A State of Hypocrisy – A Rant Session

Recently I was on a flight from Seattle to San Diego.  I rarely board an airplane early (typically preferring to board last).  However, for some odd reason (and I forget why) I found myself to be one of the first people on board.  I took my window seat, fished out my book and relaxed during the boarding process.

Not long afterward a woman sat down in the aisle seat across from me.  She didn’t smile, didn’t move out of the aisle while taking her magazine and water out of her bag and when the person behind her said, “excuse me” so as to pass her, she ignored him, rolled her eyes a bit and at her own pace put her duffel bag overhead.  She also placed her yoga mat overhead.  I began watching her.  She wore a tee shirt that said YOGA on it and the magazine she was reading was International Yoga.  She must’ve sensed her being watched and when she looked over to me I simply smiled back at her.  She didn’t return the smile and instead turned her attention to her magazine.

The plane began to fill.  The flight attendant on board then approached the woman and politely asked if she would consider moving a few seats back so that a family could possibly sit together.  The woman/yogi respond with a curt, “No.  I paid for this specific seat.  Find someone else.”  The flight attendant, without responding to her rudeness moved on to the next row (where the people graciously agreed to switch seats for the family.)  I closed my eyes and shook my head to myself – sad.

I wondered how a woman who so blatantly advertised to the world that she is a yogi could be so callous and rude to everyone around her.  Her hypocrisy really bothered me.  I once knew a man who wore either a Caduceus (wasn’t Mercury a protector?) or a Shiva pendant around his neck every day, had a collection of spiritual figurines in his home and was well versed in the yoga sutras and philosophy.  However that same man, when asked by an old man to help him move his car on the street of Rome, ignored the man and walked away; refusing to help a senior citizen. Although his Caduceus dangled around his neck he held little compassion in his heart.  The man I was with wasn’t a bad man altogether, he had just become so conditioned to say no to those on the street, asking for help.  And who else was the old gent going to ask for help in protecting his car then someone advertising their spirituality?  We all come across rude and unhappy people on an almost daily basis; and personally I am rarely put off by them: but, when someone announces to the world that they are a Yogi, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Taoist, a fill-in-the-blank-here….and then behaves as such a hypocrite – I want to cry.

How many times have I seen people advertising their faiths with tee shirts, crosses around their necks, WWJD bands, OM pendants, Mandala beads, spiritual tattoos, Shiva bracelets and such, only to watch them put down, strike out and otherwise ignore the humanity around them?  Why is it that there is a need to market our beliefs anyway?  And, if we choose to market them shouldn’t we hold ourselves to a certain standard towards our own social graces.  Perhaps we have simply been taught false advertising.  Even when it comes to advertising our beliefs and core values.

In no way am I stating that I have not been hypocritical in my life.  I most certainly have.  There were times that I have asked of those around me something I was incapable of giving back to them and so on.  At one time I called myself a vegetarian and continued to eat fish; a hypocritical act.  However, although I have been hypocritical myself, I have never once announced to the world that I practice yoga, believe in the serenity of Buddhism and so on, only to then denigrate those I had held myself to a higher standard to.  Also, I have always shied away from advertising my beliefs for some reason.  I’ve always felt that words never go so far as deeds I guess.

Maybe we are all just looking for something to belong to.  Perhaps we hope that one day we can live up to the standards we advertise with our words, wear on our shirts, our necks, our arms and our hands.  But in the meantime….is it so hard to just give up our seat to a family…or help an old man move his car??…

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27 thoughts on “A State of Hypocrisy – A Rant Session

  1. You have the writing dexterity that catches my attention every time. I love seeing such when I scroll down the prompt of the blogs I follow.

    You are so right. Shoot me when I say I despise self-righteousness, and people who self-proclaim to preach something they don’t practice.

  2. Very good point. I hope that you helped the man move his car when you noticed the man wearing the Shiva around his neck demonstrated such little compassion.

    • Now what kind of hypocrite would I be if I didn’t help the man, then wrote about someone not helping him? hahahaah After refusing to move from the sidewalk any further until the man I was with (with the pendant around his neck) moved his car to help the older gent, he helped…..begrudgingly, but helped nonetheless. Thank you for visiting and commenting 🙂

  3. I see your point. While I don`t excuse this woman`s actions, I also wonder if there was something going on for her that day or in her life overally that precluded her from being generous. I have to admit that I consider myself to be spiritual but sometimes, I have been so mired in my own turmoil, that I cannot see beyond myself to assist others. In India, there are many, many souls who approach you for assistance and one has to look through them and ignore their pleas as a survival mechanism, I think. I often see elderly people who could use assistance with a grocery bag, or use my arm for support but I am neglectful in helping them. I think there is a numbness in society overall, not just yoga pants lady or Shiva-necklace man. I think I am guilty of this numbness too. It does not make it right, nor does it excuse man`s inhumanity toward man. It might, in a small, small way explain for some of what we all see and are guilty of. Thanks so much for sharing. It made me think about my own actions in a thoughtful way.

    • I completely understand being so wrapped up in your own issues that it’s hard to see those around you sometimes. Believe me, I have been there myself and am not proud of it.

