It's only fair to explain my own beliefs/interpretations to visitors; I've tried to be as objective as possible, but I dislike hiding biases since they always exist. Better to reveal them and allow people to judge for themselves rather than pretending to be supremely objective, which is impossible and not necessarily all that desirable.
I'm not at all a dogmatic person. I believe that rituals have their place, but I don't hold them to be of supreme importance. I'm drawn more to philosophy and spirituality. I believe very much in ahimsa, the sacredness of life, and respect towards all. I participate in ritualistic activities on holidays or other occasions; I enjoy browsing through scriptures now and then, but I don't take them literally. And speaking of scriptures, Hinduism has so many that it would be impossible to take them all literally since many contain paradoxes--often intentionally.
Prayer is a meditation for me rather than a request for divine intervention. The Hindu view of God as spiritual force rather than a physical deity is basically what I believe. I feel this connectedness to everything, and I don't think it's so high-and-mighty as very basic--"finding the essence of," that's what a friend once told me that the name for our religion means.
I don't take the presence of avatars (Krishna, Rama, etc.) so literally--I know that the stories are based on historical fact, but I think that history always grows diluted with retelling and glorification. At the same time, there are images of Krishna and Rama (and other gods) all over my house. One of the first songs I learned as a toddler was a shloka about the baby Krishna, and I loved reading the Ramayan as a child. I look to the gods as what they represent. I can understand how orthodox people might take "The Way" more personally than those who aren't, but at the same time, I don't think that they have exclusive rights to the gods.
I also believe very much in questioning belief, interpreting for oneself, not following blindly. I think that blind faith is dangerous, and the only reason I can say that I truly believe what I do is that my belief system wasn't forced upon me.
When I was younger, I didn't really believe in any sort of afterlife (or spiritual force, for that matter). What first made me think that there was some sort of order to the universe was astrology--not the fake general type commonly found but the real thing, when I looked into it. I looked strictly for personal characteristics rather than future predictions (who really wants to know?), and it was so accurate it was eerie.
At this point, I pretty much believe in reincarnation. Since matter and energy can neither be created or destroyed, it seems only logical that consciousness can't either. Of course, belief also depends on personal experience with faith, and I don't think that explaining mine will be of much use since I can't put my finger on what made the difference myself.
And really, I don't think that I feel any differently about death now than I did when I didn't believe in an afterlife. If I was born many times before, I don't remember my lives. We still only have one shot at the life we lead now. And there were other ways I would console myself about death, such as imagining the cycle of life and death and where we fit in, something like that... It actually really bothers me how most mainstream fiction portrays non-believers as tortured individuals who miraculously convert and are much happier people. In my experience, it wasn't much different.
Speaking of conversion, I have a huge problem with it. While I think that people shold follow whatever is right for them, I hate it when they decide that it's right for everyone else as well and go around preaching. One thing I like about Hinduism is that it doesn't involve missionary work.
In the purest sense of the word, I'll always be agnostic in that I don't think that anyone can know everything about the universe, that even if it's possible for one human being to truly comprehend, the majority never will. I'm also quite happy to be Hindu.
the subversive pomegranate
what do you want?
who are you?
where are you going?
Xena: Warrior Princess is © MCA/Universal and whoever else legally owns it. This page is © 1999 shilpa.