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Thread: What to call myself

  1. #1

    What to call myself

    On occasion I am asked if I am religious/what religion I follow as a non-Indian I have a hard time responding truthfully that I believe in and practice Hinduism.My husband is in the army so people often assume that I can a Christian (this really comes from some serious misconceptions on the US military) I hate being perceived as a Christian. I have never followed that religion and to assume it is the defualt in this country is disrespectful to Christianity and dispectful to me. Honestly, I find all unmpromptes disucssion of religion rude and invasive but in practice I can never respond with "none of your buissness." I have in the past described my self as "philosophically a Hindu" or some such reponse often followed by the asker commenting that I am simply "spritual" to which I take great offense. What do other converts say in these sorts of situations? I should add this often happens in casual conversations between coworkers so I really don't feel comfortable creating animosity or a tense situation. Additionally, I often find that people expect me to explain my choice (I got questioned one day on my choice to buy vegetarian shoes).

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    Re: What to call myself

    Namaste Rose,

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose View Post
    On occasion I am asked if I am religious/what religion I follow as a non-Indian I have a hard time responding truthfully that I believe in and practice Hinduism.My husband is in the army so people often assume that I can a Christian (this really comes from some serious misconceptions on the US military) I hate being perceived as a Christian. I have never followed that religion and to assume it is the defualt in this country is disrespectful to Christianity and dispectful to me. Honestly, I find all unmpromptes disucssion of religion rude and invasive but in practice I can never respond with "none of your buissness." I have in the past described my self as "philosophically a Hindu" or some such reponse often followed by the asker commenting that I am simply "spritual" to which I take great offense. What do other converts say in these sorts of situations? I should add this often happens in casual conversations between coworkers so I really don't feel comfortable creating animosity or a tense situation. Additionally, I often find that people expect me to explain my choice (I got questioned one day on my choice to buy vegetarian shoes).
    The problem starts when there is more urgency to relate to an "ism" than to taking steps towards finding the Truth. Truth should be our only religion and only goal. Let's stop labeling ourselves and we can save this world from a lot of bloodshed and hatred. Just think over something, if you have not already done so far :

    a) Who am I ? Am I made up of matter or the consciousness which works through the matter which makes my body and brain ?
    b) Where from Consciousness come from and where does it go ? The creation of a child in mother's womb appears to be just a matter of bio-chemistry at work. If that is so, where does it get its individuality ? How does one being differentiate itself from "others" in this universe ? What happens to this Consciousness when I am dead ? Is there a law of Conservation of Consciousness which we don't read in schools ?
    c) As everything in this universe is so intelligently created there must be a super-intelligence behind all this ? Is this super-intelligence a separate agency ? Is it what is called as God ? If concept of God is accepted, what is God in reality ? Various religions define and describe God in different ways. What is logical and what is not ? Is there any common in all these paths ? If not, how can we assume what is right and what is wrong ?

    d) Instead of simply believing what anyone says, can I perceive the Reality / God myself so that there is no confusion ??
    etc. etc.

    The idea behind what is written above is that any aspect of spirituality must be tested logically and must be questioned and then we can be in the right direction and on right path.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: What to call myself

    Namaste,

    I am a born Hindu and people don't have much trouble with me declaring myself to be a Hindu. So, the easiest route is to get a deep tan and look like me to avoid any questions.

    On a serious note, I try to deflect all questions about explaining what I am as it does lead to tense situations. To me, it does not make any difference what others 'think' I am (religiously speaking) so long as I can practice what I desire. I don't take other people's ignorant stances as disrespectful. My identification is for my spiritual progress and whatever label others want to tag me with is just labeling for their minds; does not change me in any way. So, try to avoid all conflict and do what elevates your consciousness.

    Pranam.

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    Re: What to call myself

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté and hello Rose (et.al)

    On occasion I am asked if I am religious/what religion I follow as a non-Indian I have a hard time responding truthfully that I believe in and practice Hinduism. My husband is in the army so people often assume that I can a Christian (this really comes from some serious misconceptions on the US military) I hate being perceived as a Christian. I have never followed that religion and to assume it is the default in this country is disrespectful to Christianity and disrespectful to me. Honestly, I find all unmpromptes discussion of religion rude and invasive but in practice I can never respond with "none of your business." I have in the past described my self as "philosophically a Hindu" or some such response often followed by the asker commenting that I am simply "spiritual" to which I take great offense. What do other converts say in these sorts of situations? I should add this often happens in casual conversations between coworkers so I really don't feel comfortable creating animosity or a tense situation. Additionally, I often find that people expect me to explain my choice (I got questioned one day on my choice to buy vegetarian shoes).

