I had some time to mull over that last post (I really should know by now not to post things either a. just because and b. at 11:30 at night, when I’m not really mentally present), and came to some realizations about what it actually means (not just what it says).
The issue isn’t food. Food is a convenient distraction. It gives me something to focus on while I avoid the thing that’s actually troubling me.
What’s troubling me is that niggling little practice vs. belief thing again. Maybe it’s part of the process. Maybe it’s because Easter is looming, and this is the first year ever that I probably won’t go to Sunday Easter services. Or maybe I will. You can see the dilemma.
What this isn’t is a question of belief, because I still hold to what I believe. I believe that past karma directs what happens to me in this lifetime, and that with each passing moment, that karmic balance shifts around. My dharma is to do good in the world (to create good karma without generating bad karma, especially where other beings are concerned, but also with respect to myself). I believe that I’m on this world for a reason, and that while this isn’t the first time I’ve been here, it’s not the last, either. Each of us has to go through the cycle of life and death multiple times, learning as we go, until we learn the ultimate lesson, which is realization of the Self within. All the physical stuff we worry about? It’s inconsequential in the grander scheme of things, and worrying about it will only cause us frustration. It’s each person’s job to see the Self in every being he/she encounters, and treat that person (cat, dog, whatever) as a piece of the Divine. I also can’t judge people as being less than, wrong, etc, just for who they are or what they believe, because that is part of the path they’re on. Their actions are not necessarily their inner being. My actions aren’t my inner being. We’re each of us responsible for the well-being of the whole, no matter how small our contribution may be. And after we’ve realized that the body does not make the man (to be utterly cliche about it), we’ll get together and laugh about all those silly things we thought were so important while we were in physical bodies. (It is obvious that I have no idea which sect appeals to me above the others, since I’m pulling things from each, even if those beliefs are beliefs I’ve had for the majority of my life.)
What don’t I believe? I don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to God. I believe that he is one in a select group of enlightened individuals, spreading truth and light. But for that matter, so was Mohammed, and the Buddha, and several other sages and mystics throughout the ages. The messages in the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, the great Sufi poets, are the same. The teachings of the Vedas are the same message.
So why in the world am I so hung up on Easter? For one thing, I am not at all comfortable with public Hindu ritual practice yet. I like the music and the chants and the beautiful ways in which temples are built and decorated, but I am so shy and unsure of myself. I think this is the main reason, actually. Church is familiar and a little comfortable. I like the hymns and the art. I like the culture wrapped up in the Episcopal church, because it’s what I grew up with. I know what to do when I go. I’ve been praying the same prayers for my entire life (basically), so nothing’s a surprise. But what do I do when it’s really just a surface thing? My mother gave me some sage advice at one point, which was that people have two driving needs that surface when confronted with change: safety needs and growth needs. Frustration arises when those needs are almost in balance, because then you don’t know which course of action to take. In order to make a decision, you have to weigh each of those needs and decide which is more important.
My safety and growth needs are at parity. On one hand, spiritually, I need to grow and move on. I need something where my soul feels at home, and that something is Sanatana Dharma. I’m not in Arkansas anymore. I know people of all sorts of other faith, a few of them Hindu (okay, laugh, but that was a rarity in my hometown). On the other hand, sentimentally, I need the familiar and the comfortable. I think that the struggle to move past those safety needs is preventing me from connecting with the Divine the way I had before I started this journey. Slowly I’m moving past it, but holidays are hard. I’ve been thinking about kids, too. I will bring them up with the beliefs I have, but what cultural tradition should they have? I know that’s waaay far in the future, but it makes me stop and think a lot.
As usual, I’m probably just overthinking this. I may still go to Easter services, though, just because I like the hymns.