The Art of Burning Your Hair with Incense is not practiced in many places, it is a forgotten art. Somehow it lost its popularity. No one knows why. Many have not even heard of it. It is said that far in the mountains of Nepal there is a group of Red Panda monks that still practice it. They take is very seriously and it is part of daily training.
Once upon a time there was this Tibetan wolf. His name was Atomikotita. Atomikotita always felt different and did not fit in with the other wolves. They had their system and way of doing things as a pack. He just couldn’t seem to get it though. He did not feel like a Tibetan wolf. He felt as though he did not have a place in the world. Every other wolf seemed to play their role just fine. Atomikotita would create his own ways of hunting and pretty much everything. When he tried to use the packs techniques it simply did into work out for him. The more he tried to be like them the more he would get lost, feel strange, and out of joy.
One day as he was taking a walk he heard some of the older wolves talking about these remote red pandas and their unusual practices. Being the curious wolf he was, it intrigued him.
“This sounds like my kind of people” he thought. He decided to travel and search for these interesting beings. Not knowing exactly how he would find them. The journey was a grand glorious adventure!
After a few weeks he spotted the red pandas. They were sitting in a circle with a bunch of incense burning in the middle. “Damn that smells good!” said Atomikotita. They all seemed very serious maybe a little too serious for Atomikotita with their closed eyes as if they were in deep meditation.
One of the red pandas noticed Atomikotita”continue” he said to the others as he stood up and walked over to Atomikotita the red panda and bowed his head. “You have travelled far to see us I see” he said. “Yes, I heard you practice the “Art of Burning Your Hair with Incense” said Atomikotita “Yes, this is what we are doing right now. There are not many of us it requires a lot of patience, concentration, and fur. Luckily we have lots of it. Even among red panda monks it is unpopular. The other monk red pandas prefer the “Art of Being Invisible Beneath the Leaf,” or the Art of Hanging Upside Down on Trees” or the Art of Carrying Bananas with One Toe.” They are the most popular,” said the red panda.
“What do you do exactly?” asked Atomikotita. ”Come I will show you” responded the red panda. Atomikotita sat down and observed carefully. The red pandas all grabbed an incense in their hands with their eyes remaining closed. Simultaneously they took the incense and slightly touching their fur by their cheeks it began to gently burn. They placed their incense down and opened their hands in meditation pose. Using their chi it was an magnificent sight as they controlled the direction and speed of the burning flame; maneuvering it left and right up and down and they did it all at the same time. “Wow! That is cool! I want to learn how to do that!” said Atomikotita.
Atomikotita trained for weeks. Every time he would try though he burned himself. Boy did he waste a lot of incense! “This is hopeless” he thought. “why can’t I just do it like everyone else?” At that moment a prayer mantis appeared. “Hello” it said. “Hello” said the wolf in disappointment. Practicing the ‘Art of Burning your Hair with Incense?” asked the praying mantis. “Yes, but I don’t seem to get it. I am doing everything they told me to do but it just doesn’t work”said Atomikotita. “How would you do it?”asked the praying mantis. “What?” asked the wolf. “What if you created your own way of doing it?” answered praying mantis. “How do I do that? Asked Atomikotita “Simply ask: What if I be the Art of Burning your Hair with Incense? How does that feel?” “Joyful responded Atomikotita. “Exactly! follow that joy. Do whatever comes to you. Do not think logically. Take one step, than whatever other seems correct for you right after. Let each action follow your awareness. Have fun. Stop trying to maneuver it. Don’t view it as an external activity but instead be it, see it as all part of the same thing. It is all energy.”
Atomikotita put down the incense and began to laugh. Suddenly he did not feel heavy anymore. He felt a lightness as he placed one incense on top of each other in a specific sequence. He watched them fly off the ground, swirling around. This caused Atomikotita to stand up and jump around with joy with the incense hovering and following him around. He then directed them up to his fur and at the same time had them all touch at different parts. Atomikotita directed the flames with perfect ease and joy all around creating all kinds of patterns. He was ecstatic.
Fear did not exist as he followed his inner knowing. “This is spectacular! I shall show the other red pandas” he said. “They will not be able to do it your way” said the praying mantis.” “Why?” asked Atomikotita. “Because it is not them it is you. This is you being you. You have your own way and being just like every one else. There is no right or wrong. Just different, which gives us endless possibilities. It is limitless! Can you imagine what is possible if everyone embraced their differences and did not try to be and do the same? What if we set no limitation and merely followed and be what makes us feel light? “ said praying mantis.
Atomikotita discovered what it means to be him that day. He realized this was the reason nothing seemed to work out for him among the pack. It was not because he was wrong it simply was because he was not being himself and being what makes him happy. He never again felt he did not belong, in fact he passed this knowledge to the pack. They created amazing things together. They were extremely joyful and life flowed with ease and glory. Every day getting better and better.
The secret? Being you. In fact all the animals, insects, plants, trees, began to be themselves and life in Nepal grew more spectacular each day. The rivers, rocks, and mountains were so happy and the land flourished. They began feeling more and more grateful making life even better, more fun, and joyful.
That is the tale of the “Art of Burning your Hair with Incense” which led to the creation of the “Art of Hunting Whilst Dancing On One Leg” among the Tibetan wolves.
Atomikotita (ατομικότητα) means individuality.