I've been called one many times, and in many ways I had a childhood that leaned that way. It was a very muesli and yoghurt sort of upbringing. So, let's say I was exposed to, and open to some of the culture of the late sixties.
But I fail hippyhood in two vital areas. I've never indulged in any drug other than alcohol, no, not even once. Shocks most people but there it is. And, I have a very deep work ethic. It's no good telling me that the stereotype of the lazy hippy is a complete misunderstanding. I do, actually, understand the alternative lifestyle approach to work, the philosophy behind it. I just don't find it very practical.
In the mid-seventies, my favourite pirate Radio Station started promoting a philosophy of Loving Awareness which horrified some of its listeners, and endeared others. As this was during my teen formative years, there was definitely an effect on me from hearing about that daily, but I didn't acually research it, or really "get" it, until many years later.
There are many aspects of Buddhist beliefs that I like, approve of, and even take on board, but I could never follow any structured religion, not even that one. As a general Pagan, I could never even follow Wicca. I'm not a follower. I like this, and I like that, and I just cobble it all together. Buddhism as a philsophy rather than a religion has plenty to offer, and it's from there I find some good stuff, and some stuff that simply doesn't work for me.
One of the things that I really like then, is the teachings about Awareness aka Mindfulness. In recent years this has become an important part of both philosophy and psychology beyond the boundaries of Buddhism. Obviously it always existed in the west, in various forms of contemplation, but the fact that we are talking about it and seeing how important it is now shows just how much we need it. In fact, there is an awareness of Awareness.
If you've never given this much thought, you may not really understand what I'm talking about. Of course you are aware. You are a sentient creature. You see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. You remember things, and you analyze. Some of you even talk of extra senses, of a metaphysical kind, and in fact most people also have a very vague idea of a sixth sense, be it "hunches", or knowing somebody is standing behind you when you didn't see or hear them approach. Animal instincts. Whatever.
This is nothing to do with any of that.
This is a deliberate and methodical approach to listening (or reading) whereby the words permeate deeper. This is way of using those senses above to be more than just a spectator of life. In many ways it is a return to a childlike view of the world, where everything is greeted as new and interesting, every moment is felt to the full, and always on the mind is the question "why?".
This is taking in information, and not just parsing it. This is receiving data with the intent of understanding, no matter how difficult that is, and of using that data to conduct oneself in the best way possible.
So far, so good. Most people I discuss this with are good up until now, see the value in it, are willing to try harder to achieve it, and so on. What usually causes them to lose interest, reject any further notions, pull back, or raise objections is my insistence that YOU MUST MEDITATE.
Because you really must.
I will stop here, and continue tomorrow so that you have time to argue with me that you don't need to/can't meditate. Then we'll continue.