I went through all my teens in the ‘60’s, very much influenced by Bob Dylan and the Beatles. That was when I explored different spiritual paths with a small group led by a grey-bearded guru who seemed to be in his 60’s and about whose qualifications I have no idea.
We were more or less a Roman Catholic yoga group, as he taught us about various Indian masters, and we read the Autobiography of a Yogi, but we went to early morning masses at a Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Stations of the Cross at a Franciscan friary. We took bottles of water to the rectory of the cathedral to have them blessed and turned into holy water, which we sprinkled around, I believe to drive away evil beings.
You could hear us approaching by the jingling of our crucifices and little medallions of St. Christopher and a host of other saints we wore on chains around our necks. Oh, did I mention we all had to grow beards? Our fearless leader would take us on guided tours. I remember being introduced to some kindly old men at a festival in the Sikh temple. I also remember following our guru, along with my brother clones, jingling into a crowded smoke-filled meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Eventually our little group drifted apart. One of us became a librarian, another became a counsellor, another went mad, and I wandered through science labs, plywood mills, late night city streets driving taxi, and law school. I also drifted away from the various traditions I visited and more or less gravitated to Zen, which I practiced on my own until about five years ago, when the value of sangha finally dawned on me and I joined a group considerably less unusual than the first one.
Back in the day, I never hesitated to be profound. A friend and I, being a couple of wannabe hippies going with the flow, came across a big sluggish frog lounging on the road. I picked it up and put it in the grass. My friend said, "Hey, man, why did you do that? If it happens that it gets run over, then it happens." I sagely replied, "And if happens that I come along and move it off the road, then it happens." But I was at my most profound when a slightly younger guy who had been listening to me prattle said, "Dave, you're so wise." Without missing a beat, I said, "No, I'm a fool. I know what to do, but I don't do it." I'm still working on that one.
When the '60's were over, I more or less kept my deep thoughts to myself. Now that I'm in my 60's, it feels like I have a few more things to say. I worry that they won't be as profound as when I was a wise man.
But I'm younger than that now.