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Thread: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

  1. #1

    Question Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Dear members of HDF,

    I have read these forums for several months now, although my interest in Dharma is several years older than that. I'd like to give my background story and then ask a few questions, as I would really love the advice of someone who has been through this before.

    I have spent the majority of the past few years as an atheist, not really giving any interest to the idea of a personal god, but also flirting with Buddhism and the more modern interpretations of Advaita Vedanta (often dubbed "neo-advaita"). I always thoroughly enjoyed reading the Upanishads, and with a background and interest in meditation I was left with (at best) this image of god as an all pervading force; the substance in which the world exists. I had a brief encounter with the books and teachings of the ISKCON movement, but it all felt hard to believe, particularily the stories of God in the Bhagavatam and whatnot. I do feel an attraction to Krishna in many ways, however I can't bring myself to believe the stories as they feel the same way greek mythology does to me.

    Lately, I feel that although God may be ultimately beyond any particular form , that wouldn't necessarily exclude him from exhibiting qualities that are personal in nature. This God may appear as any number of the forms that we come to worship today, yet there is only this one supreme reality, and everything exists within that.

    I have come to understand that deep down there is a part of me that wants a relationship with God, and I want to nourish this and experience it's truth for myself. I have a lot of attraction to certain images of God in Hindu Dharma, and yet I am unsure how to continue. I would love to hear from those who were in a similar situation as myself and later found a path/practice that led somewhere.

    I am open to all advice, and certainly the suggestion of certain teachers or Gurus who you think I may benefit from hearing. May you all be well!

    - LG

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    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Namaste,

    Welcome to the forum.

    No teachers or Gurus can benefit till you become receptive. After the shopping around is over and the rational mind has gone through all the gyrations of accepting/not accepting, it is time to give the intellect a rest and let spirituality blossom by accepting the deity that you feel most connected to. Remember, rational mind can only verify physical phenomenon in a lab by conducting experiments on matter; spirituality is verified only by a spiritual being by walking the path single-mindedly. There was a time when I was dead set against everything that I could not rationalize or see in its physical form; but that was long time ago. Our ego makes us think that we are the supreme beings endowed with mental faculties needed to solve all our problems. But to connect with the Divine, we need spiritual vision, not the physical or intellectual vision. The choice is yours to make and the timing of acceptance is yours to choose. Best wishes.

    Pranam.

    PS, Whereas some of the so called 'stories' may rattle your rational psyche, you must go beyond them to connect with the spiritual aspects of the faith. Looking at all the pebbles on the road will kill your desire to climb the mountain and view the grand scenery from vista points.
    Last edited by Believer; 11 September 2016 at 04:05 PM.

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    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Namaste LG,

    God is beyond the concept of being and non-being. The real idea of God is beyond our mental realms. In fact, not only God, there is nothing which can be so easily understood within our mental realms. When we see something, when we perceive something and when we see something happening in this universe, it exists as we perceive in relative plane of existence. We never know what happens at the absolute plane. So, as I have stated, everything exists simultaneously in two dimensions of existence - Relative plane of existence and Absolute plane of existence. It is like perception of a stone at our gross level and at its sub-atomic level and even subtler than sub-atomic level. There is nothing called light and darkness, there is nothing like blue or red color, there is nothing like soft touch or hard touch, there is nothing like sweet taste or sour taste .... these exist only in the plane where our mind exists i.e. they appear so because we see/perceive them through lens of mental limitations of perception.

    In the same way or in more subtle way, God exists in two dimensions simultaneously. One is what we perceive at our plane of relative existence and another is what God really is in absolute plane of existence without getting tainted by mental limitations. At absolute level, God is Nirguna, neither being nor non-being, unchanging, indescribable, Infinite etc. However, the same God "can" be available in limited in any form as per devotee's choice. Mudgala Upanishad says, "He became whatever he was worshiped as". So, you may choose any form and name of God whatever appeals to you.

    There can be doubt how it is possible that God will be there limited in form in a certain place and time and simultaneously He may be available beyond space and time ? This doubt arises due to limitation of our perception within mental realms. When Lord Krishna was with Arjuna during Mahabharat war, He was there in his limited form and name. Does it mean that at that time God ceased to exist as Infinite, indescribable, Nirguna etc. ? That would be ridiculous situation. So, God existed simultaneously in two dimensions of existence i.e. relative plane of existence within the cosmic delusion and also in the Absolute plane of existence beyond MAyic influences.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Vannakkam: Have you been to any temples? If not, I would suggest you explore that. The idea here would be to get out of intellectual stuff, the thinking mind, and more into the spiritual feeling side of things. That might help you determine more as to what you want out of it.

    Once a temple becomes part of your life, you could volunteer at it. Insights of the nature you're looking for often come unbidden when the mind is just relaxed. The 'Ah Ha' moment, if you will.

    Aum Namasivaya

  5. #5

    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Have you been to any temples? If not, I would suggest you explore that. The idea here would be to get out of intellectual stuff, the thinking mind, and more into the spiritual feeling side of things. That might help you determine more as to what you want out of it.

