Hippies from A to Z
by Skip Stone

Hippy Philosophy and the Hippy Dream

We are stardust, we are golden, 
and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden. 
Joni Mitchell/CS&N 

So what do hippies want anyway? What is their utopian fantasy? It's easy to criticize the existing system, but just what do hippies have to replace it? Many accuse the hippies of being dreamers (one of the more benign accusations!). But I like to think that hippies are bringing a message to humanity. An urgent message. We need to change. Now! 

We all want to change the world. 
The Beatles (Revolution)

How? How about rethinking our whole relationship to the planet. Once upon a time people thought about the future in terms of decades and generations. They were concerned about the legacy they would leave their children and grandchildren. Today that seems so far from our thoughts. Our primary concern is; "What can I get now?"

It seems as though there's some kind of "land grab" going on, except it's not just land that people are grabbing, it's resources and power. It's like a party where no one got enough to eat, and the last few morsels are left, and everyone's eyeing them covetously, ready to fight for that last bite. 

It's a problem of too many people, diminishing resources, human greed, rampant consumerism, and massive development of the few remaining untouched places like the rainforests. Our utopian fantasy doesn't necessarily require something to be done, but rather so many things for us to refrain from doing. That's the first step. Let's preserve what we have before greedy individuals and corporations gobble it up.

I'm just beginning to see... 
The trees are drawing me near, I've got to find out why. 
The Moody Blues (Tuesday Afternoon)

Then on an individual basis, hippies maintain that we must get back in touch with that part of ourselves that we lost. That innocence about the world, that hope for a future full of wonders. We want to reclaim our right to a healthy life and a healthy planet. We are all infected to some degree with a disease that requires us to consume way more than we need to survive. If all this greed had some noble purpose, perhaps it could be justified, but unfortunately it has become an end unto itself.

Like a true Nature's child, we were born, born to be wild 
(Born to be Wild)

Many hippies consider themselves pagan. Paganism is the belief that nature in itself has the answers to life's most important questions. Paganism is a way of showing respect for the natural paradise we have on earth. It puts us in touch with that animal essence which we all repress, but is the key to our health and survival. The idea that Mother Nature knows best is the basis for the Ecology movement. To second-guess nature, to manipulate her for personal gain is likely to have unexpected consequences which will backfire in the long term.

That organism, that creature of which we are each a part,
is the biosphere, the living surface of this planet Earth.
That stirring we all feel, that move towards group-consciousness,
is the biosphere of Earth becoming aware of its existence.
It is being born.
We are waking up.
Paul Williams (Das Energi)

Gaian philosophy is an outgrowth of paganism. Paganism sees everything living as imbued with spirit. Gaianism goes one step further and sees the entire planet as one evolving entity, of which we are an integral part. Thus to clear cut rainforests, to pollute the seas, the land and the air is not just showing disrespect, it's raping our loving host that provides us with everything we need. In our endless greed we take and take, throwing the system out of balance. Many believe that Gaia will attempt compensate and restore the balance, probably by unleashing some plague upon mankind to reduce our numbers, if she doesn't kill us off completely.

Our responsibility as individual cells of a living organism,
is to perform our individual functions as well as possible.
Our orders come from within…we are free to be ourselves…
Our lives will grow richer and richer as the health of the
total organism improves.
Our destiny is unimaginably high.
Paul Williams (Das Energi)

Man's shortsightedness is blinding him to the true nature of the world. Our interconnectedness and dependence upon the ecological balance of the planet as a whole has been lost ever since science and religion split long ago. Hippies seek to regain this awareness so we can act in accordance with the needs of the greater system, rather than be a severe burden upon it. It's our Dharma.

Without stirring abroad,
One can know the whole world;
Without looking out of the window
One can see the way of heaven.
The further one goes
The less one knows.
Lao Tzu

This awareness, once attained, requires us to reassess our role as human beings on the planet Earth. The questions; "Why are we here?" and "What is the meaning of life?" are the most important questions we can ask ourselves. As I said before, Paganism provides those answers. We are here to serve the planet in the highest capacity we are capable of realizing. Truly, our needs are few. Those needs manufactured by our society are just tools used to keep us slaving for our rich masters while they destroy our common wealth.

One thing I can tell you is you've got to be FREE! 
John Lennon (Come Together)

Freedom is shedding those false needs and finding one's true place in the greater scheme. Understanding the interdependence of life is seeing beyond the material illusion (Maya) and witnessing the dance of energy that is the true nature of the universe. This is called enlightenment. Hippies seek enlightenment in various ways. Drugs provide but a fleeting glimpse of the true nature of reality. We know that before you can change the world, you must change yourself and find peace within. Yoga and meditation bring us this inner peace and help us to act in balance with our surroundings. Eastern mysticism from Ashtanga Yoga to Zen Buddhism provide us with various paths to enlightenment.

Hippies are the most open-minded folks when it comes to religion. We study most of the world's religions and take what makes sense and enhances personal freedom and reject the dogma. So our philosophy is a melange of the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Krishna, Gandhi, even some latter-day saints like Lennon, Leary and Morrison. Some hippies choose a particular religion or guru to follow, while others blaze their own path, following the Tao wherever it takes them like a true Dharma bum.

If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.
Book title by Sheldon Kopp

Of course we know that a perfect planet is unrealistic. People come to this planet to work out their Karma. Human beings must live and learn by their mistakes. But we need to see examples of how to live in peace and harmony before we can change ourselves. Christ and Buddha were two such examples, and look at how many lives they influenced. Imagine what a whole nation of Bodhisattvas could do! This is our dream. To live in harmony with each other and our planet. How close we come to achieving it depends upon each person's willingness to change themselves. May we all see the light.

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