An Interview Series with Human Performance Specialist Berwick “Mahdi” Davenport
by Dustin Washington
“Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is power.”
– Tao Te Ching
What is the #NewWoke? For me, it’s coming back to my truest and most beautiful self. The #NewWoke, for me, has been about re-connecting to a power within my soul that is ancient as time itself.
My work with Mahdi has helped me not only recognize the aspects of Ego that kept me from fully embracing my inherent power, but called me to live in a new way: the #NewWoke if you will. I am becoming fully conscious of my infinite gifts, my purpose, and my potential. I have never felt so alive.
I no longer have time to waste on petty drama, pain and trauma from the past, but instead, I awake every day seeking to manifest my highest self and my fullest sense of power. I will no longer diminish myself or make myself small so other people feel comfortable with me.
There was a reason the oppressor beat the ancient spiritual ways of being out of enslaved Africans and sent indigenous peoples to boarding schools to convert them from their natural way of life and force an alien religion upon them. They knew that to control our bodies and minds, they had to strip away that which made us powerful: our spirituality.
Stepping back into our power means we stop begging the oppressor to see our humanity and treat us with justice and, instead, we recognize that we have the collective power to bring forth the world we seek. Through embracing our power, we will lead the whole planet back to a new state of humanity!
I’m honored to share Part 2 of this exciting discussion with Brother “Mahdi”.
(DW) Mahdi, can you define what it looks like to move from Ego to Power? I’m asking this especially for those of us in the movement.
(BMD) Moving from ego to power looks like leadership beyond survival. When we’re in ego we lead from survival mode. This means our leadership is reactionary. Someone does something to us and then we react to it. Each time we react, whomever we are reacting to is setting our agenda. They are determining our course and this is what survival-based leadership looks like.
“When we move out of ego and into power, we take responsibility for our destiny.”
When we move out of ego and into power, we take responsibility for our destiny. We stop waiting for someone to come save us and we start doing what we need to secure ourselves. We look inside ourselves for the answers and solutions to our problems. We make no excuses for ourselves and we organize people in a way that makes us accountable to our greatness. Going from ego to power looks like us going from good to great, raising our standards and our expectations so they are equal to our true intelligence.
A lot of folks I know in the movement come from a religious orientation where everything is external and it’s honorable to sacrifice self for everyone else. How does the oppressors’ religion use this as leverage to keep us from owning our power?
Owning our power and manifesting God mean the same thing. Spirituality is the act of manifesting the Source while religion is the act of worshipping the Source. Worshipping God keeps our power hidden from us. It gets us to believe our power is outside of ourselves and we are not worthy to be with God as we are. But having the power to manifest the Source means that God is not separate from us; God is in us and with us at all times.
God comes into the world through us! If we want to see more of God in the world, then we’re going to have to open the door to God. We are the door! Spirituality is the process by which we bring God through the door and into the world – it’s how we make God real.
Believe it or not, the oppressor’s religion uses sacrifice as a means to keep God out of the world! This is why we were taught to worship God instead of manifesting God. To manifest God you must own your power. But the oppressor’s religion uses sacrifice and suffering to make us believe we are not worthy to manifest God. This is why you see so many religions in the world and yet so little God in the world. This is also why people are moving back to Spirituality in record numbers. They’ve figured out that man’s religion doesn’t work.
“God comes into the world through us!”
The oppressor’s religion taught us to sacrifice our desires and that we will be rewarded in the by and by. But as we come into our power, we realize that this sacrifice and suffering is unnecessary. When you sacrifice your desires, you interfere with your ability to bring God into the world.
Sacrificing creates a blockage in your spiritual system. For example, every desire you have comes in a natural order. As you’re living your life you naturally develop a desire for this, that, and the other. These desires arise in a natural sequence according to your experiences and according to what you’re going through. Now, if you suppress that desire, you create a spiritual blockage in yourself which stops God from manifesting and leads to what I call spiritual constipation; you’ll become spiritually constipated.
Sacrifice is incomplete thinking. You’re thinking too small. We think small and we sacrifice our desires rather than finding a bigger idea. You’re giving up one thing you want for something else you want instead of figuring out how can you have it all. When we manifest God, we can have it all.
Cause there’s no such thing in the Universe that says you have to sacrifice this to get this. No. Think about it this way: What happens if we think bigger? Because we have enough resources to have it all. There are some people who do have it all because they are allowing themselves to have it all. They are manifesting God.
