I’ve spent too long being frustrated about not being born Hindu.
I admit I’ve wasted energy and time wondering why I wasn’t born Indian. Why do I have to stand out? Why do I live in a state of always having something to prove? Rachel Dolezal’s story fascinates me because I have felt a temptation, a desire that I fight to do what she has done, to fit in, to make myself pass for something I’m not. I suspect it’s because I get so tired at times. Tired of always being noticed, always being questioned, always being wondered about.
But lately I’ve been realizing that there are advantages to not being born Indian, not being born Hindu.
We who were not born Hindu almost always discover and learn about the philosophy at the core of Hinduism first.
Granted, I’ve had Hindu philosophy in my life for longer than many other non-native Hindus, but still it was exactly that: philosophy. People who were not born Hindu find it through things like yoga, books, college courses. We understand the reasons behind things first. We start with the grand philosophy.
There are so many people born Hindu who never get to have that at all. Some come from generations of family who never learned the philosophy of Hinduism and only do things because they were told “This is what we do because this is what we have always done.” It isn’t always that way, but non-native Hindus skip that pitfall completely.
Following onto that, we get to choose the meaning that ritual has in our lives.
For people who are born Hindu, rituals have a lot of family history behind them. With that can come difficult connotations, family politics, and drama. A ritual’s potential meaning might be clouded by the weight of the history it has for someone. For us, we can learn about a ritual and incorporate it into our practice with no baggage.
Here’s another advantage: there is more meaning in a faith that has been chosen, that has been fought for.
People born into a religion, any religion, can make it their own, learn about it, deepen their knowledge and understanding, find its meaning in their life separate from the meaning it has for their parents. But too often people coast with the faith given to them by their family. Too often they don’t take the time to question, explore, and wonder about it.Us non-native Hindus had to do a lot of learning, exploring, questioning, and soul searching to get here. We had to learn whether the eternal path of dharma was the right one for this lifetime. It’s not easy to break free from the shadow of the faith that is handed to you at birth.
So it turns out that those of us who were not born Hindus actually have a lot to be thankful for!
Thank you to my wonderful Patreon supporters…
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