A few days ago, I had a strange moment of “enlightenment” that I would like to share with you. All of a sudden, I realized that I have never come across any references to Gypsies in the works of spiritual gurus.
I am not just trying to raise your curiosity; I am very serious about this matter. You may wonder what the works of gurus have to do with Gypsies. OK, this is my point. Look at the works of gurus, what are they talking about? Living in the present, joy, forgetting material things, seeking pleasure out of life and being able to be happy with the small things. Are they not talking about Gypsies? Why, then, can we not see any reference to Gypsies in their works? OK, I accept that they, most of the time, do not give any examples of various people, except for Buddha, Jesus and some other people who all died long ago. They do not make references to each other either. This has nothing to do with our subject, of course. Would it be possible that these spiritual masters turn a blind eye to Gypsies or see them, unconsciously, as being outside of other realms? Otherwise, they would have uttered a few words to tell us how they see the situation of Gypsies from the perspective of living in the present, would they not?
Actually from the perspective of gurus, Gypsies must be the most precious people. However, unfortunately, we all know that no one gives Gypsies that much importance. On the contrary, they are at the bottom of all visible and invisible class/caste systems all over the world.
When I was in secondary school, there was a Gypsy boy, Hasan, in our class. No one wanted to sit next to him. I was the only student who wanted to share the classroom bench with him. For an entire year, we shared the same bench. Hasan failed to pass exams, and after a while, he left school. Through this experience, I had an understanding of the stigma Gypsies face in Turkish society. That year I had heard countless stories about Gypsies from my friends who obviously tried to change my mind about sitting with Hasan. These were terrible stories, portraying a cursed people. When I look back, I am amazed by the rich imagination of a racist mind.
Today I know that this racist perspective is not unique to Turkish society. Actually, when compared with what is happening in Europe now, especially in ex-Communist countries, Turkey may even be regarded as a mild case. There is not a day that passes in Europe without a racist attack against Gypsies resulting in serious casualties. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and even Italy have turned into quite dangerous places for the Roma people.
The other day, during her performance in Romania, Madonna was met with boos when she tried to attract attention to the plight of the Roma people. She said: “I’ve never been to Romania before, and I am happy to be here. But I found out that there is a lot of discrimination against Gypsies in Eastern Europe and that makes me very sad, because we don’t believe in discrimination against anyone. We believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone, right? Gypsies, homosexuals, people who are different; everyone is equal and should be treated with respect, OK? Let’s not forget that.” Apparently her remarks were not appreciated by the crowd, which was enjoying her performance a few minutes before. The ironic thing is that Madonna was accompanied by Gypsy musicians and dancers during her concert in Bucharest. The crowd refused to see themselves in the mirror, the mirror Madonna put in front of them. They did not even show the courtesy of pretending to be convinced by her remarks. They could not tolerate hearing a critical voice for a few minutes. Of course I am not talking about all of the spectators here. However, apparently there were many racists in the concert arena.
Where does all this hatred come from? Why is it that all of a sudden racist and anti-Roma feelings are surfacing in Europe? I have never read any satisfactory explanation about this phenomenon, and I do not give any credit to these old-fashioned explanations talking about the unemployment rates in those countries.
In my opinion, we can only start to understand the root causes of this upsurge of racist violence if we can penetrate the subconscious level of this racist mind. When I look there, I see a deep inferiority complex about identity, about being European. To be first-class citizens of Europe, the racists in ex-Communist countries are trying to bury the people who remind them of their second-class status. This is one level. On another level, we can see classical forces of racist mentality. Namely, they attack people who represent their repressed side. It is a well-known phenomenon that people who suffer from serious homophobic feelings are themselves, most of the time, latent homosexuals. Racists are raised in authoritarian families, which exert extreme control over all behaviors of the child. In my opinion, the Roma people represent the liveliness the racists lost long ago.
I would like to return to where I started. Why, for example, has Osho never mentioned the Roma people as a good example of people who live in the “present moment.” We know he was trying to reach a kind of synthesis between East and West. He stated that his ideal person was Zorba the Buddha. Zorba, here, comes from the Nikos Kazantzakis novel, “Zorba the Greek.” So Osho’s synthesis was a person who is meditative like Buddha, yet he acts out of joy like Zorba. OK, then I put forward my synthesis, and it is the Gypsy-Buddha. And I would like to put this figure in front of all racists to allow them to question their own life. A few minutes of reflection on the meaning of life. They refrained from giving this attention to Madonna’s words coming from her heart. Can they see the beauty of Gypsy-Buddha?