Turn About



A quick Internet search on the matter will find any number of relatively recent news instances of businesses and business owners facing a lot of self-inflicted hell for mistakenly believing it’s appropriate for them to pick and choose who they serve, in their public businesses, based solely on religious views.

Most recently, because of a ruling by the Supreme Court, county clerks are resisting their obligation to serve the public by refusing to issue marriage licenses to two people of the same gender. To some, it might be arguable that a business owned by a private citizen should operate under whatever that citizen / business owner understands to be morally correct. Truly it’s not arguable. In short, there’s nothing inherently moral or immoral about baking a cake (period!) for a paying customer. If you’re selling something to the public then anyone who is a member of the public and can pay you for what you offer shouldn’t be refused – so long as they aren’t being disruptive to business or other customers, etc… And in the instance of employees of public / government institutions, this shouldn’t even be on the table for discussion. The government is a non-religious entity and is funded by everyone who pays taxes and so if you have employment in that sector, it is literally your job to serve the entire public, within the confines of your job description – as mandated by your boss, the government. The clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to gays because it goes against his / her personal religious convictions are off their damned rockers thinking they have any legit ground to stand on while they behave so delinquently and with so much insubordination.

All that aside, I think I’m experiencing what might could be the flip side of this dumb mess.

One of my brothers currently lives in the fucked up state of Kansas. He and his family will be changing this situation soon enough, but before that happens he and the fam’ will be coming to Indiana for a week-long vacation. During their visit, as part of a request from my mom, we’re all getting together for family photos – something we’ve not formally done in quite some time.


I was talking to my mom recently on the phone and she was pretty thrilled at having located a photographer for our photos. It seemed especially novel to my mom because the photographer she has her eye on is a high school senior – a recent graduate, I believe. I now forget how she said she found this young lady (if she even told me), but she gave me the gal’s “business” Facebook page and told me to check her out.

Of course I did that – and the girl seems as talented as any photographer I’ve seen. So… here’s where things start getting uncomfortable, though. While I did start off on her “business” page, it was quite easy from there to access her personal page, the settings to which are not very private at all. So, out of natural curiosity, I clicked my way onto her personal Facebook page and started to electronically wander around. There were three things I recall noticing immediately, and I’ll share them in the order they came to my mind…

1) She’s gorgeous.

2) All of the most recent posts to her timeline were of a very “Christian” nature and specifically related to the recent Supreme Court decision.

3) She has a boyfriend who is just about as gorgeous as she is.

Obviously, #2 weighed quite heavily on me and has since caused some thoughts and questions to come into my head. She’s so young (I well remember being her age) – is this going to mean acceptance of me and my husband or rejection? She’s so Christian – is this going to mean acceptance of me and my husband or rejection? And due to her youth and Christian faith, even if she doesn’t throw a fit about me and my husband (and I seriously doubt she will) will there be that usual, awkward, judgment-y vibe coming from her? Will she rush through or half-ass the photos taken of me and my husband? If Christians don’t want to bake a cake for me and my husband and are willing to risk going out of business to “take a stand” for their beliefs, will she feel convicted enough in her “heart of hearts” to refuse what we’ll be asking of her professional self?

There were other questions that came to mind also and I can admit that one of my first knee-jerk reactions was the thought that I should call my mom up and strongly request that she find a different photographer. If Christians don’t want to bake a cake for gays (sell to, do business with, etc…), then why should gays (me!) at all want to give our money to them in the first place? For about a day I was uncomfortable and grew very unsettled. A number of times I really and truly came close to calling my mom to discuss this.

I think the truth of the matter is that our session with her will almost certainly come and go without hitch – and may even be fun. But part of that truth is knowing that she’s a young (likely naive) Christian person from a very small town – there’s about as much reason for concern as there is reason to not worry at all.

When all the hubbub is cycling through the media, there are always people saying, “If they hate you, just don’t give them your money.” And there are just as many people who, on a regular basis, find one reason or another for boycotting a place or product. For example, my husband and I never eat at Chik-Fil-A and we never shop at Wal-Mart. Ever. We don’t like the way one treats its employees and the other is a Christian terrorist organization that actively funds anti-gay efforts. That much makes sense.


But this situation somehow feels different. I know without even asking her that nowhere in my mom’s brain is the idea that she should even consider this young photographer’s religious background. After all, we’re not hiring her to be a priestess or nun or … anything religious. So her religion doesn’t factor in – AT ALL. In my mom’s brain and heart, you treat people the way you want to be treated and everything usually works out. And she’s right – usually.

