Thursday, December 27, 2012

Standing at Mount Kailash's Door, Tablet in Hand

The Art of Living, amongst whom I consider myself a member, has a new project, apparently the purpose of which is to connect bloggers and promote the use of blogging as a tool for social change. This project is called Just Connect. They have an article on how to be an effective blogger, and reading that article inspired me to write this post, where I will answer the question of why I blog.

Maybe I've answered it before, but it bears repeating at this point to ascertain how much progress I've made in this regard. But after much thought, the one thing I've realized about why I blog is that at the most fundamental level, I blog because I crave acceptance - I crave the recognition of others. Not negative recognition, mind you, but positive: love, respect, admiration, adoration, you know the rest.

I know on a rational level that getting the above takes much more effort than just blogging. I also know that it's a risk-to-reward sort of thing...the positive feedback from readers is like pure nectar to me, but negative sentiment can be many times more poisonous. So I know I shouldn't count on blogging to fulfill that base emotional need of acceptance. So why do I do it?

I do it I guess for much the same reason I pray to Lord Ganesha for solace and strength. I know many (but not all) of my readers I'll probably never meet in person, but Hinduism does teach that there's divinity in everyone and everything. I bare my soul to Lord Ganesha in the hopes that he'll express love for me; in much the same way I bare my soul to the world in hopes of gaining its love. I know it's foolish to expect everyone to love me, and I'm not expecting that...but if we can trust God(s) to love us, why can't we trust each other to do the same?

I know I'm being naive in expecting everyone who visits this blog to like it, and like me by extension, but I also hope through this blog that I can learn how to deal with one's adversaries. If someone dislikes this blog, it has the potential to help me reinforce my spirit against real life haters. It's like a vaccine in that sense.

Why do I crave so much recognition? I guess it's because as a child I didn't feel like I was appreciated or loved with sincerity...but that's another topic for another time. I don't expect this blog to be my own personal hug box, but I feel readers can support me in their own way, whether they like this blog or not.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Feelings After Meditation

Namaste readers - I'm back with another experience from the meditation file that I've experienced just now. Yes, this is a post-meditation blog entry. :-)

As for what happened during and after meditation today that I wanted to blog about - well, today's meditation experience was quite profound, actually. I started off by chanting the usual mantra I chant (which is "Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha"), and after I settled into meditation post-mantra chanting...I felt feelings I never really experienced during meditation before. Some others have described these feelings, and just now I've experienced them: ringing in the ears, and myriad sensations that felt...blissful, and thrilling...I can't seem to describe them now. Some help I am in getting my readers to understand...

After the meditation, things got even more interesting. I brought myself out after about an hour, when the feelings subsided...and afterwards, it felt like in my mind that I got...cheated, or robbed of something. Like something big was about to head my way and at the last second it was taken from me. And I'm writing this, I'm not sure what to think.

Sorry, this is apparently a vague, ellipsis-filled blog entry. But I don't know how to describe what I felt during my mediation tonight. Yet I want to post something...not for the sake of posting, but for the sake of finding someone who might understand. Would anyone out there understand?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Kalash

I admit for this blog post I'm cheating a little bit - I'm actually reusing a post I wrote in a forum. But I figured it doesn't hurt to ask the question I'm asking here outside of the forum too. So on that note...

Recently at the local temple in my area (the Hindu Temple of Rochester), I actually did something that was quite bold, for me at any rate: I sponsored a kalash puja, meaning I donated money to the temple and therefore got a spot to do a kalash puja with some other devotees. This was exciting for me, as this was something I've certainly never done before! :-)

However, I can't help but feel that I didn't do it entirely correctly, and that I made mistakes - I couldn't keep up with the priest's chanting during the times we were supposed to follow along (and I'm almost positive I didn't pronounce everything correctly), I might have arranged the flower petals wrong (because they were falling off), and I lit the wrong end of the incense burner. This was my first time doing this puja, so I can forgive myself for these mistakes (and everyone else seemed to do so as well ), but for next time, I want to be more prepared.

So therefore, if any of my readers want to give me more information on how to do the kalash puja, and more info on what it means, I'd be really grateful. I know overall it's the intent that counts, but maybe if I know more I can do it better next time. And I sure hope there's a next time that I can do it! :-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

The End of Heartache

I know in this blog I've previously brought up the topic of bhajans and their ability to spiritually uplift us, but let's not underestimate the power of popular music (not pop, there's a difference between pop and popular, I feel) to stir our heartstrings. That's why I've added a widget from the website This Is My Jam to my blog - you can find it to the right. I think this will give readers another window into my soul, for one's taste in music can say a lot about a person, as long as we respect the tastes of the person in question and aren't blind to the validity of whatever they like.

As for why I've picked "The End of Heartache" by metal band Killswitch Engage, I feel that sometimes, the lyrics of this song really capture my relationship with God(s). Sometimes I feel that Lord Ganesha (or one of the other incarnations of God) is the only thing that stands between me and oblivion, between mere heartache and a total emotional abyss. I know my choices are mine and I'm responsible for my future, but sometimes this heartache I feel is the fact that my present efforts aren't enough, and that I somehow lack the strength to take it a step further and do what is necessary. In this sense, I hope God(s) can help me find that strength, to find the antidote to this heartache. I may have no excuses, but self-improvement isn't something I can do all on my own, and that is why I need the help of God(s).

Heh...I know I sound whiny right now, but sometimes writing down the pain helps me deal with it. And listening to my favorite tunes sometimes helps too...although bhajans will always have a place in my heart. :-)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Ultimate Reality Check

Namaste readers!

Hot on the heels of my article for Hinduism Today going online, an article that appeared on the Huffington Post about two weeks prior goes somewhat viral. This article, by professor Deepak Sarma at Case Western University, is pretty much the polar opposite in message and tone to my Hinduism Today article: it makes the case that whites, such as myself, who try to convert to Hinduism inevitably mock and insult it by virtue of their historical baggage, the fact that whites colonized India and plundered not only its physical but mental wealth. If I'm reading it right, it sounds like in his article that it's impossible for whites to redeem themselves via conversion to Hinduism because of their white skin privilege.

Um...yeah. This pretty much torpedoes everything I've worked for. Those readers that know me probably know what my reaction to this article would be right away...I don't think I have to explain what my objections are. And yes, when I initially read the article I was devastated...but then after thinking about it some more, I think I have nothing to fear from this piece. The reason being that he is someone I've only read about on the Internet, while I've got plenty of backup for my position in my real life! And I have everyone in my real life to thank for that. :-)

Mr. Sarma says in that article that Indian Hindus who welcome whites into their fold aren't really genuine, that they suffer from a "post-traumatic, post-colonial servile disorder." There are several problems with that statement, from my experience - the first being that it sounds like Mr. Sarma doesn't even trust his fellow Hindus/Indians with their own decisions. If the local Rochester Hindu community really felt that way about me, then they most certainly would've said so by now! It sounds like Mr. Sarma is putting words in their mouths.

I guess my encountering this article on the Internet is a reality check for me in the sense that I shouldn't believe everything I read on the internet, and that I should take my real life experience more seriously than what someone I've never met in person says about people like me. That was the test, it seems to me - and I hope to every Hindu I've met in real life, that I've passed that test. :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jai Shri Ganesha, I'm Getting Published!

Namaste readers of this humble blog! Hopefully you will all be happy to learn that - yes, as the subject line implies - an article of mine is being the next issue of Hinduism Today magazine, no less!

This is so exciting, needless to say! The January/February/March 2013 issue should come out soon (as in sometime over the next month, I'm thinking), where I'll be on page 59; the online version of the article I wrote should be out within a similar timeframe. In the meantime, the Hindu Temple of Rochester has made a post on their Facebook page about it.

I look forward to all of you reading the article soon, and hope you all enjoy it! I also would like to thank Shri Ganesha for His help. ;)

EDIT: The article is now officially live on the Hinduism Today website, so now you have no excuse not to read it. ;) You can find it here!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Hate Black Friday

There, I said it. I do indeed hate Black Friday, but it's for more than the usual reasons people hate it. Yes, I hate the consumerism, the wanton greed, the people trampling each other to buy stuff, the violence, the degeneration of manners. Yes, I hate all that. But there are other reasons I hate Black Friday beyond those usual requirements.

I also hate Black Friday because of the accusations it brings up. "You Americans are greedy pigs." "You're consumer whores not worthy of the wealth you consume." "You're brainless leeches of the planet." Etc. Sure, they may all be justified, understandable, probably true as well...but I still take them personally.

Again, it's because of where I'm born, what I do and what I buy that I'm lumped in with the rest of the undesirables. Maybe I'm even guilty of some of the things other Americans are guilty for on Black Friday (but most certainly not the violence). But can't the detractors figure out some way other than vitriol, piss and vinegar to combat the worst effects of Black Friday? If anything, people heaping on tirades of accusations are probably making Black Friday worse.

I say that because of the addicting effect shopping has for so many of these people. Shopping is a way of stress relief for many of them. The thought of getting something new - it's a way to distract the mind from one's other troubles. And we do live in a troubled society where everyone suffers. I've said it before and I'll say it again: America is not the land of milk and honey that so many others from around the world say it is.

