I'll flat out tell you where I stand - while I'm not officially part of any religion (yet), I am leaning towards the faith of Hinduism.
Depending on how well you know me, or how judgmental those who don't know me are, this may come as especially shocking since I'm a born-and-raised Westerner, a white male American citizen at that (as evidenced by my origin of Rochester, NY and other things I list on my Blogger profile). I'll get more into why I'm leaning this way in a future post, but I'll give you a brief summary here: it is because I was exposed to the faith during a road trip I had with some dear friends to a meditation and yoga conference held by the worldwide NGO known as the Art of Living. The friends I traveled with are (to my knowledge) adherents of this faith, as well as the faith of the owners of the apartment I stayed overnight in to attend the conference. They were all kind, generous, gracious, and warm towards me, and as a result of their kindness I was inspired to explore this faith a bit further.
I started simple enough: the day after I arrived home from my road trip, I did a meditation session based on what I learned at the conference, and was inspired to pick a Hindu mantra as background music, a mantra to Ganesha I found on YouTube to be precise. (You can find what I chose here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
My meditation was ten minutes long to match the length of the video. During the meditation, however, something interesting happened...I saw an outline of Ganesha's head while my eyes were closed. Not quite sure how to describe it...it seemed like...lines of lighter color against the dark background of my eyelids...I hope that makes sense.
This was approximately a week ago. Ever since then I've done a daily regimen of meditation using Hindu mantras to Ganesha as my background. But today...something more interesting happened that I think might be more of a sign to explore this faith for myself even further.
This afternoon as I was searching for a mantra to use for today's meditation, I came across a link to a book. This book was an e-Book published by the Himalayan Academy called Loving Ganesha. I glimpsed through the various chapters of this book, skimming through a lot and not actually reading much of it in-depth, until I came to the prayers section. There was a prayer to Ganesha that is meant to show appreciation, and I was inspired to recite it aloud, despite it being in English (I don't know a lick of Hindi or any other language of India), since it was mantras to Ganesha that were guiding my meditation. The prayer went like this:
"Aum, Shri Ganeshaya namah! Peerless One, industrious indweller in all, we see You in the full warmth of the Sun, in the full life of Earth and the orderliness of all the turning planets. O Lord and lover of intellect, You are the intricate knowledge blossoming in the mind of the people. O Lord who rules the mind of each and all who worship You, because of You, chaos never was nor will it ever be.
Ganesha sharanam, sharanam Ganesha."
Ganesha sharanam, sharanam Ganesha."
Nothing happened immediately, but it seemed like 15 minutes or a half-hour later, I felt this energy welling inside my heart. It was so intense, so warming and life-filling that I felt a little light-headed and dizzy. I laid down and let the energy course through my body. I have to say, it felt like pure bliss. Like love.
Not quite sure what else to say other than that. I'm sure it means something, but I can't think of anything specific...only that there is some higher power out there that listened to me, if only for a brief moment. Maybe it was meant to prove to me that Ganesha exists...and is listening.
However, I am open to any other interpretations. Please comment below what you think. And my next post will be a more in-depth report of my experience on the meditation and yoga conference that inspired me to seek this path in the first place.