The White Hindu has moved

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 This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nice Try

We are heading into the time of year that puts me on a very short fuse.

To start with, Halloween is this weekend. It's a fun holiday for children to dress up and get candy, not connected to a religion anymore. Today there are fliers all over our building about how Halloween is celebrated around the world as a way to honor Satan. It is, they claim, the biggest holiday on Satan's calendar. There are some Biblical verses that supposedly supports this claim, even though Halloween didn't exist when the Bible was written.

Clearly the evangelical message is, fun is evil.

Other than that, people are trying to be sensitive and politically correct, but not quite making it.

For example, I went to my weight watchers meeting, where they are talking about how to prepare yourself for the eating holidays. I have not mentioned to them that my holidays are winding down and almost over. The leader said that we would discuss techniques for how to deal with the December holidays, whichever ones you celebrate.

Nice try, but I don't have any December Holidays. Again, mine are going to be over in November.

During the meeting one girl described starting exercising as "I was afraid Jesus was calling me home."

The rental office is holding a door decorating contest for winter holiday theme and I am cringing to think about what kinds of Christian decorations that is going to inspire.

And lastly, I tried to create a music station based on bouncy dance/club music and every other song it plays is a soft, Christmas special. No matter how many times I thumbs-down the Christmas songs, they keep playing more of them. It's giving me an angry twitch.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Karwa Chauth

Completely missed this one! It was yesterday.

In my defense, I am not married, so it is not very meaningful to me.

This is the married women's fast. For the day the wife does not eat (and in some cases does not drink either) for the entire day. In the evening she gets dressed up in fine clothes, sometimes her wedding clothes, and waits to see the moon. Once she sees the moon, either reflected in a pool of water, through a sieve, or through her shawl, then she can eat.

This fast is for the well fare of her husband, although I could have done it as part of preparing for and asking the Gods for a husband.

The day is, I am told, somewhat like the North Indian Valentine's Day. You can see it taking place in some Bollywood movies, for example it happens in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

More information here:

This is yet another opportunity for me to be frustrated by the distance between myself and others who practice my religion. Granted, I let it slip and didn't notice what day it was. I found out because my Hindi teacher told me. She said, "I'm tired because today is Karwa Chauth."
"Oh I see," I said, "You must be feeling weak."
She continued as though she had not heard me, "You see, Hindu women fast on this day..." And she continued on giving me a long explanation of something that I already know while I smiled and nodded politely.

I've told her before that I'm a Hindu. It frustrates me that even when I say that, it is assumed that I don't know anything about it. I am educated and given explanations for things I already know all the time. I don't want to be obnoxious, though, so I don't say, "Yes, I know. I'm a Hindu, I do that too."

Naturally, when the Indian girl arrived in class she was told what day it was and not given the explanation, even though she is Christian and her family has been Christian for many generations. (Not that she didn't know what it was, of course she did, but I do also!) Argh.

The Meaning of Unity

I know I'm getting a bit of flak for my belief that all Gods are the same God.

(Again, to clarify just a bit, I do think that many world religions have lost sight of the true teachings of their own Gods and the religions as practiced today might not lead to the same truth. Most of the passages from the Bible used to justify conversion were said by Paul, not Jesus and I have no trust at all in Paul).

But anyway, I am an Advaitist and as such I believe the following with all my heart:

All Gods are the same God because there is only God. All of everything is the one God. All of everything is one. The trees are God, the pigs are God, the computers are God, the stars are God, the humans are God, the streets are God, the rocks are God, the Tupperware containers are God. It is all the same God. There is only One entity in all of creation.

Our minds are limited by our birth and our death and so we cannot easily see this bigger picture. From our smaller vantage point, we see division, but if we could step back and see all creation together we would know that there is no division. All is One.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Formula for Reaching God

The main discussion on Sunday was actually about ritual and religious observances. This is something I've spoken about a little bit before.

The book we are reading (Saddarsanam by Ramana Maharsi with commentary by swami Tejomayananda) had this to say about its tenth verse:

"The discrimination of the means and the goal is important for a spiritual seeker. If the means are mistaken for the end or vice versa, then there is trouble. For example, money is the means to purchase objects of pleasure. Happiness is the goal. When collecting money and objects becomes the goal of life, happiness is left far behind."

I like that he doesn't say that getting money or purchasing objects is bad, it's just that one has to be aware of what end goal one is hoping to achieve with one's actions. When we get the means confused with the ends, then we don't get to the end because we are stuck in the means.