But I’m almost 35 years old and for 34.75 of those years I’ve been – quite literally – a second class citizen. There have been a number of times when people actually took effort to make sure I understood this. Do you know what that feels like, dear reader? If you’ve never been kicked out of a church for being gay, been denied the right to marry, felt your safety threatened, worried about whether you came off as “too gay” in a job interview, or been hissed at (by a human!) just because you were walking through your neighborhood, then you may not know what I mean. And even with the Supreme Court in my back pocket, I can still be discriminated against and harassed in many areas of normal life and I can still be fired from my job – just for being me.

That kind of life can really leave a taste in one’s mouth and when one consistently experiences the same or similar taste from one kind of food, it quickly becomes tough not to develop an aversion to that food. Makes sense, right?


I’m not going to ask my mom to find a different photographer because our selection of the right professional for our need shouldn’t in any way be based on that individual’s personal and private religious choices – in the same way that the decision to sell a cake to someone shouldn’t at all be influenced by the sexual orientation of the buyers.

Some would have you believe that turn about is fair play. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? I think often what’s good for the goose is, indeed, good for the gander – but never out of spite. It isn’t my place to decide… Karma takes care of that for me. If Christians want to jeopardize their own livelihood because of misguided and mistaken religious conviction, then they will certainly have the chance to sleep in the bed which they’ve made. My family, though? We just want a good, talented photographer.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


Good Company

Naga Sadhu

Naga Sadhu

I recently went to my favorite book store, Half Price Books. I have made a promise to myself that I’d frequent the place less because I need clothes currently more than I need books and since I’m not as likely to shop for clothes, this will hopefully help balance me a little as well as eliminate some bills I have, which will in turn contribute to another goal. None of that is actually very relevant right now, though. I went and bought a book ( more than just one actually ) and I wanted to share a bit from it with you.

The title is “In the Company of a Siddha,” and pretty much the whole thing is a series of documented interviews with Swami Muktananda. This lineage, I believe, comes from Kashmir Shaivism and his sect focuses a bit more on the practice of devotees receiving shaktipat from the lineage leaders – gurus who are qualified to bestow that kind of thing. There’s part of an interview between Muktananda and several interviewers from a German (Munich) newspaper called Esslinger Zeitung that I found interesting. I’ll have to double check the book, which isn’t in front of me currently, but I think the interview I’m pointing to took place not much prior to the Baba’s mahasamadhi. Knowing this, I get goose bumps – most people simply never know when someone else’s last moments as they currently are might arrive.

This dance in life is quite literally unstoppable. It is what allows for physical existence. It’s the very process of maturation. And it also serves as the means to transcend our material bonds, allowing for escape from the wheel of death and rebirth. It is supreme and all will have to bow to it at some time or another.

The impermanence of the human lifespan isn’t what I intend to focus on for this post, though. Rather, I want to discuss a little about the impermanence of religion. I think Baba Muktananda’s words in the interview I’ve mentioned do well at expressing what I believe in my heart of hearts. The words are shared immediately below.

EZ: You know the condition of people here in the West. What do you think are the reasons for it? Is religion wrong? Is the church wrong? Is society wrong? What is the cause of it?

BABA: It is hard to say where the fault lies. You cannot say that the fault lies in religion because if it is a true religion it cannot be wrong. If a religion is founded by a great being, it cannot be false. Maybe the followers are at fault. Westerners take a lot of interest in outer pleasures and think there is truth in them. They take very little interest in the inner Self. That is why misery has increased.

EZ: People here who begin to take interest in the inner Self, don’t go back to their old religions. They take interest in the religion and philosophy of the East. What is the reason for this?

BABA: After people take interest in the inner Self, for them orthodox religion is dry. You should understand what religion is. In Sanskrit the word for religion is adhva, which means “a path.” One who has become absorbed in the bliss of the Self no longer takes interest in the path.

EZ: A path is just a means to reach the goal.

BABA: Yes. When you are thirsty, you look for water. After you quench your thirst, you no longer need it. A saint once said, “When my mind has become soaked in the holy river of the heart, why should I take a dip in the Ganges?” In the same way, one who has become immersed in God’s love takes no interest in formal religion.”