    I only wish to add a point or two; this is not a directive or ‘ you should do this or that ’ post. I take my lead from devotee’s post above with the hope of extending some his ideas not only for Rose but for our HDF (hindu-dharma forum) community.

    Note that if you are not co-mingling what you do with who you are then all is right with the world. Then it becomes quite easy to answer your conundrum of ‘What am I’.
    If you choose to answer to what you do as who you are then that is the fly in the ointment as you can be many things... see the point ? Even practicing one particular
    religion ( from the Latin term ‘to return to the source’) is a ‘what I do’ condition.
    If you say oh I am a hindu. That is all well and good. Yet if one does a little research you will find multiple sects , schools, and divisions . I have counted no less than 22 major ones and this is just the top ones. One then may ask ‘which form of hinduism do you align to ?’ and that extends the conversation a bit further. Hinduism is vast and wide. It is predicated on sanātana dharma and that gets one to the source of hinduism .

    Also note you also have been given a great gift in being offended. What’s this ? Being offended as a gift ? For the moment let’s say being offended is a point of friction. This friction can be with another or it can actually be within one’s self. For now let’s say this friction comes to you from the outside from another.
    It is my opinion and point of view that others can (help) expand your container, a catalyst if you will. What I am suggesting is when there is a rub to you, some irritation there is some friction (saṃgharṣa¹) you feel in a discussion or encounter this suggests there’s an opportunity at-hand that may afford you a learning moment. This moment may be as simple as to compare-and-contrast your view of what you think compared to another view or school ( or person’s view). This friction point is an opportunity.

    This friction says something to us - 'I do not think like another'. Why is that? What does that other person see that I do not? Now, that does not suggest you have to accept it or that your way or the other way is incorrect. Yet is there a learning experience there? It is okay to reject the view, but allow the mind to at least ponder it. Now friction (saṃgharṣa) becomes an asset and not a thorn.

    I use this approach and I know others that I talk with also use this... it allows one to look under the hood of not only one’s own values & hot buttons, but others’ point of view.
    Even if you leave mad/offended and irate , at a later date one can also review what was the irritant. In most cases it comes down to this: That other person did something that you would not do – and there is the learning moment about the things you do, and who you think you are by ‘doing’ vs. Being.

    ..as always, do as you see fit.

    इतिशिवं
    iti śivaṁ


    1. saṃgharṣa – rubbing together, friction;
    Last edited by yajvan; 22 August 2016 at 11:15 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: What to call myself

    Vannakkam Rose: Personally, I just say, "I'm a Hindu" in a casual sort of way, similar to, "I'm a Canadian." It never seems to be a big deal.

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    Re: What to call myself

    Namaste Rose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose View Post
    On occasion I am asked if I am religious/what religion I follow as a non-Indian I have a hard time responding truthfully that I believe in and practice Hinduism.
    I say "I'm Hindu". Usually I get "oh, ok". Only very rarely have I encountered "but you're not Indian". If it seems like a genuinely "uneducated" comment I'll smile and say, "well, you don't have to be". That may prompt a conversation in which the person can learn something about being Hindu, if they're interested. They may just leave it alone. If I think it's snarky and deserves a response in kind, I'll say "you're Christian, right? were you born in the Middle East or in Judea?".

    My husband is in the army so people often assume that I can a Christian (this really comes from some serious misconceptions on the US military) I hate being perceived as a Christian. I have never followed that religion and to assume it is the defualt in this country is disrespectful to Christianity and dispectful to me.
    In the US we can't get away from that, unfortunately. The US is not a Christian country, but it is a country made up overwhelmingly of Christians. There is a pervasive highly ingrained Christian overculture. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting something to do with Christianity. You can't look at Facebook without seeing something about typing "Amen!", even among family and friends. And you can't unfriend everyone (you can only close your account ).

    Remember that you may be in a very delicate position, with your husband being military. It's a fine line between being yourself and playing the game so your husband doesn't encounter problems.

