Monday, November 16, 2015

A Little Recommendation

Namaste readers! I know I haven't posted in a while and I do apologize about that. I don't know if the previous issue I posted about has come to any conclusion or not, and ergo I also apologize for the lack of updates about it. That being said, I want to talk about something happier for a change. :)

Those who read this blog know of my love for one particular divine figure in Hinduism - Shri Ganesha. He is the One who helps me get through everyday life, and I would be much worse off without Him. I've come to understand Ganesha through years of real world experience - that is, through my real life, of going to temples, interacting with His devotees (online and off), and studying everything related to Ganesha.

This experience I've gotten turned out to be the best for me. But to know Shri Ganesha better, there are many methods, and I want to tell you about one particular method I've found that I think can be useful for those who want to move closer to Ganesha - The Ganesha Experience.

To clarify - The Ganesha Experience has free information on Ganesha right on the front page. To my knowledge it is accurate, and there are ways it mentions to apply the wisdom in teachings about Ganesha to everyday life. The site also offers in-depth video courses that teach all about Shri Ganesha, and the philosophy, wisdom, and mythology associated with Him. These courses do cost money, but they might benefit those who really need knowledge of Ganesha presented in a structured educational format, as opposed to finding it all out on one's own (especially with all the misinformation on the internet).

Learning about Ganesha through this site and/or its courses is not going to automatically solve all your problems. But it can help you deal with them in a better, more uplifting way. At any rate, it does have free information on Ganesha, so going to the above link won't cost you anything, and you might learn something.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Support Deborah Schoenfeld and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation!

Namaste readers. The following blog post is going to be quite serious.

If the regulars to this blog know one thing about me, it's that one fundamental belief of mine is that any human should be allowed to become whoever they want to be, provided they don't hurt others on their path to doing so. I am a firm believer in freedom of association in that regard. It is this fundamental freedom belief of mine that has motivated me to become Hindu.

So when this freedom is denied to others, there is no surer way to boil my blood. This has happened recently with a US military service member, Deborah Schoenfeld, who was fired from a military dental clinic for being Hindu and practicing yoga.

Among the various forms of harassment she has faced:

  • Being called a "witch"
  • Accused of "summoning demons"
  • Admonished that she was going to "lose her soul"

This makes me angry on so many levels, for reasons that should be obvious by now. The fact that other white people want to stop whites from "being less white" is racist beyond belief, which is obvious but needs to be said. I've sometimes faced resistance myself from other white people in my community for being a religion other than Christian, and I've faced that kind of hate in far greater quantity than from people of Indian origin thinking I could never be a Hindu.

Thankfully, there is an organization that is doing something about this, an organization dedicated to fighting religious bigotry in the military. They are called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and they are made up of both US military and civilian members that fight to make sure church and state remain separated.

And you can help them out. The most direct way you can help them out is by donating to their cause. I would encourage anyone who believes in personal freedom to help this cause and fight this grave injustice.

(Please note that I am not affiliated with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation - the statements I make here are not necessarily representative of their viewpoints. I just happen to agree with them.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Time Keeps on Slipping

Namaste readers! Today I want all of you to ponder this question:

How long is a day to God(s)?

These days, here on Earth, we're obsessed with time. A few hours on the stock market can mean the difference between making a fortune or squandering one. So many professions make their living by setting deadlines. In online video games, the ping, or the time it takes for a signal to go from its source to its destination, can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Even in religion, time seems to be of the essence - think of all those end of the world prophecies espoused by the Abrahamic religions, for example the book of Revelations in the Bible.

While Hinduism has its share of those who believe the end is nigh etc. etc., its scriptures don't really paint the passage of time in such a negative light. One example of this is how in some scriptures and mythologies the passage of time is perceived differently by the Gods than by humanity. Shrimad Bhagavatam (please pardon me if I got the spelling wrong) for instance tells the story of a king and his daughter traveling to the abode of Brahma, the Creator, to meet him. After they meet Brahma, Brahma explains that in the short time they waited to see Brahma, 108 yugas, or cyclical ages of man, have passed on Earth, and indeed, when the king and his daughter return to Earth, they found it radically changed, with humanity seeming to be more "dwindled in stature, reduced in vigor, and enfeebled in intellect."

A yuga is a period of time that is part of a cycle - to my knowledge, four yugas make up a complete cycle, wherein the first cycle is the best period for dharma, and the following three yugas get worse and worse, the end yuga completing the cycle, culminating in a period of rebirth where dharma flourishes again. In this sense, while apocalyptic destruction is hinted at in Hinduism, it's never really truly seen as "the end."

I find this to be an important concept to me for many reasons. The cyclical, unending nature of time is a liberating concept to really does make possible the concept of redemption, after a fashion. With time, perceptions of humanity change as well. I bring up those aforementioned points because of how guilty I felt in the past - of being a white male, a Westerner, someone who consumes like a modern-day Westerner, etc. - it reminds me that not only can I change...but people around me can change, too. I don't have to be saddled with this guilt forever, because things change, and they change in cycles.

The things I do here on Earth...well, they matter and they don't. If you think on the scale of this planet, yes, they matter, but if you think of a universal scale, they don't, and it's a way of keeping perspective in times of crisis.

