Saturday, April 5, 2014

A SPARX of Life

Namaste readers,

Sorry for the lack of updates. My real life has been quite busy of late, but this time in a positive way - I have made great progress in the search for another paying job. I might actually be employed soon, should the grace of Shri Ganesha bless me!

However, the main focus of this blog post is to recommend something. It's something that has helped me in recent days, and while I can't guarantee it will work for you, it probably wouldn't hurt to try it out. I am referring to a video game called SPARX - this is a video game designed to help people suffering from depression and related mental illnesses by teaching a set of skills called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

My therapist kept mentioning cognitive behavior therapy as a way to change how I act in the situations that provoke negative feelings in me. But learning CBT has been a bit difficult for me, mainly because there was no easy way for me to remember what to do when difficult mental situations arise. However, from my experience with SPARX so far, this might be a real way for me to learn, as it gives you opportunities to practice CBT, in a way.

I've only done the first level so far - they recommend doing one a week or thereabouts. But it looks promising. I know I keep saying that, but to me it really does - I have to admit, one way to get me to learn something is by putting it in video game format. That's because video games involve me, rather than have me passively watch and listen.

If you want to take a look for yourself, check it out here:

Other than that, Ganesha bless, readers. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nurturing the Crazy

Namaste readers,

Ever since I got laid off from my full-time job, I've obviously been looking for work, but in addition to regular full-time jobs, I've been nurturing some crazy ideas for how to pay the bills. By crazy I mean fun stuff I've been wanting to do but might be out of my reach at present.

One of these crazy ideas? Travel writing. Obviously I can't fund it myself because, well, I'm currently unemployed, but at least I have a unique goal in mind: there are plenty of Hindu holy places around the world, not just in India but in places like Bali, Mauritius, and more. And as someone who wants to embrace Hinduism as a Westerner, I do want to visit some of these places - and perhaps in the process share my experiences with other Westerners who are interested in the faith.

Since I have little experience in travel writing (although some of my blog entries might count as travel writing - see "On (Not) Being a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake" from the Most Popular posts section of the sidebar), and practically no contacts in the travel writing or travel institutions in general, this is indeed a lofty goal.

But in between my regular job hunting sessions...well, do I really have anything better to do?

I'm sure if I put forth the effort and time, something will come of it eventually. Who knows, this might be the time for me to shine.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Opinion on the Whole Wendy Doniger Book Scandal

Namaste readers,

Whew. It's been a while since I last posted. There's a good reason for that. I recently got laid off from my employer, so I've been scrambling to make the best out of a bad situation by seeking out new jobs, new writing opportunities, etc. So this blog has understandably fallen by the wayside while more important matters were seen to.

However, I wanted to take some time today to finally return to this blog and render my opinion on a matter of great debate in the Hindu community of late - the publisher-led banning of scholar Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History (it's not the government of India banning it, mind you). This is one area where I've been hesitant to render an opinion, seeing as I haven't read the book in question (it's still available in the United States to my knowledge but, honestly, I hesitate to buy it).

Still, there are aspects of this I can render an opinion on. First of all, while this may be considered censorship on the part of the publisher, Ms. Doniger should have seen this coming, because of her selective interpretation of historical facts and Hindu religious practices. Ms. Doniger has taken a rather narrow view of Hinduism and its associated culture, focusing overtly on all its negatives while neglecting its positives. I'm sure if she wrote a book about Christians in the same style she wrote The Hindus, she'd get a similar reaction from readers and publishers here in the United States. I don't know Ms. Doniger's opinions on Christianity, but the fact that she chose such an approach to Hinduism without first establishing a background of criticism of other religions (particularly Western ones) does seem rather suspect.

There could have been a number of ways Ms. Doniger could have approached the subject of Hinduism and addressed its flaws. The approach she eventually chose should not have been one of them, because, again, she isn't known for her work on other religions (if she did work on other religions; again, I'm not familiar with Ms. Doniger's other work). I understand the need to pick one's battles and the need for focus, but let's face it - there aren't that many scholarly works that openly approve of Hinduism here in the West. There are some, don't get me wrong, but not enough to counter the critical ones, in my humble opinion. Ergo, if Ms. Doniger wanted to be taken seriously on the subject, she should have taken that into account.

