I don’t know if you would call me a hindu or not; I don’t even know whether I to class myself as a hindu. Shiva as the form of God that I show devotion to, I believe the term is “ishta devata”. I try to meditate and recite the aum namah shivaya mantra daily, and I am a vegetarian, and believe in reincarnation and the pursuit of spiritual purity. I have an alter area in my house with a Nataraja and a Ganesh murti, but I am not really connected with any Hindu groups.
My life so far seems to have been a very slow spiritual journey. I am English and I was brought up as an Anglican Christian, though I was never really involved with the Church since leaving my parent’s home about 25 years ago. For as long as I remember I have had difficulty with the Christian ideas that salvation is “only through Christ” and that good people of other religions would be condemned to hell, whereas even a very bad Christian would go straight to heaven. I could say quite a lot more about the absurdities of this, but I expect you can see that this gives a very strange view of God. I also have a great distaste for the way that many Christian sects claim that they are “the one true church”, and even followers of other Christian churches are condemned to eternal punishment. I know people who really live in fear because of this, worried that they might not be “real believers” and “among the chosen”, and I cannot believe that God wants people put in fear because of him.
A few years ago I started attending a Unitarian Church. British Unitarian churches have a belief of universal acceptance, that there is value in all beliefs. There are a lot of good people in the Unitarian movement but I believe that it has somehow lost its way. They are so keen not to offend anyone’s belief, even those who don’t believe in God that there is almost a feeling of embarrassment at the mention of God, and in general a lack of any passion about belief.
have always felt a strong affinity for Hinduism. A few months ago, on impulse I brought a Nataraja. I saw one on ebay and it struck a chord with me. I looked up the symbolism and then I had a sort of realisation of the beauty of it. The image of Lord Siva in the eternal dance, constantly creating and destroying just says to me “I am God” at a spiritual level. Whenever I pass this image of Shiva a bow and say “thank you for all that is”.
I have been reading on Hinduism and the paths of Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga sound right to me, though Raja Yoga in particular makes me realise that I have at most taken a small step onto a long path that may take many lifetimes to complete.
There is a Hindu temple in the city that I live in, and I feel that at some time I will visit it. It is something that I would like to do, but am also worried about. I think “what will the reaction of the ‘real Hindus’ be to some white guy turning up who knows so little”. Anyway, that is where I am today!