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

The dance of life, Shiva’s Tandava Nrtya, that’s mentioned above applies to everything everywhere – including humans and how they rely on religion. From the human perspective this dance is a fine one, indeed! On one hand, humans are encouraged to find within religion and spiritual practices the structure necessary for growth. That growth though, is meant to enable the transcendance of religion, which was itself only ever meant to be a tool. When a tool has served its purpose, it should be placed aside. I think many humans find problems – indeed create additional problems – by remaining ignorant of a tool they possess, possessing improper understanding of that tool’s usage to begin with, and inadequately understanding when to set that tool aside – although the last issue is less of a burden because for some this happens somewhat naturally, depending on what path their maturation has taken.

It’s important for someone to do the homework necessary to remove this kind of ignorance. Hinduism, being an experiential religion, mandates that you can’t simply know or feel. You can’t just read about Truth. Singing and dancing ecstatically will only get you so far. You must make yourself transcend. You must make your path. You can get far on knowing and feeling, but without experience you’ll be missing a big part of the picture.

I would encourage you, dear reader, to exercise your “knowing” and your “feeling” and use that experience to realize Shiva-ji’s Nrtya, His Tandava. Without fear, actively dance in this life. Dance through it. And then, when maturation and karmas coincide, dance beyond it.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Hypothermically Speaking


The last two days Facebook has been aglow with all kinds of posts and reposts pertaining to marriage equality. Today, on my way to Goodwill to unload some furniture, I was scanning the feed and saw a repost that I automatically began reading into. You can see it at the head of this post, and if you would I’d ask that you read into it, too.

I asked my beloved about this, and he almost instantly admitted that it was over his head. Truly, he doesn’t know much about different cultures or religions, or their histories or modern expressions.

Not to imply that any of the following is an opinion of mine, allow me to at least share a few passing thoughts that resulted form viewed the repost above on Facebook:

It seems to be a pretty obvious jab at Christianity and it’s current insistence that gay marriage is morally apprehensible. Christians, are in the same religious family as Jews and Muslims. The biblical Abraham was the father of Judaism, which in turn fathered Christianity. Islam is a related “cousin” or something – related, just not as directly. Judaism is something like the second oldest living, organized religion on the globe – only slightly younger than Hinduism. As far as I know Judaism differs from the other two main Abrahamic faiths in that it doesn’t aggressively seek converts. While it seems to do well at holding grudges, it also seems far less oppressive or inclined to force its way of living on others. But – it also views itself a THE group most loved by God, indeed God’s “chosen people,” which is certainly arrogant and exclusive.

It certainly seems detrimental to put you or your people on any kind of pedestal, but perhaps it’s okay to be entirely full of yourself if you don’t force it onto others? Would the world be a better place if the apple hadn’t fallen so far from the tree and Christians were more like Jews? You tell me.

Om Shanti

Smoker’s Cough

Last night, for the first time in just about forever, my beloved and I accompanied my best out to a gay club. We’re fond enough of pubs or restaurants, but clubs not so much. As we age, we increasingly appreciate being able to hear the conversations we’re having with the people at our table, the lack of drug culture, the lack of drama, etc… the difference between going to a club and just about anywhere else.

We were originally supposed to get dinner out with a math professor, but that fell through. So instead we visited newly-opened gay-owned men’s underwear shop located in the Broad Ripple section of our city before grabbing dinner at a place called English Ivy’s – a pub we enjoy from time to time.

As we were leaving dinner, we found ourselves stuck. We couldn’t figure out what we wanted to do. It was only about 20:30 (24hr time). Too late really to start a game night but pretty much also too early to simply call it quits. Naturally, we decided to go to The Unicorn, a male strip club. However, we only really wanted to go for the drinks. The last time any of us has been was looooong ago, and the talent was, well, untalented – to say the least! In fact, my memory of the only time I’d been was that of a nasty large-bellied old man putting a $1 bill in his mouth and then not-so-gracefully letting himself fall, arms open, backwards onto the stage and some scrawny, under-muscled, under-fed stripper boy going after the cash. Needless to say, we weren’t thrilled for the idea of going there again, but we all agreed that we could be wallflowers in a place like that for cheap drinks. However, when we arrived there was, literally, one other car in the lot. We weren’t about to be the only ones there AND not support the staff. That idea went out the window when we decided to go to a gay club called Gregg’s/Our Place.

We got there before 21:00, and all club staff aside, there were only about ten other people. On all the flat screens around the place some sporting event was playing. Basketball? And in another room there was a euchre tournament taking place. The dart area was empty. So was the billiards area. We grabbed some drinks and a high top table and pretended to be really thirsty as more and more people arrived. After about an hour, the sports and card games stopped and instead loud dance music sucked up the air and the flat screens broadcasted scantily clad models on beaches. We kept drinking. The drinks really were SUPER cheap, and since we came so early we missed having to pay any kind of cover. Good times.

