Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ah But I Was So Much Older Then

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.


  1. David, what sage dwells within you? I very much like the comment, worthy of Socrates, that you know what to do but don't do it. I can very clearly see a way of life that I could just step over a line and in to, but that line remains uncrossed. That sounds very all or nothing, black and white, but essentially it's what I see.

  2. Hi Kate, thanks for leaving a footprint. I think we all feel like that sometimes. I'm only taking baby steps...

  3. Thank you for stopping by my blog, David.

    I like to think that, as we age and come to realize how little we know, we are actually living our wisdom FINALLY.

    My practice of Transcendental Meditation in the mid-1970s left me with the (mistaken) notion that I knew ALL and was wise beyond my years. Oh, silly youth!

  4. Thanks, Tara, and thank you for listing me on your blog. Yeah TM was one of my excursions too. Even went to Iowa to learn how to jump in the full lotus....


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