Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nonviolent, Local Hero

In town, the news is in your face. The front page shows a death toll and a frantic woman on her cell phone. When I come to town I realize how isolated we are, living in the country. Insulated may be a better word. The event is on our mind, but not 'in our face'.
I observe the people in Winston Salem, recent events hang over them like a shadow.
'Old Salem Tour' was written on what looked like a ski lift ticket, clipped to a man's jacket.
“I see you've taken the tour of old Salem. How did you like it?” This is a friendly town, it's easy and natural to start conversations with strangers.
“They're a very interesting group.” he replied, “Very communal. I wonder how much of their culture is still in place at this time.”
“I've been there myself, walking around talking with the people in their period dress. I think everyone was communal 300 years ago, you kinda had to be.”
“I mean the Moravian culture, have they been able to incorporate it in modern society? You know Andy Griffith, of the Mayberry RFD TV show ?”
“Yeah, great show. From the 60s?”
“I learned today that Andy Griffith was a Moravian. He didn't talk about it or preach about it but you notice in his show that he never carries a gun. That's one of their principles.”
“Yeah, come to think of it that is odd for a Sheriff.”
“In all other cop shows, they use violence to solve problems. They carry guns and use them.”
“Andy Griffith was an actor, did he control the content?”
“He wrote a lot of the scripts. It was his show.”
“I remember, who was that guy, the goofy guy, Don Knotts?”
“Yes, Don Knotts.”
“I remember him getting excited, pulling out a gun and loading it up, but then Andy would say in a calm voice,'Put that thing away. We're gonna try something else here.”
“Yep, using a gun was shown as a reckless, thoughtless act. Recently I've heard that if you eat junk, you'll feel like junk. What we read about or hear about or watch on TV is another form of eating. Media is supplying society with violent entertainment. It's natural that some will turn to violence. It's portrayed as glorious, fun, exciting, entertaining.”
“That's why I've come to town with these books....”, I replied. The discussion went deeper with the new material.
Later that day.....
“Excuse me. I'm showing these books to people with tattoos.”
A man in his mid twenties stopped,”Uh OK.” and accepted a book from me.
“Does this tattoo mean anything?” I pointed to a rose permanently drawn on his arm.
“Yes, it marks a period of transformation in my life.”
“And what was that, if you don't mind sharing?”
“I was able to break my addiction to dangerous drugs.”
“How long have you been free now?”
“Five years.”
“Congratulations! Is this an improvement?”
“Can we say that by practicing self discipline you experience greater freedom?”
“Yes, certainly.”
“We all practice self control. Imagine if you see someone eating a jelly filled doughnut. “I'm bigger than her, I'm just going to take that.”
My new friend laughed at the thought.
“Such a person would not have much freedom. Very soon he'd find himself locked up. There is a wide range of thoughts and actions that we can gain control of . Once we do, we experience freedom beyond our imagination. That's what yoga is about, that's what this book directs us toward.”
“I like the pictures.”
“Perhaps your next tattoo will come from this book if you find it transformational.Transformation goes on for a long time. We have a lot of cleaning to do, it seems endless, but there is a point where bad habits are cleared entirely. At that stage we gain access to a higher platform.”
I hand him another book,”Bhakti is a sanskrit word. It means love. 400 years ago, the author of this book defined love as the highest goal, beyond anything else one could aspire for such as fame, money, physical strength,skills..”
“I agree. There is a girl that I've been seeing, we've been sharing things..”
“Yes, that is a glimpse of what is discussed here, but until we become pure, what starts as love can easily degrade into selfishness.”
He nodded in agreement. I was surprised how thoughtful people are today, sharing wisdom and taking lessons.
That evening, I visited my friends at Kindred Spirits Gift Shop on Trade Street. A variety of bumper stickers were on display, one of them read,”There is no violent solution.”
I thought about our local hero. Folks around here are 'right proud' of Andy Griffith. He's from right up the road in Pilot Mountain. He exhibits the good qualities mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, keeping his cool under pressure, not acting out of anger, being resourceful. He resisted the flow of society to quietly make a subtle point.

“Well good for Andy, sticking to his principles. He made a great show without giving in to society's demands.” I thought,"I can learn something from that."

Met a Christian Today

Steve arrived this morning to install a heating system at the Krishna Road Temple.
"Back at the office, they had no idea what ya'll are about." he said,"I showed Melody your most famous song, My Sweet Lord and told her I used to see you people when I went to Chapel Hill University in the 70s."
He mentioned the robes, drums and cymbals. He also mentioned he is a follower of Jesus Christ. He said this in a kind manner, not at all implying that I had gone astray.
While measuring the building, calculating the load for heating and air conditioning, our conversation touched on music and mutual people we know in the area.
I could sense he wanted to go deeper. I don't like to bombard people with more information than they want.
"Steve, do you read your bible much?"
"No, not really. Sometimes people ask me to speak, like at a funeral or something. I tell them all I know are two verses."
"What are those?"
"Jesus said you should love the lord with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind, and that you should love your neighbor as yourself. That pretty much sums it all up."
Steve appeared to have imbibed that lesson.
"That's all one needs to know about the bible really. I don't care to study the history of the church and who believes what or how. That's the one lesson Jesus wants us to learn."
"Steve, I think you've done well."
"It has served me well. I feel comfortable wherever I go and in this discussion with you."
It did feel very natural. Neither of us were trying to come out ahead, we were simply sharing.
"Knowing a lot can make one proud." I commented," Even if it's scripture. Pride will keep us from loving and knowing God. I just heard a story recently that I think you'll like."
"Yes, go ahead, please."
"A friend of mine contracted a severe form of hepatitis. He had a lot of students that looked to him for spiritual guidance and advice. Although he knew he would be passing away in a short time, he remained jolly and loving, never complaining about his situation. To some new students he explained, " This disease affects my reasoning powers, making it difficult to do even a simple math equation. Sometimes I have no idea where I am or what is going on. This has been a great blessing for me because at these times I can only turn to God (Krishna) to guide my heart. That is all I have. I cannot give you any practical guidance in your life, I can only guide with my heart."
"That's the kind of teacher we can all learn from." Steve commented