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Thread: Trying to Find the Light Again

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    Trying to Find the Light Again

    Hari Om Tat Sat,

    It has been a long time since I have posted here, maybe about 3 and a half years, but I wanted to present something to the community here and ask for some insight as I still value what everyone has to say here.

    WARNING: This post will be long, so read at your own discretion.

    It all started just over 3 and a half years ago when I ended up going too far with a psychedelic/entheogenic substance and had a very negative experience. This experience was so profound that it made me question everything I ever knew or believed. The experience was about as close to hell as anyone could ever come, it was, to this day, still the most traumatic experience of my life. It was even more traumatic than the death of my mother when I was 8, almost 9 years old. Now, I went into the experience with hours of chanting and meditation and with a picture of Radha-Krishna right in front of me, and I thought that this would surely make the experience, although still difficult, at least manageable. But it didn't. During the experience I lost all concept of God, hope, love, faith, fellowship and joy. I was literally dragged to the pit of hell never to return again...I literally thought I had died. I lost myself completely in the void.

    After the experience I was angry that my meditational practice wasn't effective in making my experience meaningful and enlightening. Instead it was of absolutely no worth despite all my efforts over the years. Here was this thing that I thought could help me conquer any situation, but it utterably failed at the first sign of adversity. I was angry, I was lost, I was left questioning everything I ever knew, believed and loved. This entire identity I had built up within myself was completely shattered and torn to pieces and I was left trying to pick up the mess and find answers. I remember being so lost in those days.

    It took me about 5 months to regain my composure. I was not myself at all during those 5 months and I remember being totally consumed by anxiety. I tried meditating again and getting back into the practice but it just felt so null and void and worthless, so I just gave up. I gave up on everything I knew and decided to start over again, it was my only option at that time.

    Now, I grew up in a Protestant Christian home and Jesus Christ has always been a part of my life in some form or fashion. During my years practicing Sanatana Dharma, I still loved Jesus Christ and still devoted myself to him, albeit in a limited fashion. And after this completely traumatic experience, he was the one that I ultimately had to turn to for safety. Whether it be due to my religious upbringing or cultural affiliation or simply due to my relationship with Jesus Christ throughout my life, I don't know, but I do know that turning to Him worked and it entirely brought me back to sanity.

    At first, I started attending a Protestant church, since that is how I grew up, but soon I became very turned off to it just like I had been in my late teenage years (and it was during that time, back then, that I started searching for other spiritual paths eventually finding truth in Sanatana Dharma). I was turned off to the fact that they did not have any sort of meditational or contemplative practice...church consisted of a rock 'n roll band and a fiery preacher, but that was about it. I felt that it had absolutely no substance to it, especially after all my years of experience as a follower of Sanatana Dharma. However, I still deeply wanted to follow a path that focused on Jesus Christ, so I began searching for other, more ancient forms of Christianity. That is when I found Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Within an Eastern Orthodox Church there are many things that resemble a Hindu temple. For instance you have icons, incense, chanting (even chanting scriptures much like when someone reads from the Vedic texts), oil lamps, prostrations, prayer ropes (which are much like japa mala), an altar as the centerpiece of the worship space, a priest who performs the various sacrificial rituals, ornate architecture, etc. Some traditions even take their shoes off when entering the temple. Not only that but there are also tons of monasteries filled with monks who have devoted their entire lives to the service of God. These monks continuously pray the Jesus Prayer on their prayer ropes and often perform various forms of asceticism like fasting, desert and cave dwelling, sitting in silence for long hours while focusing on breathing, attending long church services (sometimes doing all-night vigils in which they never go to sleep) and putting themselves in extreme conditions to cleanse themselves of sin. On top of all of this, the Eastern Orthodox tradition is much more mystical and has a doctrine called theosis, which is not unlike moksha in Sanatana Dharma, it is also called divinization. It is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God. It is the glorification of man to the level of divinity. In fact, St. Athanasius, a beloved Orthodox saint, once said about Jesus Christ: "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." Wow! Needless to say, I had found everything I had been looking for in Eastern Orthodoxy. So, without further ado, I converted to the Eastern Orthodox faith. There is actually a very interesting book called "The Human Icon: A Comparative Study of Hindu and Orthodox Christian Beliefs" which details the similarities (and some differences) between the two traditions. It can be found on Amazon here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...the-human-icon. Also, one other fun fact, I once watched a video of a Malankara Orthodox priest chanting a prayer and then chanting "Om Shanti Shanti Shanti" at the end of it, which I thought was very interesting.

