The Dress Code of Spirituality
While I was doing my final year B.Sc in 1982, I got an invitation to attend a literary camp conducted by Kerala-based Malayala Manorama Newspaper (later I was a columnist in it). As I had been selected as best short story writer in Malayalam in Kerala University (1981), I was becoming popular among college students then.
The venue was a Christian guest house in a very beautiful scenic place near Kottayam. There were three people in the front-desk reception. Looking at me one of them asked: “Yes – What can we do for you?”
“I came here by invitation” I raised my voice.
“Are you a sponsor or something?” the other receptionist asked.
“No. I am a writer”
All three of them gave me a strange look. “You don’t look like a writer”
I asked why.
“Most of the writers had a pattern of dressing – Pajama, Kurta, beard and a shoulder cloth-bag with long strap for it. Some of them are very smelly too,” one among them said as joke. “But you are in T-shirt and jeans and there is no beard”
“Please don’t worry; this is very shabby and cheap dress, so, for the time being please adjust with that…”I told them with smile. “I won’t take bath tomorrow morning and won’t shave…satisfied?”
Everybody laughed. Times have changed, but even today writers are being type casted at least in movies. Some of them look like Capra aegagrus hircus. Confused? It’s scientific name for bearded goats.
Few months ago one of my readers – Bhaskar Naidu – from Bangalore wanted to see me. I asked him to come and meet me in the hotel where I was staying in Bangalore and he came. He just stared at me for a moment. I could see the colour of his face drained. He gave me a look like that of a Orangutan suffering from hemorrhoids.
“What happened, Bhasker? You don’t seem to be happy seeing me…” I smiled at him.
“No- I am sorry – but I never expected you in this dress” he said.
“What’s wrong in my dressing?” I asked. I was wearing a cropped trousers and crew neck t-shirt. That’s not an offensive dressing up.
“I have read at least 30 articles written by you. I have read it several times. I admired you a lot. I thought you are an enlightened person with very high level of spirituality.”
“Hmmm…” I understood his confusion, “So, you might have expected me in saffron dress or long white kurta?”
“Something like that…Some sort of pious dress“ he said.
“Bhasker…I am no way responsible for the concepts or perception that you had developed about me. I am just a writer. You might have liked my writing. Not me. I do not know the difference between being spiritual or material. For me, both are the same…”I told him.
Still he was feeling uneasy to open up with me. It took me more time to convince him about his conditioning. “Bhasker…don’t get carried away by externals. My karma is writing. I am not in the business of exploiting others or making money from people like you…”
“I am sorry sir – I know. I owe you a lot because you give free service as part of your manav seva. But I couldn’t digest your appearance. It made me confused at the first sight.” he said. Then he opened up and we found some solutions for his stress and problems.
It is very easy to dupe people. All you have to do is satisfy their long-standing perception by wearing a spiritual uniform like a drama artist, create an ambiance of so-called concepts of spirituality and talk some high-funda things and show few gimmicks. Insecure people are eagerly waiting to be exploited by pseudo-spiritual drama con-artists. This is because general public already have a set-concept. If you know bit magic to produce apples or flowers from nowhere or if you can recite a couple of Sanskrit stanzas, then you will have millions of followers too. Incredible India!
“Yes – we have a strong conditioning about dress code. Dressing is a personal choice. If there is a dress code in meetings we may have to follow it. Otherwise don’t go there. If a temple or religious place insists on any dress code, either you wear it accordingly or avoid going to the temple – god is everywhere. Same logic is applicable for uniform. But people wearing certain dresses to exploit others is a different issue altogether. We have a long-standing tradition of respecting saffron dress – but remember, any rogue can also wear saffron. Wear anything you like, but why should we insist others to wear something according to our concepts?” I asked him.
We believe in some concepts or perception that is being conditioned in our mind from various inputs from childhood. Our mind wouldn’t accept that it was wrong. If something goes against our long-standing perception, we will feel like dying by suffocation. The most difficult task in the life is to break such conditioning.
“Did you understand the folly about conditioning related to dress? Then please apply the same logic in everything around you. You have conditioning on “how a man should be, how a woman should be, how a husband should be, how a wife should be, how a lover should be….et al…” Please don’t judge anything based on your conditioning and concepts. Just understand that your thoughts are not true. Thoughts are mere products of your conditioned brain. And brain is just an organ functioning based on the inputs (in stored and new). Let me repeat again: DON’T TRUST YOUR THOUGHTS! Stop chasing thoughts and cross-over. “ I told him. You are not your thoughts.
“How will I know that I am crossed-over…”
“You will stop stupid classification of things into spiritual and material. You will realize the divine presence in everything…” (Excerpts from “Are You ENLIGHTENED?” http://udaypai.in/?p=133 )
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