Thursday, 27 June 2013

Hoisting the Jolly Roger

Hermits need a flag. Something we can fly in our camps to let the mandarins know that we're hermits and not highwaymen, yea though we wear strange clothes, and are alone.

Therefore I proclaim, by the power invested in me by absolutely no-one, the Bandana Banner. This thrifty and ubiquitous handkerchief, hoisted at two corners, will be our sign. Just it, without symbol, cipher, or slogan – for the world has idols enough. If you can't spread it on your lap at mealtimes, or blow your nose on it, it's not a hermit flag.

I further proclaim that anyone – poustinik, dervish, vanaprastha, or nazyir; Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Christian, Bahá'í, Muslim, Jew – has the right and responsibility to raise this ensign when in the forest, as a sign that he or she is a Seeker, and no threat to any well-meaning person.

Yet, as bandanas come in many colours, so each must acquire meaning. Therefore I call dibs on the black one for us Zen hermits. Should a Seeker not of our path raise the Jolly Roger of Bodhidharma, then by the Buddha Dharma he shall be, uh… well, then He Too shall have a black bandana for a flag.

For no person or institution may confer or revoke the Cheap Bandana. Any sentient being, taking the path of enlightenment, may fly any colour, any place, any time. Let none strike it down, upon pain of karma. Should a given flyer be shown dishonest or unenlightened, tell it to the Great Pumpkin. For no insignia on Earth, conferred or affected, guarantees a damn thing. Caveat emptor, mofo.

And devil take the hindmost.

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson.)
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