I honestly don't think heaping guilt upon these people's shoulders is going to suddenly make them stop shopping on Black Friday. If anything they'll buy more stuff to be more defiant. So what's the solution, then?

Personally, I think the solution is to present alternatives to wanton consumerism and shopping as ways to happiness. Perhaps instead of heaping on vitriol, these detractors can say "do something else instead!" Things like spending time with one's family, doing community service, stuff like that.

I know negativity is all the rage on Black Friday, but let's not let the negativity infect all of us sane, rational people, okay?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Shrine to Ganesha

Namaste and hello readers,

Today I did a simple puja to Ganesha after I got home from work. I set up my shrine to Ganesha with flowers and a couple of bananas as an offering and chanted mantras for an appropriate length of time. Not elaborate by any stretch, but hopefully its simplicity will not be a detriment.

The picture below is how my shrine looked at the time; I hope you enjoy the photo! Any input on the shrine or puja I did would be appreciated. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Desires on the Day of Diwali

Namaste readers,

This time of year is the time of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, or so I I wish everyone reading this blog a Happy Diwali! May it bring you prosperity. :)

One thing I've noticed this year is that my birthday, which was last weekend, seemed to be close to Diwali this time around. If I remember correctly, the traditional calendar of India is based on the moon as opposed to the sun, so that results in the dates for holidays being different; I guess I sort of find it auspicious that Diwali is close to my birthday this year. I was thinking about, therefore, what I would really want, what I would consider prosperity in my life...kind of selfish, I know, but I figured I'd share it anyway, not because I would expect it, but so that readers can have a better idea of my mind.

Something that I love to do, actually, is travel, but sadly, the only time I've ever left the USA was on a vacation with my dad to Mexico. Now that I've embraced the Sanatana Dharma, one thing I know I would love to do someday is visit India. Not as a tourist mind you, but as a pilgrim - I'd love to visit areas holy to Lord Ganesha!

Problem is, I don't know where in India that would be...or how I would get there. Money is definitely an issue - I barely make enough to get by, let alone travel abroad!

I know I can't always get what I want, but I can say my wishes aloud, can't I? ;) Maybe Lord Ganesha will shower Hia blessings on me next Diwali.

Thanks for reading this, readers. It's always good to share hopes and dreams. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shut Up You Stupid Bird!

The "stupid bird" referred to in the post title is not an actual physical bird. Rather, I'm talking about the social networking service known as Twitter. I've told this bird to shut up and stay out of my life today - I have deactivated my account on there.

My feelings on this are complex and varied, but ultimately I decided that the negative influences Twitter was having on my life far outweighed the positives. Almost everything I've encountered on there has not been conducive to my mental health.

I know I probably could've remedied that in ways less extreme than cancelling my account. I probably could've pruned the list of who I was following, maybe downloaded an app that could filter my tweets, etc. But ultimately I decided the only way I could preserve my happiness in relation to Twitter was to sever the connection entirely.

Why is this? Well, I respect the original ideals Twitter was founded on. I understand it was created with good intentions. However, those intentions have put me through my personal Hell, on more than one occasion. The reason is because 140 characters really forces users to use the strongest, most undiplomatic language at their disposal. It forces one to denigrate oneself to the lowest common denominator when it comes to freedom of expression.

I'm all for differing opinions and freedom of expression. However, Twitter forces - and sometimes encourages - its users to wholeheartedly abuse that freedom. It seems the only way for one's free speech to be recognized on Twitter is to use it to hurt others.

I believed in the power of Twitter...once. But I've had more than enough of its vitriol.

I'm not giving up on social media - when used properly, social media can be of great benefit to a spiritual, Hindu seeker like me. Facebook is an example of this (speaking of which, my Facebook account is at if you want to follow). But Twitter is not suitable for my purposes. Twitter is one Icarus that can have its users burn their wings and fall.

My apologies if I sound overly bitter about Twitter. It can be a good service if you know how to use it well. For me, though...I'm flying away.


Okay, I know I posted a post called "Conflict" that was rather whiny and unnecessarily emotional. I took it down because I am feeling much better now, and it was because I finally listened to some advice that a commentator gave me - listen to bhajans. :-)

I listened to a Ganesha bhajan not too long ago, and it seemed as if almost instantly my spirits were lifted! I'm not sure why or how such bhajans have this powerful effect on me...and sometimes it's inconsistent as to when they lift me and when they do not. Maybe it's dependent on how much I need them. But it still has me wondering why bhajans can do me so much good.

I'm just curious about this phenomenon because I can listen to my favorite music - often heavy metal or electronic music - and not get quite the same effect. My favorite tunes obviously make me happy, but...there's something about a bhajan that really resonates with me. I remember attending this one lecture on Carnatic music at one point which outlined the structure of that particular style of music, but I've forgotten the particular teachings of that lecture because it was several years ago. Go figure.

Anyone know why a bhajan can resonate better than one's normally favorite tunes?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lord Ganesha, Lend Me Your Strength

"Do not pray for an easy life. Instead, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one."
--Bruce Lee

While I don't know for sure if Bruce Lee is the actual source of that quote, it sure makes a nice attribution. Regardless of who said it, it's something that I want...because life in this world isn't getting any easier.

Election night - tomorrow night in the US - is never an easy time for me. The fact that more news is pouring in on how much damage Hurricane Sandy has caused isn't helping either. Plus, there's so much difficulty going on in my personal life right now...if you add that to what's going on in the world, it's honestly too much to bear. At least, by myself.

I'm not endorsing any political candidate in this blog...let me put it this way: in 2004, when George W. Bush was up for reelection, my worst fear was him getting reelected. Well, that came true, but the world didn't end, even though I was reacting as if it already had. So, my mind is relatively calm in the sense that whoever wins the election won't cause the Earth to stop spinning or the sun to go supernova.

Still...on top of everything else, this election, and what's at stake, is getting to be too much. My mind says stay calm, but my heart wants to explode in fear and anxiety. There's too much negativity in this world for me to just stay calm about it!

I wish I knew if Lord Ganesha read this blog...I could use His embrace right now. I want this post to be a prayer to Him to send me His love and strength...I don't know if it will reach Lord Ganesha, but I have to try. For the sake of my sanity and happiness.

I just want to know that I can survive and be happy in light of what's to that too much to ask?

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Namaste readers! Especially you. :-)

The fact that I've gotten so many readers these past few days by posting about my blog in a discussion forum is quite encouraging! (Thank you, by the way!) It also has me thinking, though...thinking about what role the Internet plays in the Sanatana Dharma. Needless to say, it's a complex topic.

Discussion of Hinduism on the Internet can take many forms, but inevitably there will be arguments due to the anonymous nature of the Internet. It's the Greater Internet F**kwad Theory (look it up on Google, I'm too lazy to post it here right now :-P ), as some people inevitably get holier-than-thou about their viewpoint. I follow some basic advice when it comes to this, which I will dispense below.

My basic philosophy on the topic is this: base the validity of what you find on the Internet off of experiences you have in the real world. The Internet, being a series of tubes and all, is full of misinformation, obviously, but it can also be a great support system if you know the right people. There will always be trolls, but you can avoid confrontations with them by not feeding them (that is, not returning their provocation). Just remember not to judge a group of people by the actions of one of their number who you see on the Internet. Every group has its good and evil side.

I know there are some people who call themselves Hindu who bash Western converts like me on the Internet. But whenever I see something like that, I just remember that there are real Hindus in real life who have my back, such as the people of the Hindu Temple of Rochester. (Thank you, by the way!)

Just remember to adhere to basic common sense when talking with others on this topic. Think before you type: would you say this to the person in real life? At the same time, if someone is not following this rule with you, it's best not to engage them much, if at all; ignoring someone like that is the best policy here.

Heh...I'm normally not this authoritative. But I do hope what I've posted here will be of benefit to others. And to all who have supported my adventures on the Internet over the years: thank you from the bottom of my heart. :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Mad Blogger's Science Experiment

Namaste to my readers! I know many of you just got here, what with the spike in traffic my blog has had recently (and I appreciate it, thank you :) ). But...well, an email encouraged me to try out the new Tumblr/Blogger hybrid (or whatever you want to call it) Web 2.0 thingy called Storylane. I figured, why not? I looked it up on Google and it seemed legit. Legitimately legit, as in it wasn't some scam or compromised website...I first had my doubts, but they have been put to rest.

I've yet to see if Storylane will carry my writing to even more people, or be of any benefit to my writing whatsoever, but it seemed to be worth a shot. So if any of you are interested, here's my Storylane page:

Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Namaste to all my new readers! I noticed my readership has spiked since I posted a link to my blog in the Hindu Dharma Forums (at - nice bunch to discuss with!), so thank you all for checking me out!

You folks couldn't have come at a better time. Seeing as I'm in Rochester, NY, it's in the path of Hurricane Sandy, which doubtlessly you've heard about on the news. We're pretty far inland, so hopefully we'll avoid the worst of it. Still, though, what I'm hearing about it isn't doing my mental health any favors. Most extreme hurricane on the East Coast this century, parts of New York City flooded, massive power outages...I'm lucky I'm able to post this! And yes, I'm scared. Meditation and faith can only do so much here.

