Gobinda Hari, or I Now Understand Obnoxious Christians

Most of you know that I’m on a path of self discovery, and that I’m learning about and utilizing Hinduism on that journey. Most of you know, also, that I do not really identify as Christian even though I was brought up Episcopalian and still occasionally go to church (mostly because the people there are my family, and the dean of the cathedral is one of the most brilliant men I know and his sermons are thought-provoking in a way that transcends religion). As such, I have typically felt incredibly uncomfortable when certain Christians suggest that I pray when I’m distressed because “God is with you…blah blah.” Incredibly uncomfortable. I don’t like talking about Jesus, and I don’t like conversations that make me feel like I’m being “saved.” I, at times, wish I could wear a sign around my neck that says, “Please do not approach me about your religious beliefs. I will wet my pants from discomfort, and nobody wants to see that.” I get really dismissive and try to escape the conversation as soon as possible. One time my dad suggested that I just talk to Jesus when I’m upset because it can be really comforting for him. And while I understood that it was valuable for him, I really didn’t want to “talk to Jesus” because to me, Jesus isn’t important, not in a religious sense. Sure, I believe that he existed, but why should I talk to the “son of God” when I really don’t think a Christian god exists? Of course, there are a million little exceptions and nuances that I won’t be able to get to in this post, so please understand that I haven’t written anything off completely because the world is full of mystery and I’m sorting things out my own way. I just feel more of a “spirit” than a “god,” and maybe that’s the same to some people. As I write this, it’s incredibly difficult to put my conflicting and confusing feelings into words. There’s just something there with Hinduism that isn’t there with Christianity. Maybe it’s more the practice of Hinduism that I connect with. Maybe God is the same no matter what the religion.

But. I might’ve accidentally become a version of The Obnoxious Christian. That person who suggests meditation to those who struggle. The person who talks about Krishna and “the higher spirit” (I literally said that) to her friends. The person who, when reading more about the mantra “gobinda hari” wants to print out the article to share it with her sister. The person who blogs about Hinduism and its benefits. (As a side note, the mantra gobinda hari can be used as a self-reflection mantra that aids us in connecting with our accomplishments and what the world has given us, while acknowledging that we were an integral part of our self-improvement. It also allows us to thank the world for the help it brings us and the bounty it produces. Or something like that…it gets a little complicated and sounds incredibly hippie, so I’ll spare you. Just know that it’s valuable to me, as I tend to forget what I’ve done well in life and continually put myself down for not “working hard enough.”)

I’m okay with becoming that person. I’m learning more every day — about myself, about the world — but I’m also uncovering more questions, and I like that too. So if I’m reaping these amazing benefits, why should I not try to share them with the world? I led a meditation workshop before finals week at my sorority, and it was absolutely brilliant and everyone liked it and I felt accomplished, like I’d shown them something they would never have found without my help.

I’ve been to hell and back: I contemplated suicide a year and a half ago. I had a panic attack every day, and was in the darkest place I have ever been. I sought therapy and saved myself, by myself, and I don’t think I have God to thank for that. I was broken, and I fixed myself (with the help of many people around me) but God was not involved. I don’t feel abandoned, and this does not come from a bitter place, but I just didn’t feel anything with me or around me or anything as I clawed my way back to reality, to normality. But as I learn and grow, maybe my opinion will change. Nothing is ever definite.

Until then, I feel connected to the earth and the universe in a way that has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with my soul’s movement between bodies a thousand times on this earth. I sound like such a nutcase as I say this, and I can practically hear you all scoffing through the computer, and that’s fine. I believe what I believe (that our soul never truly dies, just moves from body to body for eternity) and you can believe whatever you’d like (that I’m insane, that heaven exists, whatever). I know now, at least, why those obnoxious Christians that make me so uncomfortable do what they do, say what they say. They’ve found something valuable and helpful and wonderful, and it makes their lives richer and more meaningful, and they want to help me find that. And good on them. I appreciate the sentiment.

I will continue to look to help others who seek guidance in this really, really, really difficult life we all live. But I do promise this: no matter how great I feel, no matter how much I learn, I swear I will not try to “save” anyone. Because everyone is fine, nobody’s going to hell, nobody’s going to bleed for eternity if they don’t “know Jesus” or “understand the ways of Hinduism.” The minute you look uncomfortable or bored, and believe me I can tell, I will send you on your way without judgement. Pinky swear. What works for me doesn’t have to work for you. Guaranteed it won’t work for most of you. Besides, forcing people to accept something doesn’t work. Typically, they need to realize things in their own time; had I been bothered with spirituality when I wasn’t ready, I don’t think I would’ve made the same strides I did on my own.

