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The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at Patheos.com.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More on Labels

I was thinking that the previous post I wrote on labels (as in labeling myself as a Hindu) was too brief and it is a topic worth looking at again.

It seems to me from reading her book, that Ms. Gilbert doesn't call herself a Christian or a Hindu or anything else. It appears that she simply follows her practices and searches for truth and meaning without needing to attach a label to it. I admire that.

If there is one universal Truth that all religions are paths to, then in an ideal world we would simply be searching for that Truth and not narrowing ourselves into little boxes. It seems so un-universal to force ourselves, in our messy, human, complicated condition, into a box and a label.

We should just be.

And yet, I feel like I need the guardrails of a label. At least for now.

Growing up, I didn't have an easy answer when people asked about me. My spirituality has always been the central and most important thing in my life, so the topic comes up in conversation a lot, since that's what I'm most interested in (I love to hear about how people find meaning in their lives!). I needed a quick and easy way to explain myself. As I said in the last post on labels, trying to explain my spiritual beliefs made it much more complicated than people really wanted. They wanted a label from me, just a sentence to categorize and understand me.

And really my beliefs do come pre-packaged in the convenient label of Hindu.

But which came first?

A friend of mine recently said something that I had not thought of before. She said the philosophy came first and the codification into a religion called Hinduism came later.

It makes total sense. Years and years ago there were philosophers who explained the world and our place in it. Over time people hardened those philosophies into ritual and tradition and put up labels.

Labels do divide us. They make me one thing and you something else. I hate to do that, as I see all humanity as my family.

But I still need that label. Hopefully some day I will grow beyond the need to put a label on my experience, however it has been too hard for me to never belong to anything.

I've spent a lifetime of never quite fitting in, always being a little bit different. I longed for a place to belong, for a community that I could be a part of. I did not like the feel of being so individual and so alone. I need to feel like I belong within the blanket of Hinduism because if I don't fit in there, then there's no where left for me.

It's silly in some ways because I am never going to seamlessly blend in. I wish sometimes that I looked a little bit more believably Indian, but I really don't. No number of bindis or salwar suits will make me look like I belong.

So there it is, my imperfect answer. I do think that we might eventually grow beyond the need for labels, but ours is far from a perfect world and for where I am right now, I still need it.

12 comments:

  1. hey AMBA
    this is vighnesh. just found an interesting vedio on youtube from oppenhimer the father of US nuclear weapons program and he says a verse frm bhagvat gita when asked by thr reporter how did he feel when he first saw a nuclear explosion. check it out . here is the link.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuRvBoLu4t0&feature=related

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  2. Well, thats the key difference in Abrahamic ( read Judaism,Christianity & Islam) and say Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Abrahimic religions are all about Rules and revelations.Then a society is founded on these rules. When deviation from these rules occur, new rules appear, more tighter than the earlier one.Look at how strict progressively the three Abrahimic religions become, from Judaism to Islam. Islam even talks about the division of property after death!!!!! On the contrary Hinduism started philosophically from which Jainism and Buddhism evolved. Infact Buddhism is Hinduism with an atheistic twist. Another key point is the development of social evils in these societies. e.g. Europe started out as poor and poverty-stricken which prospered after inquisition and the separation of church and state. On the other hand India was once the Richest and only civilized country at that time in the world. (check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Age_of_India ).The freedom of thought was so high that a reliogus sage(Vatsyayan) wrote Kamasutra .The capital punishment was outlawed and everyone was vegetarian whit Hinduism and Buddhism coexisting peacefully.After invasion , cultural infection and enslavement and massive pillage its in an abyss.(check http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1862/february/british-atrocities-india.htm,).

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  3. Well, it's my belief that people are people every where you go and no matter what society or religion, there will be some who are wonderful, kind, and peaceful and some that are angry, vindictive, etc. None of us is perfect.

    I do love ritual (though not strict rules). I think it's important to always remember the philosophy and idea behind a ritual, not to do it because it's "what is done" and what your parents told you should be done!

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  5. Namaste Aamba.,
    ..Abhinandan from Himachal Pradesh, India. It is a state in lap of Himalayas. I believe there is no confusion regarding a hindu identity. Legally Indian Supreme Court declares anyone who follows Hindu Principles is called as Hindu. Also In India apart from Arya Samaj there are many other Hindu Misions converting Non- Hindus to Hinduism. Also there are many white Hindus who are my friends on networking site Orkut.One of them is owner of online Hinduism community and his Mark Richards. One more good news--An organisation called Dharma central has also come up in America which initiated non-hindus to Hinduism.here is the link..
    http://www.dharmacentral.com/
    Well all this is just to show you that Hinduism has always been missionary religion.Thats how it spread to south east asia and that how it absorbes various invaders like Huna, Sakas, who came to india as foreigners but got absorbed into sea of Hinduism
    The decay started with Islamic invasions of India when Hindus became too self protective to protect their religion...
    Also one has to born hindu is myth propogated by Christian missionaries to contain Hinduism..They are converting Hindus in India by thousands though allurements and misinformation...
    and I believe people like you can build a new example for Hinduism..a casteless western hindu society...

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  6. http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=5498912&m=5498913

    Amba, readers may like to play the above NPR s clip on David Neewmans Keertan.AJewishAmericanbrining out CDs onHindu Keertans.Cheers.Surya

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Sorry, Akshay, I'm removing your post because I have made it very clear that I don't want any talk of hate. I could not disagree more with your statement about Arabs and it is not up for debate.

    Thank you, Abhinandan, for your encouragement and wonderful examples!

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  9. OOo, very cool, Surya. I'll check that out when I get home!

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  10. Truth has no authors and sects.Is there a author for Mathematics though there may be millions and millions of books on mathematics.Krishna says in Bagavad Geetha that one who has wisdom Vedhas are of no use.For truth seekers sects are of little use.
    Sanathana dharma (Hinduism) is the only religion which forces us to go beyond its own scriptures in search of truth.
    When we sleep we have no sect and when we wake up labelling stick on to us.
    Your posting inspires me to think further.

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  11. When we sleep we have no labelling.Truth has no label and author. Mathematics has no author yet there are millions of books in mathematics.We are allmere books of truth but not authors of the truth.
    Your posting inspires me to think further

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