Occurring at a time when one great segment of “America” – meaning the United States – was dedicated to fighting and winning a horrendous patriotic war, there was another troupe movement afoot, legions of extemporaneously mobilized 'peaceful warriors' on the move from all parts of the globe, thousands strong, of young disillusioned migrants who responded to the war and other dissatisfactions by abandoning most everything they had grown up with, in order to examine other ways. They struck out on long lingering excursions, crossing continental and cultural divides, in search of deeper and richer existential meanings than those which had been instilled in them from birth – I should say 'we', as I was one of them. Our diaspora was without order or organization but thousands of us had by the 1970s developed – through much contemplation, re-examination, deep psychedelia, study and sober reasoning – the foundations of a new, though unstructured ideology. Our realizations needed research and refinement, thus we sought the wisdom of the ancient cultures.
We knew that the continuing existence of wars is a serious flaw in the character of our species and must come to its end. We intuited that an attitude based upon understanding, respect and human kindness is the ultimate healing, if only we could only overcome our own greed, superstitions and prejudices. Tall orders. We felt that the lack of healthy sexual expression is a major cause of much violence in the world… and so on. We had global aspirations of healing the planet, and didn’t pay much heed to what we were up against. ‘Make Love Not War’ was our bumper-sticker motto, and some fell into all-out drug-fueled hedonism, seeking the perpetual love-in. Still others took more to the back-roads such as myself, but in general we agreed that having fun, free love and an abiding spirituality based on peaceful coexistence would slowly act as a worldwide panacea – more naiveté, but we were young, lustful and dedicated – and mostly right.
So, from being primed with our Christian teachings as we grew up in middle America, many of us had a divine love instilled in our hearts, but were left hanging with too many loose ends, half-truths and not much in the way of living examples. We were left with an abiding sense of dismay at the exclusionary and downright arrogant aspect of Only One Way, and much else that our 'Christian' world involves itself in, actions that cause much misery to many. We deeply felt that we should be the embodiment of that compassionate nation which our image portrays itself to be. We were awakened, we saw, and we were outraged. We hungered for more.
This is my story of searching for 'more' and finding that simply by setting out, one rich adventure after another came my way, not all of them what I would have wished for, but full of life’s vitality nonetheless. Journeying for years at the very bottom of the economic tier of the whole world, I regarded myself neither homeless nor in poverty, but as a sadhu, a wandering monk on an ongoing pilgrimage to my own soul. I did then, and do now envision the physical world with all its drama as a formidable metaphor for the perilous journey toward our real home: our true, infinite and eternal self, our pure spirit.
But no dharma lectures in my book I promise you, I just tell the stories. Much of the time you may find it difficult to find the 'spiritual search' in it all, but at the heart of every adventure, it can be found. Come with me please, on my very worldly journey.
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