILD

about 18 hours later

mimi said


I googled and finally found this which i think is a good explanation of uMunthu

http://blogs.uct.ac.za/blog/umunthu_psychology (sorry, link challenged ;>(

“…uMunthu also means humaness. Individuals who strive for and fully embrace the notion of uMunthu as their goal, are driven by a humanist concern for
treating Others with fairness, which is crucual to personal well-being.

…encourages co-operation not competition, character takes priority to achievement, and embraces tolerance over condemnation….

Fabulous!




about 19 hours later

friendstacy said


OH! That's something totally entirely different than what I thought the quote from Malcolm MacLachlan was talking about!! Thanks Mimi!! Makes
all the difference in the world. :-)
see, I wasn't disagreeing with the idea, just the way in which he was talking about it!


martha : wildlygentle

about 19 hours later

martha said


H everybody! I'm back! I've been disciplining myself lately to not be on Zaadz all day so that I can get some of my work done, take
meaningful action in the Meat world, and all that good stuff.
Interesting discussion you all have going!

I think the thing I would say is that I agree with what friendstacy was saying
about how people tend to rather slavishly emulate societal norms and
opinions, and have not an original thought in their head. An example
of what I'm thinking about is fads, such as people getting tatoos and
piercings as expressions of their individuality, when it's actually in
most cases an act of conformity to a particular way of presenting a
social message. “Look, I'm my own person! I have a tatoo!” I think
friendstacy is saying that she's rather tired of that type of “original
thought,” and waiting for people to actually have an original
thought. OK, then, if you're with me so far (and I hope you are!)
then here's the other part of it, and this is MY interpretation of what
I think MacLachlan is saying, and why I like what he's saying so much.
Think of feral children–those who have somehow survived in the wild,
maybe in a wolf pack or a monkey tribe or something similar. Such
children really have existed. They are unable to talk, and often
obtain their food in exactly the same way as their animal hosts
do–running down a chicken, tearing into it with teeth to kill it,
eating it raw, and so forth. What he is talking about is that we give
each other language, culture, a sense of spatial meaning, a sense of
time. People who have grown up with other people take this for
granted. But think about it! We are something very different without
the nurturance, support and teaching of other humans. It is our
language and culture that give us our frameworks for thought, and one
could go so far as to say, our “humanity.” We take on this treasure
for ourselves and we take it for granted. On the downside, as
friendstacy points out, we mindlessly substitute the corporate
sensibility for genuine personal development. On the upside, we owe
each other bigtime for everything we are. Like for example, I owe all
of you who contributed your comments to this blog today for getting me
to think, and to write down and articulate my thoughts, which I would
not have done otherwise. Really, when I posted this blog, I did not
perceive myself to have the time and/or the skill to put this into
words. But now I am. And I what I was trying to say in this blog,
that maybe now I can say better, is that often we fail to recognize our
debts to one another for the teaching, touching, nurturing, goading,
and general friction that brings out our true individuation. I wish
to honor that dimension of life.


jenni : hello

2 days later

jenni said


hey martha. It is true. I was thinking about my mother. She irritates me but heck she gave birth to me and I wouldn't be here without her. I
better give her a call. love jen


Paul : Life Is Good

2 days later

Paul said


interesting post, martha. i concur with eckhardt tolle's view that descartes had it all wrong…the thinker represents the little artificial “me” in each
of us, the self created ego, or how we usually think of ourselves. i
believe our spirit or essence more accurately represents our true
identity, and in that respect we are all one. so, therefore, rather
than coming from each other, i believe we are each other!


martha : wildlygentle

2 days later

martha said


Thank you for your comments! This really keeps me thinking. I was just working for about 5 hours straight, doing my stupid reports. I decided
to take a break, and was drawn into Zaadz *poof* just like that! :)
It was wonderful to encounter your ideas. Now I'm going in a new
direction, and am thinking of what today's post will be… Thank you for
your inspiration. I come from you, and from me, but you and me are
one. How does it work???


mimi : MOONCHILD

2 days later

mimi said


Paul, I really liked what you wrote. Perhaps we are first ego driven, and accumulate knowledge and material stuff. Maurice Sendak quote–”“There
must be more to life than having everything.” I think most people
have some spiritual longing - and they start on a spiritual path.


