Long ago in my hippie phase I wanted to be “real” and became impatient with the southern culture of my family and the charm that I considered to be fake. With time and a small measure of wisdom, I realize that for a lot of southerners charm–while it may be displayed “falsely” on some occasions where other feelings are more real but kept hidden– is natural as breathing and a very real part of who they are. And I’ve also come to value an attitude of being gracious to others.
In recent years I see what happens when manners and charm go by the wayside and people who have not cleared their issues or learned serenity display whatever they feel like at any given moment. My stint in substitute teaching left me wondering how many children at this point are now a couple of generations removed from having anyone in the family who knows any manners to teach. The lack of manners or even a modicum of politeness or consideration for others seems so rampant I find myself longing sometimes for the charm of old Lexington (when it was more southern and gracious). I still find it in the small towns and it’s like falling into a soft and safe cocoon.
When I’ve had the privilege of meeting a Rinpoche or a true Indian guru or a teacher who’s achieved high levels of consciousness, I’ve seen an innate grace and charm that come forward when someone is serene and connected to the divine. I think it’s who we all really are in essence or as Almaas calls it “the diamond heart”.
We’re so far from a world where people are clear of issues and meditating to serenity that these days I say, “Give me the fake charm, please.” In the absence of enlightenment, I think manners and rules of politeness help us to be kinder to one another and these days I’m so grateful for every moment of kindness I find.