I don't know if I'll be able to hear from any of you if the power goes out for Rochester, but still, I can use all the mental support I can get. Prayers, well-wishes, whatever, just send your positive vibes my way. Trust me, it will all be appreciated.

Stay safe out there, Light Clubbers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Crazy About Lord Ganesha

A few days ago I was feeling a bit depressed, blue, etc. That seemed to turn around quickly when I started to think intensely about Lord Ganesha - I did more mantra chanting, kept him in my thoughts, prayed to him, that sort of thing. Obviously thinking of God - especially Lord Ganesha in my case - can do wonders to keep one happy.

But sometimes I wonder if it's possible to have an unhealthy obsession about God and/or Lord Ganesha. I wouldn't know what that would look like, outside of religious fanatics and fundamentalists. I'm asking this because I apparently have this deep longing to be with Lord Ganesha as of late, and I don't know what to make of it.

One indicator of this potential obsession was a dream I had recently. I couldn't remember many of the details when I first woke up from it, but I remembered more as time went on. It was indeed strange. In this dream, apparently I was in some temple in whatever my mind thought to be the Andhra Pradesh state in India (note that I've never actually been to Andhra Pradesh...or anywhere else in India for that matter). The only indicator of me being in Andhra Pradesh in this dream was the English signage around this temple. So it probably wasn't actually the state of Andhra Pradesh. But I digress - in this temple, there was a procession of an idol of Lord Ganesha. After the procession ended, I prostrated in front of the idol, touched its feet, and the next thing I could remember was that I personally was being worshipped as Lord Ganesha!

Yeah, this sounds crazy, possibly even blasphemous - I had no idea what circumstances made my subconscious mind come up with this dream. I first thought it was my ego getting overinflated, that maybe I was even going crazy. I then talked to one of my blogging friends about this dream, and the best he could come up with was that it was a sign I should start taking my meditation practice and diet more seriously, as it was an obvious indicator of a desire to be close to God.

I still have no idea what the ultimate message was - and Lord Ganesha has been on the forefront of my mind since then. I still have no idea what Lord Ganesha thinks of me or how He feels about me. I don't know if my seeking of Him has been in vain or if I've stumbled on something big.

It's times like this I wish I could personally talk to Lord Ganesha...I want to know if I can ever earn His approval, for lack of a better term...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Don't Wanna Go Back to the Future

Things have been going well in my personal life - opportunities abound for me to create and prosper. Things aren't perfect, but for once they're moving in a positive direction.

So why do I still feel this overwhelming sense of dread? Why am I still scared about what's going to happen next?

Well, there are plenty of reasons. They all have to do with the big picture. Environmental destruction and collapse, war, economic injustice, societal injustice, you name it. Then there are the people who point out my role in it all...and they usually say I'm guilty.

I certainly feel guilt a lot of the time for the life I lead. I know my choices in this matter are under my control. Still, I'm not's one thing to want to completely alter my lifestyle for the good of the planet. It's another to actually do it.

Especially with the positive things going on in my life right now, I I deserve any of them? In light of all the negativity so many people face as a result of how I live, is it really justified for me to be happy? Would things really be better if I just...threw it all away?

I honestly don't know the answer to these questions. And that's why I'm so afraid of the future I's probably an answer I don't want to hear.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cobras and Buffalo

If you take a look at today's entry (well, the Oct. 11 entry to be precise) in the "What Sri Sri Said Today" blog, you'll find an interesting discussion on the meaning of the cobra in Hinduism:

Please read that entry, then come back here so you know what I'm talking about. I can wait...

Okay, now that you're back, I have to say, this discussion really resonated with me! The reason for this is because whenever I meditate, or a good portion of the time anyway, when I go deep enough into it, I tend to see (if that's the word; maybe it's more like get thoughts/images of) either snakes or cows. These images tend to be the clearest and most recognizable. I always wondered why it was either one or the other that becomes a clear image in my seems this is the answer, that it's either because my mind is clear and alert (cobra), or muddled and confused (buffalo).

I try to meditate and do Sudarshan Kriya only after it's been at least two hours since I've eaten, but if one of these images comes up during meditation, it always seems to be random. Either it is random, or I don't know what would cause either one to appear. If it's not because of the amount of food in my stomach at the time, then what else could it be?

At least it's good to know that my meditation practice is getting somewhere, if I get these images and now know what they mean. It's certainly encouraging!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where's My Strength?

Ugh. Day 1 of trying to go more vegetarian and I end up eating some very junky fast food at the end of the day. So much for this being easy...or perhaps it's a lack of willpower thing on my part, I don't know.

All I know is that my ability to handle stress seems to be weak. A day of heightened emotionality where I flip-flop between serenity and deep, dark despair more than a Presidential candidate flip-flops between issues, and I'm so stressed out I pig out on fried things.

What is with my inability to hold onto happiness? I have plenty to be happy about, yet that happiness can be robbed from me with one small event in a blink of an eye. And when that happens, I deal with it in the least constructive of ways, and that can vary, but mostly it's food.

When I have days like this, meditation sometimes doesn't seems like a chore at these times. I guess I'm a fair weather meditator in that I only seem to meditate when my ability to deal with stress is better. Ironic, but true. Then again, it's not like I can meditate during my work day.

My thought process is bouncing all over the place right now. That's why I'm so incoherent. But the bottom line is I need a way to handle my stress as it comes. I need a way to stop my negative emotions from running away with themselves when they come up. I need a way to stay happy! I need it because when I fall into negative emotion, I seem to sink so low so fast it's like something's pulling me down.

Anyone have any ideas?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Is a Vegetarian Diet Easier Than I Thought?

I've previously written on vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian lifestyles in this blog, and I've expressed my reservations about going vegetarian, since I'm a diabetic and all. However, a prompt from a fellow Rochester Hindu to write about this topic some more inspired me to do a little research. And, well, what do you know - turns out it might be possible for me after all!

The American Diabetes Association has a lot of good information on this topic, which I think I could find useful:

It does mention a few things that do inspire me. For instance, I completely forgot about how in the grocery store certain meatless versions of my favorite meals indeed exist, such as soy crumbles, black bean burgers, and the like. That will certainly be a good start for me. And I'm sure the ADA website has some more recipes I could learn that are simple, easy, and both diabetic- and vegetarian-friendly. (Yeah, I suck at cooking, so I need to stick with the easy stuff.)

I'm going to start a bit slow with this at first, ease into it. I'll still eat dairy and eggs for the time being. But armed with this info, I certainly can be inspired to start!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


This following statement might be politically incorrect to say, but I feel like saying it anyway - the recent unrest in the Middle East has reaffirmed my choice to have Hinduism be my vehicle for peace of mind and spiritual perfection. I don't know if that's offensive to say, coming from myself, a white male American citizen who so desperately wants to be Hindu, but at the very least I hope it's understandable to my readers. If I may explain why I feel this way...

I admit, I am no expert on Islam, or any of the Abrahamic faiths for that matter (not even Christianity). But the us-versus-them rhetoric that seems to permeate the dialogue between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam these days really turns me off from all of the above. I don't want to be involved in this sort of conflict. Even if one side is clearly the greater oppressor than the other, taking a direct stand for either side is liable to tear my soul apart, because it will feel like either way I am betraying a part of humanity.

A lot of European Christian art of course depicts Jesus as a white male. And while I remember there being a law in Islam that says the prophet Muhammad (or any prophet for that matter) cannot be portrayed visually, a lot of emphasis is placed on Muhammad being an Arab (as far as I know). So much emphasis is placed on the so-called "race" of these figures that one can't help but infer that these faiths are favoring God being a certain skin color.

This goes into one of the biggest reasons I have gravitated towards Hinduism and its plurality of Gods. Okay, so maybe most of the Gods in Hinduism are depicted with Indian features (again, as far as I can tell). But you'd be forgetting that there are plenty of Gods in Hinduism that have features that can't really be said to favor any human - Lord Shiva is often depicted with his skin being blue, Lord Ganesha has the head of an elephant, and Lord Hanuman has attributes of a monkey, including a tail! You know what that says to me? It says that God can be anyone! Black, white, brown, candy-striped, or maybe not even human. Just because I'm white doesn't mean God in Hinduism would favor or disfavor me, because God can be anything.

Maybe the above is a bit of an oversimplified explanation, and maybe a simplistic way of looking at things...but I don't intend to offend anyone with this post. I'm just expressing how - and why - I feel in light of recent events. If I say anything offensive, please say so, that I may work to correct myself. Just keep in mind I'm entitled to my opinion.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Real Real World

*Takes a moment to remove dust and yellow tape...*

Namaste to all my's been a while! Sorry about the long absence. If you're wondering why it's been so long, well, a lot has been going on in my real life. A LOT. So much so that this blog had to be put on the back burner for a while. A lot is still going on, but I still have time to write a post where I can share some wisdom I've discovered.

That wisdom is pretty simple, actually - we spend so much time losing ourselves in information around us, that in trying to figure out what's important and worthy of our attention, we forget about our own experiences. We spend so much time living other people's lives that we forget about our own.

