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 Blooming Stars

A Way of Life

            When I advocate a spirituality beyond religions and when I focus on relationships that go beyond blood connections, my relatives are somewhat confused. They are puzzled when I use the name, Snehananda Jyoti (Sneha=Love, Ananda=Bliss, Jyoti=Light; Blissful in Love-Light), with the title, Swami (one who has conquered oneself), to describe my current identity. (Snehananda Jyoti is not my official name; and the title, Swami, is not truthful and accurate as I have not conquered myself yet; I am continuously conquering myself, though.). The confusion and puzzlement suffered by persons who do not take spirituality and doing God’s will seriously are understandable. Am I a Hindu? I am in the sense Hinduism is a way of life, and I adopt the best values of Hinduism such as detachment, renunciation, tolerance, purity of intention, truth, and non-violence. But these are also values taught by Christ. Am I a Christian? I am in that I try hard to follow the teachings of Christ. The primary teaching of Christ is to do the will of one God of the entire humanity, our father and mother. His mission clearly spelt out a preferential option for the poor, the down-trodden, the powerless, and the least human being.

            In the Kingdom of God he preached there is no discrimination, bias, or prejudice; there is no Jew or gentile, black or white, high caste or low caste, male or female. He did not bind any one to any dogma, doctrine, or ritual except to love and the liberating truth. In his kingdom all live in harmony in the spirit of love based on forgiveness and reconciliation. Therefore Christianity as Hinduism is also a way of life. In fact Thomas, a disciple of Christ, who came to India, called those who followed the teachings of Christ the followers of the new path or those who joined the new way. at the time In this way of life primarily inspired by the revolutionary teachings of Christ, I take everything good from other religions, persuasions, or traditions. Nobody has to be called a Christian to follow the teachings of Christ as amply demonstrated by Gandhi, a Hindu. Christ did not penalize those who did what he told his disciples to do even though they did not belong to the group of his disciples. Truly Gandhi was beyond all religions. So was Christ when he told the Samaritan woman that God needs to be worshipped only in spirit and truth and not in any particular place. Our Earth – every inch of it – is holy. Humanly, as we are bound in body on this earth, we revere in our memory certain places due to our association with certain names.

            What is the reason for my hesitation in belonging to an organized religion? It was the high priest and the dignitaries of the organized religion that Christ belonged, who decided that he should undergo the terrible death of the worst criminal. All religions over the years have fought among themselves and have done terrible things to those who did not agree with their views or doctrines. Nations that were supposed to have followed the teachings of Christ or Islam or Hinduism have committed the worst crimes that humanity suffered. What mattered to followers of religions was the acquisition of power and wealth through any means. As a result religions have lost credibility, and are drifting in the vast ocean of dogmas, rites, rituals, and meaningless practices ridden with superstitions, cumbersome baggages, crushing burdens, and dead weights of the past. Currently I do not believe in original sin or hell. Yet I do believe in some kind of a purification center (purgatory?) in this life and even, perhaps, afterlife. Nobody can say for sure anything about afterlife. We have to all that to our individual faith. It is not right to judge or condemn anyone about something we do not know for sure. Besides as Christ said let us leave judgment solely to God.

            All are children of God. Let the representatives of all religions teach humanity the best that they can offer. Let every human choose in spirit and truth the way of life that one needs. Conversion is a fundamental right, and nobody can interfere with it. Yet conversion has needlessly occasioned crimes of passion due to lack of true spirituality. Conversion happens only in Grace Let conversion be left to the Spirit of God. Only those who can brave the strong storm of controversies and ignorance go through conversion. Conversion is a personal matter for those who live consciously in the spirit of truth, love and grace. From truth and love alone emanates tolerance. Let our life alone proclaim our message when we live among persons of irrational passions and crimes. Nobody can vanquish truth. Meanwhile let us all work on social and distributive justice for the betterment of the least advantaged human being. Let us model spiritual life as meticulously as a worldly fashion model does to achieve worldly glory. All will chose led by the Spirit of God the best that they are capable of in freedom and truth.


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