"...various spiritual practices are prescribed in different religions by different masters and scriptures for different students as means to purify and concentrate the mind. For a student whose mind is already very well prepared, spiritual practices are superfluous...The desired end is achieved with sincere practice of any one or more of [rituals and practices like puja and japa and meditation]. Thereafter they are dropped, e.g., the car is given up on reaching the airport. The mind is ready for the flight within."

This makes a lot of sense to me. The ritual is there to guide us toward the goal of being at peace and being one with God. Once we are enlightened and merged and realize that we are the Self, we don't need them anymore. The danger, of course, is that we might think we are further along than we are and drop our spiritual practices because we think we have already surpassed them!

The end of the passage is what gave rise to the other conversation that night:
"The unthinking man feels that he is spiritual just because he does japa or visits the temple daily. The fanatic says 'My path alone leads to salvation' and 'My God alone saves.' He has not understood that the worship of the name and form of the Lord and following a particular path are only means to purify the mind and this can well be achieved by other ways. Sanatana each the freedom to adopt his own means suitable to his inclinations. The goal however is abidance in the Self...the seeker has become one with the sought."

We do these rituals and practices to purify our minds and hearts and allow deeper understanding to enter. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of rules, though, to feel like we'll get to the goal if we just follow all the rules. But enlightenment does not have a formula. You can't just follow certain steps and after you've performed japa exactly 85,000 times, then you are enlightened!

I like that this passage emphasizes trusting your own heart and following the rituals and practices that work for you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Other Stories of Identity

I am working on a post today also about the conversation at my study group on Sunday, but I also wanted to share a couple links.

The first is to the White Indian Housewife,whom I have referenced before and whom many of you know and read. She wrote a moving post recently about identity and very relevant to the subject of this blog:

This next one is a blog I just discovered, written by a white Australian woman who is about to marry a Sikh (I think they haven't married yet, I'm not totally clear on that). This post is about her spiritual identity, also quite relevant to my topics:

One God

I had another wonderful, rousing discussion at my study group last night. There were two different topics from it that I wanted to talk about, so I'll save the other for tomorrow.

The first is that toward the end of the evening the conversation descended into talk about conversion. In a group of Hindus talk of conversion is always about the efforts of Islam and Christianity to convert the Hindus away from Hinduism. Obviously, of course, a painful topic.

Being advaitists, the people at my study group believe as I do that really all religions are one, all of everything is one, and practicing any religion as it was intended, would lead to the same liberation.

However, the behavior of the people in certain religions does not always show that truth. Part of the passage that we read from Saddarsanam by Ramana Maharsi with commentary by Swami Tejomayananda says "The fanatic says 'My path alone leads to salvation,' and 'My God alone saves.' He has not understood that the worship of the name and form of the Lord and following a particular path are only means to purify the mind and this can well be achieved by other ways."

I spoke up at this point to show the other perspective. I said that there are times when conversion is appropriate because each individual needs to find the best way for him or herself to purify the mind.

I very rarely say to people that I am a convert. I am not comfortable with it, I feel as though it makes me less of a Hindu. And maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Certainly, everyone there was very happy to have me call myself a Hindu (as far as I could tell, anyway) and they quickly modified talking about conversion in a negative way to say that it was fine for each individual to find a good path for himself, but not okay for him to force others to his path.

Agreement could not be reached on the idea of what is forced. Is it okay to tell people about your path if you think it might benefit them? Is it never okay to tell people about your path?

One man quoted someone whose name I can't remember, but it was quite brilliant. This man said that when approached about converting to Christianity, the wise man in question would say, "If there is only one God, and I am worshiping a God, then it must be the same God, because there is only one-- so what's the problem?"

I adore that. It's so true. It reminds me of a talk I heard once where the professor made the argument that ancient Judaism was not monotheistic. According to his reading of the Torah, the Jews believed in the existence of the heathen Gods, but that theirs was superior. In modern times, the Abrahamic religions believe that only one God exists. Well, so do we. So, if there is only one God, our God and their God must be the same one.

I guess that means it comes down to arguing over what is the best way to worship Him.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

You'll never guess...

...what I've been up to. Actually, you might. Because you know how crazy I am.

I've just returned from Virginia, where I attended a "Hindi Day" celebration and gave a speech. A speech in Hindi, a language I am not yet fluent in, in a room full of strangers.