That is why there is meditation and yoga, and why it is so important in this day and age. Sure, the Internet can help connect you to the world outside, but you need something to connect you to the world inside.

I'm not saying one should completely cut off the outside world - no human can be an island, after all. But there has to be a balance...and that balance is one I've finally started to get a grip on.

As a result, big things are happening. Amazing things. Things I'm proud to be a part of. And hopefully I will be able to share them with you very soon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vegetarianism, Veganism, and...I Can't Think of a Clever Title

If you'll excuse the lame title for this blog post for a moment, I want to dedicate this particular post to discussing a topic that is becoming more heated these days, for environmental reasons: meat and the use of animal products, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, and whatever else falls under this umbrella. While readers of this blog already know that I'm not vegetarian/vegan (yet), I still feel I need to have a say on this topic so at least vegetarians and/or vegans know where I'm coming from.

Let me start out by saying I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans. My vegetarian/vegan friends in real life know this. :-) I feel that if someone wants to go vegetarian or vegan, more power to them. I'm a big believer in personal freedom in this regard. That said, it's also my belief that one shouldn't be forced into becoming vegetarian or vegan. Obviously my real life vegetarian/vegan friends don't force anyone; what I'm more referring to are those people on the Internet who are vegetarian/vegan that militantly espouse their ideals and snub anyone who doesn't think and eat like they do. (There are people like that on the meat-eating/omnivorous side too, don't get me wrong, but I'm bringing that up here for the sake of making my point.) Whether or not one has to be vegetarian or vegan to be considered a true Hindu is another can of worms entirely, so I'm not going to discuss that now.

What I am going to discuss is how plausible and/or effective it actually is for absolutely everyone on the planet to strive for a vegan ideal. For the purposes of this argument I'm going to say that the vegan ideal is no usage or reliance on animal products or services whatsoever. It is my personal belief that the vegan ideal is not an ideal everyone can strive for, and may be impossible for some people, for various reasons.

I will use my diabetes as an example of this. Diabetes, because of the nature of its treatment, at least from my experience, can make striving for a vegan ideal impossible. Why is this? Because a key component of diabetic management for myself and many others - insulin - came about because of animal testing. It was testing on pigs that allowed insulin development to be possible. I know most insulin these days is synthesized and not dependent on pigs producing it, but if pigs weren't tested on to begin with, insulin wouldn't be around...and my life as a diabetic would be much more difficult. So if you look at my diabetes objectively from the viewpoint of the aforementioned vegan ideal, then technically it would be impossible for me to be vegan.

I know some vegans would argue the following point - that if I just followed a vegan diet, I wouldn't suffer from diabetes in the first place. In the case of myself, I wouldn't know since I haven't tried a vegan diet yet; I might one of these days but right now I have too much on my plate (no pun intended) to devote the mental energies to attempting to go vegan. But even if I did, a vegan diet is no guarantee against diabetes for anyone. This is because diabetes has a genetic component to it. Lifestyle is a factor for developing diabetes, yes, but if one doesn't have the genes for diabetes in the first place, one is far less likely to develop it. Also, one can develop diabetes symptoms even if one follows a perfect vegan diet because of the aforementioned genetic factor.

Now I'm not saying going vegan won't help diabetes, but what I am saying is that it's no guarantee. And if one's diabetes treatment requires insulin, like mine does, whether or not you were vegan to begin with you are still going to be using medicine that was the product of animal testing. It's a rather depressing thought, but it's sadly the truth.

I'm not trying to discredit vegetarian or vegan ways here. I think they are of great merit. Rather, what I'm trying to say is that there are some cases where going entirely vegan would adversely effect one's life. Then you get into the horrible argument of which life is more sacred...and that's an argument I'd rather avoid. Surely all life is sacred, including my own...right?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Prying Open My Third Eye?

Over the past few days, when I meditate, I've been experiencing curious sensations lately. These sensations have taken the form of pressures on and around the bridge of my nose, the middle of my forehead, and sometimes behind the eyes. These sensations have almost always been pleasant and not painful at all.

I've been focusing on these sensations during meditation, and when I do, I feel the most intense pressure right in the middle of my forehead...indeed, it feels like something is growing there and wants to leave my skull! However, what's even more curious is that these past couple of days, I've been experiencing these sensations when I have not been meditating. Even when I have been working today I still felt the pressure at the bridge of my nose and in the middle of my forehead. As a result, I've been feeling happy at certain intervals, sometimes downright euphoric.

To investigate what this might mean, I've done a little research on Google, and I've come across pages that explain that this all has to do with the pineal gland of the brain and the so-called "Third Eye." Now I know the sixth chakra in the forehead is called the third eye chakra, but I have to wonder why this chakra has suddenly become this active in my brain. I haven't experienced any unusual visions or other sensations than the pressure and the accompanying happy feelings, so I have to wonder: why now? And what does it mean?

I know better than to believe most of what's being said on the Internet about the pineal gland and the third eye chakra. Most of what's said on it is crackpot conspiracy theories and "advice" on activating and cleansing it that's more likely to do harm than good (one page for instance said that vaccines are bad for the pineal gland; I don't know about you but I'd rather take the vaccine and live longer than have a "healthier" pineal gland and catch some debilitating disease). Still, I wonder if there's any legit information on the pineal gland and the third eye out there? I just want to know what's happening to me and if it's good or not.

I just hope it's not a sign that I need medical attention...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Something I Can Never Have, Or...?

Last night (Monday, July 23) I had an interesting dream. In this dream, there was this boy in a black T-shirt (that's the only detail I could remember about his appearance) who gave me, of all things, a king cobra. As in a live king cobra snake. This apparently was no ordinary king cobra, though, as it behaved very unusually for its species: it slithered up to me and appeared to want to...snuggle, for lack of a better term. It was downright friendly and looked at me with an expression that should've been on a puppy for how affectionate it was. I was justifiably afraid of this king cobra, as I would be if I encountered a real king cobra, but this king cobra continued its affection.

Now I know this is not how snakes behave in real life. I'm no expert on snake behavior, but I'm guessing if I encountered a king cobra in real life it would not only have no interest in snuggling, but it would try to scare me away (and definitely succeed). Still, despite this being a dream, I still feel it carries some significance.

From what I understand, going on what I remember from one of the satsangs of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living, dreams aren't prophetic or psychic or anything mystical or supernatural, but rather a way for the human mind to process the reality it experiences. Dreams could be unconscious desires, impressions of the world around you, interpretations of memories, or maybe all of the above. I think the aforementioned dream I had falls under the unconscious desire category. But what sort of unconscious desire?

I think it's a desire for the extraordinary, in my case. Something fantastical or mystical to happen in my life, a miracle of some kind that would finally prove to me that I have a place in this world, that I am special and extraordinary. In other words, something I could never have, and by that I mean something that happened that would be considered a miracle that would be a positive experience for me.

I know that would never happen, at least the way I would want it to. I know the only way I can feel happy, special, and extraordinary, to feel I have a place in the world, is to dig deep inside myself for those feelings, then live my life in this world. And there's nothing wrong with that fact. The Gods don't have to prove that to me; rather, I have to prove it for myself.

There might be one other explanation for the dream I had: if I remember correctly, yesterday in India was the holiday of Nag Panchami, a religious holiday centered around snakes. Perhaps my dream was simply a reminder of it. Maybe this dream was a combination of both theories I proposed here: my mind wants a miracle to happen, and maybe a king cobra (symbolic of Nag Panchami) liking me was the symbol of such a miracle I would want to happen.

Regardless of what this dream may or may not signify, I'm not taking it as some sign of prophecy or some other ridiculous interpretation. Rather, I'm just curious to know if it was truly a window into my soul and its desires. If you readers want to weigh in, feel free.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fragile: Handle With Care

Recently I've been questioning if my life is of any value to the universe.

Let me get it out of the way right now that I am NOT suicidal. At least not at this moment. I know life is a gift, and I don't intend to send it back. But I've realized something about myself that I find so disturbing that I honestly question whether or not my existence is worthwhile.

That fact is that my soul, my spirit, is so fragile, so delicate, so spineless that when it comes to facing the truths of my life I fall apart and shatter like glass. Yeah, I know the truths I am about to mention are hard for everyone...but for me they're so hard I have no defense.

What I eat encourages cruelty, towards both animals and people. What I use in my life, that requires consumption of electricity, negatively impacts the environment and the air we breathe. What taxes I pay encourage war, death and destruction, and the erosion of liberty. These are truths that I know would be hard for anyone in my situation to take.

But even their mere hinting causes me to fall apart. I cry profusely. I become lethargic, unable to do anything but sob. I emotionally disintegrate. And when I fall apart, no one wants to be around me or help me. I don't blame them, since I become a beacon of negativity.

The problem is, even though I do meditation and Sudarshan Kriya, they seem to have only treated the symptoms. They only offer a temporary boost in happiness. I know the disease lies in my inability to stand up and do the right thing. Make the right choices. Forgo and turn away from those things I enjoy that hurt the planet. It seems like doing the right thing would mean taking all the joy out of my life.

