Hare Krishna

Now that I live in Boston, I’m able to meet up with all sorts of different religions, which I love. Just yesterday, I went to Boston Common (which is close to where I live) because there was a Hare Krishna festival going on.

There was a whole group of people chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, free vegetarian food, lots of wonderful Hindu-themed clothing for sale. I wished I’d had the money to buy some of the shirts. Also, one stall was giving out a book called The Journey Home by Radhanath Swami. I started reading it today and it quickly sucked me into its story. It’s an autobiography. The author is a Jewish-American from the Chicago area who ends up hitchhiking around Europe, the Middle East, and ends up in India. Eventually, he gets into Hinduism and becomes devout. I’m assuming he becomes a Hare Krishna (hence why ISKCON is giving his book away), but I haven’t gotten there yet.

I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with Hare Krishnas. I remember when I went to college in Tallahassee in the mid-90s, there was a Hare Krishna group that showed up every Wednesday to the Florida State University campus. There was a market of some kind that would be there every week. I would eat the free vegetarian food they offered there and often the guy representing the Krishnas, called Garuda, would get into an argument with the fundamentalist Christian young woman with a bullhorn who’d try to bully people into believing in Jesus.

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of bhakti yoga. Devoting one’s self, one’s heart to God. I try to practice it in my heart, but it’s difficult with so many different approaches appealing to me. I’m going to check out the local Hare Krishnas. However, in order to be a member, their devotees are asked to not only give up meat, but also eggs, onion, garlic, tobacco, caffeine, alcohol and non-procreative sex. Not sure how strictly these are enforced, however. I would have a difficult time giving anything but the sex up. And the tobacco, since I don’t smoke.

I just don’t see the point of it. As someone who doesn’t believe in scripture, it’s difficult to convince me that giving up caffeine or onion or garlic will make me a better person or bring me closer to God. I can understand the idea of being against the influence of lust. But I don’t see any problem with adults having consensual sex. To say otherwise, to me, just repeats the error of fundamentalism.

But I do want to find a spiritual community, sing bhajans, and feel the sense of joy that comes along with that.

I will not, however, wear a funny-looking ponytail.

~ by R.M. McGrath on 09/17/2012.

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