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In which I trust that my confusion is actually a good thing

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.

About Niki Whiting
  • http://gravatar.com/gcote gcote

    I’ve felt these same challenges when having guests sleep over. We have a very small house therefore not much privacy for meditation/prayer/yoga…

    I also absolutely relate to being comfortable with living a solitary spirituality it’s an internal path yet I really wish I had a community to share with, even if it was only one person whom I could have in my life that just “gets it”. I go online and there is an abundance of consciously aware individuals on a spiritual journey yet in my local region I have yet to meet anyone. Where is everyone hiding out??

    Great post!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      So far my greatest spiritual and parenting communities have been on line! It’s a good thing, but isolating. Fellow travelers on the path need not share the same name or practices – but sometimes it would help!

  • Dodaro

    Hey Niki,

    I admire your project, and that you trust confusion is a good thing. (I don’t think confusion is given enough credit as a conduit to the next step.) Interesting questions about the intersection of community and religion – what’s the happy medium, how does one find it, when is it “authentic?”

    Looking forward to hearing what the talks with townspeople yields! Thanks for writing about this.

    xo

    Dodaro

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      Ooooh, ‘authentic’ – that word is troublesome! I definitely agree that confusion is/can be a good thing. I feel like I’m in the thick of something, and I like that, even as it’s uncomfortable and disorienting.

      Thanks for following Dodaro!

      • Dodaro

        It is troublesome!

        If “authentic” is defined as “not false or copied,” what determines if it’s “not false or copied?”

        Does X experience feel “authentic” to you, personally? And is that a feeling of transcenence? If it’s an experience that involves other people or a “culture,” is it authentic to the culture? (What if it’s “your own” culture?)

        Should your feelings be corroborated by others? The mutual feeling of transcendence? Given that all cultures are in flux, changed even by their own members, how do the outsider’s experience play in?

        Just riffing. Don’t feel obliged to answer.

  • http://reproductiverites.wordpress.com reproductiverites

    Do you know – or know of – Chandra Alexandra? She’s an interesting Westerner practicing what looks like a combination of Witchcraft and Hinduism. I don’t know her work very well, but I think you might like putting her website on your list to peruse if it’s not already there.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      I do not know her! Will go google her right now!


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