When one embarks on a spiritual path, there are many twists and turns,
awakenings, teachers, fasle prophets, inspiration, ups and downs.
Sometimes, it is hard to suspend ego, intellectual thinking, and
reasoning to explain and understand spiritual matters because it comes
from a different place - heartmind .

We all have a spiritual essence - we just have to get in touch with it. It lies within. Ego
might talk you out of it. Intellect and ego might gang up on
spiritual essence. But once you you do connect, allow, and experience
that spiritual essence, you know that we are One/The Oneness. There is
no separation.

I wouldn't overthink the words used to describe Umuntha, but rather go with the spirit of
The people who practise it described it. I think it is great concept.


Paul : Life Is Good

2 days later

Paul said


the way it works for me is through my belief that each of us shares a small piece of a divine spirit which is our soul, or essence. it's this
spirit that we all share that connects us to each other. i believe
that the mind and body are temporary incarnations of this divine
spirit. i try to come from my heart (spirit) rather than my mind as
much as possible, trying to use the mind as a tool rather than my
identity. it's been my experience that materialism and egoistic
pursuits are superficial and generally unsatisfying. how long does the
thrill of the new car, outfit or jewelry last? i'll stick with the joy
of being i realize by quieting my mind though mediation and remaining
present in the moment.


mimi : MOONCHILD

2 days later

mimi said


namaste,
mimi


martha : wildlygentle

3 days later

martha said


Oh, I was going to tell you Mimi that I don't know anything more at all about Umunthu. It was just that the phrase FINALLY articulated for
me a succinctly phrased alternative to “I think, therefore I am.” I
was so happy! Am still happy! Just happy in general.

Paul, Oh I totally agree with you. What I started out to do was to
articulate something of the nature of our interconnectedness in the
physical world as incarnations, and then I kind of went on with another
theme, which is how it FEELS to know the truth of this in various
levels of awareness…




3 days later

friendstacy said


wow… I really want to reply, but I need to digest it for a while first. I completely agree that we should look within to find the divinity that
we are. BUT… well, all I can say right now is that my perspective on
this is TOTALLY different from Paul's. I need to find the right
words. Interesting that I'm having two other conversations here at
zaadz on this same topic. Check out CG's blog.




3 days later

Enlightened.thinker said


Great discussion…sorry I missed this when it first was posted!


martha : wildlygentle

3 days later

martha said


Hi Aley! Love ya!!! :)

and I'm zoom on my way to read some in CG's blog.


C.G. : Sacred Vow

4 days later

C.G. said


 

Martha…an absolutely wonderful conversation to introduce!!!!!!
Thank you!.

It seems quite certain that since humans are social entities (whether interacting with others in our presence or in our
thought, we are being social), then we can only be defined with the
inclusion of others. I heard an Alan Watts lecture that said that one
could not accurately define “walking” to someone completely without the
concept without defining what we walk up, how we move in relation to
something, etc, etc,…
I find myself sometimes questioned with “how did you…” when some expression of myself does not seem to match what would be implied by my background,
education, etc. My natural (internal, intuitive) reaction is “I am what
you make me.”
Now, my first egoic response (to my own words) is to take offense because–to the ego–this would imply
that I am simply some byproduct, not “my own person” (very
objectionable to ego). However, I have long recognized that my own
“natural/intuitive words” are introductions to learning that is to
follow-higher consciousness speaking to waking consciousness.

I have been lazy in dealing with this “I am what you make me” lesson, but your article on uBunthu is going to force the
issue a little further for me, Martha (Thanks!). “Not-thinking” on this
has not developed much yet, so the ‘knowledge' of it is very initially
intuitive and has not translated to the consciousness very well, so I
am going to just try to ease into this and see where it goes. —I am
sure my friends here in Zaadz, will help me with this…

 

Ok… “a person is a person through others”/”I am what you make me” seems to me to take place in different levels, all tied to one
another, mutable to the response to current experience:
1) environmental: I would act/think very differently in the fostering environment I participate in at this moment, than I would act/think if
dropped into a war zone. In my more hostile environment, though I may
maintain degrees of evidence of my current “center” for some period of
time, the longer I an in an environment where that definition of focus
is not immediately my concern (Maslow's pyramid) the more the
“peaceful” identity will go into shadow. —after all (back to the
holograph) all aspects exist, but the environment surfaces the most
appropriate/compatible (as assessed by some level of our
consciousness). Unable to escape such a transition otherwise, we are
forced to either transform to an environmentally compatible (primary)
identity, or die.

