I’m posing this question to myself, actually.
What happens when a skeptic becomes a Hindu?
Let’s back up a bit first. I received a business card about this yoga seminar, which focuses a lot on chakras (this is the second time it’s been referred to me; blog reader Surya was the first to share the link, so thanks, Surya!) and chakra-specific yoga.
And then I got to thinking about how that works in my own life. Not chakras, specifically, although I imagine there is someone out there who could give me a solid explanation. What I’m talking about is the metaphysical tradition in Hinduism, and what happens when a skeptic encounters that.
I’m a skeptic, for the most part. My husband is also a skeptic. I find it difficult to believe in something as a personal philosophy unless I’ve got empirical proof, except in cases where I’m pretty sure it won’t ever be proven. Like, for example, the existence of God and God’s omnipotence, omniscience, etc. My brain is too small to comprehend that in its totality, which is why I work at the very least to achieve a spiritual knowledge, which is the closest this earthbound creature may hope to get. Deep, profound faith and the mysteries that support that faith is very important.
I have a really hard time accepting things like chakras or reiki or divine signs or things that can’t be tested and proven. Physical yoga (hatha, ashtanga, bikram, etc) strengthens the body. Devotional yoga strengthens the spiritual practice, focusing the individual’s devotion to God. Karma yoga, well, that’s pretty obvious. Oddly enough, because there’s no evidence to contradict the effects of karma yoga on my life or anyone else’s lives (who knows but God what it was I did in a past life?), I can accept that.
However, astrology, chakras, and other very central but less concrete Hindu beliefs are difficult for me to accept. I get the feeling that I’m not the only person out there to feel this way, and perhaps it’s ignorance that makes me feel the way I do, but the skeptic in me is, well skeptical. Honestly, I’m not sure that I’m willing to be otherwise. I was raised asking questions, making my spirituality fit my own life, and was drawn to Sanatana Dharma because I saw the same thing there. And I’m going to continue to be skeptical and question things, because that’s important to me. It’s not just Hindu metaphysics, by the way. It’s all metaphysics. I don’t get metaphysics.
I will acknowledge that there’s a mental focus in those things that’s important. If you have difficulty making decisions, astrology can offer solutions and peace of mind, should you need that. If you’re attempting to elevate your consciousness through meditation and focusing on the attributes of a specific chakra help do that, then focus on that. I’m not going to throw these things out totally, just because I don’t believe personally in the mystical side of them. I think that there are many useful spiritual tools out there, but like every tool, they work best when coupled with solid knowledge of how to use them to their best effect.
I’m also willing (and able) to change my mind. If somebody knows of something concrete and testable about any of those things I’m skeptical about, I’ll listen.
(Incidentally, Googling “types of yoga” on an American computer brings up many, many wellness sites that will tell you all about physical yoga, and nothing about the rest. Hey, America, let’s get learning.)