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Hippies From A to Z: The Way of the Hippy

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The material on this page appears in
Hippies From A to Z
by Skip Stone, webmaster of Hippy.com.
Skip’s book highlights the people and events of the Hippy Movement.
A great resource for hippies and students.

Hippies From A to Z: The Way of the Hippy

The Way of the Hippy

from “Hippies From A to Z” by Skip Stone

…maybe it’s the time of year.
Yes, and maybe it’s the time of man.

And I don’t know who I am. But
life is for learning.

Joni Mitchell/CS&N (Woodstock)

What’s a hippie? What’s the difference between an old
hippie and a new hippie? Once a hippie, always a hippie? These and similar
questions are the source of much debate today. New subcategories like web-hippies,
cyber-hippies, even zippies have become fashionable. But what is a hippie
and are you one?

To answer this question, let’s see what defines a hippie.
Some say it’s the way people dress, and behave, a lifestyle. Others classify
drug users and rock ‘n’ roll fans or those with certain radical political
views as hippies. The dictionary defines a hippie as one who doesn’t conform
to society’s standards and advocates a liberal attitude and lifestyle.
Can all these definitions be right?

It seems to me that these definitions miss the point.
By focusing on the most visible behavioral traits these limited descriptions
fail to reveal what lies in the hippie heart that motivates such behavior.
To understand The Way of the Hippy, we must look at those circumstances
that preceded the birth of the hippy movement, the important events that
changed our lives, our resulting frustration with society, and the philosophy
that developed from our spiritual maturation.

Hippy is an establishment label
for a profound, invisible, underground, evolutionary process. For every
visible hippy, barefoot, beflowered, beaded, there are a thousand invisible
members of the turned-on underground. Persons whose lives are tuned in
to their inner vision, who are dropping out of the TV comedy of American

Timothy Leary (The Politics of
Ecstasy) 1967

My view is that being a hippie is a matter of accepting
a universal belief system that transcends the social, political, and moral
norms of any established structure, be it a class, church, or government.
Each of these powerful institutions has it’s own agenda for controlling,
even enslaving people. Each has to defend itself when threatened by real
or imagined enemies. So we see though history a parade of endless conflicts
with country vs. country, religion vs. religion, class vs. class. After
millennia of war and strife, in which uncounted millions have suffered,
we have yet to rise above our petty differences.

The way of the hippie is antithetical to all repressive
hierarchical power structures since these are adverse to the hippie goals
of peace, love and freedom. This is why the “Establishment” feared and
suppressed the hippie movement of the ’60s, as it was a revolution against
the established order. It is also the reason why the hippies were unable
to unite and overthrow the system since they refused to build their own
power base. Hippies don’t impose their beliefs on others. Instead, hippies
seek to change the world through reason and by living what they believe.

Imagine no possesions, I wonder
if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man. Imagine
all the people sharing all the world.

John Lennon (Imagine)

To be a hippie you must believe in peace as the way to
resolve differences among peoples, ideologies and religions. The way to
peace is through love and tolerance. Loving means accepting others as they
are, giving them freedom to express themselves and not judging them based
on appearances. This is the core of the hippie philosophy.

…see the whole thing is a world
full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general
demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the
privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such
as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, …all of them imprisoned in a system of
work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see a vision of a great
rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering
around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh
and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of
‘em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their
heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected
acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living

Jack Kerouac (The Dharma Bums)

The hippy movement erected signposts for all to see. Some
warn us of impending danger, others direct us towards richer, more fulfilling
lives, but most show us the road to freedom. Freedom is the paramount virtue
in this system. Freedom to do as one pleases, go where the flow takes you,
and to be open to new experiences. This engenders an attitude that allows
for maximum personal growth.

If you want to be free, be free,
because there’s a million things to be.

Cat Stevens (If You Want to Sing

Our society only permits you one or two weeks a year of
freedom to pursue your own agenda. The rest of the time we are slaves to
the system. Hippies reject the 9 to 5 lifestyle and therefore are objects
of ridicule by those whose lives run by the clock. Programmed people are
jealous and resent the freedom we possess. The unmitigated freedom that
hippies represent is the greatest threat to any system in which control
equals power.

I like ideas about the breaking
away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything
about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no
meaning. It seems to me to be the road towards freedom – external freedom
is a way to bring about internal freedom.

Jim Morrison

With all this freedom comes a lot of responsibility. The
system does not make it easy for us to survive without sacrificing our
values. Therefore we must discover alternative ways to make a living without
being a drag on our planet’s resources and our fellow humans. Hippies have
pioneered numerous lifestyles and alternative businesses including communes,
cooperatives, holistic medicine and health food. We focused everyone’s
concern on the environment to highlight our responsibilities to our planet
and to future generations.

I’ve been smiling lately, dreaming
about the world as one.

And I believe it could be, someday
it’s going to come.

Cat Stevens (Peace Train)

Other beliefs that spring from our core philosophy are:
an earthy spirituality such as a belief in Gaia (the earth as an organism),
the Greens movement (political activism), even shamanism and vegetarianism.
These philosophical and political views reflect a respect for nature and
the planet as a whole, something lacking in our capitalistic and materialistic
societies. The world needs hippies to point out alternatives to the entrenched
system and warn of the impending disasters that await us if we don’t change
our lifestyles. The goal is not to make everyone a hippie (what would we
have to protest?). Rather we can try to influence others by example, through
tolerance and love and teaching the virtues of the hippie way.

You create your own reality.

Seth (Seth Speaks)

So being a hippie is not a matter of dress, behavior,
economic status, or social milieu. It is a philosophical approach to life
that emphasizes freedom, peace, love and a respect for others and the earth.
The way of the hippie never died. There have always been hippies from the
first time society laid down rules, to Jesus, to Henry David Thoreau, to
John Lennon, to you and me. I believe there’s a little hippy in all of
us. It’s just been repressed by our socialization process. We need to find
it and cultivate our hippie within. Only then can we reach our true potential.

I took the road less traveled
by, and that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

As hippies age they come to terms with the same situations
all humans must face. Wiser than before, let’s help the younger hippies
find a way to save the earth and achieve more freedom than exists in our
wildest dreams. Let’s find our common ground, build a worldwide community,
and once again let our freak flags fly and become all we are destined to

Peace and Love, Skip

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Note: Curious about hippies? Who are they anyway? Find out here!