Hinduism in America

I have to admit it, I have a soft spot for Hinduism, at least as it is practiced in the U.S. and as it appears in books in English that extoll its values, wonders and mysticism. That’s not to say that I do any Hindu practices or even hold any Hindu beliefs, per se, although I do find the Indian philosophical questing to be highly intelligent and enlightened, if not also extremely ancient and appealling for that very reason.

Hindu temple, Malibu, California

I used to visit a marvelous Hindu temple in Malibu canyon, in California. It was thrilling and breathtaking to drive through this beautiful canyon and then see the temple spires cresting over a hill. I loved the colorful statues and exoticness of the place. I drew the line when the priest implied that the god-awful central statue, a huge black-painted log carved into a deity, with its eyes covered in wads of gauze, was too important for me to approach closely. I fully understand the symbolic significance of such icons, but bowing down to that ugly thing was not something I personally would do.  As if the deity really was in that log!

In any event, I still like Hindu temples–and the refreshing openness of Indian Hindus as a whole. I’m not blinded to the fanaticism of that faith, as it manifests itself in India and elsewhere.  I see it, and I don’t like it. Nor am I fond of Hindu fanatics–especially the kind who got my Wiki page deleted because they could not stand me using an Indian pseudonym.

But I do find Hinduism to be far superior to certain other religious ideologies, especially the monolithic and intolerant Abrahamic faiths.

Further reading:

Hinduism in America on the rise
Hindu Americans face challenges, growth in following their faith

Updated: December 9, 2018 — 2:07 am

15 Comments

  1. In the Western world the Divine is represented in art, in the Eastern & “primitive” worlds the Divine is embodied in art… the “god-awful” (obviously not appealing to your aethestic) statue in the temple is, to the holders of the temple, the embodiment of an aspect of their diety… as Joseph Campbell says, “God” is a term for the trancendent and cannot be defined because it is, well, transcendent… Rolling Thunder once told me that he would notice when white folks would come into an Indian home, the people would just go and pick up ceremonial objects and check them out without asking, no respect for that person’s place or things. If you are visiting a temple of one’s religion then it is a mark of culture and respect to honor their setup, otherwise stay out.

    Having said that I agree the “Indian philosophical questing to be highly intelligent and enlightened” … and I note that we are being foolish if we think we have the same perceptual capacities for observing and considering such in our present state of consciousness as the ancients did when formulating their philosophical structures axiomatically from reality.

  2. embodiment
    continued from above…

    Having said that I agree that the “Indian philosophical questing to be highly intelligent and enlightened” … and I note that we are being foolish if we think we have the same perceptual capacities for observing and considering such in our present state of consciousness as the ancients did when formulating their philosophical structures axiomatically from reality.

  3. me too!
    As I slip into old age I see my life as a free thinker as a blessing and a bit of a curse. I never enjoyed the certainties of a “true believer” or the gang spirit of shared belief. On the other hand, it was always easy to see through the bullshit. I think free thought and expression became embedded in my person early because my Dad, a catholic, was so very cynical about every thing else.

    I embraced traditional Hindu beliefs as a remnant of that old earth bound religion often called animism. My feeling as always been that there was a Golden Age which proceeded known civilizations, and in that Age there was magic in the air, a magic of spiritual awareness which recognized the sanctity of all living things, and Earth as a living organism.

    Certain life experiences have left me with a fledgling belief in the transmigration of souls and shadowy memories of life as a tree and as a lowly earthworm. May I recommend thunderbolts.com for some marvelous material on the electric universe, which I find consistent with my belief in transmigration. Thanks for this chance to express myself.

  4. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock

    Sorry, but I utterly disagree that I should respect a god-awful statue – by anyone’s standard with taste – because some person thinks its a deity. That’s just plain ridiculous. No one is saying that we should go handling or destroying other people’s property. I strenuously object, however, when someone implies that their ugly idol is more important than I am.