In terms of time, though, ultimately it might not be time that matters...I remember emailing a blogger from Iraq during the war that was going on at the time (the year was 2004), about how guilty I was feeling at the time for being an American, etc. The response she sent me put the ultimate perspective of time in front of me, for what she said was this:

"In the Quran, the world is said to end when there are no good people left."

I find that to be very true, because, well, the fact we still exist is evidence that there are good people still left in this world. And I don't think time is going to eradicate goodness and virtue.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bring Back Forgiveness

Namaste readers...this is a rant that's been brewing in my mind for a while now. I figured I'd finally put it to paper (or blog post, anyway).

You know what's truly dead in today's world?

Forgiveness. No one forgives anymore. If I've learned anything about modern humanity, it's that today's humans are spiteful, vengeful, petty, and unforgiving. No one gives or believes in second chances these days. If you want any evidence of this, take a look at both sides of the political spectrum where the de facto rallying cry is "never forgive." The hacktivist group Anonymous is a perfect example of this - part of their creed is "we do not forget, we do not forgive." Forgiveness is dead in every religion as well. It's rare these days to find a follower of any religion (Hinduism included) that truly forgives people.

The common excuse that's provided for why people never forgive these days is that it's supposedly an excuse for people to repeat their sins over and over. Forgiveness is seen as weakness - that you're supposedly granting the person you're forgiving a "free pass" to harm you again and again. This is the creed of terrorist groups of all stripes and colors everywhere, that to forgive is to let your enemy walk all over you. And this philosophy is seeping its way into the consciousness of the everyday human.

I don't have a solution for this. I have no idea how to get people to forgive again, nor do I have any idea how to get forgiven people to stop doing harm to others. But what I can say is this - forgiveness is not just about the so-called "enemy." It's about the forgiver. The forgiver is taking the moral high ground by forgiving. They are preserving their innocence by forgiving. The forgiver is investing in himself or herself to never become like the enemy they so despise.

I wish forgiveness would come back in today's world. I want to bring back forgiveness. Sadly, I have no idea how, except to be a forgiving person myself. And I have to admit I'm finding that a harder thing to do with each passing day.

I know Ganesha forgives...and it is my wish that I can channel His forgiving nature.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Animal Welfare/Meat Eating on National Dog Day

Namaste readers! On this day that's been declared National Dog Day for reasons I don't know, I decided to make a quick blog post on animal welfare and how best to promote it, at least here in the society I live in.

This may be old news, but it's still relevant to what I'm talking about here: over 400 million animals were spared last year in the United States due to people eating less meat.

Experts, at least like the one quoted in the above article, are attributing this to meat reduction campaigns, like Meatless Mondays. Of course, hardcore vegans are saying that meat reduction campaigns are not only not enough, but they may be contributing to the problem of eating meat because such campaigns still encourage meat eating.

I want to say to such people, can't you take success where you can find it? Yes, there may be more to do, but putting a negative spin even on progress such as this isn't helping anyone. If anything, in my opinion, poo-pooing an obvious success like this is only showing that you're unreasonable.

I know I shouldn't be one to talk on this topic because I still eat meat...but I wish people could recognize that I am cutting down. I try to avoid beef whenever possible (I don't always succeed, and for that I'm sorry). I cut down where I can, and will continue to do so. Will I be vegetarian or vegan one day? I can't predict the future on that. But I just want some acknowledgment that I am making a difference. And I think the above article is proof.

If meat reduction campaigns weren't successful, then wouldn't news like the above not occur? Wouldn't meat eating rates stay constant? Yes, there is more to do in order to promote a more compassionate humanity. But if you lose your compassion towards your fellow human because they happen to eat meat, what's the point?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Support my Blog on Patreon!

Namaste readers!

This blog post will be short and sweet. In a nutshell: I'm starting a Patreon page for my blog! You can find it here.

What is Patreon? For those who don't know:
Now that you've got a primer, check out my Patreon page linked to above to get an idea of what I want to do. For starters, I'm hoping to move my blog to a space where I can make it much prettier without having to learn to code - I want to migrate the blog to Squarespace.

Unfortunately, Squarespace charges subscription fees. Which is why I've set up the Patreon campaign - I want to transform this blog not only into something that's not an eyesore, but something genuinely useful to those who read it.

Financially supporting my blog is completely optional, of course. I can still write great content on Blogger. But wouldn't it be nice for it to look nice, too? :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

I'm a Subraminion!

Some of you have probably seen this before, but I want to share it regardless:
I didn't make this image, obviously. But it still strikes me in a good way. I mean, it's yet another collision between Western pop culture (in this case the Despicable Me movies) and Hindu tradition (more specifically the South Indian deva/deity Subramanyam...I hope I spelled that right). I've seen several of my Indian friends share this on Facebook.

There are still sometimes I still wish I was born Indian (or any other skin color for that matter). But I've come to realize that if I'm unhappy with the skin color I was born into in the first place, odds are being born a different skin color wouldn't have changed anything for me. The self is the self, and while you can change yourself, you have to be the one to do it. So there's no point to lament the body or mind you were born with. Change won't come that way. Self-confidence is the key to changing yourself for the better.

It is through self-confidence that I know I'm a Minion of Ganesha by now. ;)