December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks gets on a bus
Rosa Louise McCauley was born Feb. 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her father was a carpenter and her mother was a teacher. At 11 Rosa entered a store with her cousin and experienced first hand the hatred and ignorance of the South when the proprietor told her they didn't serve sodas to "colored people". Even though this was legal at the time Rosa knew that it was wrong. This incident stayed with her all of her life.
Years later on Dec. 1, 1955, after a hard day working as a seamstress in Montgomery, Rosa Parks (her married name) took the bus home. During the trip she was asked to give her seat to a white man. Acting on her convictions she refused. The result of this was that the police were called and she was subsequently arrested.
(Right: Chilling photos of history in the making.)
Civil Rights Movement is born
Rosa Parks was not the first person to be arrested for this "crime", however she was well known in the community and it was the right place and the right time. Dr. Martin Luther King was the pastor of the local Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Along with other African-American leaders it was decided a protest of some sort was in order. When the crowd showed up they were told that the only thing that made sense for them to do was to boycott the bus company. On Dec. 5 the African-American community did just that. Some drove but most of them walked.
There were those in the white community who fought back with terrorism and harassment and even set out to arrest those who were picking up hitchhikers while others who were waiting for rides were arrested for loitering. On Jan. 30, 1956 Martin Luther King's home was bombed but no one was injured. He addressed the angry crowd that showed up and told them to simply go home and that "We must learn to meet hate with love."
(Above: Inside the famous bus. Right: Bus before it was refurbished as shown farther down.)
United States Supreme Court declares segregation laws illegal
The boycott continued and the United States Supreme Court declared the laws requiring segregation on the buses to be illegal. The boycott last 381 days but proved successful. Rosa was tired that day on the bus but not so much that she wouldn't have been willing to let a child or an elderly person take her seat. What Rosa Parks was really tired of was the inhumane treatment other African-Americans were receiving because of the racist Jim Crow laws of the time. Rosa said: "I kept thinking about my mother and my grandparents, and how strong they were. I knew there was a possibility of being mistreated, but an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others."
(Left: Rosa Parks rides bus again a year later in 1956)
Rosa Parks had served as secretary for the NAACP and also she was adviser to the NAACP Youth Council. Rosa had attempted to register to vote many times against all odds. She also had previous run-ins with various bus drivers and on occasion had been evicted from several buses previously. Still in touch with the humiliating experience Rosa revealed: "I didn't want to pay my fare and then go around the back door, because many times, even if you did that, you might not get on the bus at all. They'd probably shut the door, drive off, and leave you standing there."
Rosa Parks moves to Detroit
Raymond Parks, her husband, and she, moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1957. In 1994 Rosa had her autobiography, "Quiet Strength" published. That same year she had been assaulted by a young man who wanted money. With her usual forgiving heart she said, "I pray for this young man and the conditions in our country that have made him this way. Despite the violence and crime in our society, we should not let fear overwhelm us. We must remain strong." In 1996 Rosa Parks is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor given to a civilian, by President Clinton. In 1999 she received the Congressional Gold Medal.
(Above right: Rosa Parks shortly after the bus incident.)
Sometimes standing up for what we believe in requires that we sit down. Change happens when an act of "stillness" happens. The stopping of what has become a negative pattern opens up the door to change. Rosa Parks departed on Oct. 24, 2005 and the bus stops here. She was 92. But Rosa Parks will be famous as long as people have within them the desire for freedom.
(Above: Rosa) Deep spiritual implications
The implications and ramifications of Rosa Parks' act are far greater than what most people realize. One doesn't have to be trained in psychological or spiritual disciplines to engage in them. This is because the true aspects of various philosophies are based on a natural and innate understanding of them. One of the most common discipline of a psychological nature is the act of stopping. In the Bible we read "Be still and know that I am God." A common metaphysical interpretation of this relates to the "I AM" concept where one realizes their spiritual identity. Not just the realization of one's existence or Being but also the unfoldment of the divine nature of "I AM that I AM". This realization has within it the understanding of Oneness of all Reality rather than the duality which is seen in the human dilemma. One must "stop" and let go of the separateness and realize the "I AMness" and allow one's sense of Being to be realized. Thus the "stop" element is in operation.
Gurdjieff, the Russian mystic, and founder of the Fourth Way Teaching philosophy had what is called "The One Minute Exercise" where you "stop" all physical movements except for breathing and natural eye blinking and sit and observe without the body controlling one's self. Then at the end of the first minute you continue for another minute and then another minute. This "stopping" allows for the student to step outside of themselves and again allow a more objective realization to take place.
