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Falling out of love with Hindu ritualism and "superstition"

I'm not a ritualistic or structured person. I left Roman Catholicism and drifted away from Eastern Orthodoxy because of the rules and regulations, and rituals. I've come to find there are at least as many, if not more, having to do with Hinduism. Ask a question, and you'll get 100 different "definitive" answers from 100 different people. No one knows how to say "in my opinion"; everyone is an internet acharya or guru. For example, my string of tulsi kanthi (tulsi neckbeads) broke; what to do with them?

1. Put them on the altar in front of Sri Krishna, to whom tulsi is sacred.
2. No! Must not do that! Cannot give back to Krishna what he has blessed!
3. Take them to a river, submerge them and let the river take them.
4. Keep them in a special place (but not on the altar :rolleyes: ).

You can't wear a mālā that you have performed japa with.

Today is an ekadashi (11th day of the lunar fortnight) fast. The fast must be broken with grains at a certain time tomorrow morning, or the fast is for naught.

All food must be prepared and cooked for, and offered to God first, lest you incur offense. Die-hards maintain you cannot even taste the food as you are preparing it.

Sounds silly? Yes, it does. Over-thinking this? Perhaps I am.

I stumbled on the Hua Hu Ching, allegedly attributed to Lao Tzu as a follow-on to the Tao Te Ching. In the HHC, ch. 47 are the verses (in part):

Blind spirituality is unreal.
Chanting is no more holy than listening to the
murmur of a stream; counting prayer beads no more
sacred than simply breathing; religious robes no
more spiritual than work clothes.
If you wish to attain oneness with the Tao, don’t get
caught up in spiritual superficialities.
Instead, live a quiet and simple life, free of ideas and
concepts.


This really speaks to me. I'm finding Buddhism and Taoism far less dogmatic than Hinduism could ever hope to be. Do I still believe in the Hindu deities? Yes, along with Buddhist and Taoist deities. Do I believe they are facets or aspects of one God? Mm... I'm not so sure; I'm leaning more towards enlightened angelic-like beings. I've admitted to being an unabashed syncretic henotheist, and can't quite shake my monist-deist leanings.

So I guess this was just a brainfart, but insights and commentaries are welcome. :)

Comments

  • @lamaramadingdong

    Yep, there ya go! :thumbsup:
  • Btw, I have more major packing of deity statues and pictures. My altar/shrine has been totally out of control. I've had an icon for virtually every deity that I thought should be prayed to. Polytheism run amok. :hair: I think it's going to be very spartan. Less is more.
    Lucy_Begoodriverflow
  • oooh...where's deity garage sale?

  • It's more proper and respectful to gift them. ;)
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    I was into Vedanta before I came to Buddhism ... that and a longish stint imagining that ecumenism was the way. Read a LOT of books. Finally gave up, picked Zen and stuck with it.

    My view: Trying to avoid mumbo-jumbo is just another form of mumbo-jumbo. Every format has at least one thing that will piss you off. If you find a format that has no off-pissing qualities, then run for the hills. How much could anyone learn from something that was totally agreeable?

    I think it's about right to pick something that seems 80-90 percent acceptable. Then do that ... by which I mean, practice ... and don't look back. If you want to parse every verse and every ritual, then return to the Catholic Church. I understand the Jesuits are really, really smart. :)
    Jainarayanriverflow
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    Blinding spirituality is unreal, man.
    Chanting is more than listening to the
    murmur of a stream; counting prayer beads, know more.
    Scared? than simply breathing; religion robs 'no'.
    Mere ritual, then work clothes . . .
    if you wish to attain oneness. With the Tao, don’t get.
    Caught up in spiritual superficialities?
    Live a quiet and sampled life, free ideas and
    concepts.


    Lob Stew
  • genkaku said:

    I was into Vedanta before I came to Buddhism ... that and a longish stint imagining that ecumenism was the way. Read a LOT of books. Finally gave up, picked Zen and stuck with it.

    My view: Trying to avoid mumbo-jumbo is just another form of mumbo-jumbo. Every format has at least one thing that will piss you off. If you find a format that has no off-pissing qualities, then run for the hills. How much could anyone learn from something that was totally agreeable?

    I think it's about right to pick something that seems 80-90 percent acceptable. Then do that ... by which I mean, practice ... and don't look back. If you want to parse every verse and every ritual, then return to the Catholic Church. I understand the Jesuits are really, really smart. :)

    @genkaku Your post in "Coming Home" hits the nail on the head too. When I got more educated and deeper into Hinduism I realized I was happier with simply believing in the gods, knowing who they are, what they do, praying to them and respecting them. It was when I started reading too much and listening to too many people that things turned to crap, i.e. getting caught up in the minutiae and mumbo-jumbo. It's the reason I gave up on Christianity; not Jesus, but Christianity: more rules and regulations. Not in a million years would I return to that. I think that "80-90 percent acceptable" as you said, for me leans towards Buddhism and Taoism flavored with the Hindu deities. I think they have a lot in common, having incorporated Hindu deities (or overlapped) to a large extent. It's as if my philosophy is moving eastward.