It was really fun. I'm fond of public speaking, but doing it in a language I don't fully know was a first!

And it turns out that not everyone was a stranger. Another student giving a speech was a young man I met at my Hindi meetup group a while ago. It was on his recommendation that I signed up for classes at this school, but I had no idea he was going to be there. He and I hung out afterwards and visited the upstairs temple with his family. We arrived right in time for an aarti.

It was a beautiful temple and had a very spacious, open, and peaceful feel to it. However, I probably won't be going back, since it is a little over an hour's drive from my apartment when there is no traffic at all.

It was worth it for this, though. I didn't understand all the speeches, but I caught the gist of most of them and I ate wonderful food and I took prasad.

It has been a beautiful evening and now I am heading to bed!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Inspirational Reading

Okay, getting back on track...

One of the commenters a few posts back mentioned being an Osho follower and that was something I have never heard before. So I looked it up.

Osho was an international guru, having a large effect on the "new age" movement in the West. According to Wikipedia: "His syncretic teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, creativity and humour – qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation."

That sounds pretty delightful. Awareness, love, celebration, meditation, humor, and creativity are all great things. I will have to look up some writings from him. If he is as uplifting as Wikipedia makes him sound, I might add his books to my collection.

There are some negative things said about him, but we are all human, even the really great men and women and I would rather see if his writing speaks to me than judge based on anything else.

Though I follow a particular path, I do believe in looking for Truth and Meaning in everything around me. I gather books and articles and other readings that inspire me, that have insight, regardless of what tradition they come from.

Often when I am feeling down or frustrated or hopeless, I can just flip to a page of one of these books and feel filled with the light and joy or the masters. Easwaran is a favorite on that bookshelf. I've had Ekhart Tolle recommended, so I'm going to give him a try. Sri Ramana Maharshi is another.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Off Topic: Beauty

I just read a fascinating article in Psychology Today and it is not related to the topic of this blog, but it got me thinking about some things in my life. It is about why beauty is important. The article is a bit intense and I found it kind of shocking, but also made some interesting points.

The Truth About Beauty by Amy Alkon is the name of the article and here are a few key parts:

"There are certain realities of existence that most of us accept. If you want to catch a bear, you don't load the trap with a copy of Catch-22...Yet, if you're a woman who wants to land a man, there's this notion that you should be able to go around looking like Ernest Borgnine: If you're 'beautiful on the inside,' that's all that should count...

...It just doesn't seem fair to us that some people come into life with certain advantages--whether it's a movie star chin or a multimillion-dollar shipbuilding inheritance..."

Men are drawn to beautiful women, no surprise there, and women are drawn to men with resources and status, which also makes evolutionary sense.

The article later continues...
"Just like women who aren't very attractive, men who make very little money or are chronically out of work tend to have a really hard time finding partners. There is some male grumbling about this. Yet, while feminist journalists deforest North America publishing articles urging women to bow out of the beauty arms race and 'Learn to love that woman in the mirror!', nobody gets into the ridiculous position of advertising men to 'Learn to love that unemployed guy sprawled on the couch!'"

Interesting point. Is there a difference? I'm not sure. Giving the message that women don't need to take care of their appearance at all seems like a bad idea, yet we have to find the balance of not killing ourselves trying to reach a standard that's impossible or feeling terrible about ourselves when we are not the most beautiful girl in the room.

The next part of the article gets a little bit into the idea that women who take care of their appearance are not smart:

"Take The Beauty Myth author Naomi Wolf: She contends that standards of beauty are a plot to keep women politically, economically, and sexually subjugated to men--apparently by keeping them too busy curling their eyelashes to have time for political action and too weak from dieting to stand up for what they want in bed. Wolf and her feminist sob sisters bleat about the horror of women being pushed to conform to 'Western standards of beauty'--as if eyebrow plucking and getting highlights are the real hardships compared to the walk in the park of footbinding and clitoridectomy. Most insultingly, Wolf paints women who look after their looks as the dim, passive dupes of Madison Avenue and the magazine editors. Apparently, women need only open a page of Vogue and they're under its spell..."

It's true that I hate when people think that just because I enjoy reading Vogue, that is makes me a slave to the beauty industry.

"...We consider it admirable when people strive to better themselves intellectually; we don't say, 'Hey, you weren't born a genius, so why ever bother reading a book?' Why should we treat physical appearance any differently?"

