Who is Your Guru?

I often met ‘Gurus’ or teachers when I least expected it. This summer I lived in a beautiful little village in the Andalusian mountains, away from the crowded coastal area, to write my book. It was with both fear and excitement that I knew I had to isolate myself and go away. I both looked forward to the stillness, and also dreaded my stay having no internet in the little apartment I rented and not knowing anyone. I was an outsider (villages can be quite isolated here) with blue eyes and at least a head taller than everyone else and I felt the curious eyes watching me all the time.

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The very first week I stumbled over Paquita and in spite of our differences (or maybe because of them) we became very dear friends. Her generosity and beautiful heart opened up to new friendships and experiences I would never have imagined. She took me on river walks, pick nicks, I taught her meditation, vegan cooking, breathing exercises, and we talked and talked. She is definitely one of my Gurus in life. Of course I didn’t write as much as I had hoped, but the book can wait, opportunities to learn can’t. I ended up renting my place for 6 months.

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The whole village has springs of fresh water which has been filtered for decades through the mountains. Every family has their own little vegetable garden just outside the typical white, picturesque village where the houses are built together. I went to the local restaurant for internet and met Carmelo, Lina, Juan, Ana and some of the most authentic and gorgeous friends I’ve ever had. I was given as much fruits, nuts and vegetables as I wanted. Every second day a bag of tomatoes, herbs, salads, figs, onions, leak, and much more, was hanging on my door. A paradise for a vegan!

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One day we went to see Paquitas uncle Perico. He lives in his childhood house with an abundance of food. All he buys is cat feed. He is vegan, not by conviction but by practice. Except for the eggs from his loved and beautiful hens, he lives of nuts, fruits and vegetables from his land. He says meat makes us aggressive and he tells me to think of the most aggressive peoples in history, that have always eaten a lot of meat. We know that it produces stress hormones so maybe there is some logic in this…

Shaking his hand he tells me that he is still extremely strong, and I understand how he can climb the trees to get his fruit. No one, including himself, knows his age but he must be pretty old as he walked to France, crossing the whole of Spain including the Pyrenees, just after the war, to work there for a few years. He lost his hearing in one of his ears from being beaten, and his strong Andalusian accent is sometimes difficult to understand but his French is still perfect. Tío Perico, with his ponytail and plaited beard, is a Guru, that has a more humble and peaceful view on life than any religious or other leader I know of.

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I let him talk, and he definitely has a connection to nature I will probably never have nor fully understand, making him healthy as ever. He can’t fully read nor write, but he listens to the radio all day and is a convinced communist, although he wouldn’t label himself as one. He fought the Fascist regime in Spain and often got in trouble, but hid in the mountains where they had no chance to find him. The mountains is his home.

Tío Perico warned me: “Be careful with anyone that needs to tell you who they are – by words, by a special uniform, or other attributes to classify themselves.” I came to think of Brands on clothes, cars, or other things; a modern way of telling people who we are. He said: ”Anyone that needs to classify themselves are not in touch with themselves. They need to belong to a group, but we are and belong to everything, and therefore to nothing.”

Only then I fully understood what Krishnamurti’s famous quote really means: “Identification is violence”. As soon as we start identifying ourselves by political view, nationality, philosophies, habits and even gender, we exclude those who do not belong to that specific identification. We create a We vs Them. That is the root of violence, the root of all wars. I wonder, is there a language that allows us to not identify? By only naming our children, don’t we already then give them an identification?

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