I feel like I should end this post with some sort of profound statement, but to be completely honest my shoulder is cramping up and I can’t focus on much else. So I’ll leave you with this: anything we find that allows us to learn more about ourselves and others, whether it be religion, exercise, music…anything at all, is worth spending time developing. So go forth and question the world, my friends! And namaste.

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9 thoughts on “Gobinda Hari, or I Now Understand Obnoxious Christians

  1. I was raised as a conservative Christian, but at a certain point I became bored. I have found happiness in apatheism; although it’s quite possible that I am theologically too lazy to pursue a different belief system or ponder the mysteries of a higher power. Your post was quite deep and interesting. I wish you the best in your quest.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words! I think as long as you’re satisfied in life, and you grow as a person in some way, it doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not.
      Thanks for reading, and cheers :)

      • Yeap, im sure if hindus owned the martijoy of the media empire then we would be hearing the same stuff except it would have a hindu flavour to it.Like in the ancient chinese dynasty, the victor writes the history, but also a king stays the king if no-one actually knows who the king is. Can’t assasinate him physically, spiritually or socially if you dont know who to target is. Even more so when the shady dealers present a clown that we the citizens of democracy are expected to believe is running our country (or the country your in).Remember how the romans walked into places and tried to subdue it, buuuut . it didn’t work, so they tried recruiting an upper-class person from the locals and make that person the token-ruler. The people think that because a local is running things then OK we’ll co-operate with the romans now , humph, not like they havea choice now. the token ruler will execute anyone who disobeys roman law .bit like to day, follow america or your a terrorist .

  2. You did end this post with a profound statement: ‘question the world’.. You should never stop doing that.

    With Christianity, as with any other belief, you need to make a distinction between the belief and what mankind has build around it. Then, when you look at belief in its purest form, it becomes something that tends to make more sense. The conflicts many people experience with religion do not derive from the belief itself, but from the rituals mankind has build around it. You do not need a church to connect, nor do you need to perform certain actions to go to heaven.

    A Jesuit once said: ‘The God you do not believe in, does not exist.’. We’ve all been raised with certain expectations; whether they are true or not. Over the years you, me, everybody have formed our own ideas about what something or someone should look like; but you have no guarantee that those ideas are the correct ones. Maybe God in fact was there with the people that supported you, in spirit. There is this story about a sailor who got shipwrecked in the ocean. Now this is a very dedicated and religious man. He just floats about on the ocean, till another ship passes by. They shout to him, to get on board, but he replies he will stay just where he is and God will save him. This happens two or three times, and everytime the answer remains the same. Until he eventually dies of starvation. When he gets to heaven, he asks God: ‘Why didn’t you save me?’. God answers: ‘What do you mean? How about the three ships I’ve send your way.’

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that one does not necessarily need to exclude the other. Keeping an open mind is important, because closing youself off will limit your thinking. And you’re correct, there is no right or wrong. Each person has to find his or her own way and their own pace. But yes, keep questioning the world.

    For me the first contact with meditation was through sport. Doing what I do, they provide you with some breathing and meditation techniques to overcome fear. From there I started doing it more, but it was not until I read ‘The Quiet’ by Paul Wilson that it really opened up. Even today I still think it’s a brilliant book, http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6487340-finding-the-quiet

    This BBC documentary is also worth watching, The Big Silence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_zDtdYu3mA

    Now you might think I’m trying to convert you, but rest assured I’m not. This is not coming from a very religious person. My ‘problems’ with God are from a somewhat different nature, but that’s for another day. But I do believe in respecting other people’s choices and I’m trying to understand those choices. So I too have been thinking about these matters a lot and trying to answer the questions I have. And it’s not always easy, but I will get there. As will you.

    Now, is there a profound statement with which I can close? Yes, there is… Sometimes life is just about being with friends, and watching the sun rise…

    Take care, Caps, and thank you for sharing; it takes heart.

    • Hans, that entire comment was so profound and wonderful, and I appreciate how thoughtful you always are. You make some excellent points, and I will definitely have to check the book and documentary out. I find that there’s always so much to question, and that’s what I love about life, which is why that post was pretty difficult to write because there were so many moments when I wrote something and realized the world wasn’t as black and white as the statement I’d just made. So I think your comment is a wonderful supplement to my post, and I’m interested to see where our questioning takes the both of us :)
      All the best, and I hope you’re well. And yes, I’m finding great peace through just living life and embracing great moments.

  3. Well, after reading your Tampons post, this seems again to be a very American ‘problem’. Here (in Germany) nobody, despite some ‘crazy’ folk occupying the shopping streets, bothers you with their beliefs.

    I belong to a religious group, if you will, but it has more to do with tradition and being born into, than true belief in their god.

    I think church and other religions in general emerged because people needed them, and there is nothing wrong with that. For me the true god is nothing more than gruesome chance. If you can’t cope with that, go pick something else.

    Belief what fits you. Arguing about it, is meaningless.

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