–therefore my current environment has a hand in “what I am”
2) psychological: we are defined by the input of others. The degree of our acceptance of these externally defined identity depends on input
received at defenseless points in our life (parental input to young
children, being the most critical).

If I am defined as a liar as a young child by someone whom I have no psychological defenses against (or at some place in defenselessness), I will accept this description
as self-definition and will experience self-fulfilling prophesy.

Even if I have developed a very strong “self-defined” identity, and am called a liar, though I may disregard the assessment as false, I am
very likely set-off in some degree of psychological defense. Though not
the same degree of psychological impact as the defenseless would have
experienced, I am affected.-and this does not even enter into the
metaphysical implication of the power of words and the connection of
All…..'

http://www.urbanmonk.net/138/freedom-from-judgement-the-beginning-o... Albert Foong

–therefore others have had a hand (and continue to do so) in “what I am”
3) perceptual, others: I may perform an act or speak words that are to me (an intended to be) simple (or pure gibberish) and it will be the
assessments of the onlookers that will determine if I am wise or fool.
Even one could know they conveyed the words of the “Absolute,” these
words would be trash in not understandable by the listeners—back to
environmental

–therefore, “what I am” is defined what others see
4) metaphysical: Even individuals such as Buddha and Jesus (or Hitler) can only be (in our experience) what we can comprehend and have given
collective consent to exist. -there are things/those that exist, but
have only our consent to exist in a currently unperceivable context.
Meenakshi looks into this in her blog, Making of an avatar, Master, or God on earth

From my perspective, in any manifestation, we have collectively consented and the manifestation/person that we experience happens to be the most
receptive point of expression at that time-not some rarefied
“separateness”, from us.

–therefore “what I am”, ‘good' or ‘bad' is by collective agreement. I am the receptive point for this expression of the Absolute.

All in all, it brings some expanded implication of what we are connotatively defining about the whole when we say “I am….” or “S/he is…”


C.G. : Sacred Vow

4 days later

C.G. said


Update to Meenakshi's Blog
How does a person become a god


martha : wildlygentle

4 days later

martha said


Ok, now I'm going to go read Meenakshi's blog. Thank you very much for your thoughts! Particularly the part leeding to Meenkshi's thoughts
are something I hadn't considered before. I was, and in many ways am,
still at a pretty basic level with this–that even the words we speak,
the thoughts we have, what we think our body is for, all that stuff, we
wouldn't “know” unless we had gotten it from our social others in some
way. The categories and thoughts you offer are excellent examples of
that. And so, onward to Meenakshi! Thank you so much!


 Meenakshi : ~

4 days later

Meenakshi said


Thanks for this link, C.G. I have enjoyed the conversation here. Martha, who would've thought those few words would prove so powerful! The
discussion is longer than the blog that started it.
Once again, in this I see the power of the collective voice. In this case, for
bringing power to words spoken in a far off land [to many] in far off
times.


martha : wildlygentle

5 days later

martha said


Thank you for coming by to read all and add your thoughts! I'm glad that we have a place in ourselves to resonate those words from the far away
place. I do think we need them.


C.G. : Sacred Vow

6 months later

C.G. said


Martha, you have really made an impression on me by giving word to something my spirit knew, but my conscious mind needed to be again reawaken to.
Thank you, dear one,
CG


martha : wildlygentle

6 months later

martha said


Thank you for bringing my thoughts back to this. It's helpful to me, and a deep well of inspiration, each time I read it. It means a lot to me
that someone else here remembers this too, and has come back in his or
her thoughts to think of it again.


Michael : catalyst-producer

over 2 years later

Michael said


Ubuntu IS what we ALL need to come back to in the context of a new collective

 

 




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