The concept of fasting is one where you "stop" the intake of food and allow the body to heal itself as well as naturally refraining from "matter" which symbolizes the dependence upon human reality. This exercise with the proper training can allow the participant to experience Higher realization and move from one level of consciousness to another. The "stopping" here becomes, again, not something you must "do", but rather something you refrain from doing.
Ghandi began a process of civil disobedience in India where he espoused the concept of passive resistance. This was very much what Martin Luther King learned from studying Ghandi's fight for freedom for the Indian people from the oppression of the British influence and also what Rosa Parks was doing in her refusal to give up her seat on that bus that very famous day in December of 1955.
(Above: Rosa Parks contemplates her memories. Right: Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Rosa Parks and President Clinton in 1996.)
In the instruction I learned from Thane Walker,
that I incorporate into my teaching, is the separating of that
which is true from that which is false. Krishnamurti also focused
on this in his lectures and books. Jesus also said that one must
say "Yes if you mean yes, No, if you mean no". Also
there is the understanding that repentence comes from the Greek
word "metanoia" which means "the changing of the
heart" or the "changing of one's consciousness".
Even the Latin of "repent" means to "re-think"
thus you must stop a particular thinking and allow for True Realization
to make itself known.
(Above left to right: Krishnamurti, Gurdjieff, Gandhi, Jesus, Alan Watts, Thane Walker)
Krishnamurti's concept of "You are the world" is one which one must recognize that they are the world, thus one with it. In order to do this one must "stop" thinking that he or she is separate from the world. One must "let go" of that "separateness thinking" which is duality, and allow their world to become their thoughts just as their thoughts are their world.
In meditation one learns that they must focus on either "nothing" or something precise enough to be able to not be sidetracked or distracted by elements of human thinking in order that the chaos or business of the human mind be quieted. This allows for a Higher Understanding to rise up within one's consciousness. One needs to be still or to stop that which is mechanical within the self. Gurdjieff taught that "Man cannot do" and it is here one learns that that the meaning of "Man cannot do" is that this "man" or "human" sense of self is a false mechanical one. Only through the vision of the real Self can one experience knowing. As Gurdjieff said, "Life is real only then, when I AM".
Similarly, the Bible conveys the idea that "Man cannot see God and live". This has much symbology woven into it. First off the concept of "man", again, is that "human thinking" which is separate from MIND in the divine sense. For "man" to see "God" or his or her "Higher Self" they must "die" to that thinking, or STOP living that consciousness and allow for the True Self to emerge: this IS the realization of God. In that sense, man cannot see God and live but rather man must die in order to be "born from above".
First there is a mountain... I have seen the Promised Land
"First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is." This ancient Zen saying with its typical seemingly contradictory quality has deep meaning which applies directly to these examples. First one must observe at the way things appear to be and seeing the myth that it is, he or she must "stop" and let it go. Then as one proceeds they begin to form a real understanding that is based on Reality and not on imagination. Ignorance is the myth we hold to pretend a certain way in order to live without ever having to face Truth. Rosa Parks looked at the man behind the curtain and saw him for the fake he was and she "stopped". She said "I won't play this game anymore, it is not right, therefore it is not true."
I remember an incident in my own life when my mother was about to beat me with a coat hanger. Usually I would simply be too afraid to resist but something came over me at just that moment and a part of my mind began a dialogue which told me that I was taller than my mother and stronger than my mother and I simply did not need to allow this to continue. It was then that I reached out and grabbed her arm and held it in place so that she couldn't strike me. She was frozen in time and then turned and walked away without uttering another word. She never hit me again.
Alan Watts said, "Once there is the suspicion
that a religion is a myth, its power is gone. It may be necessary
for man to have a myth, but he cannot self-consciously prescribe
one as he can mix a pill for a headache. A myth can only "work"
when it is thought to be truth, and man cannot for long knowingly
and intentionally "kid" himself." The civil rights
movement was a process of myth breaking. It "stopped"
the ignorance that had become a religion for people who were living
in a divided society, a dualistic world. Rosa Parks took her hatpin
and popped that bubble when through her actions she said, "Go
ahead and arrest me, because now the whole world is watching".
With that Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream"
...that the whole world will wake up!
© Copyright Derek Lamar 2005
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