However, I know - and fear - that the day will come when I will have to choose between my pleasures, and my moral standing as a human being. Or maybe even between these pleasures and my life, with the environmental damage finally starting to catch up to all of us humans.

When - not if, but when - that day comes...I don't know if I'll survive.

I'm too fragile...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is There a Bright Side to Commercialization?

I know a lot of my posts here in Light Club can be filed under the "fluff" category, not having very much substance to them. I've made some posts on here that I consider to be substantial, but I admit it's not much. Well, I aim to increase the substance-filled posts in this blog by one post today, will involve me saying something that some people might consider controversial.

What could I say that would be of a controversial nature on this blog, that might actually add to this blog's quality and usefulness? Well, how about this: I personally believe that commercialization has, in some ways, been of benefit to yoga and Hinduism.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking: how could I as a white American and a semi-outsider to Hinduism have any right to say that? I ask that you hear me out for just a few paragraphs so I can clarify that statement. I also ask that you keep in mind that I'm not endorsing or condoning the commercialization of yoga and Hinduism, but rather that I'm pointing out that there is a silver lining to it.

What is this supposed silver lining to the commercialization of yoga and Hinduism that has so rightly been criticized as having done damage to the core beliefs of this faith? It's one that many in their rush to criticize can easily overlook: it's exposed more Westerners to the faith than ever before. Yes, it's exposed Westerners to a shallow version, but with the amount of Westerners that have been exposed via commercialization, there are an increased amount of Westerners who are willing to look beyond the commercial version and actually do some research on the real version.

It's a simple law of averages: the more people you expose, the more you'll find who are genuinely interested. But while for every Westerner with a genuine interest there are probably two pop-star singers with false intentions (I'm looking at you, Madonna and Alanis Morisette), there are still seeds planted - seeds which foster more respect for the culture of origin. I know these seeds of more respect don't take root in the aforementioned people with false intentions - it just mutates their disrespect and ignorance - but they do take root in the form of those with genuine interest wanting to spread their genuine respect and interest to those who have their deluded perceptions.

Perhaps the best thing that commercialization does for Hinduism and yoga is that it opens a door for dialogue. Sure, it's a dialogue saying how many Westerners who embrace the commercialized form of Hinduism and yoga have cheapened the faith and perverted it, but that's only the start of dialogue, and it can go from there to genuine healing and education.

I don't know if I was clear with this post...hopefully I'm clear enough that I won't be flamed off the Internet. But if you have questions, objections, constructive criticism or whatever, you know what to do. :-)

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Wish Ganesha Used Twitter or Facebook

So I found an interesting study about Twitter and Facebook, on Facebook of all places. What the study concludes is a very accurate description of myself: that Twitter and Facebook users have increased anxiety and self-esteem problems. (You can find the study here at )

This is a fact I should have seen coming, as it's often posts I find on Twitter and/or Facebook that can rile my emotions. Unfortunately, being an aspiring writer means my usage of Twitter and Facebook is a necessary evil. This is why I titled this blog post the way I did: I wish if I got too disturbed by a Twitter or Facebook post that Lord Ganesha would tweet or message me reminding me that it most likely won't affect my immediate real life and to calm down. Or slap me upside the head, whatever works.

Maybe if I knew more people who shared my faith on Twitter or Facebook that could talk to me regularly I wouldn't be so volatile? I'd like to know if anyone who reads my blog would like to keep in touch that way (who doesn't already). I could always use a cooler head to talk to.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Just Don't Know How to Deal With Evil

First of all, to my readers, I apologize for yesterday's post; not for what I said, though (what happened in that article I linked to is pretty evil), but for the hyperbole I used, and the fact that it wasn't...directly related to the usual contents of this blog.

It sort of goes to show that when I am confronted with societal evil...that I just don't know how to react or confront it. Sure, when it comes to something like sexism amongst gamer culture, the solution is obvious: don't perpetuate it for starters, educate where possible, and stand up for the persecuted when it comes time to. But instead of keeping in mind this logical, rational response, my brain automatically goes into the hyper emotional zone. Like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, when it comes time to do what needs to be done, I initially panic and choke. For me it comes out as hyperbole as I get full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Sure, there are times when emotional responses are justified, but my emotional responses don't go anywhere other than on deaf ears most of the time. It's why I practice yoga and Hinduism, to try to counter those emotional lows I experience in times like this. It's been working, but as the last post shows, I still have a lot to learn.

I still intend to stay on the path, as it works for me. But it looks like I still have far to go. Maybe I need to go a step further, but I don't know where that step is...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Feeling Betrayed

I don't know how well any of you know me, but I like video games. A lot. Or at least until now. Let me just say recent events make me want to throw up, and possibly burn my gaming equipment.

Events like these:

I used to be proud of being a gamer. Now I can't look at a controller without thinking that I'm a misogynist, sexist asshole for even associating myself with these people.

You gamers have betrayed me. I used to think you were cool, that the games you've made were cool. Now I realize they've addicted me and corrupted my mind. You suckered me in with your promises of fun and escapism. Instead you've made me feel more guilty and evil than I have been in my life.

The problem is, I can't even find the strength to dissociate myself from gaming. I'll probably play some video game to calm me down after I post this. And that is why I'm so upset, betrayed, confused, enraged, you name it.

I can't take this anymore...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ganesha, and My Creative Process

I've discovered something about my writing process that makes me feel a bit disappointed in my own writing ability: when it comes to creating wholly original content (in this case something fictional), I kind of suck at it. If I try to write fiction, even the most rudimentary of ideas seem to escape me. I can't seem to come up with any ideas I can stick with long enough to actually produce something good. Most of the time I can't even come up with an idea that motivates me.

I guess that's why I find blogging and writing articles for publications so much easier, because at least I know what I'm writing about. That sort of reminds me of that one story of Ganesha writing the Mahabharata: the sage Vyasa wanted Ganesha to write the epic as he dictated, on the condition that Ganesha understood what He was writing down. It's one instance where Ganesha loses one of His tusks, due to His pen breaking; rather than stop completely He broke off one of His tusks to use as a pen and continue.

Thinking about that story gives me inspiration when it comes to my writing, now that I think about it. It seems as if even Ganesha needed the prompting of others to write things down. Perhaps it indicates my future writing path, and that rather than lamenting on the inability to come up with my own stories, I can tell the stories of others to inspire others still. Or even my own story.

The one downside of that, is that I don't see it making me rich or even famous...but perhaps it's because I don't know how to use this sort of talent to make myself that way yet. Not that I want to become ultra-rich, but I want my writing to be read! I want to bring joy to and inspire others with my writing. I just don't know makes me wish I knew a sage to tell me an epic.

Well, I guess until then I have this blog. If only more people read it...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Symbols, Sweets, and Shares of Happiness

The happy feeling I've had this past week continues unabated. It still seems like a miracle to me...if I compare how happy I feel now to how I previously felt, it's like a switch in my brain was flipped! I asked another Hindu in my area as to why this may be, and he had some good explanations that made a lot of sense. I figured I'd share the explanations he taught me, so that you readers can understand and weigh in if you wish.

The biggest thing to consider as to explain what happened to me, I believe, lies in the symbolism of Ganesha's form. As you may know, Ganesha's form is a pot-bellied human with an elephant head (I'm over-simplifying here, I guess)...but this form isn't for show. Rather, there is rich symbolism behind every aspect of this form, I was told. The symbols most relevant to my emotional transformation have to do with the elephant aspects of Ganesha's form, I think.

For instance, the symbolism I was told is:
-Large ears: good listener, listens often.
-Trunk covering mouth: speak less, because talk is cheap, etc.
-Large forehead: analytical, active mind (I think).
-Long trunk: getting to the bottom of the problem, the root cause.
-Sweets in one hand: plenty to share, everyone should have their share.
-Mouse at base of deity: the greed that must be overcome by all humans.

If I connected the dots correctly, I guess what can be inferred here is that after I offered milk on Sunday, Lord Ganesha heard my problem with His large ears, and instead of telling me what to do, He must've discerned my problems stemmed from lack of happiness...that I didn't have the same happiness other people have. So maybe He gave me the ultimate sweet of happiness that I've been lacking for so long...because being happy can make me a better person.

I think it was the Buddha who once said that happiness is like a candle - one candle doesn't diminish by lighting other candles, and thus happiness can be shared the same way, without affecting one's own happiness. I can't really comment on God's happiness level, but if all the Gods of Hinduism are aspects of the One, then surely if one aspect is happy, He or She can share that happiness with others...even humans.

This post might not be my most articulate post on this blog. Still, I felt the need to further express my newfound happiness, and what might have caused it. Hopefully with my happy posts on this blog, I can light more happy candles in my readers. :-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


So...I'm happy. Not just happy in the normal sense,'s like I have this unshakable happiness inside me. Like nothing can faze me or bring me down. It's as if there's a happiness generator inside me now - if happiness could generate electricity, I'd be the next green power source!

And...I don't know how crazy this is going to sound, but I'm positive it was Ganesha who gave me this happiness. I...have a feeling it definitely was Him. As for why, well, at the Hindu Temple of Rochester last Sunday, there was a puja to Ganesha. I decided to participate in it by offering milk. Yes...I offered milk to Ganesha.