    And who are “[i]we [/i][who] are being foolish if we think we have the same perceptual capacities?” Are you speaking for yourself? I have not encountered anything within Hinduism or any other spiritual/religion system that I could not understand. Are you limiting me and my understanding to my skin color and cultural heritage?

  5. re: embodiment
    [quote name=”Acharya S/D.M. Murdock”]Sorry, but I utterly disagree that I should respect a god-awful statue – by anyone’s standard with taste – because some person thinks its a deity. That’s just plain ridiculous.
    [/quote]

    You missed the point, you are in their place, it is a mark of respect for them, not their statue. Your perjorative “god-awful” reference denotes an emotive reaction reeking of intolerance rather than clear intellectual consideration.

    And since you “have not encountered anything within Hinduism or any other spiritual/religion system that I could not understand” I anxiously await your enlightened discourse on the functional relationship between the cakras and the endocrine system, as well as a clear rendering of your understanding of the five aggregates of consciousness and their relationship to subjective and objective appearances.

    P.S. I do have a great respect for your historical research!

    1. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock

      Sorry, but I think you missed the point. I shall reiterate it once more. The point is not whether or not I was about to attack their statue, which is a ridiculous notion. As I have already stated, I do not support vandalism.

      Nor do I support the idea that a statue is more important than I am. If the priest had realized me as the human being that I am, he would not have been so interested in his statue.

      There is an old story about a Japanese rishi who goes into a temple on a cold night and begins to burn the statues there in order to warm himself. The priest freaks out over this apparent desecration.

      The monk replies that for all the priest knew, he – the monk – is a buddha. In fact, he was a buddha, and his not freezing to death was far more important than these statues.

      I do not think that concept is too difficult to understand.

      I have no interest in getting into a pissing contest over Hindu doctrine and terminology. Enlightenment is the transcendence of such. At the point of realizing oneself, one become real, in the moment.

      After the realization of autonomy at who is pulling one’s puppet strings – oneself, obviously – life becomes a question not of how clever you are in an intellectual mind-game but of well you move in human society. If you are a sociopath, no matter how many mind games you win, you are not enlightened.

      “Your perjorative ‘god-awful’ reference denotes an emotive reaction reeking of intolerance rather than clear intellectual consideration.”

      This is a simply ludicrous statement apparently born of the same misguided PC “tolerance” that is embracing the brutality and criminality of Islam. If I say that a hideous monster is “ugly,” only the most depraved mentality would argue otherwise. Your disrespect to me, a living, breathing human being, over an ugly statue, is far more offensive than my critique of this inanimate object.

      And that’s the whole problem with religious fanaticism I was trying to highlight in this very thread: To wit, people will attack others with disrespect and hatefullness over something – an inanimate ideology and object – they consider “sacred.”

      Thank you for proving my point.

  6. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock

    I have no interest in getting into a pissing contest over Hindu doctrine and terminology. Enlightenment is the transcendence of such. At the point of realizing oneself, one become real, in the moment.

    After the realization of autonomy at who is pulling one’s puppet strings – oneself, obviously – life becomes a question not of how clever you are in an intellectual mind-game but of well you move in human society. If you are a sociopath, no matter how many mind games you win, you are not enlightened. A sweet person with Downe’s Syndrome who treats other human beings kindly and with tremendous love is far more enlightened.

    “Your perjorative ‘god-awful’ reference denotes an emotive reaction reeking of intolerance rather than clear intellectual consideration.”

    This is a simply ludicrous statement apparently born of the same misguided PC “tolerance” that is embracing the brutality and criminality of Islam. If I say that a hideous monster is “ugly,” only the most depraved mentality would argue otherwise. Your disrespect to me, a living, breathing human being, over an ugly statue, is far more offensive than my critique of this inanimate object.

    And that’s the whole problem with religious fanaticism I was trying to highlight in this very thread: To wit, people will attack others with disrespect and hatefulness over something – an inanimate ideology and object – they consider “sacred.”

    Thank you for proving my point.

