My blessed time with Hinduism is coming to a close. On Wednesday I begin with a new tradition, as well as fly back to the United Kingdom after a frustrated month on a vacation that wasn’t much of one. This month isn’t how I wanted to close out my time with Hinduism. Hinduism is beautiful, rich, lovely, and challenging in ways I never expected. There were several things I wanted to do and experience that just didn’t happen: draw yantra, visit a temple, attend yoga classes, settle into meditation, to name a few. This last month has been out of my control and I’ve had to let those things go.
Instead of focusing on what didn’t occur, let me write about what I’ve learned and gained from my time with Hinduism.
I feel my perspective of the spiritual life has been cracked open. I feel hungrier than ever before for the Tantric path (more on this in my next post). I am more compassionate, more at peace with myself and my life, and I feel I can balance tradition and duty in ways that have resonance with my life as it is.
I have welcomed more beauty into my life. Hinduism seems to place a high value on beauty. I find western culture to be in great conflict with beauty. It is considered either shallow and worshiped as an end in itself, or it is considered superfluous and at worst a temptation from Serious Spiritual Business. But Hinduism seems to enjoy beauty for its own sake. While I was never a slob before, I now find myself taking slightly more effort with my dress. I have worn shiny colorful jewelry and chosen brighter colors to add some pizzazz to my usual dour black. Hinduism also values cleanliness as a spiritual discipline and I have taken that to heart. I wash my hands more. Before we were staying in other people’s homes I made an added effort to my own house (which, honestly was pretty clean to begin with).
As far as deep, profound Mystical Experiences go, I haven’t had any. But I don’t feel like this is a failure or due to a lack of anything. I feel like I have gained so much just from opening myself to this new(ish) perspective. More than anything, I feel like I found a spiritual home. Hinduism is so big I feel like there is room for all, which is something I’ve rarely felt before.
I feel like it’s a great tradition for children too. Its colorful images capture their eyes, the incense and other aspects of puja capture their senses and desire to do and move. Breathing exercises are helpful for little ones learning to manage the world of thoughts, emotions, and energy. Dharma, family, devotion, these concepts seem to make sense to children – or at least, to my 3-year-old. And what kid can resist Ganesh?
I don’t feel nearly ready to let Hinduism go. But it’s a joyous parting and I will be back. Oh yes, I will. We shall see what I’ve learned at the end of the year, but I feel that Hinduism in some way or shape or form will be in my life. Thankfully, it’s a 5,000 year old tradition that’s not going anywhere. I don’t feel like we are done with one another, not by a long shot!
Jai Ganesh! Om namah Shivaya! Om Kalikayai namah! Jai Ma!