Friday, March 1, 2013

Authenticity, Sincerity, and Other Buzzwords

Namaste readers. For those of you who are Hindus, I have a very important question to ask: most of you readers probably don't know me in real life, but regardless, would you readers consider me a real Hindu?

I'm asking because in one other online discussion forum (that shall not be named), my authenticity and sincerity of being a Hindu was called into question...not directly, but it was certainly implied.

To be honest, I don't know how to respond to such implicit accusations. I certainly want to be a Hindu, in both my heart and my mind. But oftentimes my mental maladies keep me from going any deeper than I am now. Thanks to my depression and lack of energy resulting from it, I sometimes find it hard to do things like read scriptures, learn how to do puja at home, or even meditate and do its associated pranayama. I try to go to my local temple as often as possible, but my lack of a car prevents me from going there as often as I should. And as for all the knowledge associated with Sanatana Dharma? I've barely scratched the surface of it, thanks to the two previous facts I've mentioned.

And as others have pointed out, I've made blunders in thinking some of my cultural tastes and preferences were spiritual, and that it was not only futile, but offensive, to try to link those to Hinduism. That certainly doesn't do my reputation any good, and certain online people have added "poser" and "racist" to my list of descriptions as a result. (Again, I don't want to say who. I don't want to pay any more attention to them.)

Of course, there are those who will say I shouldn't pay any attention to such people. They say Hinduism is all about diversity and individuality (in terms of how people worship) after all. But still, the last thing I want to do is defile another culture with my stupidity. What I have seen of India's culture so far, I've fallen in love with. I want to belong to it...but old cultural habits die hard.

I want to believe...but am I too indoctrinated in Western ways to be able to join the culture and faith I truly want to believe in? Am I too far gone?

1 comment:

  1. This is an issue that will be ever present for those of us who are born and raised in the west - even more so if we also happen to be Causasian. Here's how I've come to peace with it. Anyone who presumes to tell you that you are Hindu or not has decided they have God's authority to do so. I let God worry about the issue of labels and live my life authentically to who I am. If that means I'll always be an awkward white person, worshiping on the fringes of Indian/Hindu culture, there's nothing at all I can do about that.

    You've started a journey and made a commitment to God via Hinduism. Even if no one else ever considers you Hindu, God will know of your sincerity.

    As for risking offending cultures/ unintentionally being racist - the key word here is unintentional. Also, if you have thought patterns that are in fact racist without your intention, use those moments of clarity to examine them and grow from them. Don't get bogged down in the guilt. Apologize where you can, and move forward.

    EVERYONE has preconceived notions about other religions/ethnicity/ cultures. Anyone who tells you they're 'color blind' is either lying or they actually have an eye condition =)

    Long story short, Your sincerity will speak for itself in the end. That's not to say it won't be a difficult journey. But I certainly believe it will be worth it.