Embracing The Darkness, Ignoring The Politics?

Beliefnet has a short excerpt up from Ross Heaven, co-author of “Darkness Visible: Awakening Spiritual Light through Darkness Meditation”. The piece details his experience receiving a Haitian Vodou initiation, an experience that prompts him to move past Jungian abstractions and to see the gods and spirits as real and the earth as a living organism.

“One version of reality tells me that my body is lying on a dirt floor in a squalid hut, but in my mythological mind I am in a great temple, surrounded by gods and goddesses, great pillars of gold, wise elders, visionaries, and master physicians. I no longer know or care which, if either, of these versions is true. What is truth anyway? What is reality? Aren’t both simply what we choose to believe?”

While it is a well-written article, and I’m happy that Heaven had a successful initiatory experience, I’m always wondering about what is left unsaid in pieces like this. Haiti has long been mired by political and violent turmoil. The country has recently had to deal with a president being forcibly removed from office, intense fighting, rashes of kidnappings, a recent tense election process, and the ongoing problems of disease and a lack of resources. The country is still patrolled by UN troops and foreign aid seems slow in coming to the worlds poorest nation.

Adopting a land’s religion and culture (which are often deeply intertwined) means also adopting a concern for the well-being of that culture. While some Westerners have taken an active role in Haiti’s well-being, too often articles on Haitian Vodou are completely removed from the political and social realities those living in Haiti face, a situation that doesn’t reflect the reality of practitioners there. One can hope that as the popularity of Vodou continues to grow so too does the concern for the well-being of the nations who birthed it.