Things I Don’t Get & Am Not Ready For

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Dear Lakshmi,

There are so many things about Hinduism that I don’t get and am not ready for. I could write about this for days; at that, I could organize my thoughts for days THEN write about it for weeks. Some of my problems stem from my Christian background (Christianity never really took for me), but most of my problems wrapping my head around Hinduism lie in the fact that I am only a few months into my journey into Hinduism and the religion is–what–10,000 years old? I have a lot of catching up to do. I understand far less than I know and I feel and know far more deeply than I have a right to. The Gods have made their presences very known to me. THAT I do know. Simply put, I don’t need to have faith, I have experience. I don’t have to “believe,” as I have very personal and immutable experiences with the Gods.

I do not understand the relentless warnings in the spiritual writings against enjoying the sensuality of the world… not when every aspect of the religion seems to, contradictorily(?), celebrate sensuality: from Krishna’s flute playing and many erotic dalliances to Shiva’s association with desire and marijuana, then on to the lusciousness of the food, the barefoot sensuality (and jewelry), the delicious prasad, the incense and silks. Going to a Hindu temple is a sensual experience… as well as holy. I don’t understand this contradiction. I asked my Priest about this, saying that unless I misunderstood, the Bhagavad Gita (and other texts) warn against enjoying the pleasures of the world, yet the temple is full of sensuality… he simply said, “You do not misunderstand.” Even the answer was satisfying but did little to answer the nagging worry I feel over the seeming inconsistencies. About the only peace I found with this is to enjoy the mystery and not to think overmuch about it, though the Priest did add that I needed to give it time.

The thing I am really not ready for is the renunciation of worldly pleasures. Heavens… I’m not even ready to renounce the pleasures of the temple. And the reason I can not renounce worldly pleasures is that up until a couple years ago I lived a miserable soulless life of self loathing and self destruction. I was negative, drunk, bitter, angry, and had no soul nor joy. Now I am happy, yes, I have a lot of stress and fear, but I smile! And I smile a lot. I wake up grateful, even in the midst of my worries and my worst I am grateful. And at last, now, I have spirit. I have a soul. I have Gods who listen to me and interact with me. Why would I want to give that up? I am taught, in the texts, to seek relief from the cycles of death and rebirth, but finally, now, at this very moment… I don’t WANT released. I WANT to live! I want to BE HERE NOW.

I want to engage in the sensual world with abandon. I want to celebrate that I was born and be at peace with the fact that I will die. What if I am not only not ready but not in need of release now? What if knowing Lord Ganesha is watching over me is enough? What if knowing Maha Lakshmi is providing is enough? What if it’s all enough? Glorious!

Then what?

Now what?

Perhaps I do not misunderstand and I just need to give it time. Sometimes it’s best to listen to your Priest.

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