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Dress Codes and Normalcy

Yesterday afternoon when my wife and I were returning from a little walk, we met near our house a bearded young man, clad in long white robes and with a white cap cordially greeting us.
I hadn’t seen him before, but my wife explained it was the eldest son of an Afghan origin neighbor family, who is living somewhere else. We have a good contact with the family and the children are regularly coming to us for some homework help etc. While the rest of the family is clad totally in a western style, this son is showing his cultural and religious attitude in a way quite uncommon here in Switzerland. My wife told me that the father wasn’t happy about his son expressing his creed in such a way.
It was a strong and for me at first irritating message, which made me think of dress codes and social “normalcy” in our society. It is similarly strange here to see orthodox Swiss jews in a certain quarter of Zurich You can also easily recognize certain kinds of anthroposophs or ladies from certain free evangelical sects by their way of clothing. Not to speak of the different dress codes used in youngsters circles or with bankers and business men, where a necktie and a dark suit are obligatory.
I also was reminded of my dressing during my student times, while I was a meditation teacher of a then well-know movement and how I had left these codes with leaving that group.
We use clothes as costumes for certain roles, and by habit we identify ourselves with these roles, thinking them to be “ourselves”. We forget that it is just a role we are playing in a theatre play, and that when we take on another role we take on another outfit, but remain the same. We are not the outfit, but the inner. Through meditation you get more accustomed to experience your Self as being different from the outer layers of the social and cultural encodings, of the body, emotions and thoughts. You get detached from these layers and experience them just like coats which you put off and on according to the situation: I am not the coat, but the I AM in the sheath.
We learn to be ourselves in whatever role we are and to be normal. “Normal temperament” is a keyword on the spiritual path, not clining to any strange attitudes and behaviours.
See also the blogpost on “Dress Codes and Judging People“.

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