    All this to say that, despite the similarities between these two traditions, I found myself instead focusing more on the differences over the past couple years and I eventually developed a mindset of exclusivity. This has caused me to condemn others (other Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) as being less knowledgeable and essentially unsaved. This mindset has caused much inner turmoil, not entirely unlike the turmoil I once faced in the months following my traumatic psychedelic experience, and has caused me to really be someone who doesn't practice what he preaches. Anger started to consume me again, as well as some other passions (gluttony, sexual desires, laziness, etc.) and I found myself really needing some healing. I had to ask myself what the missing piece in all of this was. After all, I believed that I had found the truth, but why wasn't I able to practice it? I tried praying more and found it very difficult. Soon I became empty inside again and I was wondering what could heal me from this. That's when I immediately turned to the Mahamantra, "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare".

    I found immediate healing in the Mahamantra, instant peace. And I realized that giving it up years ago was a mistake. Since chanting the Mahamantra again, my desires have become pure, the passions have subsided and I feel an intense amount of ecstasy and peace. Peace that indeed surpasses all understanding. This has caused me to look into Sanatana Dharma again and revive an ancient and beloved practice that I had somehow lost over the years. I have started reading Bhagavad-gita once again as well. However, this time things will be little bit different. How so? Well, I still see Jesus Christ as being a very important figure in my life and my devotion to Him will still be something that I practice daily. If anything, reviving the tradition of Sanatana Dharma in my life has increased and greatly enhanced my devotion to Jesus Christ. I will most likely continue to attend Eastern Orthodox Church services and visit Orthodox monasteries. However, at the same time I will be returning to a Hindu temple to practice meditation and yoga again. I have found that these two paths can be reconciled, despite what anyone else has to say. I'd rather look at the similarities than the differences and I think synthesis is entirely possible here. But the biggest thing is this: I have to realize that without Santana Dharma in my life, I will be missing something very great and profound. I have to practice this in some form or fashion or else I will fall greatly. So I have decided to begin again on the path that was once so near and dear to me. It may look a little bit different than it used to, but that is okay. I have found hope again, I have found peace again, I found joy and love again. And it just wouldn't be possible without the glorious and sublime tradition of Santana Dharma. So at the end of the day, I am a Hindu...and I am a Christian...and I see no conflict between the two when understood properly. We shall see what the future holds.

    My question to all of you: what do you make of this? Is synthesis between these two traditions an actual possibility or do you think I will eventually fail in my endeavors and have to once again choose one path over the other? What do you make of the story I shared? Was it wrong of me to partake in a psychedelic experience in the first place? (*Note: That was the last psychedelic experience I had and I have had no desire to return to that realm since then, and I feel that I gain much more insight now out of being sober and practicing pure meditation, yoga and prayer without the addition of entheogenic substances). Also there is an interesting website which links Sanatana Dharma and Ancient Christianity here: https://ocoy.org/. What do you think of this website?

    I know that my post was long, but to whoever read the entire thing, I thank you, and if you have any insight to share it is most welcomed here.

    Peace and Love to All,

    LightofOm

    Pranam.
    ॐ मृत्युंजयाय रुद्राय नीलकण्ठाय शम्भवे l
    अमृतेशाय शर्वाय महादेवाय ते नम: ll

    Sanātana Dharma Worldwide

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    Re: Trying to Find the Light Again

    Namaste,

    First of all, welcome back and thanks for posting. I did read your post entirely. I found it to be very interesting but not surprising. My impression is that most of us who grew up with a religion can never entirely convert out of it. My personal opinion is that Sanatana Dharma is so vast and open that it should not matter if you practice both hinduism and christianity. When our sages said that let wisdom come from all directions then let it come from all directions.

    I think what's more important than following a religion is practicing its principles and to see if that practice makes you a better person; if it does then keep with it.

    BTW, Christianity is not the only religion that talks about hell. Buddhism does as well. What is interesting to me is that you went back to christianity (the religion you grew up with) instead of say buddhism because of your hellish experience. That highlights my above point.
    satay

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    Re: Trying to Find the Light Again

    Namaste,

    LightOfOm, since you are attracted to Krishna and Rama, may I offer you the idea of associating with ISKCON? Or at least, follow the lectures of HH Indradyuman Swami and HH Radhanath Swami...? Radhanath Swami is Jewish, Indradyumna Swami is Christian, more important than these facts is that, I have listened to their lectures and they both revere Jesus as a great saint of a very gentle disposition and filled with humanitarian values. And, they are Krishna devotees. If you want to adhere to Christianity but yet benefit from Sanathana Dharma, these teachers might perhaps help you!