The happiness didn't take right away after the puja ended, but the next day, at some seemingly random time, I just felt this...euphoria inside of me. Like there was this expanding energy inside me, and it led to constant happiness. Even if I thought negative thoughts, the happiness soon countered them. The happiness is springing forth from me like a fountain, and there's no stopping it!

Hindus say Ganesha, like the rest of the Gods of the Hindu pantheon, is a real, physical, living, breathing being. Previously I've had my doubts, but...this is unexplainable! I honestly can't think of any other explanation for my constant sense of happiness. It has to be Ganesha. For me...this is proof.

I don't know how long this fountain of happiness will keep gushing. It may stop tomorrow, it may stop anytime after that. But the fact of the matter is that I wasn't trying to will my emotions into being happy. It just...happened!

Ganesha...have you heard my prayers?!?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Destiny and Grace

Destiny, dharma, whatever you want to call's been on my mind as of late. While I won't go into specific details at this time, let's just say the reason this blog hasn't been updated in a while is because interesting things have happened. Good things, but still things that have taken time away from this blog...which might be a good thing.

Suffice it to say, it seems I'm being drawn towards Hinduism more strongly than ever. I've been doing Sun Salutation yoga in my home more often, for starters (though I haven't done it for a few days thanks to the recent oppressive heat in Rochester). Other things have happened outside of my control, though, that make me wonder if the Gods of Hinduism are watching me...I've been given more opportunities to write about Hinduism and its local community here, and I've been getting more and more involved thanks to opportunities that just seem to have conveniently sprung up.

I'm not one to question grace, but...part of me wonders why this is happening. It's not like I've studied enough about Hinduism to become an expert, and I still need to develop more discipline in my life. This is the part of me that wonders if I deserve this grace. And of course things can still go wrong at any point. Still...I wonder if Hinduism is truly becoming my destiny.

It's certainly a good thing for me if it is. If the Gods of India accept me...I could die happy. Although I still want my death to be a long way off, thank you very much. ;-)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

In Praise of Lord Ganesha

I don't know how else to express this, but at this moment I am feeling divine love. It's a surge of pleasure emanating from my heart, filling me with happiness.

I could explain it yesterday... I recognized that my karma was turning around, and I had a feeling Lord Ganesha was responsible, and thinking that thought filled me with joy. Today, though, I made mistakes and blunders where it was harmful (though not by much) to others. I felt like a klutz.

And yet at the same time as yesterday, I am feeling the sensation of divine love from my chest. Pure joy radiating from my soul. Does Lord Ganesha love me? I'd like to think He does. I feel I have evidence now.

Well, Lord Ganesha, I don't know if you read this blog (what does God need with the Internet? LOL), but I want to say: thank you. Thank you with all of my being. I believe in you, and in return, it seems like you believe in me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

I'm not an Indian, so pardon my white-boy attempt at praise in Hindi (or whatever language this statement of praise is in): Jai Shri Ganesh!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Karma Breaker

It's been said by many advocates of meditation that it's a way to accelerate karma, burn negative karma, or even transcend karma altogether. After taking a meditation course in Ithaca, NY this weekend, I think I'm closer to understanding just what such statements mean. My understanding of karma is still limited, but the Hindu concept of karma is still the one that makes the most sense to me, and learning more about meditation helps me understand that better.

It's become clear to me that meditation and karma are somehow linked, although exactly how I've yet to discern. How does meditation, and the joy and inner peace it brings, advance one's goals of lasting happiness in this lifetime? That is, what is its true effect on our physical lives? Does it really make our material lives any easier to live by giving us what we want? From what I understand of karma, the concept of accelerating or "burning" one's negative karma would have a component or result in our physical lives, since what we have done in the past influences our future karma. How meditation reduces the influence of our negative karma is a bit of a stretch for me.

If you ask me, I think how meditation accelerates our karma and gives us happiness is not by changing the physical events that happen in our lives, but rather our attitudes toward them. After all, it has been said that happiness is not born out of our circumstances, but our attitude towards said circumstances. I personally think meditation doesn't necessarily alleviate our bad karma, but rather prepares us mentally for it so we do not suffer.

Or maybe karma is affected by meditation in a way I do not grasp yet, and that meditation has an effect on our physical fate. I do not know. All I know is that right now, my karma outlook is looking good. ;-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Bhagavad Gita on Dystopia

The topic of dystopia is increasingly being discussed these days, at least in the United States, because as scary as it seems, the thought of the United States becoming a dystopia is increasingly teetering towards becoming a reality. Now, I realize the USA isn't a dystopia yet, and I know it could get much worse. Still, the fact that dystopian laws are even being considered in this country makes this topic an important one to discuss - especially the question of how responsible the citizens of a dystopia are for the actions of its dystopian government.

It seems as if historically humanity has been of two minds about how responsible an individual citizen is for the actions of his/her government. On the one hand, the Nuremberg Trials say a citizen can be held responsible, considering how the Nazi officers who claimed the defense of "just following orders" were found guilty of war crimes regardless. On the other, the Geneva Conventions have made the practice of "collective punishment" - the practice of punishing all civilians in a particular area for the actions of just a few - a war crime. Whenever collective punishment is used in war - such as the more recent war in Iraq for example - most of the time there has been an outcry (though in some cases it gets the slip).

For those that personally know me, you'd know that one of my beefs with other people is when people blame and punish someone else for something they have no control over. That's why I get so upset when in the discussion of international issues someone blames Americans in general for causing a particular problem - while it may or may not be true, it's illogical, I think, to blame me personally for it since, being born here, I have no control over my citizenship. Nor do I have control over my fellow citizens and what they do. I know I can't be apathetic, but being responsible and being apathetic are two different things. Regardless of how responsible I am for any particular global issue, you can't accuse me of not caring - and it's the caring part that matters. Therefore I feel that in general, citizens can't be blamed for what their governments do, unless they either directly side with the government in question or are otherwise apathetic.

The Bhagavad Gita can back me up on this, I think. I realize that there are aspects of the Bhagavad Gita that would be implied to say otherwise - after all, Arjuna is going to war, and war, by its very nature, disregards who's truly responsible and who isn't. Once there is violence, the gloves are off, and as the old saying goes, it's not about who's right, but who's left. This is one reason why I am deeply opposed to war; while I don't consider myself a total pacifist, the fact that war doesn't make any distinction between innocent and guilty is why I'm opposed to war in general. However, it is my opinion that the Bhagavad Gita in general agrees with my stance on guilt, innocence, and just how much citizens are responsible for the actions of their government. After all, even though Arjuna is going to war, he's definitely not willing to do so and is torn up about it. The whole first chapter is dedicated to this internal conflict of his.

In the first four chapters, there are plenty of statements that say it's a person's level of compassion that counts, and the intent of action, and not necessarily the consequences. Consequences are important to consider, yes, but the consequences shouldn't cloud the perception of the person doing the action if that person genuinely has a good heart. To put it another way - one shouldn't be constantly afraid of consequences and thus be paralyzed with fear of doing any action whatsoever. I know as a white male American citizen there are several aspects of my daily life that cause harm to others in some way, from the products I buy to the taxes I pay. But I can't simply stop living my life. After all I have the right to live, as such is the concept of dharma - that everything has a role and a place in the universe. Otherwise, what is the point of reincarnation?

A couple of passages in particular strike me as being supportive of my statements. For instance, in chapter 2, Krishna says to Arjuna: "Arjuna, the prominent among men! The person whom these (sukha and duhkha) do not affect, who is the same in pleasure and pain, and who is discriminative, is indeed fit for gaining liberation." To me, that says those who don't resort to blanket judgments, those who regard everyone as an individual and not as part of a stereotype, are good people. I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly, as I have stated earlier. The other passage I will quote, from chapter 3, said by Krishna: "Even a wise person acts in keeping with his or her own nature. Because all beings follow their own nature, of what use is control?" To me this says that one should not be concerned with controlling the actions of others. One should just live one's life and not judge others.

It is my hope that I can do something one day to stop the United States from spiraling into dystopia. But until then, I intend to live my life the way I want to, for if I succumb to the judgment of others, I will fail my own dharma. And if there is one thing I don't think I should fail, it's at living.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Light Club's To-Blog List

This may seem like a spoiler sheet for what's to come, and I know I
shouldn't limit myself too much when it comes to blogging. But artists
work better with constraints (or at least I do). I figure if I make a
laundry list, so to speak, of stuff I should blog about AND make that
list public, then I believe I can better adhere to it because I trust
you readers would be disappointed if I didn't. ;)

So what can I blog about that would enhance the Light Club? Well...

I could discuss contemporary issues relating to yoga and Hinduism,
such as:

-The commercialization of yoga (some might say overcommercialization)
-Vegetarianism and its related topics
-National and world politics from a yoga perspective

I have books on Hinduism and yoga in my library I can review:

-"Yoga: Its Scientific Basis" by Kovoor T. Benahan
-"The Power of Now" by Eckhardt Tolle
-"The Science of Self-Realization" by His Divine Grace A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (whew!)