"...Unfortunately, because Americans are so conflicted and dishonest about the power of beauty, we approach it like novices. At one end of the spectrum are the 'Love me as I am!' types, like the woman who asked me why she was having such a terrible time meeting men...while dressed in a way that advertised not 'I want a boyfriend' but 'I'm just the girl to clean out your sewer line!' At the other extreme are women who go around resembling porn-ready painted dolls."

The article also talks about studies showing that there are universal standards of beauty around the world. Some things are different, but some are the same. Ideal weight seems to be directly related to availability of food, so in places where food is plentiful men prefer thin women and in places where food is scarce, men prefer large women. However, they all like to see a woman's waist, regardless of her size.

There are also some articles in this issue about the differences on the other side, how male beauty is very different and not the trait to cultivate when looking for a woman.

I'm curious to see what the backlash to this article will be.
To speak on this issue from my own personal life:

I have been caught in a beauty trap all my life. I grew up in an area with a lot of hippies who emphasized that inner beauty was the most important thing. Hearing that so much, I felt confused when I was expected to put an effort into looking beautiful. On the one hand, my mother has never worn makeup and told me that I was being vain when I was staring at myself in the mirror at eight years old; on the other hand, she took me to get electrolysis treatments for hair removal when I was twelve (in case you don't know, electrolysis is a very painful treatment involving shooting electric currents into the skin. I had it done on the most sensitive parts of my face for years).

My female cousins in the South are brilliant at clothes and makeup and hair. They know how to use a flat iron and how to apply the most tasteful eye color (neither of which I know how to do). The culture in the Northeast seemed to suggest that women who care about their appearance are shallow and dim-witted and just plain stupid. I discovered just how untrue that is when my beautiful cousin went into engineering in college! Just as the movie Legally Blonde charmingly illustrates, a woman can be both smart and beautiful, can care equally for school and for fashion.

I was interested in makeup as a teenager, but I was the only one of my friends in high school experimenting with it and if I wore it to school I got teased by my own friends, or given looks that suggested they thought I was from another planet.

Every time I start feeling good about how I look, I bash myself back down again with negativity in my mind. I feel guilty for caring, feel shallow for loving clothes, feel vain for loving my hair.

I'm the kind of person who always wants to make everyone else feel good and be happy. I'm afraid to go for my true beauty potential in case I make other women feel inadequate. Which is odd, because I really do believe that 99% of women are gorgeous. And imperfections are so easy to hide, there are thousands of little tricks out there so that we can all look and feel like the models in the magazines. I have yet to see an ugly woman. They all have at least one feature that is achingly beautiful.

The other thing this article briefly brought up is that we trick ourselves into thinking that the quest for beauty is a Western thing, when of course it is a human thing. Every culture has a standard of beauty, and there are actually some universals, like an hourglass figure, which is said to be a visual cue of fertility to men. As the last post showed, while in America we strive for tanned skin to give a "healthy glow", in many parts of the world extreme measures are taken to look paler. I think there does need to be a certain amount of loving what we have. We need to see that there is beauty in a wide variety of natural human appearances.

You can probably tell from this blog that I have a hard time doing things without evidence and support from others. That's something else I am still working on understanding and exploring. It isnt' enough for me to believe something, I seem to need support from others.

It's hard for me to make the decision to enjoy my quest for beauty without backup from a magazine article that has studies in it. I want to show it to people who tell me that I shouldn't pay attention to my own appearance or to the appearances of the people I date and say, "See? Appearances do matter. And they should. It doesn't make the world a bad place that appearances matter."

I do have a suspicion that, despite where I started out, I could be quite beautiful with a little effort. I have some cousins who have the same coloring as I do and are very beautiful. I think it wouldn't be too hard to look like them. I am also encouraged by the website Before You Were Hot, which shows people's ugliest awkward teenage years picture along with how lovely they look now. It makes me smile to know that I'm not the only one trying to go from sweatpants and a uni-brow to head-turningly beautiful!

Okay, sorry for the aside! The talk about skin color and beauty from the last post got me going in this direction and this blog is mostly a self-analysis, so I found it very useful to explore and think about these things in writing.

What do you all think about beauty?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Can't tell by looking

Radha found this article about "looking Indian." This really proves that you can't go by appearances to figure out who is Indian and who is not.