I realize this blog post seems more like a criticism of Ms. Doniger's methods rather than her message, but seeing as I haven't read the message from The Hindus: An Alternative History, I can't really comment on that. The most I can comment on here is the way it's been handled, which can most definitely be criticized, on both ends. It certainly highlights the need for two-sided dialogue, because a dialogue that favors either side at this point can only end in tragedy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To Whom am I a Disciple?

Namaste readers!

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of formal conversion lately. I know many say formal conversion is not necessary to become a Hindu, while others say it's extremely necessary.

These thoughts have entered my mind recently because I was thinking a formal conversion might be to my benefit - if anyone questions my sincerity, I can look to my conversion and say, "it doesn't get more sincere than that!" I just don't know which groups are willing to accept me beyond the Art of Living.

This conundrum reminds me of the Hindu saying "it is not the disciple who chooses the guru, it is the guru who chooses the disciple." But it's not like a guru will suddenly appear out of the blue and say I am his disciple. Still, how do I search for a guru if I can't make the decision myself?

I need some advice on the situation - should I formally convert, and to which Hindu group? It's a rather personal question, I know, but I honestly don't know what to think.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Language of God(s)

Namaste, readers.

I honestly don't know what Sri Ganesha and the other Gods are trying to tell me. The bottom has sunken further beneath me, as I've been cut from full-time to part-time at work, greatly reducing my income and my ability to be independent.

That's pretty much the biggest problem I'm facing right now, and it's pretty significant, but it's been making me wonder why things have happened the way they have been to me. I have several theories, but I have no way of telling which one is correct.

Perhaps Sri Ganesha wanted to teach me what real problems were like, as opposed to my quibbling over my inborn human identities. I'm not sure how valid this theory is - why try to teach me about suffering by compounding it? Wouldn't that obscure the message?

However, a friend of mine did say that perhaps this is a sign that maybe I should start fighting back...since I only have part-time hours now, I have more time to find a better job I actually like to do more. Combined with the prior theory, it actually makes sense. Perhaps Sri Ganesha is compounding the suffering to teach me that I should do something about it!

I'm just not sure how best to go about it. I've made several job applications; some have been turned down already, but many I simply haven't heard back. I have hope and faith that something good will happen, but the rational side of my mind says not to count on it. I'm like Fox Mulder from the X-Files...I want to believe.

I do believe in Sri Ganesha, Sri Krishna, Maa Saraswati, and the others...I just don't know what they're trying to tell me, what they have in store for me, or whatever. Deciphering the language of God(s) is always tricky. But if any of you readers have input, I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Further Down the Spiral

My progression towards the emotional abyss continues...

First the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the US and Indian governments...and now an American professor's book, Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus: An Alternative History" (which I will not link to here for reasons I shall explain) is being recalled and pulped in India, as it was considered a direct attack on Hindu religion.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with me, why I'm so emotionally distraught over this. I haven't even read the book, so I can't render a direct opinion on it...even so, it's India's right to react how it wants to such texts, so I have no objections to their actions.

But what it has to do with me is that it's further evidence that who I was born as - a white male American citizen, the same people who apparently harbor such hatred of India and Hinduism and inflict damage on it whenever they can - that my identities are a punishment from God!

I want to love India and Hinduism, and its associated culture. I do dearly now and nothing will change that. But as my fellow countrymen prove time and time again, people like me do not deserve to be loved back.

I wish I could fight back against them. Not with violence, mind you, but I wish I could change their thinking, change their perceptions, change their attitude somehow. But I'm an impotent coward who melts when talking to such people. I completely break down in their presence and don't know what to do. And for that reason, I am a failure.

Because of my failure, I will forever be condemned to being the identities I was born as. A punishment that grows in its torture by the day! I honestly wonder what kind of past life I might have led to deserve this torture. Was I someone like Hitler? Or Custer?

I've been judged and I deserve to be judged. I don't know what I can do to redeem myself.

Why am I the way I am, God? Why am I so impotent? Why am I being punished like this? Why...

Monday, January 27, 2014

...But it Isn't Yet

Okay, after that last depressing blog post inspired by the opening for season five of Fringe, I feel it is my duty to you readers to post this. Hopefully it will lift your spirits after my last post. :)
Happiness may be becoming a "fringe" thought, but it isn't yet, so let's enjoy it while we can.