...and of course I can actually finish/discuss the Bhagavad Gita.

Hopefully this will be an accurate list of what is to come in my blog.
If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the Comments

Pardon My Dust

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog (whoever you are - thank you :) ) might have noticed some posts going missing just now. Well, this is an attempt to make my blog more useful and less like a thought dump of random emotional ranting. Like I promised I would a few posts seems even though I promised to make this blog more relevant to others and less like just a place for me to rant/etc., I personally think thus far I've failed to deliver on that promise. So I'm trying again, and in an effort to do so I'm removing those posts that I think were detrimental to this blog. Don't worry, they're still saved on my blog, but they will not be visible.

It's occurred to me that there could have been a number of things I could've blogged about instead of just my random emotions - there are plenty of issues related to modern-day yoga, Hinduism, and its related topics that I could've offered commentary on and written about. Instead, thus far I've just opened the dark recesses of my mind for the world to see...sometimes to...undesirable results.

I figure it's time for me to put up or shut up. I need to make this blog more meaningful if it's to be of use to anyone, let alone myself. Just writing things down isn't doing it for me anymore - I need to feel like I'm writing something meaningful. So once again I'm putting my foot down on my brain (not literally, thankfully) to get it to stop writing just garbage.

Expect more meaningful content in the future...and please, if you don't think the content I've written in a particular blog post is meaningful, please let me know! That's one thing I'm hoping to increase through a refocused blog - more reader interaction. And I hope this reader interaction will be of benefit in the form of constructive criticism. If something is not adding to the conversation and is just my emotional ranting, then please say so. (Although try to be nice about it...say so, but do so constructively.)

Namaste and hope to have you reading soon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

For A Moment

I've been invited to a host puja being held at the Hindu Temple of Rochester tomorrow. While this is obviously a good thing for me, it took me a while to realize just how...momentous this is.

I's like my struggles for societal acceptance and confirmation of my good nature have been rewarded. It's like I'm finally getting somewhere on fighting those internal demons that have always told me of how useless and/or evil I was...I can finally look those demons in the metaphorical eyes and tell them to shut up.

For most people attending this host puja I can imagine it's more mundane than that. But for me, this host puja is what I need to silence those inner demons...if only for a moment.

Still, for someone like me, that moment can be an eternity. An eternity in an hour...just like the poem by William Blake.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't Think, Just Let it Flow

(My apologies to the electronic music group The Chemical Brothers for stealing the title of their latest film, called Don't Think, for the title of this blog entry. However, it's an appropriate fit, as you will soon see.)

Sometimes I think about if I'm doing enough for the world - doing enough good to justify my existence. Yes, I know this is a question I've brought up many times before on this blog. And in some ways, I've already answered it, by saying in previous blog posts that the fact that I exist is enough justification. But that doesn't mean I should be complacent, not striving to do better. And sometimes I wonder exactly what doing better actually is. Is it self-maintenance? Is it seva to others? Giving myself to a cause greater than myself?

My role in the universe is often a concept that escapes me, simply because I have no clue what it is. But it took a performance that I saw today of a classical Indian dance group, the Bharata School of Arts (check them out at their official website here at to really expose to me a way to approach the problem of figuring out what my dharma, my role in the universe, really is, and how to gauge my performing of it.

In summary, the approach is this: don't think. Just let it flow.

Allow me to elaborate. Any performance of any kind requires practice of some sort. When you perform something the first few times, you have to think about how you are doing it. But the overall goal is to get to that point where you can do it without thinking. Sometimes I wondered what went through the minds of each of the performers of the dance tonight. Regardless of what any of them were thinking, it didn't get in the way of doing what they were meant to do: dance. They just let it flow.

Sometimes I wondered if my mind was in the right mindset to observe and appreciate such a great performance. I even wondered if I deserved to see it at some points. I tried to contribute in a way I knew how, by writing about it, but unfortunately the only place I could put my writing about the event this time around is in my blog. (I got a piece of mine about this group published elsewhere previously, but my efforts to do so this year weren't successful.) So I was thinking: did I really do enough to support this show to be able to enjoy it?

Did it stop me from attending the performance this year? No. I wanted to go, so I didn't let those other thoughts stop me. I just went, and the friends I saw there were happy to see me. I didn't think any harder about it. I just let it flow.

To this day I still haven't figured out what my role in this universe is. But as those dancers demonstrated to me, I shouldn't think about it, or at least don't let those thoughts get in the way.

Just let it flow...and it will come to you.

Here's to the flow of life, and it delivering purpose to those who've yet to discover it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Void Inside

I realized something important about myself just now - that I seem to have a constant feeling of emptiness. Unfortunately it's of a negative kind of emptiness. I know there is a positive kind, that positive kind being the sort that allows one to learn and experience the world around them (i.e. "my cup is empty"). However, my emptiness is more of a longing: a longing not to be alone. It's a longing for human contact, but not just any contact - it's a hunger for contact with new, different people.

I just realized this is sort of hard to explain in mere words. But I guess it sort of explains some of my posts here in Light Club, those asking for input from my readers. (Like my last post, for example.) I'll try to explain this void in the best way I can anyway.

One thing I can tell you is that it's a void that cannot be filled by the familiar - it has to be of new experiences or it doesn't seem to count at all. And this void also cannot be filled by just anyone, but someone who can give me a better idea of who I am. This sort of dovetails into a few more reasons Hinduism works better for me as a faith than Christianity: Hinduism is already accepting of the notion that God(s) can be whoever you want him/her/them to be, and Ganesha in particular appealed to me because of His exotic nature and appearance, one that seems to prove to me that others who are radically different from me can still accept me. (See the blog post "Why I'm Into Ganesha" for further explanation.) Furthermore, the mantra chanting of Hinduism seems to be very effective in giving me at least the feeling that I'm talking (well, chanting) to another being. As for why Christian prayer doesn't seem to give me that same feeling, it took me a while to figure that out, but the fact that Jesus is supposed to be a mediator between oneself and God can also mean Jesus can act as a barrier. I understand Jesus isn't a barrier for everyone, obviously this philosophy works for a great number of people. But if I have to choose between talking to a mediator for God, or talking to God directly - even if it's just an aspect or piece of God in the case of the deities of Hinduism - I'd choose the latter.

But I digress. Bottom line is, the void I'm talking about that exists inside me is loneliness. And for some reason it is a void that can only be filled by constant new input. I'm calling it a negative emptiness because it seems to make me never satisfied with the life I have. I know it's good to seek out new experiences, but at the same time I know I need to be happy with what I have already.

Is there some way to make these feelings not mutually exclusive? Is it possible to want more without really needing more to be happy?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

How "Misery Bear" Reminded Me of the Nature of Happiness

Watch "The Teddynator" on YouTube

This might sound weird to some, but the above video really spoke to me on the nature of happiness. Yes, it's very comedic in nature, but it still makes some good points, I believe, on how to be happy. Before I go on, I will request those reading this post to watch the video first.

Watched it? Good. Now I will proceed.

Believe me, there have been some times when I wish happiness was as easy as hooking up a machine to one's person and enjoying happiness at the flip of a switch. That's probably what motivates some people, including myself, to take antidepressants. However, as I've discovered, happiness is never that easy. That's not to say antidepressants don't help some people - in my case, while they don't make me happy, I've found they keep my mood stable so I'm less likely to suffer abysmal emotional lows. But again, they don't make me happy, because happiness isn't that simple.

It could be inferred from the video that happiness, or at least the potential to be happy, comes from within. After all, Misery Bear was disappointed in the lack of results from the machine, until the new him literally showed up. To me, it's a metaphor that we all have happiness potential within ourselves. The thing is, it can be a struggle to bring out that happiness within us, as evidenced by Misery Bear's new self turning out to be a robot trying to kill him. Again, I regard that as a symbol that happiness can only emerge once we know ourselves. We all have internal demons to conquer, and happiness is the reward for overcoming them. I know I'd certainly feel better about myself if I successfully took down a robot version of myself trying to kill me!

Thankfully I don't have to fight a robot. To know what truly makes me happy, I have yoga. And I'm talking about the full spectrum of it, not just the asanas (though they help as exercise). This is the purpose of yoga, I believe: to help us overcome our deficiencies that prevent our happiness. I'm not saying yoga will work for everyone, but it's worked for me, so I thankfully don't have to literally fight an evil version of myself! The bottom line is we need some way of knowing ourselves so we know how to dig deep inside for that happiness, so we don't have to rely on external conditions for it.

Although if anyone does see a robotic version of me out there, try to be careful around it. ;-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bhagavad Gita Discussion: Chapter 3

I know I said I would read the Bhagavad Gita and discuss my interpretations...and I won't let you down! So here at last, after what must've been an insufferably long time, are my thoughts on Chapter 3, which is on the topic of karma.

I have to admit - this chapter was a difficult one for me to read. I wasn't upset by any of it, it was just so dense and full of meaning (sometimes appearing contradictory to me at first) that it's hard for me to make heads or tails of it. Nonetheless, I shall make an attempt.

