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Changed religion so many times, reluctant to label myself..

Discussion in 'Seekers Circle' started by Maija, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    I've never had a problem with the feeling of abandoning or mothballing or whatever of the deities, since I view the deities as manifestations of the same source.

    Some of my Hindu and Buddhist icons are still out as decorations, but most have been lovingly packed away for either unpacking or donating. I had lots around.

    I see them as the same; just different terms. For me it's no different from calling God "God", "Bog", "Lord", or "Dios". :D
     
  2. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    śrī kṛṣṇasya sevāyām - “In Lord Krishna’s service”
    I too had some books that I thought I would like to have read, mostly about the schools of Vedanta, but I realized this was a mind-****, so I donated them to the library. There may be more to go. I was like a kid in a candy store; rather, I was like an octopus with suction cups on my hands, grabbing books from the bookstore with reckless abandon. :facepalm: Now I find I neither have the time nor inclination to read many of them. I may weed through them again, and at the very least, box them up against the advent of a day when I do have the time and/or inclination to read them.

    I see... thanks. :) It's true, as the saying goes: "Jāki rahi bhāvanā jaisi prabhu mūrat dekhi tin taisi" (everyone sees God in his own way, or, God shows Himself to the devotee in a way that the devotee wishes... something like that).

    I very often feel that my shrine is too out of control with murthis of Sri Krishna and Sri Ganesha (of course); Lord Shiva, Maa Durga, Maa Lakshmi, Maa Saraswati, Sri Hanuman, Maa Kali, Vedatmata (Maa Gayatri), Ram Parivar and Sri Hanuman, Lord Narasimha. I'm drawn to them for various reasons. I have other small murthis scattered about the house, mostly as decorations.

    This makes sense. Something I feel guilty about, and pretty much prompted my question, is that it's been well over 6 months since I last attended temple. In fact I got a nice e-mail from one of the ladies inquiring if everything was OK, as they hadn't seen me. I explained about my shoulder surgery and rehab and that perhaps one day I'll get to attend. As much as I enjoyed going to temple (more so the old tiny temple than the new grandiose one), I can't quite bring myself to attend anymore. And it's mostly because, as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans".

    The second guilt is not having or performing a structured sadhana. I don't ignore my shrine, but more often than not, prayers and offerings at the shrine are more likely only on a weekly basis. I'm reluctant to say this because it sounds selfish, but I don't have the time (or privacy) to sit for 30, 45, 60 mins. in private meditation or japa. I do those when and where I can. On the other hand, I think of the story in which Krishna explains to Arjuna antharyagam puja, to bring Arjuna's pride in his elaborate pujas down a notch or three.

    So, these are what prompted the question. ;)
     
  3. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    śrī kṛṣṇasya sevāyām - “In Lord Krishna’s service”
    Same here, as I said above, I have many (most) of them... deities of Hinduism and Buddhism (the buddhas and bodhisattvas) scattered in tiny "enclaves", or shrines if you will, all about the house. I keep a candle and incense holder near each of them, but I don't make any offerings. What is supposed to me my real shrine has also come to be just a larger version of one of these deity enclaves. Instead of candles, I have oil lamps and a larger incense holder, and put an occasional vase of fresh flowers. I was not altogether honest when I said I don't ignore it; I do tend to slink by it out of guilt. :eek: I suppose I haven't completely gotten over the (false) Christian idea of God getting ****** at me for "ignoring" Him. Though the ignoring is only through the outward rituals; I do recite and read prayers, play bhajans while driving, and at home, and even listen to them in my head (earworms :D). I suppose I'm looking for justification, absolution and assuaging of my guilty feelings. But it seems that some of us are not so different in our approaches.
     
