A comment a few weeks ago on one of my fb posts reminded me of what I wrote some ten or more years back:
‘Sitting in the Tao Garden I noticed a young man giving me the keen interested glances of someone seeing someone he thought might be a highly evolved spiritual being. I was cultivating the long hair and dreamy countenance of one with his mind on higher things and accordingly bedecked with bracelets and bangles, ear-ring and beads, clothed in ethnic trousers, sandals and one of those guru-shirts that lend an aura of peace and serenity. I‘d recently attended a Vipassana retreat too, so must have looked pretty holy, perhaps even halogenically enlightened.
His bow, almost a walking prostration, as the young man approached showed the immense measure of respect with which he had decided to endow the presentation of me that I was offering the world at the time. His first words, uttered as if in a cathedral or the presence of a cathedral spirit, caressed my ego.
‘May I speak with you?‘ he said, sounding American. Graciously I inclined my head. He continued, ‘I feel I can learn many things from you.‘
‘How can I help you?‘ I said in a conversational tone and my normal English accent.
His eyes, lowered until he heard my voice, looked up startled, ‘Where are you from?‘ he asked.
‘London, England,‘ I replied.
His face fell as fast as he stood upright. ‘London? England?‘
I tried the gracious nod again but it bounced off the wall of indignation forming around him as he stared angrily at my clothes, my hair, bracelets, beads and sandals, and took a step back.
‘I thought you might have been a…from…. I thought I might have learned something from you,‘ he said like a child to a broken promise.
I was curious. ‘Learned something like what?‘
‘Something, oh I don‘t know, wise stuff. Yeah, some wisdom.‘
‘Maybe you have,‘ I said after him, as he walked away under his disappointed cloud, seeking a distant truth.
You know what they say: nowadays the westerners wear the robes, the gurus drive the Mercedes.
I got my hair cut, chucked the ornamentation. I bought cool gear in Waikiki boutiques, signed up for NLP with Richard Bandler. Nobody mistakes me for a medicine-man any more.’
In the years since, I have observed how people invest one with whatever qualities, characteristics or failings they choose. When you point a finger, notice the three pointing back at you!