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Buddha on the Block: Enlightenment is in the Inner City


The term “enlightened” has been packaged and repackaged so many times. The way that the average person relates to the word is as a state that few, if any, can obtain. Opportunist have seized the term presenting it to the public as a New Age religion. So you have rich slave makers of the poor robbing the people in the same manner that pimp preachers and money grubbing have for hundreds of years. Thy set their selves up as the only way to gain that elusive “enlightenment” as long as you adhere to the preset payment plan. In order to successfully pull off the scam all you need to do is create a nice gumbo of foreign words, secret history, critique of religion and a dose of charisma. With that you too can get paid!

A working definition of enlightenment is the state of recognizing how one relates to every element present in their environment. With that kind of understanding one is able to answer the questions “why” and “how” frequently. The enlightened person inventories their capabilities plugging their self into their environment. You will know this person when you meet them because they tend to just flow with everything. Even when directing the flow they appear “flowing” because they are in tune with the mathematical structure of what is. I say “you will know” this person yet many of us don’t notice these individuals because we expect the enlightened to be glowing and levitating over the concrete. There are enlightened individuals all throughout your hood. Trust me. I guarantee it.

One of the models of enlightenment that people reference is the life of the Buddha known as Siddhartha Buddha (because there were others before and after him as Buddha just means enlightened). People love to focus on his periods of isolation as the points where he became “awake.” The reality is that a big portion of his path took place among the poor because he was a poor righteous teacher. He saw the suffering of the people. He identified with the people. He directly engaged the rich slave makers of the poor of his time. He was a community builder and his teachings transformed the community. Enlightenment which only serves yourself is some western teaching ego feeding trick.

In some hoods across every ghetto U.S.A. the slang for marijuana is buddha. It has been well documented to have numerous medicinal uses. Also, despite the usual rhetoric, many people utilize it as a means of sacrament to still the thoughts in a meditative manner. Some groups of Rastafari utilize it as such as well as some devotees of Shiva in India. Plus some in America in their everyday lives. Since the blunt hit the streets some have utilized it as one of many paths towards enlightenment.

You know there are vessels of solid wisdom in your hood. Look to find that person who is always being productive. That person who appears to be resilient regardless to what happens in the community or with them personally. See if you can detect that person who doesn’t appear to have a lot going on yet upon closer examination is executing plans within plans. You might be walking by a Buddha every single day while looking for someone from the far east in flowery robes.

In your community find your purpose.  Find out how you relate to your community. Examine how your community relates to other communities. Try to look at a bigger picture seeing how all of these different gears fit together. See if you can see the larger engine. Work to understand instead of being understood. Cultivate compassion. Even in the darkness moment realize that the light is deep within you and pull that light out. Share yourself with the world.


ALife Bio Pic _ Updated Final C’BS ALife Allah is the co-author of the ground breaking Science of Self: Man, God and the  Mathematical Language of Nature and the co-editor of the seminal Hood Health Handbook: A  Guide to Health and Wellness in the Urban Community. He also is a contributing writer to the  Hood Health 101 column at the Source blog. He is a community solutionary who concentrates  on Hood Health, Science of Self, the Black Presence and youth empowerment. You can find  more about him at official webpage.
You can also follow him on twitter at or on Instagram at . Currently he is working on a major project creating a mobile HoodHealth community center housed within a school bus. Check out that project at