fear no art

Tattoos Do Not Belong In Spirituality (And Other Complete Bullsh*t).

It’s obvious that anyone who desecrates their bodies in such an appalling way as those who get tattooed couldn’t know the first thing about spirituality, compassion, loving-kindness or well-being, right?

As ridiculous as I’d like to think that question sounds to most of you reading this, the unfortunate thing is that for many people, it’s not — they actually believe this bullshit.

Being heavily tattooed myself, I’ve heard sentiments like that shared by judgmental people more times than I care to remember, however, it’s also worth noting that it usually doesn’t stop there. The stereotypes often carry over to anyone whose lifestyle deviates from what’s traditionally considered acceptable as a cultural norm.

It pretty much goes without saying that if you live in such a way that can be deemed as risqué, or outside of the norms, you’re subject to find yourself at the butt end of the occasional mockery by people who fear what’s not familiar to them in everyday society. This is just a fact.

What I find even more disheartening, however, is that many of us who do live outside the confines of the traditional norms also find ourselves automatically equated with a complete lack of authentic spiritual living, or understanding, by many of those who consider themselves to be conventional spiritual practitioners.

And I’m not singling anyone out here because I’ve personally caught it from Christians, Buddhists, Yogis, non-denominational spiritualists and more, and all literally for nothing more than my outer appearance.

The thing is, no matter how closed off certain people are towards lifestyles they don’t understand; it’s not going to stop us.

There’s an emergence of people just like me — the ones who are immersed in independent culture, yet also have a sincere, dedicated spiritual practice and we’re just as worthy of others respect as anyone else.

The number of young, independently minded spiritualists is growing, and for many of us, our conscious awareness is shifting from that of ethnocentric (some of us) to world-centric (all of us). What this means is that many of us are no longer only interested in the well-being of our selves, our friends, families, communities and nations, but are just as interested in the well-being of the entire global community as a whole.

Isn’t this something to be rejoiced rather than scoffed at?

I’m grateful to no longer feel the need to judge others whose outsides don’t coincide exactly with mine, though it certainly wasn’t always like that for me.

Relinquishing material based judgments is something I’ve made a diligent effort in working on, and through years of practice, today, I can honestly say that I couldn’t care less about your style of dress, or haircut, or whatever other material things seemingly make us different. I’m much more interested in what’s happening on your insides, not your outs.

And so it’s in the spirit of acceptance, which I’ve come to understand as a pretty universal spiritual theme, that I offer you — the ones who find it necessary to judge and vocalize your disapproval of those of us who are externally different — this to ponder; the next time you feel the need to pass judgments and write us off simply because our lifestyles are different than yours, how about instead of acting on it, you use that as an opportunity to turn inwards and explore why you have those opinions and judgments in the first place?

I mean, if you truly consider yourself spiritual, please take a moment to sincerely contemplate whether those who live differently than you, or practice differently than you, are affecting your life’s well-being, spiritual or otherwise — and if we’re not, then really, why do you care?

I’m asking you this from a very sincere place, a place that is attempting to try and find some reconciliation rather than to create more separation. (I recognize that by using words such as us and you in this article, as I have, may contradict the point I’m trying to make, but please know it’s truly nothing more than my own limitations with prose.)

Accepting one another for exactly who we are as we step foot onto the spiritual path is of paramount importance because regardless of our differences in personal tastes, styles or beliefs — bettering ourselves through conscious, intentional living is always for the greater collective good, which includes both, you and me.

Each moment that any of us (and I mean any of us) sit in meditation, say a prayer, practice Yoga, count a mala or rosary bead, or even, simply take a mindful breath while skateboarding, hiking, making love or rocking out at a concert, truly benefits all beings.

So for fuck’s sake, seriously, how is it 2013 and we’re still not in this thing together yet?

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Chris Grosso
Chris Grosso is a public speaker, writer, recovering addict, and author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality and Everything Mind: What I've Leaner About Hard Knocks, Spiritual Awakening and the Mind-Blowing Truth of it All. He writes for Huffington Post, Origin magazine, Mantra Yoga + Health magazine and hosts The Indie Spiritualist Podcast with The Mindpod Network. You could contact Chris via Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.
Chris Grosso
Chris Grosso

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