We have been taught that we can’t have it all and then once you believe that and you start saying you can’t have this, you can’t have this, you start living a life about what you can’t have. But the reality is that there’s an abundance – everything is available to you in its natural order. Maybe this is why 1% of the population oversees 95% of all the institutional wealth and resources in the world.
We are worshipping God instead of manifesting God. Consider the reality that no one can be in the presence of God and not have the power to create a reality to make herself or himself happy.
That’s beautiful. Mahdi, what a revolutionary idea it is to wake up to the purpose and power of our Spirituality.
It is a revolutionary idea because so many generations have been taught to sacrifice (to worship God instead of manifesting God) and it sounds so admirable that someone would sacrifice their life or their desires to get closer to God.
But we’re missing the point. We don’t have to sacrifice anything to get closer to God! All we have to do is manifest God – open the door! When people own their power, they manifest God. Which is why we say: wherever power is made invisible oppression thrives. Wherever we are not manifesting God, our ego manifests instead. Wherever God is not, our ego is!
Our ego is the real devil. It’s why some people define EGO as “Edging God Out! Wherever we edge God out of our lives we end up being oppressed, because we are away from our power.
Last Question: I recently heard a young woman at an Undoing racism training say the problem with the movement of the 60s, was we didn’t redefine what it meant to be fully human and we didn’t redefine what it meant for these systems to be fully humanistic. We essentially integrated into an oppressive state based on a European, dichotomous model of humanity that was very much ego-based. What are your reflections on that in relationship to Black people and People of Color moving into a state of fully actualized power?
Everything I have been talking about thus far has been about humanity. Humanity is a result of Spirituality. It, too, is manifesting God and when humanity is absent, God is absent. Ego is the absence of God; the absence of humanity. When you see humanity, you see God.
The fact that we have to redefine what humanity means reveals we didn’t really know what humanity was in the first place. Humanity means God is present. Spirituality and humanity are cut from the same cloth. They are both acts of opening the door to God – letting God back into the world.
However, when your ego is leading the way, God is left behind. Remember what ego is. It is who we think we should be for other people or are supposed to be for other people. It’s us ignoring who we already are to please the world. When we’re seeking to please the world, we’re not manifesting God – fulfilling the greatest mandate on our lives: seeking to be all we can be.
“Spirituality, not religion, is the nature of People of Color.”
Spirituality, not religion, is the nature of People of Color. We are spiritual people who were given a religion by our oppressor as a replacement to Spirituality. Our oppressor taught us to worship God and then he gave us a God to worship that looked white just like him. It sealed the deal for the oppressor. It made us better slaves and servants. It kept us from reclaiming our power; from manifesting God. It kept us from opening the door to God, which prolonged the oppressor’s rein. Even today we are still worshipping a God that looks just like our oppressors which still distracts us from practicing the Spirituality that manifests our humanity: God in person of human beings.
This is what the #NewWoke is really all about: consciously manifesting God in the world. It’s owning our power and looking inside ourselves for the answers and solutions to our problems. We want to draw everyone’s attention to the #NewWoke. We are opening the door to God. We are letting God back into the world through ourselves. People of Color must embrace the #NewWoke movement and discover what happens when we open the door to God for real.
Watch for Part 3 in the #NewWoke series with Berwick “Mahdi” Davenport and Dustin Washington: Moving From Survival to Beyond
Berwick “Mahdi” Davenport is a graduate of McNeese State University, Landmark Education, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and has studied under the tutelage of some of the most powerful spiritual masters on the planet. Mahdi began his career as a relationship coach some twenty-four years ago. As a pioneer in the field, he founded the Relationship Fitness Center of Houston, Texas long before life-coaching was a concept. Mahdi brings a deep-rooted spiritual awareness to his work. He works to not only expose the underlying purpose of racism, sexism, ageism and classism, he also reveals how to interrupt the negative side effects.
Dustin Washington is the Director of the Community Justice Program with the American Friends Service Committee, Core Trainer with the People’s institute for Survival and Beyond and Clinical Faculty at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. Dustin’s work centers around developing humanistic, anti-racist leadership across the nation and beyond via the Freedom School and YUIR projects. He is the winner of numerous awards: Faith Action Network Social Justice Award, Fellowships of Reconciliation Martin Luther King Jr. Award and Seattle Human Services Coalition’s Ron Chisolm Anti-racist Leader Award.
Featured Image is cc licensed image via The Wandering Angel/Flickr