  7. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock

    This is a simply ludicrous statement apparently born of the same misguided PC “tolerance” that is embracing the brutality and criminality of Islam. If I say that a hideous monster is “ugly,” only the most depraved mentality would argue otherwise. Your disrespect to me, a living, breathing human being, over an ugly statue, is far more offensive than my critique of this inanimate object.

    And that’s the whole problem with religious fanaticism I was trying to highlight in this very thread: To wit, people will attack others with disrespect and hatefulness over something – an inanimate ideology and object – they consider “sacred.”

    Thank you for proving my point.

    1. I like the old Zen story of the burning statues. I never implied that I agreed with the priest in your original post, nor did anything I said have anything to do with tolerating the “brutality and criminality” of fundamentalists within Islam or Christianity or any other religion. Where do you come up with this stuff?

      And where did “vandalism” come in, I understood you were asked to respect what was considered a sacred space, whatever the beliefs of the space’s owner. I wouldn’t just go into a cathedral and lay on the altar to get a better view of the poor sap nailed to the wall, though I might enjoy such and feel I have the right.

  8. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock

    “I wouldn’t just go into a cathedral and lay on the altar to get a better view of the poor sap nailed to the wall”

    No one said you would – where do you come up with this stuff?

    1. It was an analogic reference to abusing someone else’s sacred space, I never said or implied that anyone said I would do such a thing.

      That’s how I came up with it, hope that clears that up!

  9. If you declare something “ugly” by your aesthestic it appears as pejorative that “only the most depraved mentality would argue otherwise”. I may or may not agree with your aesthetic but I wouldn’t denigrate one of differing opinion, though I may well enjoy a robust unemotional argument over the differing views.

    Apologies if you took my remarks as an attack “with disrespect and hatefulness”, as such was neither intended or implied, rather I thought this was supposed to be a free thought site. In such, a public statement is naturally open to objective viewpoints.

    And nice to know you’re enlightened, though I fail to see anywhere where I tried to get into a ‘pissing contest’ over terminology. I merely expected you to qualify your statements, which you have till now avoided.

    Thanks for proving my point!

  10. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock

    Sorry, but there are certainly aesthetic standards. The vast majority of people know when something is ugly. I know what is ugly. No matter how much rhetoric and insulting language, you will not convince me that a bag of dog doo is a sack of diamonds.

    As concerns enlightenment, I qualify it each day in my every action–of which there are many, as I exhaust myself in a myriad of ways to bring this realization into the world as best I can.

    I spend many hours a day writing articles and books, designing books, building websites, conversing in forums and taking care of others. I tackle subjects that few dare to explore, much less expose through writing. I work tirelessly to assist in numerous difficult and dangerous ways.

    One who knows can see.

    Cheers.

  11. Disrespect for insane sociopathic behavior is alwa
    If doo were diamonds we would all own Great Danes.

    Acharya’s point was clear at first glance. The emotional argument appears have been kicked off with Max’s perspective that we need to have respect for inanimate objects even if they are possessed by sociopaths. By this logic then, if we ever accidentally find ourselves at a KKK rally, we should all should all salute the swastika. I’m sorry but a nutty thing is a nutty thing no matter who’s house it is in. As long as people keep respecting the intolerance of other religions then nothing will change. Women will still be oppressed and brutalized. Children in the Congo will still be tortured to exorcise their demons, and the disillusioned will think they are right to respect those actions because it is in the name of an ancient religion. WAKE UP!! Its not ok.

  12. more commentary
    In my adopted tradition at this point one is enjoined to rebuke one’s fellow traditionalist only if one’s fellow can understand. One is not permitted attachment to or holding disgust or grudge at someone else’s practice, however “natural” or logical it appears in light of our reasoning. I believe and know from experience that there are traditionalists in every “natural” or “original” discourse or tradition that understand these terms and realities, despite the strange things in our common temples and words in our primary texts.

    Bowing to something is taking note of it for what it is. This is done in the mind. We bow to another mind when we see it understands this.

    Namaste, Shalom, etc, mason.

Comments are closed.

© 2015 Freethought Nation, Acharya S, D.M. Murdock & Stellar House Publishing