The article is about a pale, blonde girl competing in a Miss India competition in New Zealand. Though she doesn't look it, she is half Indian. Some people were shocked and upset that she was accepted into the competition and that she made it as far as she did (second runner up).

I could see having a concern that there is already a struggle to help young Indian women to know that darker skin and dark hair is beautiful. Beauty does not have to match up a European standard.

But that is a general idea to try to spread around in culture, not something to use against one young woman whose heritage is Indian even if she doesn't look it.

Holiday plans

Being connected to a variety of Indian communities has served me really well this year.

My study group people are having a Navratri puja at their home tonight that I've been inviting to. I've picked out a sari to wear!

I am also signed up for a few Indian meet up groups on Usually their events are too far away (often in Virginia, which is just a tad far for me), or they are doing bar hoping or some other "young person" thing that I've never been that interested in. However, on Saturday some people are getting together to find places doing Garba and other celebrations and I'll be joining in for that.

I'll have to do my relaxing time after holiday season is over! :D

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Busy, busy

My schedule is packed, as usual. I need to learn how to not try to do everything all the time. I'm lucky I only work part time.

Here's what I do every week:
Monday, work, long walk with dog and friends, paralegal class
Tuesday, therapy session, work,long walk with dog and friends, Hindi class
Wednesday, work, long walk with dog and friends, game group with friends
Thursday, work,long walk with dog and friends, paralegal class
Friday, weight watcher's meeting, work,long walk with dog and friends
Saturday, temple, dance class
Sunday, study group (and once a month, writer's group)

There's some obligation on every single day. And I used to go to a knitting group, but I can't fit it in anymore. They meet Sat morning, Tue morning, and Wed evening, and all those times I have other things happening.

The paralegal classes are on a campus that is not close to me and takes at least an hour to drive to and from.

The Hindi class is in Washington D.C. and takes me close to two hours to get to.

I am enjoying the Hindi class. I signed up so that I would be forced to speak and to get some of the finer points of grammar. It's intense because there are only two of us in the class, so there's a lot of attention on both of us and we have to translate sentences on the spot. It's good for me, but I'm not going to take it next semester. It's too far and I really can't afford it.

I have too many hobbies! I'm trying to fit in language learning, writing novels, and knitting (as well as several computer games!)

So, sometimes I go days or even weeks without posting and this is why! Rest assured, when I have something that I think is interesting to share, you will know right away.

In one year I should be done with my paralegal classes and after Thanksgiving I'll be finished with the Hindi class. That will free up some of my time and energy :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For the kids...

You know how when you're a kid, your parents have certain rules like no television during dinner or no more than two cookies for dessert or ice cream is not a breakfast food? Then you grow up, move out on your own and eat dinner sitting on the floor in front of the television, eat three cookies, and eat ice cream for breakfast...or is that just me?

We enjoy doing things our own way, but what puts a stop to it is when we have children of our own. Suddenly the cycle starts over again and you find yourself telling them that they can't have three cookies.

When it's just us, we make our own choices, bad or good, but when there are little kids who we are responsible for, we want to teach them to make good choices. Even though they are highly likely to grow up and disregard it all until they have their own children.

Sometimes I feel like I do the same thing with spirituality.

I don't sit down for a puja every morning. I don't meditate every day. But I figure that when (if) I have children, I will do these things every day just to set a good example to them.

But then they'll just grow up and continue the cycle, only doing spiritual things when it's for show, to demonstrate to their own children.

Why don't I do these things regularly for my own sake? For my own soul? When will the cycle end, whose soul will actually benefit? It will be the one person in this chain who performs her spiritual tasks for her own sake, not to show it to others.

I want to do things because they will help and benefit my soul, not as practice and to get in the habit for when I have children who are looking to me to see how they should live.

I wonder if this is why spiritual differences between spouses becomes much more pronounced after they have children? People in general seem to become much, much more spiritual once they have children. I guess it's not just me.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Navratri time is known for lots of dancing, particularly the Gujrati folk dance, Garba. I posted an example video of that a few weeks ago.'s blog has a post about it and an instructional video so we can all learn a little Garba (and it is a lot of fun!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Disappointed in Glee

I'm feeling conflicted about this past week's Glee episode.

Glee is a new television show just starting its second season. The writing is not the greatest, but it's not bad. The characters are over the top and ridiculous, but it's fun in a cartoon way and the music is wonderful. I enjoy it a lot.