  4. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    I can understand where you're coming from; but are you really ignoring them, then? One second of pure bhakti is worth more than a kalpa of insincere worship. :)
     
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  5. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    śrī kṛṣṇasya sevāyām - “In Lord Krishna’s service”
    I think you're right. Human limitations, self-expectations and old indoctrination make for epic fail. :eek:
     
  6. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    There is no such thing as epic fail. If you learned a lesson, its a great success. I don't realy think you're going to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over. Homer Simpson is a caricature, not representative of anyone I know. :)
     
  7. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    Only if you let it be. :)
     
  8. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    śrī kṛṣṇasya sevāyām - “In Lord Krishna’s service”
    ^ These. :yes:

    I was just out of the office (a clothes shopping expedition), and as I was listening to the music while driving all of this was running through my mind (that's one of my forms of meditation). The "warm fuzzies" came over me, and I came out of the feelings I was having before. Something was communicating to me "It's all right, everything's all right; don't worry, be happy". :)
     
  9. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    Excellent.
    And a wise idea. :)
     
  10. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    śrī kṛṣṇasya sevāyām - “In Lord Krishna’s service”
    I think Warm Fuzzies® is now a registered trademark of mine. :D
     
  11. Maija

    Maija Active Member

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    I am not fond of those emails...it's all done out of care but still. While I say a sweet cheerful good bye (without actually saying it) to members of the kirtan group and move towards Islam, I still have people from the Baha'i Faith inviting me to their devotions groups..what have I created? :facepalm: ... Oh well, no regrets, when I seek I seek hard and at this point I've tried so much I know what is best for me personally.

    I think that's why I am very fond of the regular prayer, there's is no more burden of it being up to me to fit it in. I am on a schedule which might not appeal to everyone, but after a while it's no so much discipline but just a habit.

    Anyway, great questions and I can totally relate to your answers
     
  12. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    śrī kṛṣṇasya sevāyām - “In Lord Krishna’s service”
    I thought that too. It was indeed a nice gesture, but I feel kind of put on the spot. I know no one can make me feel that way but me.

    I am going to relax my thinking a lot on the subject of puja and sadhana. I don't mean to insult or denigrate anyone's beliefs or methods, but the rituals, rules and regulations are not for me. I now believe what Odion said elsewhere: a minute of bhakti = a yuga of rituals. I have my favorite prayers, which I am going to develop the habit of saying several times a day. It's no great matter to print them out on 4x6" or 3x5" cards to keep at work, at home and with me when I am out.

    Last night I made a CD of mantras, sat in the recliner, put my headphones on, and drifted in and out of sleep listening to them. I had a bad previous 24 hours (moods- and emotions-wise, and needed some calming). An hour's worth of things like LingAshtakam, Mantra Avalokiteshvara, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (that one is mesmerizing... do NOT listen to it while driving! :D). In fact I have iTunes playing right now with devotional music. :)
     
  13. Gaura Priya

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    For me, I suppose that culture and religion are very much the same thing to me. How can you think of abandoning Jehovah or Allah and His Angels, and think that you are not adopting the same thing with Vishnu and His devatas, or Amitabha Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, or what have you?

    I am a puritan when it comes to tradition; I always have. I have lovingly put down my images of my past, and put up images and statues of Christ and Mother Mary instead. Even as I do miss Vaishnavism, as I listen to 'Vaishnava Jana To", I need to move on with my life. Unfortunately I just have personal triggers with that particular culture.

    One teacher I admire, Srila Prabhupada, was spiritually liberal with non-Vaishnavas. He said that one who follows Christ, or Muhammad, are still following bona fide paths to the One God.

    I used to chant on my japa beads; now I pray on my rosary.

    I used to recite shastra; now I recite Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer, and read Biblical, Apocryphal, and Pseudo-epigraphical works.

    I used to listen to kirtan; now I listen to Christian chant.

    I used to have a Hindu altar. Now I have a Christian altar.

    Whether I cover my head in a sari at temple, gazing in awe for the Deities during Mangal Arati,

    or whether I cover my hair with a mantilla during Anglican High Mass gazing in awe for Christ in the Eucharist,

    they are both the same in essence.

    So I have no problem. It is almost effortless to go from one end to the other, because I know that in the ultimate scheme of things, God is Love, and to me, that is the only Reality that matters. How we come there is not important; that we recognise Him, love Him, and develop a personal relationship with Him, does.

    Many blessings!
     
  14. Gaura Priya

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    For me, that same bhakti that you had for God in the past, is the same devotion and love that you have for Allah. What is smaranam in one tradition, is dhikr in yours. I feel that Sufi spirituality within the Islamic paradigm is key to learning how to love Allah- it is a supreme science! From doing your salat, to doing dhikr on your tasbih of Allah's many names, to reciting du'a to increase your love for Allah and His Prophet; you are definitely not missing out!

