Why Should I Care About Future Me?

Old man and Child

Old man and Child

While browsing blog entries tagged with “Hinduism” read a post  “Why Should I Care About Future Me?“. This is a good question about reincarnation. The author, Mike says:

… I have heard that most karmic systems also hold that the average person cannot know of past lives, and most certainly cannot know what actions from the past have caused present circumstances, nor when actions of the present will have their effects. Is my present situation a step “up” in the cosmic ladder, or “down?” Will stealing this watch or feeding this beggar help my soul tomorrow or 10,000 lifetimes from now? I cannot know. And if I cannot know in the present, then I know that my atman will not be able to know in the future. Thus, when I am reborn, I cannot consciously suffer the results of my wicked actions, which means I really do not suffer at all. If I am reborn into miserable circumstances, I can be mad at my past wickedness, but only in a general sense and not with any real contrition because I have no idea what I did to deserve misery.

This is a very reasonable argument. The only thing that I would quibble with is the assertion that we cannot know whether stealing a watch or feeding a beggar will help or hinder a soul. If we took reincarnation in total isolation this would be true, but within Hinduism we have clear guidelines on living dharma. The yama (constraint) of asteya tells us that stealing will be bad for our soul, and the niyama (observance) of dāna tells us that giving of alms will be beneficial.

Before answering this question directly I will look at how we handle similar issues in a single life. As a child we may work hard, study and learn. This may well be very beneficial to us in later life, but a child learning to read would have little comprehension of  the issues that the adult deals with, or their thoughts and emotions. Similarly an adult may only have a dim memory of the days spent learning the alphabet, and the longing to leave the class and play outside. In many ways the adult is a different person to the child. Despite this we can all see how the learning as a child has helped the adult, and generally believe that the child should care about the future self.

Similarly we may save for our old age, even if we don’t know how healthy we will be, whether we will remember our earlier life well or suffer mental decline, or even if we will live that long. I think most people would save in order to be cared for even if they knew that they would lose their memory.

Of course just because we normally do care about our future self in this life does not mean that it should extend to caring about other lives, it merely shows that caring would be consistent. I can see two reasons why we should care though. Continue reading

One of the top 40 Hindu Blogs on Lotus Sculpture’s list

Lotus Sculpture badgeThis site has been listed as number 4 in Lotus Sculpture’s top 40 Hindu blogs. This was unexpected as I have not posted for a while. It has given me the incentive to work on a proper post again, I feel that at the moment I am not doing enough to justify the reward.

There are many other interesting blogs in Lotus Sculpture’s list. In particular I would like to mention the Pakistani Hindu Post, which highlights the difficulties and determination of Hindus living in an Islamic country.

Another Western Hindu blog – jnana.nanda

The jnana.nanda blog

The jnana.nanda blog

The blogger jnanashiva left a comment telling me about her blog, Jana.nanda.

Jjnana shiva describes herself as “a 54 year old woman living in the little big town called Las Vegas Nevada“. She is a follower of Kashmiri Saivism. Her colourful blog illustrates as well as describes her spiritual journey.

In addition to this blog she has a poetry blog, spanda.nanda, in which which her poetry shows her level of spiritual devotion and love to Lord Shiva.

I have added her blog to my page listing blogs by western converts to Hinduism.

This is wrong in so many ways

How not to use Hindu Symbolism

How not to use Hindu Symbolism

A recent comment from Karol referred to a message that she had written on tumblr saying “.. I am wearing that bindi! AND THAT KURTI! And the rudraksha and the shri yantra.I AM WEARING ALL OF THEM, SOCIAL JUSTICE BLOGGERS! AND I AM NOT CULTURALLY APPROPRIATING BECAUSE I AM HINDU, FUCKERS“. A quick search found the original message. My first thought was not to post the comment or to respond as this would just be giving attention to an attention seeker.  After further consideration I decided that I should say why I as a Western Hindu thinks that this is wrong.

Continue reading

Another Western Hindu Blog – Divya jñāna

Screenshot of the divya jñāna blog

The Divya jñāna blog

Divya jñāna is a blog by an African American ex-Christian blogger Anna. She is very new to Sanatana Dharma, but judging from the list of books that she has either read or is reading she is learning fast.

Among other things she has written about how meditation has helped her with PTSD, and how she came to find the path of Sanatana Dharma – by googling Buddhism!

I will add this blog to my list of blogs by Western followers of Hinduism.

An interesting blog – A Modern Hindu Reveals

A screenshot of the "A Modern Hindu Reveals" blog

“A Modern Hindu Reveals” blog

I recently received an email from “Shree”, a Hindu in Singapore, who has just started a new blog “A Modern Hindu Reveals

Shree was inspired by my article “Questioning your faith“, and the “Modern Hindu Reveals”  blog certainly tackles some controversial issues and comes to thoughtful conclusions. Even if you disagree with the views expressed you will understand how Shree has come to them through genuine thought and  compassion.

I particularly enjoyed the post “The Demigod Paradox“, which explains why devotees of guardians, local Gods, and other Gods that are sometimes considered as inferior or on a lesser path. Continue reading

Was C. S. Lewis right about Hinduism?

