Pick one or pick something from each?
I read an interesting blog posts on the White Hindu blog: “Cherry-Picking” and a follow-up post People will find their way, Aamba quotes Elizabeth Gilbert:
My friend was a Catholic by upbringing, but couldn’t stomach returning to the church as an adult. (“I can’t buy it anymore,” he said, “knwoing what I know.”) Of course he’d be embarassed to become a Hindu or a Buddhist or something wacky like that. So what could he do? As he told me, “You don’t want to go cherry-picking a religion.” Which is a sentiment I completely respect except for the fact that I totally disagree.
I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted. It’s nothing to be embarrased about. It’s the hisotry of mankind’s search for holiness…
I have reservations about cherry-picking from many different religions. I agree wholeheartedly that we should not interfere with anyone else’s spiritual path. If someone wants to cherry-pick from various religions we should not even try to force them to do otherwise. That said, if anyone wants to take part of our faith I think we should advise them that it is better taken as a whole. Cherry picking is unlikely to give most people the best or quickest path.
Yesterday I had to attend a conference in London for work. As it started early I traveled down the night before and stayed in a hotel near Kings Cross station. I realised that I was only a few underground stops away from the Highgate Hill Murugan temple. I arrived in London at 6:30 pm and their evening Aarti is at 8:00 pm, so I decided to visit. This is one of the temples that was visited by Gurudeva (Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami), so I was very keen to visit it.
Murugan, also known as Kartikaya, Subrahmanya, Saravaṇa, Kārthikeya, and many other names, is the son of Shiva and brother to Ganesha. He is the lord of Yoga, and guides devotees in meditation. He carries the Vel, or spear, which is long and penetrating, as our knowledge must be as we study the divine. Our Mandir in Bradford has a Murugan Murti, as do many others that I have visited, but the power of Murugan has always been somewhat elusive to me, harder to feel than the divine energies of Lord Shiva or of Lord Ganesha. On entering the temple I went first to Ganesha, and asked for the obstacles to worship to be moved. I then circumnambulated the central shrine, and stood before Murugan. The Aarti ceremony started at then and I followed the priests and devotees as they offered aarti to the deities. When we came to Lord Murugan I could feel the Shakti or power in the atmosphere strongly, the temple had a magical atmosphere. I felt that I am not tuned in to Lord Murugan, but the energy here was so strong that I could feel it easily. The Aarti ceremony continued for a while, probably because Wednesday was Krishna Janmashtami. I had to leave before it finished to get a train back to my hotel, but this was long enough to make it a memorable experience.
Visiting the Murugan temple was a valuable spiritual experience. It is a holy place, and to walk where Gurudeva went makes it well worth going to. I will be interested to see if I am now more aware of Murugan’s Shakti in our own temple, where it is not as strong.
I recently read a really inspiring article in Hindusim Today. It is a story about the growth and transformation of the Hindu community in Mauritius. Here is the introduction:
The Mauritian Miracle
How the Hindus of Mauritius uplifted themselves, transformedtheir nation and became models for the world
BY VEL MAHALINGUM
It has been my joy and that of my fellow Mauritians to be part of a dynamic revival of Hinduism in my country. The changes, positive and deep, affect our Hindu community and even our nation. Looking back 30 years, we see amazing change–a miraculous event, I am tempted to say. What began with an initiative from the Hindu Mauritian population was shaped by an energetic response by holy men and flourished with the blessings of our Gods.
The story is particularly inspiring to me because Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Gurudeva) one of the Gurus from the lineage of the Kailasa Parampara, of the Nandinatha Sampradaya played a pivotal roll in this transformation. This is my lineage, and I have met Gurideva’s successor, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, my guru. The article can be read online as text, downloaded as a large (publishing quality) PDF, or purchased as a paper magazine. The quality of the paper version makes it worth having in my opinion.
People who have read my blog for a while will notice how the Nandinata Sampradaya has gone from being “An organisation I am studying with”, through “An organisation that I am following” to “my lineage”. I am not sure that I know what this means fully, but it has come naturally and I am happy with it!