To me, this chapter seems to elaborate upon two key concepts as they relate to performing actions and the karma associated with them: mindfulness, and detachment. One thing this chapter says right away that I can definitely agree with is that we need to perform actions, we need to do things; in other words, we are born into this life to live it. There is no use shuttering away oneself from life's experiences, because they're the only way one can learn. Which brings me to one point I've just thought of in this regard, and that is one reason why we suffer: in the event we inflict it on others (sadly, we can't avoid it completely, sometimes it happens quite by accident), our suffering of the same event gives us an idea of what we've done. For example, I saw on this one TV show the process some police officers go through to get certified to use a taser, and part of it involves getting shot with a taser, so the officer knows how it feels! The idea is that it will (hopefully) encourage police to only use tasers when the situation really requires it. So in the event we do something to someone else, and haven't experienced it ourselves, karma makes sure that happens to us in one way or another. I think that is also why this chapter talks about the senses and mastery over them, in other words mindfulness. The senses are there to teach us what experience and action feel like, so therefore they aren't the end-all-be-all of existence. The senses are important, but we control our actions, not the senses.

That brings me to the next aspect of this chapter: detachment. I understand the principle of detachment and its benefits, as it can lead to altruism and selflessness. But there is the other side of the coin, where detachment can be used for evil. For example, if you're completely detached from the results of action, then one could conceivably do very bad things - what would stop you from committing murder if you weren't attached to the result? Ditto with doing things in the name of God: for every Mother Teresa there's an Osama bin Laden. (And yes, I know all religions, including Christianity, have infamous figures who have committed crimes against humanity in the name of religion. Osama bin Laden was just the easiest one I could think of.)

So if one's not supposed to be attached to the results of action, how does one know what's good and what's evil? That, I believe, is why Krishna invoked following the example of gurus. Gurus are supposed to be models in this regard, as Krishna himself said that if he were to partake in evil action, society would follow suit and collapse, etc. But again this can be problematic - many people who proclaim themselves as a guru of some sort all have different ideas as to what's good and what's evil. How do you know which gurus are good and which ones just want to brainwash their followers to commit evil for them?

The answer to that question, I believe, lies in self knowledge. Krishna invoked that aspect of being as a way of telling us to ultimately follow what our own experiences tell us is good or evil. That knowledge of self is supposed to tell one who to follow in action - that to know who is a true guru for oneself, one has to know oneself first.

There was a lot to sift through in chapter took some considerable effort to come up with those conclusions and then connect the dots, so to speak. However, I hope my interpretation at least makes sense - chime in the Comments section with what you think, as always.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Faltering, Failing, Falling Away?

I know I'm not perfect, but oftentimes it seems the world keeps demanding me to be such. All I can do is improve, but even so it seems I've reached my limit, a plateau.

I've done better with controlling my diabetes, but even so, I've faltered with diet on occasion. I've tried to be a better person socially, but I've seemed to have failed with that. Even with my meditation and prayers to Lord Ganesha, it seems as if my dedication is falling away. Am I doing better? Yes, better emotionally than I have in a long time. Still, it seems as if the improvements I've made to my life are too little, too late. That fact threatens to erode all I've worked for so far.

It is in a time like this, I wonder...what is it that I have to offer the world? Why has God not made me perfect, so I can better contribute to the world? What could the world possibly have to gain from my flawed being? I honestly do not know the answer to that question.

Is the world asking too much of me, or am I asking too much of the world? What is my role or place in it all? It seems in light of my repeated mistakes and failings of moral character and willpower the answers to all of my questions of existence grow ever more distant.

I wish and pray for some sort of sign, something that will tell me that even the way I am now is of some benefit to the universe. Problem is, I wouldn't know such a sign unless it was blatantly obvious and metaphorically slapped me in the face. Or perhaps my mind is too much like a sieve and I keep forgetting something I've discovered already, I don't know.

I keep questing, but I keep stumbling. I know I'm on the right path, but I don't think I have the stamina to walk it.

My thoughts keep bouncing to and fro. But my overall question remains: why am I imperfect in a world that seeks perfection from me?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Feeling My World Shake

Something gripped me today when I did my meditation and Ganesha mantra-chanting - fear.

As you can imagine, it's a bit of an unusual sensation to have when meditating, but it happened because as I was chanting the Ganesha mantra, near the end of 108 repetitions I suddenly heard this loud, deep "OM" outside my window. It seemed loud enough to shake the room!

I kept on chanting, even past 108 repetitions, as I seemed to become fearful and anxious after hearing the loud "OM." I was hoping the chanting would calm me down, and it did. But still, hearing this sound as I was chanting...I don't know what to make of it. What happened, exactly? Was this supposed to be something positive? A negative omen? Just some random sound I heard that I'm just mistaking for something supernatural? I have no idea...

Meditation is supposed to be a positive experience, this I know. I still have positive experiences with meditation every time. That's why this is so unusual. I know I've been doing good things lately, such as my writing about the local community, which I can post links if desired. So why do I feel fearful with this?

If anyone knows what this could mean, please tell me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ganesha Saves

"Save me from myself if you ever really cared
Save me from myself, tell me you're not scared"
--Damageplan, "Save Me"

This isn't the first time I've quoted the band Damageplan in this blog - they are quite good, as short lived as they were, being the last band of legendary guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott before his untimely death in 2004. But I'm not just plugging them in this blog post, as I'm quoting them for a reason.

What's the reason? It has to do with a lesson that's taken me this long to realize: that if I am to save anyone else, I have to stop waiting for someone to save me and start saving myself. While I could say, in light of recent blog posts, that Lord Ganesha was the one who saved me from myself, one could also say He was the one who taught me the above maxim as well.

To elaborate: those readers who have stuck with this blog have seen my lamentations for the state of America, the world, and whatever negative role I play in it as a white male American citizen. The desire to change my role has been there, but the mental toolbox to do it with wasn't. I kept criticizing myself, as you have been witness to, for my inability to "save them all," as one commentator so eloquently put it. (Thanks for commenting, by the way. :-)  )

I'm not quite sure what it was that motivated me to finally start saving and improving myself, but one other thing I've learned is that for other people to be saved - for the world to be saved - they have to want to be saved. It is my belief that is one thing I've gotten out of a recent satsang hosted by Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. (You can find said satsang at if you like.)

In that satsang Sri Sri mentions the problems currently faced by India, and what must be done to counter them. He also mentioned one disparaging fact about America that is, sadly, true, at least to my knowledge: that only about a quarter of our population usually votes when election time comes. But what do those two things have to do with each other? Well, one other thing that Sri Sri mentioned in that satsang is that voting in India these days is often decided along lines of caste, social status, and religious beliefs rather than who an individual voter actually believes will genuinely help things. (Of course, the same thing could be said about America, except the caste system of India doesn't apply.)

There is a point I'm getting at with all of this. In one movie on Mahatma Gandhi that I saw part of at one point, Gandhi is in prison talking to a British Christian priest who wants to help him. When the priest asks how he can help, Gandhi replies he can best help by accepting a transfer assignment and leaving India. Gandhi elaborates that the Indian independence movement "needs to be won by Indians." When I first saw that scene, I was initially upset at it - I thought it was implying people like me wouldn't ever be able to help such movements by nature of who we are born as.

Thinking about it now, however, I think I recognize the true message of that scene - in that particular instance, Gandhi was trying to get across that the people of India have to genuinely want their freedom, and that the British couldn't simply give it to them.

In the same vein, I want to help change things in America and the world, but, well, the world has to want my help first. And seeing as I'm not Superman and can't save the world single-handedly, I can understand that America and the world don't want my help...or my help alone, anyway. At the same time, I've been wanting help all this time, and now I have it from Lord Ganesha...except it wasn't the help I expected.

Lord Ganesha essentially taught me that He couldn't give me the self-improvement I was seeking - I had to take it from Him. And I did. Hence, He saved me...because He taught me how to save myself.

Heh...I know this isn't the most articulate blog post in the world, with my thought process wandering all over the place like that. But it's 3:49 AM as of the time I'm writing this. So I better get some sleep. :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Vision?

Something interesting happened yesterday evening...something I was hoping to get some input about. Hopefully you readers will have some!

Around this time yesterday evening, I don't remember exactly what I was doing, but it was something mundane. Then, suddenly, an image of Ganesha's head forced its way into my mind. I say forced for lack of a better term; however I wasn't thinking of Ganesha at the time, or anything spiritual if I remember. But I knew this wasn't an ordinary wandering thought - I could tell because this image of Ganesha's head was present in my vision without me having to actively think of it. I could see it very clearly, and attempts to dismiss the image didn't work - I closed my eyes and opened them again, but the image persisted. It was like an image burn on my retina, sort of - you know how old cathode ray tube monitors got image burns that lingered on the monitor even after it turned off? Like that.

The image disappeared after a few seconds, but I can remember clearly what it was like. Using Google image search to try to find an approximation for you readers without having to resort to vague text, the closest resemblance I could find is located at the bottom of this blog post.

Of course, I'm not sure what this means, otherwise I wouldn't be asking my readers for input. Also, I know I sound crazy...I don't know how to prove that I had this vision to you all. But hopefully you readers trust me enough to know that I'm not making this up.