A Tattooed, Biker, Vegan Buddhist

Who am I?

Standing 6′ 2″, with three earrings, goatee, numerous tattoos, and sporting size 14 shoes, one might form certain opinions and judgements about me.
Would my outward appearance suggest that I am a Buddhist? Would you ever guess that I am a Vegan?
And once you know more about me, do you think that you now really know who I am?
I think that perhaps my physical appearance, combined with a quiet nature, can often lead people to think I am tough or cold. When in reality, I am nothing of the sort. My heart and mind are as soft as a kitten, and I am typically relaxed and silly. Truly who I am has no correlation to the outward appearance I may portray. I am a living, breathing, walking, talking, oxymoron.

But this post is really not about me, it is about you. It is about you, your neighbor, fellow Sangha members, and the person in front of you at the grocery store. It is even about the guy giving you the finger for making a left turn in front of him.

Each day, each moment, we all tend to make so many judgements and assumptions. And how often do you think we are correct?
Personally, I am sure that I am never correct. But I can see that I have an opportunity to practice Bhavana.
Most westerners think that Bhavana is simply meditation. But the literal translation means development and cultivation. Personally, I really like Bhante Sujatha’s explanation of Bhavana. He says it is composed of three things: Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom.
Our meditation on the cushion is only one small part of developing or becoming. Every moment that we exist is a chance to gain wisdom and develop virtue.
And when we judge one another, is there not an absence of both?
I am reminded of something I heard in the documentary “The Dhamma Brothers“. The teacher said “the worst act that a man has ever done, does not define all that he is”.

This is my practice, to accept you with no judgement or expectation. To not define you by your looks or even your actions. To see each of you as my teacher, Brother, Sister and as a future Buddha.
And may you know that I am truly your Brother and have so much love and acceptance for each of you.

May you each be well, happy and peaceful.