“Why do people treat each other poorly? Why do we have such little regard for our own species? Why do we hate those unlike us? I am not sure I have any answer to these important questions but I learned much from some adventures during the 80’s.
I have become convinced that focusing on hate and trying to rid oneself or others of hate is as futile as anything else we have tried to rid ourselves of. We don’t stop hating by legislating against it, however, we may curb it by focusing on love and acceptance.
We need to focus on what we do want and not what we don’t want. We identify what we don’t want, yes! Then we put our attention onto what we do want instead. This keeps up moving forward regarding our goals.
If we want to end hate and discrimination we need to be love. We attract that which we already are, we create from whom we are. We need to be it not simply want it. Wanting it means it has not arrived yet. If we are it we already embody that which is necessary for change. I believe this is an important distinction.
A Journey Of Sorts
“Here is what I experienced. From 1980 to 1990 I had been a sannyasin of Osho otherwise formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. I fell in love with the little guy’s message from books and listening to tapes.
I had been a student of the mind since I was 11. I read every book I could on spirituality, meditation, powers of the mind, Napoleon Hill and New Thought leaders, religious text, hypnosis and other disciplines. I sought to improve myself and evolve as a person.
I adored the message and promise of meditation. I had spent time with others, including Swami Muktananda, Satchidananda, Krishnamurti. Living in Los Angeles allowed me to have access to other prominent speakers and thinkers East and West.
When Osho came to America and headed west to Oregon I decided to go too. I had received sannyas in Laguna Beach at an ashram center. So when I could, whenever I could, I went to stay or live in Oregon at the city commune. There were some dedicated people who lived and stayed there year round. I came and went.
Initiation Into Sannyas And Living With Awareness
Taking sannyas then meant wearing clothes the colors of the sunrise as a reminder of one’s commitment to meditation. It meant wearing a mala, a neckless of 108 beads, to represent 108 forms of mediation. It meant taking a sannyas name. I did all three.
I was very aware that wearing red clothes and beads was my clown suit. It was different from the jeans and clothes I wore and most others did. To say I stood out is an understatement I suppose. I certainly did. A red orange beacon in a sea of brown and blue.
I lost friends because I wore red clothes. Suddenly, I was a cult member. I must be brainwashed were the statements I heard. I tried to explain that I could always take off the outer trappings; which are no different today than wearing branded clothing from popular designers. I was branded a sannyasin in the East. In the West I was branded a cult member.
I wore a brand – sannyasin wear. I was identifiable by being an odd ball. AND yes I could always remove them if I chose. I chose not to. It was, for me, an exercise in awareness. At first, prior to becoming a sannyasin, the thought of anything other than jeans, blue jeans was terrifying. Wearing beads absolutely out of the question.
Clown Suit Colors Are Most Fast Food Colors And Then Some
Once I put them on it took some time to become comfortable. As I stated it was an exercise for me. Not for anyone else. While I wore the sannyas, monk trappings that separated me from the rest of ‘normal’ society as a catholic priest or nun would, I didn’t consider myself different or special.
I sought to allow mediation to be my life. Anyway, I learned that I did not have a problem with the colors or the beads but that others did. My clown suit became a marvelous testing ground. When asked, I tried to explain to people the clothes and colors were meaningless.
They didn’t make me better or worse. They were clown colors. I didn’t have to wear them I chose to wear them. It didn’t matter. People believed whatever they wanted to regardless of my explanation. I did look like a walking fast food restaurant I suppose.
People either accepted me, got to know me, or they didn’t. The clothing and the beads was a barrier. It was right where most people stopped and drew conclusions. I figured they didn’t even begin to see me if all they did was stop at the colors.
Everything Is A Choice
Some made it through the barrier of red, orange and purple clothes when blue and brown and green ruled the day. Some people couldn’t accept a beaded person in flamboyant jeans and tee shirts. I still wore traditional jeans and tees just dyed a different color.