Since we never go out we didn’t know most people and most people didn’t know us. I like it that way, actually. Even in a city like Indianapolis, it doesn’t take much to get that small town feeling and for everyone to know your business. No thanks. Not to mention the eternally recirculating dramas. I’ll pass. It actually amazes me that anyone would go there expecting to meet anyone of substance or for anything other than superficial conversation or carnal pleasures. I can safely say that ANYWHERE is a better place to hunt for love than a club.

After a while we headed up to this loft area where we were able to “perch” and watch others down on the main floor. My best, having been a bar fly and still going to these places occasionally, was able to point out an amusing number of men, in one way or another. One would pass by and we’d hear, “He has a REAL nice penis.” Another would go by and it’d be, “That one is handsome and hung, but he’s into nasty stuff and doesn’t like wearing protection.” Once, about an obese old man sitting at the bar we were told, “I turned him down once and because I wasn’t interested he hunted me down on such-an’-such app and cussed me out.”

Soon enough we were ready to go and go we did. On our way home my beloved and I remarked to each other how nice it was to go to some place like that, that was smoke-free. In recent years, a city-wide smoke ban for public places was passed and it really has made a great difference.

That made me sad though. In a state where a very large number of people are smokers (a year or two ago I think I read it was something like a full third or a fourth of our population), we’re able to get a ban passed, preventing people from doing what they enjoy in places they specifically enjoy doing it in. Let me just re-iterate: a population with a huge smoking demographic passed a ban “negatively” affecting something many people actually want to do.

And yet, Indiana’s tiny -almost inconsequential- gay population remains denied the right to marry. A super small demographic, wanting to do something positive that would affect no one else, isn’t allowed to – if for no other reason than idiots think Jesus would hate it. How is it in a state of smokers a smoking ban can be passed, but the same place, where gays aren’t “bothering” anyone, remains discriminatory?

– SIGH –

Om Shanti

Book Review #708

A short time ago I began reading a book, the “Dharma Manifesto,” and promised a review. This post is meant to take care of that.

The book, I bought online for something really cheap like $16-$17. The book itself is written in very easy to understand language. For no more pages than the book has (264 pages), it’s actually a very fast read. The chapters are hardly noticeable since the entire book is pretty much flows from one subchapter to another, which makes it compatible with stop-and-go reading schedules.

Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya is certainly very intelligent and knowledgeable in many important areas of modern life and culture. I believe he holds a Ph.D. and has actually held a number of very unique and history-making positions in his life thus far. His writing, in this book, is concise and very clear. As would be expected with any kind of “manifesto,” the ideas he puts forth in this book are meant to be revolutionary, which he defines as, “…proactive and constructive in nature, rather than merely utopian or reactionary.” Many folks might be turned off by that approach to change, but in this work the manner of presenting his views is actually quite balanced and intense, but neither idealistic nor emotional.

Throughout the book, Acharya-ji touches on a huge variety of topics, some of which I mentioned in my earlier post. On a number of things, I agree with him to one extent or another. My own views can tend to be somewhat strong, and in this way I found interest in Achrya-ji’s words. For example, I at least somewhat agree with him in relation to…

  1. The U.S.’s International Policy must change.
  2. The history and employment of Abrahamic Faiths. (Although, I disagree with his view on the nature of the Truth inherent in each.)
  3. What should be sought in, and expected from, any political leader.
  4. The political and cultural history of India.

Beyond these topics and possibly a few others, I should note that as the page numbers increased I found my alignment with Acharya-ji’s views to decrease. There were a number of areas, which I don’t care to list or go into here, where I disagree with him on.

One thing he wrote on, about which I’m still somewhat unsure how I feel, is the topic of gays. On one hand, his approach seemed level-headed: no persecution. If I recall correctly, and I may not, I think he says that gays are a natural part of the human spectrum. He never actually said there is anything inherently evil in gays. However, he was clear that, while people identifying as homosexual would be left unbothered to live their personal dharmas, in a Dharma Nation there would be no such thing as equality as is known (attempted?) today. There would be no pride events. No marriage afforded to gays. All gays would be expected to live “in the closet.” Acharya is very clear that marriage is an integral part of the structure of societies, without which society would fall. He’s also very clear that marriage is strictly defined as male-female.

