Everything I need for this quarter I learned from Hinduism

On my last entry the ever insightful Niklas suggested I think about things in terms of house-holding. I’ve been mulling over that this week. I’ve barely tended my outside shrine, hardly had time or focus to sit. I find that I need to adjust my shrine, or else accept that everything will rust. But there’s always one more load of laundry to deal with, one more diaper to change, one more need to meet.

While the ideas of Place and Land have little overlap with Hindu spirituality proper, the lessons I learned last summer are ever so applicable now.

I feel like I’m doing things all wrong this quarter, that I’m being lazy, that I haven’t spent enough time, that this quarter will end before it gets off the ground. I remind myself that this project is just a beginning. None of this ends when my project officially ends. There is no doing it wrong. Last summer I wrote about being my own guru, about listening to what I need, about going deeper within. If I am honest, I need to rest. Spring, while on the surface a time of bursting energy: blooms, blood, blossoms, has always been a challenge for me. While most people feel the rush from the sun and the pull of the earth, I have often had my worst depressive episodes in the spring. Spring actually makes me want to hibernate. It’s not usually until June that I snap out of it and start to enjoy the pulse. I had forgotten this. I will let myself rest.

That realization brings me to quote myself: “I am starting to see that perhaps the questions of discipline, at this point in time, for me, may not be what I need to be focusing on.” I struggle with Doing It Right. But for my purposes, right now, doing it at all, and doing it with an open mind and heart, is more important than doing it Right.

I discovered though my Hindu practice that my practice is as a house-holder. “Every day I care for my family and as a parent I have to love and care for my kids without attachment to the outcome. Parenting is a spiritual practice! This is my karma-yoga. It is also a form of devotion, even as I cultivate relationships with the gods [or land spirits].” Of course, there are struggles. Am I really resting? Am I really taking care of my family? Couldn’t I be out tending my altar right now? And it all swings back around to the beginning and worrying about doing it right.

There is no way that I am going to learn everything or even most things about this new state, new town, new home in just this quarter. There is no way I am going to make lasting relationships with the spirits of anything in a mere 12 weeks. But like I discovered with Hinduism, I am making a start; I am forging new relationships, new practices, and this quarter is a beginning, not an end. I have every intention in getting back to Hindu practice, and the Land certainly isn’t going anywhere.


10 responses to “Everything I need for this quarter I learned from Hinduism

  1. Namashkar,
    Rest is really important. I went through a time when my spiritual practices just felt like I was going through the motions, I had just got over the flu and I was tired. After getting up I would do my morning puja without much spiritual feeling.

    i thought that I must be putting too little effort into it, so I did more. Still it just seemed to be actions with no connection. Eventually I asked the sannyasins what the problem was. Their advice was the opposite of what I thought it would be.

    They said “Spend two weeks doing a minimum of puja. Get up later, don’t do morning puja, just do a simple round of japa (reciting mantra on prayer beads) before going to bed. Sometimes your physical body just needs rest”.

    I did this, and coming back to my puja after two weeks had the desired effect, I could feel the divine connection again.

    As for Hinduism not having a connection with place, there are many holy places in Hinduism. These range from nationally known places like the Ganges and Mt Kailash to sacred trees, springs, and glades in villages.

    Ironically I have felt a stronger connection to some places in England since I have been a Hindu than I did before.

    • Thank you for correcting me about place. It’s not that I don’t recognize that are holy places in Hinduism or connection to places, but…. the relationship to the land in Hinduism is not the focus, as far as I can see (and that may not be very far, I will admit). It seems that the practices in Hinduism are more about integrating one’s person (through various methods) and honoring the gods. Other traditions I know place a lot of emphasis on connecting with the earth, listening to non-human voices, and honoring the spirits of the land.

      Ideally a strong spiritual practice in any tradition, and especially in the mystic branches, would open up more connection with *everything.*

      Perhaps I am not being very articulate here. I’m not entirely sure I’ve sussed out just what it is want to say.

      As for rest: I sure suck at it. But I’m learning!

  2. Namaskar,

    As with so many other of your posts, I enjoyed this one. I huge benefit to you that I recognize from this post is that you seem to have a clearer vision of what your individual dharma may truly be(right now): that of a householder/grihasti. Seeing and accepting one’s individual dharma is half the battle! …The other half, of course, being the practical realization of karma-yoga. You have my sincerest and best wishes in your journey towards your karma-yoga apex… and at finding rest!

    I agree both with yourself and with Tandava in regards to Hinduism’s take on “Land.” It reminded me of a quote from Agni Purana, which makes me smile and which I find encouraging.

    “pratistham padapanam ca vaksye’ham bhuktimuktidam.” (Planting of trees brings moksha.(liberation/salvation))

    Om Shanti Om

    • Thank you. Being a parent has been challenging in ways I never expected, and accepting the householder dharma, while superficially very similar to my pre-kids life (I have always liked a clean house!) is an entirely new adventure post-kids.

  3. My root guru is a householder. It’s good for me.
    I’m glad you’re beginning to see it as a path that can bring some kind of satisfaction, and still one with openness to spirit. Niklas

    • How is it good for you?

      I really love being a mother, but changing my self-identity has been more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m surprised that nearly 4 years in I still haven’t figured it out. Perhaps this is what comes of starting motherhood in my 30s – much more time for my habits coalesce and to be used to being my own person. It’s more likely just part of the struggle of being Niki.

  4. Well, I’ll be honest. When W and I first got together, he was *way* more disciplined in his spiritual practice than was I. This was not necessarily a good thing, but it was a necessary thing. I needed to see what a 24-7 spiritual life really looked like. My F practice was 24-7, so I’m not saying that it was different in that way, but puja was a more than daily practice.
    I didn’t become a buddhist immediately. I really had to figure out what it meant, after decades of *thinking* I knew what it meant. So, when I met Lama Tharchin, a householder with wife, kids, who *knew* what it was like with other life concerns (i.e., not a monk), it was refreshing. Not only that, he “lauded” being a householder. That a mom was a rare compassionate being, a bodhisattva, like Tara. Part of that is the Tantric tradition talking, part of it is just him. But when I saw him most recently, I went up to him, sort of ashamed at how little I do as far as practice is concerned, and said “Well, I try to do Ngondro each day, and I do yidam practice each day” (he knew which yidam – we have it in common), and I asked him to bless my mala. He took it in his hands to bless it, and said – well, he said something which kind of made me take a breath. I said after he blessed it, “now it has power.” He smiled, and we touched foreheads. I love him a lot.
    So, householder is a path that enriches each and every emotional bond. There is nothing in our lives that is untouched by the crazy love that we create together. Once you feel that, your entire life is changed, not just your practice. You know?

  5. dear,
    Hinduism insists upon very powerful energies working perennially around and with in universe. it is up to you to feel you are part of it or accept it as a superior power in terms of fate. we are all one from another with same components. when you love your domestic activities the Dharma or karma is performed and transcend to divinity. when you feel the one ness /unity with astro physical forces, you end up in nothing nes or the I disappears. the Ego is driven away. my little brain compelled me to write and I did.

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