Many times I was asked if I was gay. I must be they concluded. No real man wore purple or maroon. I was shunned. People would stare and comment. People would point, snicker and laugh. I was followed many, many times and taunted.
I was screamed at and called names. I was threatened with violence and told to go back to my country. I was physically chased out of places and many times accosted. I had guns pointed at me a couple of times.
In Oregon I was refused food in restaurants and gas at gas stations. In the LA airport one man passing out gospel tracks shouted repeatedly at the top of his lungs for someone to shoot and kill me.
He drew the attention of the police to the area. They ultimately settled everything down and stated he had the right to his opinion. He was expressing free speech and they left. As did I.
We Are Constantly Choosing
L A was less hostile because there are so many odd people wearing odd things. I traveled the country. I spent time in the East and in NYC, the Midwest and the South always dressed in my clown wear. Different parts of the country had greater degrees of intolerance.
Through all of my experiences I faced with myself. Does this bother me or not? Is it important? Is it my issue or someone else’s? Do I care what they think? Can I accept them even if they don’t accept me?
What they do has nothing to do with me because they don’t even know me. They are upset at my clothing and what it means to them. There were some times when I lapsed and made it my issue.
Most of the time I realized I was wearing clothes that, for whatever reason, others had problems with. Others took issue with my clown suit choice and made it about me. A person they did not know. Maybe they didn’t care to know and that was fine.
We Are All The Same
I was a provoking beacon traveling through the world. I learned opinions and actions of others were their own and had nothing to do with who I was or am. They didn’t know me they only saw the beads and clothes. That wasn’t my problem so I didn’t make it mine.
I am not saying I was always aware or awake or that I wasn’t at times offended or frightened. For the most part though I knew inside I could take these off and no one would be the wiser. I would immediately fit in. I would be accepted. I knew it was my choice.
Because of this I chose to wear them. I wore them because from moment to moment it was a reminder of my decision to live as a meditator and live peacefully. I am no better than anyone in any regard. I have those things that I took or take issue with.
This exercise has helped me see my sticking or stopping points. It has made me more aware of when I get stuck and stop short and do not go beyond and investigate more. We are people. We are cut from the same swatch. We all have areas of issues.
Learn To Respond Instead Of React
People’s responses could push my buttons and I could react or respond. I sought to learn how to respond in the moment with awareness and acceptance of whatever is. I could wear them or not it didn’t matter. There would always be something someone could find an issue about. Isn’t there?
Because I had an unusual Swami name, wore beads and silly colored clothing people assumed I gave up my mind to a guru and did whatever he said. Not true. They thought I gave up my will and would follow blindly anywhere. Not true.
The believed I gave all my money and worldly possessions to the ashram but I never gave a dime. No one ever asked either. Some times I tried to explain, when asked, but l learned most people concluded whatever they would conclude about me because of the clown suit.
My words didn’t mean much or make much impact anyway. If my explanation mattered it meant they would have to believe differently. I was stereotyped because that is what we as people do. It is convenient and we don’t have to think anything through.
Beliefs Run The Show: What We Believe Is What We See
It’s a no-brainer based on obvious characteristics. So I let them think what they wanted. I let go of attempting to change their opinions. Their opinions and name calling and actions against me had nothing to do with me. They were reacting to the clothing colors.
Sure, they were reacting to the person who wore them but they did so in ignorance of who the person was. That was their problem not mine. Yes, it could be dangerous for me at times, but I was learning so much about what we as people do inside our heads about others.
I developed some strong marvelous non-sannyasin friends too because they could see past the outfit. In some ways I wore it to see who was the type of person who could get around it in their mind. If they were able and were able to get to know me and I them then we could be very honest with each other.
I had some incredible girlfriends. I had amazing sannyasin friends and non-sannyasin friends. I moved in places where people could care less about what was worn and in other places where what you wore meant people wanted to beat you up.