C. S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis aged 50

I have read and enjoyed a number of C. S. Lewis’s stories. I remember being read the Narnia series of stories by my father when I was small. Though you can tell that they have a Christian analogy this does not get in the way of them being good stories.

I cannot say that I have read much of his non-fiction work, but I know that he was renowned as a Christian writer. I was reminded of this by a post from the myownashram blog.

C. S. Lewis is still often quoted by Christian evangelists. As he was an atheist who converted to Christianity he is seen as validating their beliefs.  One quote that I have seen used a lot is this one:

There is no question of just a crowd of disconnected religions. The choice is between (a.) The materialist world picture: wh. I can’t believe. (b.) The real archaic primitive religions; wh. are not moral enough. (c.) The (claimed) fulfillment of these in Hinduism. (d.) The claimed fulfillment of these in Xianity. But the weakness of Hinduism is that it doesn’t really merge the two strands. Unredeemable savage religion goes on in the village; the Hermit philosophizes in the forest: and neither really interfaces with the other. It is only Xianity which compels a high brow like me to partake of a ritual blood feast, and also compels a central African convert to attempt an elightened [sic] code of ethics.

Some Christian sights embellish the quote, this is an example from a Catholic site, which gives no reference . Searches fail to find a corresponding original text!:

Religions are like soups, he said. Some, like consomme, are thin and clear (Unitarianism, Confucianism, modern Judaism); others, like minestrone, are thick and dark (paganism, “mystery religions”). Only Hinduism and Christianity are both “thin” (philosophical) and “thick” (sacramental and mysterious). But Hinduism is really two religions: “thick” for the masses, “thin” for the sages. Only Christianity is both.

I think in dismissing all religions apart from Christianity and Hinduism he does a disservice to many; I am sure that Taoism, Judaism, Sikhism and many more are practiced by both the highly sophisticated and the simple country village folk. I will leave that point for followers of these religions to answer though.  I will answer one question: Is his comment on Hinduism true though? I don’t believe it is.  Continue reading

More on questioning – “Facts are Friendly”

The many comments on my previous article “Questioning your faith” made me think a lot. I will try to answer the questions “what is the value of questioning your faith?”, “when should you question your faith?”, and “how should you question your faith?”.

The Value of Questioning

As a Hindu we see a human as made of several parts. There are various ways of looking at this, but one is as an emotional mind (manas), an intellect (buddhi), and the spiritual mind (atman). Questioning and reasoning can help bring the intellect and atman in line, understanding what your spirit tells you.

A teacher once told me “facts are friendly”, meaning that you should not ignore facts. If a fact seems to be at odds with your belief then either your belief is wrong or your understanding is. If a religion has to ban certain questions, or statements of fact then it is wrong, and its followers cannot have mental peace – they will forever be guarding against people speaking the truth. At extremes they kill people who do to avoid others questioning.

Hinduism is very lenient about questioning – but still we have to remember that “facts are friendly” includes all facts. We have to accept things like some Hindus eat meat and sacrifice animals, some Hindus treat others as untouchables, and even that some Hindus see the shivalinga as a phallic symbol. Continue reading

Questioning your faith

wall in the shape of a question mark

Big Questions

Hinduism allows you to question your religion and beliefs. In fact there are a variety of different answers to questions like “what is the nature of God”, and “how did the world originate” to which different Hindu lineages gives different answers. All are accepted as Hindu beliefs though.

This contrasts with the teachings of exclusivist faiths, where to question your belief is seen as endangering your soul, and anyone with a different answer to the official doctrine is a heretic. To the Christian or Muslim, questioning can lead to doubt, which leads to damnation.

I recently read a very interesting post by Myownashram, where she talks about being asked the question “what if you are being deceived?”. Needless to say this question came from an evangelical Christian who would not be prepared to answer it himself (after all if he started to doubt it could lead to hell-fire!). Even so, I found this an interesting question.

I will look at these questions from a purely logical point of view, without considering faith and spiritual insight.

Continue reading

The Shatkona blog has moved

It has been a while since I have posted, and this  is just a short post. The Shatkona blog has moved to a new address at http://thenewshatkona.wordpress.com/.

I apologise for my lack of posts recently, I am trying to get together a speech for my daughter’s wedding. This is far more daunting than a blog post and I am still just trying to formulate ideas. Expect my posting to be more regular again when I have done this.

Another blog by a Western Hindu: Bbrhaspati’s 4th pilgrimage to india

Bbrhaspati's 4th pilgrimage to india blog

This blog by brhaspati, who is a follower of Advaita Vedanta philosophy.  He wrote to me recently telling me of his blog. He has travelled extensively in India and this blog is about his pilgrimage  in 2010.

I have added his blog to my page listing blogs by Western converts to Hinduism.

Other news in blogs by Westerners Following Hinduism

Continue reading

The Fourth Patotsava of our Mandir

Invitation to the clebrations

Fourth anniversary of the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple

This week is the fourth anniversary of the dedication (patotsava) of my local mandir, the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple. It doesn’t seem anything like four years since the opening of our mandir!

I attended the evening celebrations and the feeling of having hundreds of people present to worship God and the devas was incredible.

I speak virtually no Hindi, I can respond to greetings and that’s about all.  Someone asked me whether it was boring to attend when most of the speech is in Hindi. Continue reading