Asheville, North Carolina
ER: Dr. Foor, what makes a compassionate city/community?
Daniel Foor: To be beneficial, compassion calls for community members to balance self-interest and care for others. We need to stay true to our own specific destiny and soul-level purpose while also seeking to uplift others in the desire to enjoy a fulfilled life.
In the United States we face the added challenge of transforming a long history of genocide toward Native and African peoples and a tremendous disrespect toward our other-than-human kin, also known as the natural world. In this cultural context, compassion also looks like proactively seeking to address historical and present-day harms toward diverse community members and toward the larger web of life upon whom our existence depends. This process of unlearning and reconnection calls for deep listening, willingness to grieve, and a lifetime of humility and open-heartedness.
ER: How do you measure compassion?
Daniel Foor: If there is any measure for compassion, it’s perhaps in the benefit rendered to others. Mostly we do our best, stay open to feedback, and leave others to determine whether our way of living is truly helpful. In general, benefit can be conceived of as reducing unnecessary suffering and helping others to come into memory and embodiment of their unique destiny and soul’s calling.
ER: What do you do to contribute to creating a more compassionate community and world?
Daniel Foor: My life is dedicated to the reintroduction of animist, or if you prefer indigenous, sensibilities into modern, Western cultures. Specifically this includes an emphasis on ancestral healing through my book Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing, online courses, and training in how to guide ancestral healing work.
I’m also an initiate in West Africa Ifá/Òrìṣà tradition and try in a modest way to help modern Americans of diverse backgrounds to appreciate the beauty of traditional African spirituality. This understanding is one antidote to the history of racist in this country that has too often undervalued the wisdom of Africa and African-Americans.
Recovering a framework for navigating these other kinds of relationships promotes greater happiness, intimacy, and wellness of spirit. All of our ancestral lineages at one point in history lived in conscious relationship with the Earth and the many beings. These older ancestors can help to inspire people of any blood lineage and cultural background.
~Daniel Foor, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist and a doctor of psychology. He has led ancestral and family healing intensives throughout the United States since 2005. He is an initiate in the Ifa/Orisha tradition of Yoruba-speaking West Africa and has trained with teachers of Mahayana Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and different indigenous paths, including the older ways of his European ancestors. He lives in Asheville, NC.