    I just recently listened to this lecture: The story of Father Pierre by HH Indradyumna Swami Maharaj and in this, he recounts how he stayed for 10 days at some church in late 70's as a travelling Hindu monk and met an Orthodox Christian monk named Father Pierre, and how the philosophy and wisdom contained in Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Geetha intrigued the Christian monk, to the point he went into samadhi once and was hooked! It is a touching tale. I find a connect between what you say, and the experiences of this Christian priest, as told by Swamiji.

    Radhanath Swami too, as I have heard, has high regards to Christ.

    I would kindly suggest you to contact them for guidance, if possible.

    Thanks and regards.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Trying to Find the Light Again

    Quote Originally Posted by satay View Post
    Namaste,

    First of all, welcome back and thanks for posting. I did read your post entirely. I found it to be very interesting but not surprising. My impression is that most of us who grew up with a religion can never entirely convert out of it. My personal opinion is that Sanatana Dharma is so vast and open that it should not matter if you practice both hinduism and christianity. When our sages said that let wisdom come from all directions then let it come from all directions.

    I think what's more important than following a religion is practicing its principles and to see if that practice makes you a better person; if it does then keep with it.

    BTW, Christianity is not the only religion that talks about hell. Buddhism does as well. What is interesting to me is that you went back to christianity (the religion you grew up with) instead of say buddhism because of your hellish experience. That highlights my above point.
    Thank you for the warm welcome satay. I agree, it is hard to fully deny your roots and therefore completely convert out of a religion you grew up with, but you mentioned something so wonderful about Sanatana Dharma: it is so vast and open that it can accept wisdom from all directions. I think that is what I love so much about it, is that it is reconcilable with almost anything. It does not have the kind of feeling of exclusivity that some other religions and traditions do. This is because the teachings of Sanatana Dharma are indeed eternal and all-encompassing. And that is another reason for me wanting to follow Sanatana Dharma again because I see the effect it has had on my life. It genuinely makes me a better person, in ACTUALITY. Therefore, I think I must follow it. To me, it's principles are beyond compare. Good final point you made there. I think I was never really attracted to Buddhism because I always found myself either focused on Krishna or Christ alone. Not to say the Buddha has nothing to offer me, I think there are many great things to be found in Buddhism, but my attraction to both Lord Sri Krishna and Jesus Christ is so strong that I can't help but walk with them.
    ॐ मृत्युंजयाय रुद्राय नीलकण्ठाय शम्भवे l
    अमृतेशाय शर्वाय महादेवाय ते नम: ll

    Sanātana Dharma Worldwide

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    Re: Trying to Find the Light Again

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post
    Namaste,

    LightOfOm, since you are attracted to Krishna and Rama, may I offer you the idea of associating with ISKCON? Or at least, follow the lectures of HH Indradyuman Swami and HH Radhanath Swami...? Radhanath Swami is Jewish, Indradyumna Swami is Christian, more important than these facts is that, I have listened to their lectures and they both revere Jesus as a great saint of a very gentle disposition and filled with humanitarian values. And, they are Krishna devotees. If you want to adhere to Christianity but yet benefit from Sanathana Dharma, these teachers might perhaps help you!

    I just recently listened to this lecture: The story of Father Pierre by HH Indradyumna Swami Maharaj and in this, he recounts how he stayed for 10 days at some church in late 70's as a travelling Hindu monk and met an Orthodox Christian monk named Father Pierre, and how the philosophy and wisdom contained in Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Geetha intrigued the Christian monk, to the point he went into samadhi once and was hooked! It is a touching tale. I find a connect between what you say, and the experiences of this Christian priest, as told by Swamiji.

    Radhanath Swami too, as I have heard, has high regards to Christ.

    I would kindly suggest you to contact them for guidance, if possible.

    Thanks and regards.
    I am highly attracted to Lord Sri Krishna, and also Rama and Hanuman. They are so near and dear to my heart it is beyond words. Yes, I have been in ISKCON circles before and really liked everything about it. I will probably begin going to my local ISKCON temple again. That is a wonderful story you shared about Indradyumna Swami, do you have a recording for that lecture he shared? I am familiar with both him and Radhanath Swami, although I need to become even more acquainted with them. I think I will follow your advice and reach out for guidance. Thank you viraja.
    ॐ मृत्युंजयाय रुद्राय नीलकण्ठाय शम्भवे l
    अमृतेशाय शर्वाय महादेवाय ते नम: ll

    Sanātana Dharma Worldwide

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    Re: Trying to Find the Light Again

    Namaste LightOfOm,

    Kindly find the link to the Story of Father Pierre as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zHGS4DBza0

    Thanks and regards.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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