    I haven't, as there aren't really any Hindu temples in my country (Taiwan) apart from an ISKCON temple about 4 hours away by train. I will definitely go to a few when I come back to visit the US, however.

    I suppose a problem for me is making that "leap of faith". I am still used to my previous meditation practice, a large part of which was not "adding" anything to my experience; taking it as it is, so to speak. Connecting with god via mantra japa, kirtan, roop dhyan or something along these lines is new to me, and it feels quite different from the bare bones sort of insight meditation I am used to. That being said I don't want to ignore the possibility of a real connection with the divine, and I guess I'll keep practicing and see what feels right.

    I really look forward to hearing more of your experiences/advice, it means a lot to me!

    With love,
    - LG

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    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Namaste Loving_Govinda

    Quote Originally Posted by Loving_Govinda View Post
    I have spent the majority of the past few years as an atheist, not really giving any interest to the idea of a personal god, but also flirting with Buddhism and the more modern interpretations of Advaita Vedanta (often dubbed "neo-advaita"). I always thoroughly enjoyed reading the Upanishads, and with a background and interest in meditation I was left with (at best) this image of god as an all pervading force; the substance in which the world exists. ...

    I would love to hear from those who were in a similar situation as myself and later found a path/practice that led somewhere.
    I had pretty much the same experiences as you. I spent a lot of time, too much time, trying to understand philosophy and theology. For me it was not a good thing because I basically drove myself nuts. I eventually culled my bookshelves and packed away most of the philosophy books. I got back to going to temple and just devoting myself to bhakti, devotion. I'm drawn to several deities in particular, but I worship them all in one way or another, at some time or another.

    When all is said and done, I agree with Eastern Mind when he says "Have you been to any temples? If not, I would suggest you explore that. The idea here would be to get out of intellectual stuff, the thinking mind, and more into the spiritual feeling side of things. That might help you determine more as to what you want out of it."

    For some of us who came to Sanātana Dharma from another previous, or no religious tradition, we can become overwhelmed by information and the intellectual side of things. Philosophy, theology and study of them is great but it's not for everyone. It can be difficult but not impossible to sift and sort out the path we eventually take.

    This is just my view and my personal experience.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Hari Om!

    The inquiry stage is a great place to be - savor it! You've awakened something that no longer wants to sleep and discovering what that is is a fantastic journey. Please continue to share here.

    Although I don't come from an atheistic past, have been in your shoes otherwise. Seems to repeat itself in my experience as your faith and practices deepen. The process of letting go of ego has shown me god on a level one could never imagine. You're bound to find your god in a multifaceted manner as well.

    Am far from an advanced soul here, but please make use of those who are, and you will feel your way to them.

    If you would like some satsang suggestions, Swami Chinmayanda on YouTube gives great discourses. Please avail. There are others too.

    All the best.

    Om

  8. #8

    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jainarayan View Post
    Namaste Loving_Govinda



    I had pretty much the same experiences as you. I spent a lot of time, too much time, trying to understand philosophy and theology. For me it was not a good thing because I basically drove myself nuts. I eventually culled my bookshelves and packed away most of the philosophy books. I got back to going to temple and just devoting myself to bhakti, devotion. I'm drawn to several deities in particular, but I worship them all in one way or another, at some time or another.
    This is just my view and my personal experience.
    Thanks for the reminder that i'm not the only one who has over-thought this process before! Your experience is helpful for me to hear.

    If you don't mind sharing, what does a daily practice of bhakti look like for you? Puja, mantra japa, etc? Besides your visits to the temple, I'd love to know what really allowed you to open up to god and set aside your ego/inner skeptic.

  9. #9

    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Quote Originally Posted by c.smith View Post
    If you would like some satsang suggestions, Swami Chinmayanda on YouTube gives great discourses. Please avail. There are others too.
    C.Smith, thanks for the kind words! Your satsang suggestion means a lot, if you have others I'd love if you could PM me or share here if you're okay with that.

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    Re: Anyone been through this (phase) before?

    Quote Originally Posted by Loving_Govinda View Post
    Thanks for the reminder that i'm not the only one who has over-thought this process before! Your experience is helpful for me to hear.

    If you don't mind sharing, what does a daily practice of bhakti look like for you? Puja, mantra japa, etc? Besides your visits to the temple, I'd love to know what really allowed you to open up to god and set aside your ego/inner skeptic.
    Namaste.

    I don't do japa or home puja on a regular basis. I do recite slokas to the deities and offer a mental image of a puja. We have a discussion here about that. One term for it is antharyagam (internal) puja. I listen to bhajans and mantras, and often chant or sing with them, as I'm driving to and from work, and on errands. I have them in a playlist on my phone.

    Make no mistake, I have one heck of an ego. Because of that I try to be more mindful of God, and work on surrendering to him. Sometimes (but not always) being bad is good.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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