But You Don’t Look Like A (Insert Spiritual Stereotype Here)

“But you don’t look like…”

…a yogi

…an intuitive

…a student of Tantrik philosophy

…a bodhisattva

…a spiritual teacher

This week, I had 3 conversations with new people in my life where the conversation turned to the idea that I do not meet their expectations of what a yogi, bodhisattva, spiritual teacher or whatever looks like to them. My ego became involved each time, which is a great way to know something has to be let go on my part.  Really, each of these is about identity, and identification.  Moving into awareness, I am less interested or at least, wish to be less interested, in my identification with roles or expectations of others.

Some days, I do not look like a yogi. If a yogi wears yoga pants, or loose hemp clothing most of  the day, I would be a surprise in my suits and dresses and heels.  If an intuitive uses language about energy fields, the influence of astrological phenomenon, or balancing chakras, I would seem to be apart from that when I am leading a conversation about workplace performance.  If a student of Tantrik philosophy is envisioned to speak Sanskrit, my hopelessness with languages would be shocking.  And if a bodhisattva or a spiritual teacher is someone who runs many classes focused on entry level spiritual ideas and practices, I would most definitely seem out of place in the ways in which I integrate spiritual concepts with business concepts or build community with people who have set an intent on spiritual truth and awakening as the biggest priority in their lives.

One of the most profound teachers of yogic philosophy and awakening was Nisargadatta Maharaj.  Initially he worked as a junior clerk at an office but quickly he opened a small goods store, mainly selling leaf-rolled cigarettes, and soon owned a string of eight retail shops. If you read his works in the book “I Am That”, it is clear that he is an awakened being.  Yet, he did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. He gave talks in his humble apartment, and it was used for chanting, mantra, and meditation.  He could be irritated by his students, he was direct, and most definitely did not “look” like a fully realized spiritual guru.

I am glad I do not look like what people expect. I am glad this triggered my sense that I must look or practice a certain way to truly be devoted to my path.  I am glad I surfaced some part of me that was connected to how others identified me to be. I am one step more in line with freedom.

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