Actually, I started the last paragraph saying I’m still unsure how I feel about this. I lied. I’m quite sure. I disagree about as much as a person can in this regard. I do appreciate his level-headed, mostly non-violent approach to gays, but beyond that his view on this goes against my better reasoning.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya religious leaning, I’ll let you know that he’s a strict Vaishnava leader. This isn’t for me, but it’s just fine. In fact, for a brief time, I considered converting to Vaishnavism, with Acharya-ji as my guru. The mantra of his lineage doesn’t mean much to me. Vaishnavism isn’t entirely appealing to me(this is not to imply there’s anything at all wrong with it!), but I was hopeful that this American, non-Indian guru could be the center of my religious home.

I plan to purchase and read one other of Acharya’s books, and will likely write my own review of it as well, but through the Dharma Manifesto I’ve learned much, and a few things have become clear to me.

  1. It’s very likely that Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya will never truly be a leader I look to for guidance.
  2. It’s very likely that I’ll never be a Vaishnav. (Again, this isn’t to knock Vaishnavism in any way. This is just to say that through the example set by this particular Vaishnav leader, as well as the general example set by most of ISKCON-which I think Acharya-ji has ties to anyway, Vaishnavism isn’t home for me. My sincerest kudos to those who are able to find peace by taking refuge within the many folds of Vaishnavism.)
  3. Although I was really excited to have found a politico-Hindu book (it’s still the only book of its kind that I’m aware of or possess), and greatly looked forward to finally having my own political compass, I can safely say that I will likely never call myself a Dharma Nationalist.

Om Shanti!

Dharma Nationalist?

Some time ago, in a manner which I now forget, I came to know of a guru/acharya from Nebraska. He’s known as Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya. As far as the Hindu Dharma is concerned, he’s unique and is really a record setter. Among other accomplishments, he was the first like his self to hold the positions he’s held and he’s certainly the first (since ancient times) to convey brahmana thread to a female. The reactions he’s received as the result of his actions have been enough to prove that he’s not afraid to make waves for humanity’s betterment. I can also vouche, based on personal communication with him, that he’s attentive, super intelligent, and possesses a kind of “shanti” you almost wouldn’t expect. I can’t say he’s a personal guru of mine, but I can say, at least at this point, he seems very worthy of the devotion. He wrote a book, among others, called The Dharma Manifesto. He is the founder of the Dharma Nation Movement, which is meant for “Instantiating Natural Law in Modern Government,” and which seems very interesting to me.

Truth be told, I’m about as familiar with any form of politics as I am with variations of the Chinese language. That is to say, not very. I ordered a copy of The Dharma Manifesto for two main reasons: I enjoy having unique books in my personal library, especially ones pertaining to my own Dharma (this book is currently the first and only “hindu” book I own on politics), and I’m hoping this book will serve as a nice inexpensive investment in my political education. It’s ordered/shipped by Lulu and I was glad to see it arrive actually quite soon after ordering. The Manifesto seems pretty comprehensive, with chapters/subchapters like,

  • Dharma Nationalism and Electoral Politics
  • Usury
  • Flat Tax
  • Ownership Society
  • Class Cooperation… not Class War
  • Neither Capitalism, Nor Socialism
  • Economics
  • Sanskrit: The Universal Language
  • United Nations
  • Russia Policy/E.U. Policy/Isreal Policy/India Policy/Pakistan Policy/China Policy
  • Population Planning and Balance
  • Same Sex Marriage/LGBT Issues
  • Environmental Sustainability and Protection
  • Immigration
  • Strong National Defense
  • Energy Policy/Health Policy
  • Abortion
  • Judiaism/Pauline Christianity/Islam
  • Marxism/Atheism/Satanism

Those listed above are actually mostly subchapters, but should still offer a taste of what the Manifesto will cover.

According to the Dharma Nation website, “Our goal is to establish a government in which the eternal principles of Natural Law are institutionally instantiated, and to create a world of peace, justice, spirituality, reason, and joy.”

I feel like pointing out that Acharya-ji is a sure Vaishnav- which is not a bad thing in the least. The book’s dedications go to two people, one of which is the founder of the Hare Krishna Movement.

I’ve read most of the introduction so far, and have decided to start over, highlighter in hand. (Note: Highlighting in books is typically not my preference, but since I’m generally so clueless about anything political, I’m making an exception on the basis of “quick reference”) If anyone reading this has this book, or is planning to have it, and has any interest in doing an informal kind of book club or otherwise discuss anything they’re read in it, I’d be thrilled.

Om Shanti