      The point of the post was not to chastise each and every person for not constantly helping those in need. It was simply to point out that, bad day or no, if you are wearing and advertising your spirituality to the world, I believe that you should be aware of those around you and show compassion. If they cannot look to those advertising their spirituality/religion/compassion for the world to see….who can they look too?

      Likewise, I am not forgiving those who don’t choose to advertise their beliefs on their necks, shirts, arms, etc for not helping out humanity either. We should ALL, pendants, beads, tee shirts or no, show a little love now and again….

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it very much.

    • Julien – I believe some of us do, yes. Although perhaps not all the time, or maybe when we look back we recognize our hypocrisies. Are any of us not guilty of hypocrisies at one time or another? It’s a matter of getting out of our own way to let ourselves “see” others around us I suppose. Although the post was specifically stating my dissapointment with those who deem it necessary to shout to the world their specific beliefs, while ignoring humanity around them, it is also true we are all guilty of one type of hypocrisy or another….

      And what do you think, Julian?

  4. I wish I had a simple answer.

    I will not indulge in philosophical non sense, I will just ask:
    WHAT IS DISAPPOINTMENT…? Why do we get disappointed…?

    Can we open-mindedly delve into these questions with willingness and seriosity? Cause behind these questions lies the answer which can give us unexpected perspective on ourselves.

    What ideas or beliefs of mine are at stake when I get disappointed by other´s behaviour…? My expectations are harmed, isn´t it so…?
    Why do I hold any kind of expectation? Becuase if I didn´t have myself certain beliefs, I wouldn´t have any expectations, would I?

    What is belief at the end of the day? An idea, of course – an idea with which we identify, in order to feel safe. I protect my ego through idea, I derive my sense of safety through that specific belief…

    I ask again:
    If we had no belief to hold to, would we ever feel disappointed?
    What DO WE IGNORE REALLY within and around us when we hold whatever belief…?

    • I understand my questions then bring up so many questions of your own (as do they in me). However, instead of me begging another question, I’ll simply make the statement, via my own ego or no, that although I believe wholeheartedly that indeed, expectation only brings about dissapointment, I will remain true to my personal ideas of compassion and humanity, whether that be driven by my ego or some greater universal force of ideals I have let guide me..
      As always, we (you and I) continue our philosophical sparing…..of which I thoroughly enjoy

  5. I wouldn´t dream of speaking empty words, I will just add that only when the mind is free from whatever ideas and conditioning, only in that freedom and mental suppleness will we find out what true compassion and deep humanity is.

      • This is a response to a fellow blogger:

        What is belief ultimately? Is not “belief”, the source of separation and fruitless argument? Can we go “beyond” name and belief into the nameless Source of things?

        Are you acquainted with this great book The Cloud of Unknowing?
        If interested check on google
        Best thoughts for today
        Julien

        PS What if you are there already but not aware of it…? 🙂

  6. There is this canned drink in Singapore advertising with a big logo that says 100% CARROT when it’s actually made up of 90% apple juice and 10% carrot concentrate with artificial flavor and coloring.

  7. There is this person whom I used to work with who announces to the world that she is a Buddhist and believes in the serenity of Buddhism. She is also known for brainwashing her team by talking bad about their boss behind his back. She is also the one who will not forget the boss’s birthday each year and organize a celebration with well prepared present and cake.

  8. What a great post, and such rich debate from all the readers here.

    ‘The point of the post was not to chastise each and every person for not constantly helping those in need. It was simply to point out that, bad day or no, if you are wearing and advertising your spirituality to the world, I believe that you should be aware of those around you and show compassion.’

    I too feel that confusion when someone is wearing/promoting a certain image, but not behaving in a consistent manner. It makes me remember how I used to feel when I went to my first few yoga classes. I had all this desire to get to a place that I didn’t know anything about. I had my mat, my leggings, my blocks, but eventually I realised that it wasn’t just about the accessories and ‘getting it right’ – but it took me a while to get to that point of realisation, if I’m going to be honest. Sometimes, I think that people are so focussed and keen to progress in yoga, that they become very tense about it. Perhaps this was the place this woman had ended up. I hope she finds her way.

    Lovely writing – thanks so much for the experience!

    • I agree Gabriela. When I first began practicing yoga 13 years ago I really just wanted to “get” the poses. However, it took me awhile to to realize that it’s really not about the pose at all. It’s about what is on the inside. Don’t get me wrong however, the physical practice is meditative for me and I enjoy it immensely (although sometimes my body rebels….damn aging process) but it’s not about our mats or our blocks or our yoga tattoos even….it’s about our higher Self really. Love your writing as well. Thanks again.

  9. Ah yes, the aging process! I love that my yoga teacher has taught me that it’s ‘okay’ to spend my whole practice in one pose propped up with cushions, if that’s how I feel that day. Like you say, it’s not about ‘getting’ it or ‘achieving’ it’s about the experience of each moment, or perhaps each breath.
    (I’ve just realised something about the virtual world v. reality, as I write this, having just replied to a comment you made on my last post: where in real life would you have two people engaged in two separate simultaneous conversations?)

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  12. Oh man, that is so sad to see…perhaps, she is still learning about the whole spiritual side of it??? But then again, one doesn’t have to be a yogi to practice the simple act of kindness. If I was sitting next to the same person, that would have definitely left my heart heavy, as well…

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