I’m discovering that the realities of my life don’t mesh so well with the ambitions of my project. This is not a surprise. When I began my own ashram project I knew there would be difficulties, I just wasn’t entirely sure what they would be. For example, having guests – a very needed interruption in my and my family’s life – means that doing morning yoga is out of the question due to the way space gets configured. I’ve already written about some of the challenges on my path so far. What I’m feeling now is more along the lines of ‘you’re doing it wrong.’ Wrong may be too harsh a word, but I’ll be honest: I don’t know what I’m doing.
As a scholar and life long student of religions I have a basic grasp of Hinduism. I could teach a basic college level class on the topic. But doing Hinduism is light years away from talking about it. What does the ‘average’ Hindu’s daily practice look like? How important is it to stick to one ‘denomination’? Is a personal relationship with the gods important, or even relevant? Or is that question something only a person steeped in Christian culture would ask? Where is the line between Hindu culture and Hindu religion? Somehow I’m still confused about these things.
This is where community would be helpful. I do not have any Hindus in my life. That may not be true. There is the Hare Krishna community in Swansea, but I’m wary of them, for reasons which may or may not be good ones. There is Skanda Vale nearby, but I don’t drive in the UK, and getting the whole family out there hasn’t worked out yet. I know there are some people who meditate together, followers of Guru Mayi. I think it’s time I sought them out.
What makes a Hindu? Particularly a white, Western one? There are some websites by Westerners who’ve adopted Hinduism that I’ve bookmarked for perusal. Hopefully there will be some wisdom in them for me, and maybe even some community. I also think it’s time I started talking to people in my tiny little town and see what opens up. I love my solitary life and I’m also finding it a little lonely and isolating. The yogic path seems to work best internally and alone, but my gut says Hinduism works better with others.
At the core of things, I know none of these labels and trappings of practice matter. What matters is liberation. What matters is devotion, compassion, joy. If what I am doing is furthering these things then I am on the right path. So far, so good.