    I often find that people expect me to explain my choice (I got questioned one day on my choice to buy vegetarian shoes).
    If it's a genuinely curious question, with the person looking to understand, I think there's no harm in explaining. But if it's a demanding or judgmental sort of question, again, it deserves (imo) a response in kind: "it's what I do and what I believe" and leave it at that. If they persist, I'd come back with "I think we should leave this alone, since it's my choice, and you're being disrespectful of my personal choices". People are rude. They use the excuse "I speak my mind". I think they are testing to see how far they can push.

    Keep in mind these are only my personal views and may not work for everyone.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: What to call myself

    Hari Om!

    People at work where socialization is essentially 50% of the job but something I don't do outside of that setting, know that my lifestyle is different by my mannerisms and approach to life. Am often told that I am very calm and peaceful. I say this only to give you a picture of what is happening in a work atmosphere that is the complete opposite most times, of both colleagues and clients.

    Oft times while speaking to my fellows, they will tell me about their lives and ask me about mine. The topic often comes up, and I share that my two goals in life were to pursue careers that are very different. The latter is to become a monk. Then the topic of religion comes up leading to Hinduism and what follows. Mind you, in my current situation, most are very liberal all but when it comes to religion. Our headquarters was in the South up until a few years back and that mentality still rules today along with the Christian dominance. Many have tried to "save" me, but overall most have been accepting because of how I live my life. And if they are not, it is simply their loss as I have no control over their perceptions, feelings, place in life/knowledge, etc and that is OK. I am not to judge them. It came up, I shared, they shared, end of story. I may not agree with other religions on certain points, but it doesn't affect how I practice mine. Hope it won't affect how you feel about or practice yours either, but that is beyond my control. I do applaud you however for having shared your burden and hope that you have taken something away from those more learned than I. There have been some great points made here.

    All the best to you on your journey.

    Om

  8. #8

    Re: What to call myself

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose View Post
    On occasion I am asked if I am religious/what religion I follow as a non-Indian I have a hard time responding truthfully that I believe in and practice Hinduism.My husband is in the army so people often assume that I can a Christian (this really comes from some serious misconceptions on the US military) I hate being perceived as a Christian. I have never followed that religion and to assume it is the defualt in this country is disrespectful to Christianity and dispectful to me. Honestly, I find all unmpromptes disucssion of religion rude and invasive but in practice I can never respond with "none of your buissness." I have in the past described my self as "philosophically a Hindu" or some such reponse often followed by the asker commenting that I am simply "spritual" to which I take great offense. What do other converts say in these sorts of situations? I should add this often happens in casual conversations between coworkers so I really don't feel comfortable creating animosity or a tense situation. Additionally, I often find that people expect me to explain my choice (I got questioned one day on my choice to buy vegetarian shoes).
    Namaste Rose,

    See, here you can bear in mind Krishna's saying in the Bhagavad Gita , " Yoga is equanimity of mind. "

    Swami Sivananda stated that the weakest person is he who gets irritated easily. The reason is lack of equanimity of mind.

    Krishna further says thus, " Yoga is skill in action. " This obviously means that a balanced and equanimous mind leads to skill in action.

    Lack of mental equanimity thus leads to lack of skill in action , and hence errors and unintelligent mistakes which you could regret later on.

    These kind of irritable questions and circumstances can prop up but you can use it positively to build up your mental equanimity by being calm and composed no matter what happens. See such issues as challenges and opportunities for you to build up your mental equanimity and awareness to peak levels. This will also help you to formulate the right response as well logically and intuitively. On the other hand, irritation and anger can prompt an unwise reaction rather than a well-crafted response , which will also unbalance the mind with vasanas or impressions of anger and aversions, and which will prompt more such unwise reactions in the future.

    Understanding can also help in forgiveness. As the saying by Voltaire goes, ' To understand all is to forgive all. '

    Do try to understand the circumstances of conditioning which prompts people to be rude and invasive as you perceive them to be. This can help to reduce your anger and even replace it with compassion.

    That you don't feel comfortable ' creating animosity or a tense situation ' shows that you favor harmony rather than discord ,and I would say that this itself is a step in the right direction. As Ashoka the Great stated, ' Concord alone is true. '

    Hope the above points help.


    Pranams.

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