A Guide to Hindu Philosophy
Hindu philosophy – what hindu beliefs are and how to find out if the hindi religious path is the one for you
HINDU PHILOSOPHY (Advaita Vedanta – Bhakti)
What got you into this?
As a small child I had a feeling that life was one huge entity, and that when we died we would return would return to the ‘whole’ (as I then called it). Then when I was about 8 during a basic physics class my teacher said: “Matter is neither born nor destroyed but merely changes form”. This felt like a revelation and it seemed to answer the stream of questions I constantly aimed at my mother (“So,” I would say, “One of the molecules that makes up my arm really could have been part of a mountain or tree long, long ago!”)
My brain was working on overdrive, thinking about each and every thing in life, every manifestation from people to plants, animals, rocks, whatever… and how it was the limbs of some humungous divine body! I just wanted to understand and really feel the ‘oneness’.
By the time I was thirteen, meditation learned in hatha yoga classes had become part of my daily routine along with the burning of incense and mantra-chanting. The bhakti (devotional) in me was already manifest. What an oddball!
Between then and now I have at times been heavily involved in in spiritual or religious organisations and gone though initiations, however, my prayers and spiritual actions have remained firmly rooted in the dharma (truth) found in the Vedas.
Silent meditation has given me space to contemplate and sometimes perceive the ‘oneness’ beyond the constant brain chatter. Study helps me to recognise the divine quality in all things. And yes, I’m still very much working at it.
In a nutshell, what’s it all about?
The oneness of all things!
Are you part of a group or a sole spiritual warrior?
I have an altar at home where I meditate and chant but I also go to temples and centres where I can pray with others and learn more about the dharma. But I’m not part of any one particular group.
Beyond this I remain open to all sources of life lessons, particularly those that appear as good or bad fortune which remind me of the law of cause and effect (action and reaction) that forges my karma (life habits)in this existence. Yes I do believe in reincarnation. It keeps me always doing my best (even when I really don’t feel like it) and using each moment to create better circumstances in the future.
My logic goes something like this… If we really are part of some humungous body that is the web of life, wouldn’t I/we be happier, healthier, more fulfilled and contented if one foot was wasn’t trying to kick the other all the time?
It still blows my mind whenever I get beyond the I that is little me to the ‘I’ as in divine humungous body thing!
Most groups and/or meditation classes are fairly easy-going though some have dress codes. For example, in temples, Vedanta centres or holy places many women would be dressed in chooridars/salwar kameez (dress and pants suit) and saris, traditional in India. However western clothes are acceptable provided shoulders and knees are not exposed.
What advice would you give young women who are interested in this spiritual path?
Customs aside, I would advise any young women interested in following this path to jump in, and try silent meditation as part of a yoga class or at home with the help of a good book. Remain open-minded, bathe in the experience and allow the next step to present itself.
Oh and Om Shanti. (peace)