Rules I’m Likely to Ignore, #42

The last post detailed something I came across in book I’m reading. This post is meant to do the same. For details on that book, please see my last post. Otherwise, I’m going to assume you’ve read that and jump immediately to the rule I’m planning to ignore.

This is apparently “another important form of retreat followed by all knowledgeable Hindus.” With that in mind, please allow me to just go ahead and lump myself into the “other” group of, apparently, ignorant Hindus. This so-called form of retreat indicates that “Siva’s devotees must observe a period of 31 days following the birth or death of a family member during which they do not enter temples or home shrines, perform worship rites or attend auspicious events.”

This rule also states, like with menstrual cycles or major surgeries, that japa and personal sadhanas can and should be continued during this time, and that the judgment of who is part of the family rests on the shoulders of the family itself.

Pardon my American English, but that’s bullcrap.

For one, when I lose a loved one (or gain one!), God is the first place I go. Usually, God within me first. Then, once the actual event in question has transpired, I go to God within my home mandir. And as soon as is practical after the event, I go to God within my local temple. I wouldn’t say I seek shelter or solace necessarily during these kinds of times, but I bring everything to God, regardless.

Forgive my frankness, but my current understanding kind of makes this seem ridiculous and unnecessary. Why should I stay away from worship for 31 days because my family welcomed another child? At the rate my family goes sometimes, and certainly with the openness my family considers others “one of us,” I could/would easily be required to go half the year without so much as a single aarti. I ain’t havin’ that. And, too, for most of the last few years just about EVERY month of January has meant a death for us. It’s bad enough to start the year off with a death, but it’s a double whammy for me to think of also starting the year off away from temple. Again, bullcrap. In my opinion, welcoming new life into the family OR parting with life in the family are both excellent reasons to absolutely go to temple – either out of gratitude, or to seek a comforting darshan. I don’t believe in using religion as a crutch during these times, but these times specifically, I feel, call for drawing as near as ever to the Divine.

As long as January continues to be a cursed month for my loved ones, I’ll continue to go to temple in January.

Om Tat Sat


Rules I’m Likely to Ignore, #348.76

So, I’ve been working on a book. Reading one, that is. I’m trying to get a few out of the way in the coming weeks, so that I can tackle reading a work of fiction (unusual for me to read) that was suggested by a pal. One of the books I’m working my way through currently is “Loving Ganesha,” by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. I like the title a lot because loving is meant to be both an adjective and an adverb. As you might guess, knowing that, the book details how Ganesha is a loving deity as well as how one might express love toward Ganesha.

The book is a gem to me. For starters, of all the shaivite literature I own this author is among the few who manage to convey concepts that are big and small alike in a manner that makes either easily digestible. This book in particular details many aspects of Ganesha, His lore, His background, His worship, and a ton of other things. The book holds about 550 pages, and in Chapter 12 I find myself about half way through.

Where I am now is mentioning some specifics of Ganesha worship and a few traditions surrounding it. One topic touched on is when it’s general unacceptable for one to enter a temple room or engage in puja. One such time is during a woman’s monthly cycle. Apparently, she’s supposed to avoid engaging in or attending puja or making of prasadam. She is still permitted to perform lots of other religious or spiritual activities, just not making prasadam or taking part in puja. In very traditional Shaivite homes, there is often a separate living quarters for a woman during this time, at the conclusion of which she burns any clothing that might have her blood on it, puts on a new garment and rejoins the household. Similar expectations apply to any member of the house who is injured in any form beyond a minor cut or scratch. The author cites esoteric reasons pertaining on one’s aura and susceptibility to asuric influences. Apparently, the person who this might apply to should also not be permitted to go to the actual temple either, although family may go there on that person’s behalf.

I don’t have to worry about a physical monthly cycle, but men do experience cyclic hormonal fluctuations not entirely unlike those of women. Further, I don’t like this notion of being so phobic of blood. Blood is, literally, an inherent part of any human’s physical existence. We don’t have a choice in this, and superficially speaking, I don’t think something a person has no choice in should be held against them. Also, I can only imagine what the physical menstrual cycle feels like for a female and that misery alone seems punishment enough. Barring them from worship goes too far for my taste.

Nothing in what I’ve read so far indicates anything close to “original sin,” a deplorable concept that permeates Abrahamic religions, but I think this notion that exposed blood is bad kind of hints at it – at least in my own interpretation. The reasoning that the person is more open to asuric influences seems counter-intuitive. Maybe I don’t understand Hindu worship as deeply as I suppose, but my heart-of-hearts tells me that any time someone is weaker than normal, for any reason, darshan would be good medicine. If someone can adequately explain to me how my thinking is misguided in this instance, I’m happy to think again. Otherwise, for now, all are equal and whole before my Ganesham and in His sight.

Om Tat Sat

God on a treadmill

There are, rather sporadically, these odd experiences I have. While it’s a horrible disservice to describe it in this way, to keep it short and sweet : The back of my head opens wide, my sense of self/being expands like you wouldn’t believe, and I literally see stars (aka outer space) and I “feel” what I perceive to be everywhere and everything. There are two places this has happened: in my car and on the treadmill at the gym. Unfortunately, this creates a situation that is ridiculously “pro” my injury or death. Fortunately, I retain much awareness of the Dhrishti/Yeshua/Joshua that you all know – at least enough of that awareness to have been able to pull my car over or stop running on the treadmill.

