Remembrance of war past
A Vietnam vet’s journey from a “19 year old hippy kid” to a life coach
GUEST COLUMN: OSCAR TRUITT — When I was drafted into the army in 1969, I was a 19 year-old hippy kid who believed in the concepts of peace and brotherly love. When I went to Vietnam, I had the idea that I would never shoot my weapon at anyone.
But the first time out in the field, the guy walking behind me was hit by sniper fire. Everyone started shooting. I did too — to protect him, and the others.
Firing a weapon became an act of group consciousness, not individualism. It was not done from selfishness, but from a concept of brotherly love that I had thought I believed in, but had never understood until that moment. I discovered that I didn’t know what I believed in, and didn’t know who I was.
I discovered that peace was a state of being that I hadn’t yet attained. What I have learned — in retrospect — is that one of the insights that I have now into “spiritual protection” had its roots in my experiences in Vietnam.
Vietnam: an embodiment of U.S. racism
Before going overseas, I had been initiated into Transcendental Meditation. In Vietnam, while guys around me were smoking pot and opium, I was practicing my mantra and reading the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita helped me understand my place in the war — as part of the collective and part of the illusion of the struggle between life and death.
And I saw things that created depth in me as a person. The war had changed into something other than what was portrayed as its original intent (ie. to free a people from communism). It had become, for many Americans, an extension of the racism that had been consuming the soul of our nation.
In Vietnam, angry men had the opportunity to kill the yellow man (a strange term, as I’ve never really seen a “yellow” man). This opportunity had been denied on their own soil — I’m speaking of the hatred for black people in the U.S.
In fairness, I know this was not true for everyone, but I saw it was true for many. This was my epiphany about the war: I knew the war was wrong and that it could never be won. The “superior” American image, the egotism of the tall and “better” Caucasian race had overstepped its boundaries.
This may sound like I was full of anger and disillusionment. And perhaps, for a time, I was. But it was an eye opening revelation. I began to view the war objectively, as a learning experience about human nature.
Enveloped by spiritual protection
As mentioned earlier, I became conscious of spiritual protection for the first time during my time on the battlefield. While in-country, I began to somehow know I would not be killed. There were times when I was surrounded by artillery and gunfire, but, knowing I was exempt, I was able to take it in with good humor. Yes, there were many moments when I was frightened, even thinking I might receive a debilitating wound, but I never thought I would be killed. My spiritual revelation: I was protected.
One night, I lay in a bunker smoking a cigar with a friend, Don Sloat, who had just received a package from home. I was not a fan of cigars, but that one was particularly smooth and enjoyable (it must have been the setting).
“Oscar,” he told me, “I know I’m going to die here.” I remember that vividly because the next day he was killed by a booby trap while on patrol.
Sometimes, in intense situations, you know things without fully understanding how. I learned I was protected, and that I wouldn’t die. My friend learned his destiny the day after that beautiful smoke.
And I am sure there is a meaning to this story and experiences like it: we all have a mission.
Don completed his mission when his declaration opened my heart to deep compassion. And because I was protected during the war, I still work on living out mine. . .and still honor the gift of that cigar.
We all play a part in the Divine Plan
I don’t believe that I’m special for having this protection, nor do I believe that my friend was less special for having to die when he did. I do believe that we all have some part to play in the Divine Plan. And because mine is not yet finished, someone or something has allowed me to continue my journey here.
Today, I work as a life coach. Through the years, I’ve come to discover that I’m here in this world to help others find their place in that Plan.
Saying that even sounds a little pretentious to me, but I’ve had many experiences like the story above. And through these experiences, I have developed and realized my gifts of intuition, of “reading” the patterns behind events and lives, and seeing into the souls of others.
The world is changing. There’s something big coming and we need to be ready for it. Some of us were “sent” to help people find their purpose in all of this, and even though I don’t know what it all means, I do know how to help.
And that’s probably the greatest piece of wisdom I’ve acquired along the way: knowing and unknowing can exist side by side, and we don’t have to understand what everything means. It’s enough to know it means something.
Oscar Truitt is a certified light coach who operates True-It-Is-Coaching in the Greater Boston area. Visit him at Creating On Purpose.