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 published...in 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 heard...so 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 http://facebook.com/webimpulse 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 come...is 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. :-)