Bowie started his career as an artist at the age of 16, and he immediately adopted the stage name “Bowie” in honor of American explorer Jim Bowie, who created the Bowie knife. According to the Sunday Herald, David Bowie started his spiritual journey in the late 1960s by making an unsuccessful first album and moving to Scotland to live in a Buddhist monastery. This is thought to have occurred in the fall of 1967.
He started playing music again in 1969, got married the following year, and by 1972, he achieved his first success, “Space Oddity”. But just before that, David Bowie was given some significant life guidance that would help pave the way for his whole body of work.
Long before he became famous, a 23-year-old David Bowie spoke to the magazine Jackie in 1970. He agreed to this recently discovered interview so that he may receive media attention as his career developed. He was questioned throughout the process about his inspirations in entertainment and his stage experience in a series of general inquiries.
Bowie was once questioned about the finest piece of life advice he had ever gotten. He leaned on the teachings of a Tibetan monk he knew because he had previously spent time in a Buddhist monastery.
He answered: “To try to make each moment of one’s life one of the happiest, and if it’s not, try to find out why.”
Bowie found the suggestion helpful since, despite his plans to become a monk, he sensed something wasn’t quite right. He had agreed to the plan at first, but he felt uncomfortable and wanted to figure out why. He joked that having to shave his head had been the deciding factor in his decision to quit the monastery.
“I suddenly realized how close it all was: another month and my head would have been shaved – so I decided that as I wasn’t happy, I would get right away from it all. I vanished completely for a year. No one knew where I was.”
Although he couldn’t support a life as a monk, he poured his curiosity about the major questions in life into his artistic endeavors, which few could argue was the best course of action for Bowie and his happiness in the end.