The show is about a high school glee club (a group that sings and performs) and a cast of characters from around the school. In this episode, one of the boys gets religious when he sees a face that looks like Jesus on his grilled cheese sandwich.

All the characters are allowed to express their beliefs, but when one child says that he doesn't believe in God it is met with horror. He has every right to his beliefs and his friends ought to respect that. Instead they pray for him behind his back and in the end he apologizes for being upset when they were only trying to help. "You're right," he says, "I shouldn't be pushing my friends away." But what about them pushing him away? His friends are being much, much pushier. "Why are you closing yourself off to a whole world of experiences that might surprise you?" one friend asks. Well, by that same token, would she be willing to experience atheism? She is closing herself off to that possibility in exactly the same way.

I think if you are a friend then you give someone help in the way that they ask for it.

The lack of diversity on Glee upsets me. There is one Jewish kid (and one sort-of Jewish one) and she doesn't seem at all bothered that her boyfriend is the one who found Jesus in a sandwich. Everyone else is Christian. Including the Indian principle of the school. I know it takes place in middle America, but they had an opportunity in this episode to bring in different ways of understanding God and they failed. There is a Sikh acupuncturist, but she gives no mention of what Sikhism is.

The two atheist characters were the evil cheerleading coach (who is an atheist because God did not cure her sister's Downs Syndrome) and the boy who is gay and feels rejected by the church. The message they give is that it isn't okay to believe whatever you believe. It's the default to be religious and if you're an atheist you have to have a reason, some terrible trauma to make you hate God and then you'll eventually get over it. That is not at all true in real life.

I wish Glee had been more sensitive. I guess they gave it a good try. It's a very hard subject. I miss Joan of Arcadia. Now that TV show did a fantastic job exploring ideas about faith and God.

Sneak praying is the worst. There are people in my life who pray for me to find God. Even though I already have. Even though I'm very happy with my God, they pray for me to find their God. Mine is not good enough. That irritates me.

I believe very strongly that every individual person has the right to define how they understand divinity and the way the world works. I have chosen Hinduism and no one can take that away from me. If someone chooses atheism, it is his right to do so.

To me, atheism is not a disrespect to God because God isn't a separate being somewhere out in the universe, keeping tabs on who is being nice to Him. To me, atheists just have a unique way of expressing a belief that they in themselves are enough. And they are, because actually they are God. (And they may very well find that as obnoxious as I find people praying for me to become a Christian, but that's my perspective).

Regardless of whether I understand someone's take on spirituality, their right to believe it must be defended. As I've said before, as soon as any one of us is able to take someone else's religion (including atheism) away, then someone can take ours from us. It is never okay.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Keys to India and TM

Ela left a blog suggestion on my last post and I've been reading though the posts and enjoying them very much.

This is the blog of a white woman who lives in India and has for quite a long time. This post in particular was interesting to me because she talks about her experiences with Transcendental Meditation (TM)

This is the same type of meditation and the same teacher who started the organization I grew up in down its path!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The passage that we were reading in study group had a lot to do with identification with the body, identification with the mind, and identification with universal consciousness.

The teaching goes that in reality who we are is the universal consciousness, God. We mistakenly identify with out limited bodies and minds and therefore, see ourselves as limited and mortal and incomplete. If we are able to recognize who we really are, then we will see that we are unlimited, immortal, and all of everything. That realization is what the term "self realized" refers to.

I realized that I shift between my identifications at different times. On an intellectual level, I understand the idea that I am the universal consciousness. When I rest in that awareness, there is no fear, no pain, and no longing. I have everything, I am everything.

At those times the whole world is like a big play going on around me and I can enjoy the drama for what it is, be entertained by it, but not bothered by it.

At other times I am strongly identified with my body. Those are the times when I feel desperate for a husband and children. Those are the times I feel depressed and lonely and worthless and unloved. And this is no big surprise. After all, it is a biological drive to want children. There is nothing more body-identified than that!

But that is all part of the game in this life. Whether I get it or not, doesn't actually amount to any importance. Perhaps that is not my part to play. As a game we used to play in Middle School would say, In two hundred years it won't make any difference whether I got married or had children.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A question for all

Another delightful study group is finished.

Afterward, Amma-ji spoke to me and she asked me a very important question. She said I should ponder this question and come back next week with an answer.

She said, children are always asking the why of things and when you teach religious classes to children you have to learn to have answers.