    Subhannallah, dear sister, that you have found something that works for you! :yes:
     
  15. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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    śrī kṛṣṇasya sevāyām - “In Lord Krishna’s service”
    You too are right in all this, I believe.

    I did the same thing too when I put away my large icon of Isous Xristos O Pantocrator, Jesus Christ The Ruler of All. But it's a beautiful icon, given to me as a gift when I joined the EOC. While I'm not "Christian" in belonging to a Christian church (though I am a believer in Jesuism), the icon does represent one aspect of God, as well as the spirit in which the gift was given. Maybe it was a knee-jerk reaction to put it away, considering my universalist bent.

    I think I knew that, though I never delved much into Srila Prabhupada's teachings or life. The other masters too: Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Chinmayananda, and others of those lines also took pains to refer to God not by any one particular name or form.

    I like reading some books of the bible, because they are timeless and universal: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc. I know there are beautiful passages in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Qur'an also, which I have only seen snippets of. It should come as no suprise to me that I have Buddhist statues on my altar and all around the house. My partner is the RC in this furball outfit, so I am surrounded by Jesuses and Marys also; and that's cool.

    I think the problem may be in iconism or "murti-ism"... one can form too concrete an image of God. The verse from the Bhagavad Gita 12.5 "The obstacles facing those devoted to the Impersonal Absolute are far greater; for the way of any unclear ideal is difficult for an embodied being to understand or follow." (Swami Tapasyananda); "For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied." (Srila Prabhupada) can be taken a little too far. Sri Krishna says "difficult" and "troublesome", not "impossible". Maybe the difficulty is good for the soul. ;)
     
  16. Maija

    Maija Active Member

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    Islam is different in this manner, there is no personal image of God and I don't think advancement is pampered.

    I think of it in a different way, if someone whose face I never saw was kind and charitable to me. If I heard stories of their love and compassion, in the end I am draw away from "How do they look, what are their features..what is their eye color?" to the more amazing aspect of their love and mercy.

    "..the way of any unclear ideal is difficult for an embodied being to understand or follow.."

    They have shown the way through their actions, their words, promises, their image is not important to me and so I make sure that I don't have images of God or His forms in my house.

    How things change for us quickly..

    That being said, when I dabbled in SD, images were of course just fine, I saw the beauty in that...However, in Islam there are different rules for different reasons and I also very much see the beauty with that.

    Yes, a friend at the ashram, when I explained my transition told me we should talk, in emails it can be difficult to detect tone and you can easily hear other messages but instantly I thought: "WAIT- I am happy...this is good for me.."

    :yes:

    I agree. Definitely going back to Islam brings me back the something more similar with the Abrahmic religions and so I am able to draw comfort in the message is all basically the same, the stories are all the same, just different examples.

    I guess though technically, Islam would be more similar to Judaism.
     
  17. Maija

    Maija Active Member

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    Alhamdulilah, life is very good!

    I've met some sweet sisters, 3 of them all have little girls around the age of my toddler.

    My husband came to a family event at the park yesterday in the community (trying to help him to see religion as a non-threat) and it was very nice.

    It's nice to have some one so familiar with Islam, mashallah you know your stuff about each religion, GP. Yes, I have bhakti in a different way now, that same love is still, will always still be here.
     
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  18. Gaura Priya

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    :cool: I grew up alongside a strong Muslim and Sikh community in my childhood city, and in high school at least half of my friends were Muslimahs of all stripes, hijab'ed and non-hijab'ed! It is a beautiful religion when done in love and devotion to God and others. :)

    They taught me to say 'Mashallah.' They said, "If you see a super hot guy, you say 'Mashallah' because you're praising God for the beauty of His creation." :yes: Lawl at teenagehood!

    I certainly hope your man sees the beauty of faith in the long run, even if a little bit! And I am very happy for you that you are getting to know your community. I pray that things work for you, inshallah.
     
  19. LilyPhoenix

    LilyPhoenix Member

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    I cant seem to decide what religion i am either
    some times am Christian and some times am something else
    i think i just like all faiths and cant decide on the one that is right for me
     
  20. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    Have you written down your beliefs?

    Try writing them down, and monitoring them over a period of time. It helps.

    Write 'em down anywhere. Even here. :)
     
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