    Btw, Vedanta gives me a headache like the Jackhammer of Satan would. I can't get my head wrapped around Shankara's contention that creation and maya are the leela of God... God playing hide-and-seek? :hair:
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    Perhaps "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" by Chogyam Trungpa might help. Sometimes we become disillusioned with our culture and turn "spiritual" as a means of supporting our identity. Your polytheistic-ness could be mirroring an identity-ness that the book might help you settle. Hindu, Buddhist, Christian... we don't need such a labeled home for our mind, we need a cushion from which we can see how all of those labels and deities limit and trap us. :)

    With warmth,
    Matt
    JainarayanFlorianperson
  • aMatt said:

    Perhaps "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" by Chogyam Trungpa might help. Sometimes we become disillusioned with our culture and turn "spiritual" as a means of supporting our identity. Your polytheistic-ness could be mirroring an identity-ness that the book might help you settle. Hindu, Buddhist, Christian... we don't need such a labeled home for our mind, we need a cushion from which we can see how all of those labels and deities limit and trap us. :)

    With warmth,
    Matt

    Thanks @aMatt. I'll look into the book. Now I'm intrigued by the polytheistic-ness and identity-ness. I very much dislike labels.
  • @riverflow
    riverflow said:

    I would say ritual has its uses-- however you can reach a point of diminishing returns if careless. As an aid to one's own practice, ritual works, as upaya.

    But if it becomes to ornate or one clings to it as practice itself, it can cease to function as a means to an end and becomes an end in itself. From that point onward, it has morphed into superstition. Then we think some thing "out there" can fix our problems.

    When I was Eastern Orthodox, my priest used to rail against rituals or anything becoming ends in themselves. I should say I'm not totally anti-ritual, because even daily sadhana is ritual, but it's when ritual is done for ritual's sake... by rote without feeling or the reason for it. Then it has, as you pointed out, crossed the line into superstition.

    "Why do we do that?"
    "Uh well, it's what we've always done."
    "But why, I don't understand?"
    "You don't have to understand, we just do it." :wtf:
    riverflow
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    The only ritual I do is chanting arousing bodhicitta and refuge prayers. I do find it helps add energy to my meditation. Since they are topical prayers I think they are benificial even as an end because Buddhism is all (almost) about bodhicitta and refuge. Dedication of merit is another that serves as an end imho.
    Jainarayancvalue
  • Jeffrey said:

    The only ritual I do is chanting arousing bodhicitta and refuge prayers. I do find it helps add energy to my meditation. Since they are topical prayers I think they are benificial even as an end because Buddhism is all (almost) about bodhicitta and refuge. Dedication of merit is another that serves as an end imho.

    That's been my goal since I started learning about Buddhism. Hinduism is not without compassion but I have not found anything close to bodhicitta except one sloka in the Srimad Bhagavatam asking to delay liberation until all beings are liberated.

    Heretical as this may sound to and for a Hindu, I find it more beneficial to chant om mani padme hum than to do nama japa. I'm being drawn more to Chenrezig. Now I understand why it could be disastrous to attempt an esoteric sadhana without guidance and empowernent... I am too much in flux and unstable in direction. I think it would mess with my head. I think your approach is sound for me at this point.
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    edited July 2013
    By chance, since it turned up on the shelf in my local s/h bookshop, I have just finished reading Hinduism: The Meaning for the Liberation of the Spirit by Swami Nikhilananda. It is brilliant. He is particularly good at navigating the relationship between the different levels of Hinduism, where at the deepest level there is the nondualism shared by Buddhism and Taoism, then qualified nondualism, dualism etc., up to the level where it eventually appears as a pantheon of ancient deities with more rituals than golf.

    Perhaps you are not abandoning Hinduism, @Jainarayan, but just cutting to the chase.
    Jainarayanriverflowcvalue
  • Florian said:


    Perhaps you are not abandoning Hinduism, @Jainarayan, but just cutting to the chase.

    @Florian, I think you have hit on it. :) Cutting to the chase, separating the wheat from the chaff. As Michelangelo is reported to have said when asked how he turns a block of stone into a masterpiece, "I chip away at the stone until the statue is revealed". Maybe I'm chipping away at the stone. Yeah! I like that! ;)
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    The great unification of Buddhism and Hinduism is still prevalent in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha. Ironically, Nepal is the world's only Hindu nation, where people don't consider the two religions distinct from each other.
    http://hinduism.about.com/od/gurussaintsofthepast/a/buddha.htm

    If the Buddha 'reformed Hinduism' and was an emanation of Vishnu . . . then . . .
    Nothing to leave. Nowhere to go.

