Monday, December 13, 2010

My Visit to a Hindu Temple

On the recommendation of a friend who had read my book, I made a visit to the town's Hindu temple two weeks ago. This friend felt that although my belief system lined up with Buddhism, I might get something out of going to what amounted to a Hindu Bible study. He had been attending for the past couple months. Knowing that life begins at the end of one's comfort zone, I agreed.

While getting ready, I decided to go for something a bit more formal than what I typically wear: black dress shoes and black corduroys. I arrived about 25 minutes before the service was to start. As I stepped inside, I saw an Indian lady at the door. I said, "Hi", but she didn't say anything back. She headed downstairs as I took off my coat.

It was then that I noticed the sign that said one must remove their shoes before entering the inner sanctuary; my friend had said that I would have to take them off, but I'd conveniently forgotten. My feet get cold easily, so I was a tad nervous about making it a full hour without any coverings, other than my socks, that is.

As I walked into the temple proper, I saw an Indian and a Honky talking quietly. I was a bit floored (pun intended) when I saw that there were no chairs in there (save for half a dozen on the left side of the room). I let the two gentlemen continue their discussion while I sat on the floor cross-legged. I looked around the room which had about a dozen various Hindu deities with an equal number of candles lit next to them. I pretended to meditate while I waited for others, including my friend, to arrive.

After a time, the white guy got up and greeted me. A tad older than I, he was a former Christian who had justifyingly grown dissatisfied with the faith. As he looked at "the gods" we were surrounded by, he said he didn't know any of the names of them, but was looking forward to learning. That is one aspect that can be cool about a new faith: learning its history and traditions. I could tell that this man was very earnest in his search and saw a bit of myself from my college days.

My friend arrived a few minutes later and gave me an extra copy of the Bhagavad Gita, the scripture we would be studying.



I quickly headed downstairs to the bathroom before things got going. There wound up being six males for the study, three crackers and three of the Indian persuasion. One man led the study by reading a number of verses from the Gita and then elaborating on what they meant. Throughout the hour, I was tempted, sitting on the floor, to spread my legs out, but knew that that would be a no-no, so continued to sit Indian-style (more puns) as time went by. One thing was certain: I was going to have better posture coming out of this thing.

There were a number of points brought up that I was in hearty agreement with, things like it takes more than one life to experience all there is to know about the human experience and that one's misery can be greatly reduced by detaching from things having to go a certain way in one's life. It was also acknowledged that God is in everything, including dogs (there's no doubt of that in my mind). Another thing I liked was that there was no talk of Jesus as these scriptures were written hundreds of years before God had his way with Mary. Jesus is cool, but he is pre-dated by a huge percentage of respective human history and evolution.

As time went on, the room got steadily darker, so dark, in fact, that it was becoming difficult to see the others' faces. I wondered if/when someone was going to turn on the lights. A few minutes later, the women and children, who had been playing downstairs, came up to close the service. One of the women turned on the lights as the others got in line to praise a favorite deity. I stood in back and watched this take place. A song was also sung by the group before we finally adjourned.

Just before leaving, I told my friend that I had enjoyed the service. He asked if I would return. I said I wasn't sure. I shook the hand of the other white guy and wished him good luck on detachment; it was something he said he was working on.

Next, I arranged to meet my wife at Famous Dave's. Being Jewish, she said her parents would have a fit if they knew she went to a Hindu temple. The good vibes from the service apparently were making an impact as I felt like smiling while sitting at the restaurant. As we began eating our entrees', I saw a number of wet spots on my upper shirt. I couldn't figure out where the hell they would've come from. I smelled them and looked a bit closer at the color before realizing that it was corn juice; it had sprayed from my love's mouth to the collar of my shirt. Fifteen minutes later, without doing a thing, the stain had faded.

My good mood continued as we finished up. At the table next to us, a couple were having burgers. I laughed out loud as the woman squirted an almost-empty ketchup bottle onto her cowpie and it made the sound of a juicy fart.

6 comments:

Rocketstar said...

From a Hindu service to a fart, nice.

Randy said...

This makes me sad. I've never been to a Hindu service, but to know of these people looking for answers and not finding them.

ExtraO said...

hahahaha... you and this story are delightful, Thomas.

Narkissos said...

"life begins at the end of one's comfort zone"...luvin' it...so true...so any insights on shanatana dharma? you know this is the only religion that actually encourages kama....it believes kama is a means to liberate yourself...to experience greater pleasure...kool eh....:)

Thomas said...

Thanks for the comments, all.

Narkissos, that is actually a Neale quote. He says that you should do something that makes you feel uncomfortable at least twice a day, things like saying "Hi" to someone on the street who doesn't appear to be in the mood for salutations, to start dancing in a store if you're enjoying the music that they're playing, or having your lover tie you up while having sex.

I just did some reading on Sanatana and love how unlike typical organized religion, it is not actively looking for followers, has no need of a God that should be feared, and doesn't encourage blind faith.

Narkissos said...

guess neale will be happy to know fay....she duz all sorts of crazy stuffs at least 2/3 times a day...hahaha...
you're so rihjt tom! hare rama hare krishna...or om shanti...ain't that interesting? when everybody else is at war...I always find mythology very intriguing....like orestes, oedipus or radha and krishna....we all try to avoid them....but deep inside us we all know it exists....
thanx for the insights.....:)