Faith Matters: ‘E pluribus Unum’ — out of many, one’

  • GurujiMa at the Village of Light Ashram in Leverett. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Village of Light Ashram in Leverett. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • GurujiMa at the Village of Light Ashram in Leverett. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Teacher, Village of Light Ashram
Published: 7/4/2020 10:57:56 AM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email

I have the good fortune of greeting you on behalf of the Village of Light Ashram on this July 4th, a day in the life of our country that signifies freedom from oppression and the reclaiming of the right of self-determination for a group of colonies that had not yet become a nation. This yearning for freedom from oppression is written into the spiritual bloodstream of our country, and yet we have not always lived up to the principles we espouse so highly, principles that would allow us to practice what we preach.

Today, in our nation, we witness the legacy of slavery as it continues to affect the lives of people of African-American descent and the lives of all of us as well. We witness the more concealed and less seemingly objectionable forms of oppression of a group of people of darker skin color than the white majority. We witness, also, the more violent forms of such oppression that occasionally break through the social veneer of acceptability and shock us all.

We are being called to accountability — today, July 4th — to look clearly and soberly at our actions, both past and present, that support the ongoing desire to view skin color as a determining factor in how we view and how we value people. We are being called to accountability to view our history in the United States of America as a dual stream of high idealism in our founding principles, and less than ideal departures from these in our ongoing practices.

How might we view the conflict and tension we have been witnessing in recent days between blacks and whites, between those who hold high the banner of Black Lives Matter, and those who act in ways that seem to contradict this value altogether?

All of us, today, are witnessing the spiritual purification of America in a way that may dismay us, upset us, and cause us to feel confused about what is taking place. Spiritual purification takes place within our hearts and within our collective Heart when we view our hidden motives with greater truthfulness and clarity, and determine with the help of the Divine, to let go of those motives that now cause us pain because they are less than light-filled.

Spiritual purification takes place when we as individuals and as a society view what we are doing that feels wrong and determine to do what feels right. This re-evaluation of our treatment of persons of color and particularly those of African-American descent is what is happening today. We are seeing more clearly who we are, and are wanting to better ourselves so there are no longer oppressors and oppressed among us. In order for this to happen, love must show the way.

July 4th symbolizes all of this, and I am grateful to be able to share these thoughts with you on this day. For on this day we can reaffirm our faith in the principles upon which this country was founded, and we can recommit ourselves to upholding those principles in our daily lives and in our collective life. Among these principles is one that we each hold in our deepest heart, namely, our national motto, “e pluribus Unum,” a motto that defines and symbolizes the spiritual purpose of our country.

“E pluribus Unum” — out of many, one.” May we all learn to live according to this principle so that we become the expression of the noblest part of ourselves. This is my wish for each of us, and it is my wish for America on this July 4th.

About the Village of Light Ashram

Embedded in the spiritual philosophy of India and of its sacred Hindu teachings from the ancient Vedas, the ashram is at the same time a bridge between East and West, uniting the devotional nature and profound sense of the sacred of the East, with the noblest ideals regarding individual freedom that belong to the West. As a bridge, we welcome those of all spiritual backgrounds, for our primary orientation lies in the mystical heart of all religions, namely, the recognition of Divine Oneness. The ashram is the center of a spiritual community called Light Omega, with a website at You may send an email to GurijiMa at, or call 413-253-8901.

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