    Chenrezig = aspects of Shiva or Vishnu
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avalokiteśvara

    :wave:
  • lobster said:

    The great unification of Buddhism and Hinduism is still prevalent in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha. Ironically, Nepal is the world's only Hindu nation, where people don't consider the two religions distinct from each other.
    http://hinduism.about.com/od/gurussaintsofthepast/a/buddha.htm

    If the Buddha 'reformed Hinduism' and was an emanation of Vishnu . . . then . . .
    Nothing to leave. Nowhere to go.

    Chenrezig = aspects of Shiva or Vishnu
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avalokiteśvara

    :wave:

    The Nilakantha Dharani makes clear references to Shiva (Nilakantha itself is an epithet for Shiva) and Vishnu's avatars Varaaha (the boar), Narasimha (the lion), and the one who carries tha chakra, lotus and mace. Those are all Vishnu's attributes. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna makes a reference to how men are seduced by the "flowery words of the Vedas" (one translation) only for the purpose of gaining material wealth and pleasures, for getting a good rebirth, and nothing more. I think this is very interesting and take this as paving the way for the Buddha to reform the misuses and abuses of the Vedas.
    lobster
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited July 2013
    I used to find it very comforting in one Vedanta temple or another to see the words from the Vedas: "Truth is one. Wise men call it by many names." Soft, enveloping, comprehensive, inviting, hopeful ... well, I was in a warm-fuzzy phase and needed support and thought I was getting it. And perhaps I was in that particular time: I wanted hope and belief and I received it.

    I cannot speak for anyone else but what I found was that hope and belief simply won't cut it. It's like talking about a sneeze without sneezing, a laugh without laughing, love without loving, being devoted to porn without ever getting laid. Experience trumps belief and if experience is what anyone wants, then practice is the means... sometimes delightful, sometimes depressing, sometimes awesome, sometimes awful ... p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e.

    In order to practice, you've got to be willing to be a jerk, to be inept, to be a stumble-bum and a klutz. Don't worry, no one else will know: Everyone else may think you're kool and accomplished ... but you need to set aside the kool and the savvy and start being who you are. And everyone stumbles as they begin any practice ... bike riding, carpentry, spiritual endeavor, no different. The object of spiritual practice is not so much to succeed. Rather it is the willingness to fail and begin again ....

    Just begin ... and continue. Why? Because experience trumps belief and hope. And it puts your feet on the ground ... for a change.

    End of rant. :)
    riverflowJainarayanVastmindlobster
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    I don't remember that as being the correct phrase from the Vedas. Are you sure it's not a miquote? Maybe I misrembered it.
  • In Sanskrit it's ekaṁ sat viprāḥ bahudā vadanti "one truth the sages call by many names". Rigveda 1.164.46 The full verse is

    Indraṃ mitraṃ varuṇamaghnimāhuratho divyaḥ sa suparṇo gharutmān,
    ekaṃ sad viprā bahudhā vadantyaghniṃ yamaṃ mātariśvānamāhuḥ

    "They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutmān.
    To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan."
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Ah. As I feared, it was me that misremembered. Thanks.
  • Florian said:

    Ah. As I feared, it was me that misremembered. Thanks.

    You're welcome.

    Isn't it a bitch (I can say that, right? :p ) when you think you remember something, or saw something somewhere, it sticks in your mind, then you can't remember where you saw it or remember it correctly? Drives me crazy, because then people say "Source?" I just said I can't remember where! :rolleyes:

    :D
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    I don't mind forgetting the source, but I do mind misrembering the words.
  • cazcaz Veteran
    I think you'd do well with Theravada or Zen depending what approach your looking at.
  • Florian said:

    I don't mind forgetting the source, but I do mind misrembering the words.

    I hear you. Sometimes I preface something with "it goes something like this... ". That usually gets me off the hook if I've mangled the wording, but I at least got the gist of it.

  • JainarayanJainarayan Veteran
    edited July 2013
    caz said:

    I think you'd do well with Theravada or Zen depending what approach your looking at.

    Is that because of the lack of (or lessened) ritual or something else?
  • DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
    edited August 2013
    Do what works for you and do it well.

    While I practice ritual, they aren't the center of my spirituality; and I don't even do them that often. Only when I go to temple.

    Doesn't make me any less of a Hindu-Buddhist. :D
    Jainarayan
  • DaftChris said:

    Do what works for you and do it well.

    While I practice ritual, they aren't the center of my spirituality; and I don't even do them that often. Only when I go to temple.

    Doesn't make me any less of a Hindu-Buddhist. :D


    I hear you.

    I'm trying to keep in mind the concept and practice of antharyagam puja: internal worship. Service to others is one of the best forms of worship.
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