Do Not Stop At The Obvious Be Willing To Go Beyond
It was an incredible exercise. I learned so much about me. I learned so much about people and triggers and acceptance and hatred. I learned all this because I chose to do it. Did I tell you, I always knew I could take it off and slip back into the ‘normal’ world? Yes, I know I did but this is an important point.
OTHER people can’t take off their skin color or their gender. They live in their skin and in their body every moment of each and every day. Some encounter horrible cruelty and even death because of the family, the nation, the religion they were born into, not the least their color and ethnic heritage.
I could always remove it. Because I knew this made me want to wear it all the more. I got to experience a tiny taste of the prejudices and even violence directed at people because they are different. I was safe because I knew if I ever had to I could remove the outer wear and walk right through the haters. I never did but I could have.
Awareness Is A Choice
My clown suit was a luxury. A lesson few of us get to live and learn from. It was so valuable as a reminder to be aware and to let go and be meditative. If others hate you you do not have to hate back. You can, you may even, but you do not have to. You can choose.
I am so glad for my clown suit. The time came when the decision was made that people go and live among the rest. Drop the colors and the beads and the name. The ‘great exercise’ was over. Boy, that was hard. My clown suit was a tool for my awareness. If I wasn’t confronted moment to moment then what would happen?
Let me interrupt and make something perfectly clear. I don’t actually know what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes for even a single step. I got a taste of something from which came some realizations. What others face because of what they are born to can be unimaginable at times.
I only got a tiny, very tiny glimpse of a sliver of what some people must endure. I am not making any comparison. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn to be more accepting and to recognize choice points. For me, it was an incredible lesson and challenging exercise but so worth the years of doing it.
It was difficult to give it up but once I did I realized there are always buttons and triggers. It doesn’t matter. It seems we get to encounter ourselves no matter where we are. Alone or with others we are faced with who we are what kind of person we are.
Every Moment Is An Opportunity To Embrace
The world and others, even your own self is a great mirror being held up in front of you. What bothers us, gets us snagged up, frustrated, down and out, making excuses and or being critical of ourself and others, blaming others, hating others, is a reflection and an opportunity.
We stare back at the other person who is reflecting us. Their behaviors mirror our own in some way. BUT we can choose. YES, it may be difficult but we can choose. We either reject it and fight it or them or we accept the lesson and let go of the anger and rejection.
It is a glimpse of oneself and one’s beliefs and conditioning. It is a look into what internal or external conflicts we may have. It is a little signal to get our attention so we can be aware, drop it, and go beyond it. It is benevolence disguised as pain.
Whether in red or blue clothes the world and its people provide opportunity to wake up. We can resist it or we can let go. We can love ourselves and everyone else through it all. We can find a higher road and not succumb to the lowest common denominator. We need to embrace all people because we are one people.
Seek The High Road
Love don’t hate. Be blind to differences that do not matter. Embrace yourself and embrace all those around you. Life is far to short for hate and discord. We need much more time to love and party. We can delight and celebrate and be grateful for all things. We should never stop at the obvious but seek to understand and embrace.
We are all far more similar than we are different. We are different mostly at the surface level. Some endure far more pain and suffering from hate and intolerance than anyone ever should. That is just wrong.
We need to embrace each other as the one species we are and seek love. Our differences make us richer and better. I have said for decades in seminars that what stops people is a thought. The notion ‘I can’t’ or ‘I am unable’ or ‘I won’t’ or ‘I refuse’ is what stops people from moving forward in positive ways.
Live Love Laugh Celebrate
I learned people stop at the most silly things. Color for one. Even color of clothing. WOW isn’t that an odd one? Type of hair, shape of eyes, size of nose, lips, dialect, gender you name it someone can make it an issue. They do literally stop. They do not seek to go beyond.
Going beyond requires being open. It requires acceptance of what is without judgement. We can use more of this, don’t you think? Focus on love not on hate. Don’t even hate the hate. Be love. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be acceptance. Live, Love, Laugh and celebrate all. ” Rex Sikes
How often today can you delight in today?
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