Why do we need religion?

That is the question. In stark contrast to my post about cherry-picking, in which I said it was fine for people who wanted to do that. However, religion is very important to me, the most important thing.

Why is that? Why do we need it at all? Is it not enough to be a good person?

I would like all of us to ponder this and start a discussion on this subject.

Friday, October 1, 2010

About Me

So, I realized that all you guys hear about me is the parts related to religion and I thought it might be nice to get a more rounded picture of me and what I'm like.

I am 28 years old. I live on my own in the North Eastern part of the U.S. I have a brother who is four and half years younger than I and he is my only sibling. Our mother comes from the Northern part of the country and our father from the South. We have many, many cousins and are a close-knit family.

I am the "creative one" in my immediate family. My father is a molecular biologist, my mother studied geography in school, and my brother just got a degree in information systems (something to do with computers and business). I got a B.A. and an M.A. in Fiction Writing!

My favorite job was when I was working as a proofreader. I love grammar and correcting grammar all day is a dream come true. Right now I'm working as a secretary and I've gone back to school to get a certificate to be a paralegal.

I've lived in five states in America, very spread out. They are: Massachusetts, New York, California, Arkansas, and Maryland.

I've visited Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and England (three times in England).

My brother has always considered me to be a most boring person. I'm a home body. I don't like to stay up late or go to bars or parties. I'm an introvert, so I find social situations overwhelming and scary. Plus, I hate the taste of alcohol, I hate loud noise, and I hate crowds. The usual twenty-something social scene is not for me!

I don't read social cues very well, but in college I stopped worrying about it. Now I just say what comes to mind and try to small talk with people without thinking too much about whether they dislike me or I'm making them uncomfortable. I trust that people will tell me.

I have a lot of hobbies that I am very passionate about. I do a lot of knitting and crocheting. I take on knitting with a fierce energy that goes against its reputation as something to relax with. I like to create things, whether its socks, a sweater, a blanket, a book, or a cake.
I made this shirt, can you believe this is only two years ago? I look so young!

I love extra long hair. I find it the most beautiful thing in the world and I always stare at women with hair to their knees or longer. I have always wanted to have such hair, ever since I saw Crystal Gayle on tv when I was a small child and her hair pooled on the floor around her. I have never managed my goal because of problems with guilt. Most of my young life I was hemmed in by tremendous feelings of guilt over everything. Especially guilt about having nice things. I didn't feel like I deserved to have beautiful hair and that it was vain and prideful of me to grow it, so if it ever got to around waist, I would cut it. I'm finished with that. Now I am going to grow the hair I have always wanted. I'll keep growing until it decides to stop, whatever length that might be. I get support for my crazy from, where I am also learning fun, fancy updos for hair.

I have a tremendous weakness for gossip magazines at the grocery store. I love the pictures and the wild stories, it's like a real-life soap opera.

I love to play games, both board games and computer games. My recent boyfriend introduced me to World of Warcraft and I really enjoy that one! Previous to that I mostly just played The Sims and I was nervous to try a game that involved a lot of fighting. Then I discovered that I liked fighting things in the game. :)

I love small, cute things and particularly small dogs. When I finally got my own dog three years ago, I got a toy terrier. She is full grown and weighs 13 pounds. She has traveled across the country with me and been my constant companion. She's got a huge personality and she still gets me up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning to use the bathroom. I treat her like my child (a common occurrence in America) and I pour all my love into her.

I was mentioning in the comments that I have bad taste in movies. I am not at all interested in special effects in movies. I like movies that most people consider painfully boring. If it has philosophical questions about the meaning of life, I'm sure to like it. Then again, I find philosophical questions about the meaning of life in almost everything.

Back in school I took Spanish classes for a couple of years, but I dropped them because I was too nervous to be put on the spot to speak. In high school I took Latin because I wouldn't have to speak it. I was terrible at both Spanish and Latin. My translations were...creative.

That's an area of my life where I've made a lot of growth. I'm not in a Hindi class and I speak and answer questions every time (there are only two students in the class). I've stopped having a problem with making a fool of myself.

I really believe in self-improvement. I am always striving to make myself a better person, to cleanse and guide my soul.

So there you are, some other things about me.

And in case you want something more relevant, here are some recent posts on a Hindi Blog about the history of the official languages of India (Bonus, this is a new writer for this blog and he is great, he actually puts the post in both English and Hindi side by side).