This experience has almost happened twice in the last three days -both times on the treadmill. Both times I felt it coming on, which isn’t usual. Both times, I had been paying attention to one of the wall-mounted flat screens showing news/developments of the recent elementary school tragedy. (For the record, I’m sure many of you are about to diagnose me as epileptic or something. Please understand that what I’ve described above is NOT that.)

Anyone who knows me really well, would likely know how almost desperate I am for fatherhood. Truth be told, it’s increasingly unlikely to ever happen, and this is proving to be one pretty large pill to swallow. But whatever. Here’s the really psycho thing: I already have children. One or two I think, I’m not sure. I don’t know exactly how old they are, but I know they’re past infancy, but still pretty young. I think of them often enough, but in a fairly controlled manner because I’m easily overcome by the immense parental affection I feel. Oh yeah… They reside in my heart. I swear I could almost name them. They feel THAT intense within me. When I feel particularly loony and perhaps a touch nostalgic, I’ll consider these “children” and also my own parents and how I would do everything for my children that my parents did for my brothers and me.

And you know what? Maybe I don’t have kids in my heart. Maybe this immensely powerful “thing” within me is affection I have for my parents and my desire to be as kick-ass as they are. I’m aware that I have received, and continue to receive, so much more than I deserve through the force in my life that my parents have been … perhaps this is simply a natural ebb and flow… I’m feeling a desire to give back that which has made my life everything it is: my experience with parenthood.

Oh gods, I’m a basket case.

Anyroad (as my bhai, Forrest, is fond of saying), all of that was meant to lead into other nonsense, which I’ll try to get to right now.

So I’m running my legs off, the news shows the faces of the very young lives that were ended, and suddenly God shows up on the treadmill with me. <sigh> Even remembering this brings a too-big lump into my throat. I really don’t have words for how I feel about this particular shooting. What I do have words for is the stupid American idea that gun ownership is the only way to be safe and because it’s a Right, must be exercised in all possible ways.

Allow me to just say: It might be your right to have 27 children, and no one can tell you you’re not allowed to. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart of reasonable to do so. People, it’s the same with guns. A Facebook friend of mine, recently posted a pretty lengthy status update, which I thought to share with you dear readers. I’ll admit that what I’m sharing here is a direct quote, but with parts omitted. I promise I havent sewn any sentence fragments together to support my ideas, but some of what she said hollers back to our own days as children, and I found some of that to be less applicable. (I’ve taken a personal vow that, for as long as I continue to age, I’ll never refer back to my youth as anything golden or sublime or “the way things ought to be,” and instead will do my best to accept and understand each successive generation for its own inherent value and capability to grow into the times.)

So, without further delay, read the following quotations. Read them with your eyes.

“When I was in school, all we feared, were tornadoes.  And, we were prepared, we practiced crouching in hallways, closets, and bathrooms with our biggest textbooks over our brainstem.  We were prepared. Never, ever, ever did the thought of a human wielding a gun barging into our school and hunting us down, never did that thought cross our minds.

“Something has changed, something in our society, that is turning us against each other.

“Gun Laws, yes they need changed.  But not because of Newtown, Connecticut, but also because of Columbine, because of Virginia Tech, because of the mall in Portland, Oregon, because of Aurora, Colorado.  Because of all of the mass shootings that are unfortunately defining this century.

“I don’t deny any human the right to own a firearm, but let’s look at regulation.  Why should a citizen be able to own higher powered weapons than the average police officer carries with them?  What is an officer responding to an emergency call able to do when they are face to face with semi automatic weapons and huge caches of ammunition?  The laws need to restrict one is able to own.  These weapons that discharge so quickly don’t give an armed officer a chance to help the victims.

“Also, the process for firearm ownership needs to change.  In order to adopt a child, or a pet, there are forms, documents, and even home visits.  Background checks and a waiting period.  These steps need to occur, plus multiple communications between the buyer and the seller, and possibly even psychological exams.  Lets make firearms accessible only with a file of information compiled to help understand the person whom is shopping.  Also, I think there needs to be ways to ensure firearm buyers have locked cabinets, to cut down on the stealing of weapons.  We need to hold the same responsibility for having a weapon, it may not be a human or animal, but it has the capability to take the life of a living being, and needs to be regulated.

“How to regulate, is the hardest question.  But, it is also the most obvious answer.  How do we stop these many mass killings?  KNOW the people whom are buying guns, large amounts of ammo, and other weaponry.

“In addition, health care NEEDS to be accessible for all.  We need mental health care to be as important as a yearly check up with your physician.  If every person had a yearly or twice yearly appointment for a mental health evaluation, along with their other annual appointments, possibly some of the issues that hide beneath the surface could be found sooner, and helped before they become the hot boiling lava that spills out into the world as anger, pain, and hurting others.  If we all were evaluated once or twice a year the stigma would be removed from mental health care, we would all seek the help we need once and again, and all live healthier lives.

“This event isn’t the ONLY reason to look at firearm regulation, mental health care accessibility, and societal norms… but let’s make it the LAST reason. Let’s find ways to help those whom hurt inside, those who hide anger and fear, those who pose danger to themselves or others.  Let’s find a way to help the individuals, and prevent the loss of another innocent life.”

To be clear, I’m about as against guns as a person could be. I realize that my way isn’t the only valid way, but we’re no longer ruled in the same way that the Wild West was and guns, like some heavier drugs, give people lots of notions and confidence that aren’t natural or realistic. I have my own hesitations in life, but I refuse to fill my own heart with fear-based nonsense and then create for myself a false sense of some kind of safety net.

What’re your thoughts on this? Do tell.