Tag Archives: Hinduism

What if We Learned That Objects Aren’t Meant to Be Owned?

Now that I’ve got a little one to look after, I spend a lot of time watching him interact with the world around him. At this point in his life, that means he’s interacting with just about anything he can get his hands on. Sometimes, I wish it were just his toys and then that got me thinking… his toys. What if we taught our young ones that the things they use aren’t actually theirs? What if we taught our young ones that the things they use aren’t meant to be possessed?

Part of these thoughts stem from watching other little ones interact with their toys. They can be quite possessive about what’s theirs and what they’ll allow different people to touch and/or play with. So, I was thinking, what if, from a very early age, we instilled within our young ones a sense that these things that they’re playing with aren’t theirs. Instead, we helped them understand that they were simply using these things.

There are certainly implications for them when they’re young, assuming that this is something that we could teach them. For instance, let’s say that they lose a toy. Instead of having a “melt down” over losing this toy, they just realize that they toy is gone. Since it wasn’t theirs to begin with, there’s no need to ‘mourn’ its loss. A similar thing could play out when our little ones are playing with other little ones. There’s often differing levels of development in play-groups, so some kids may physically take toys from other kids. This could lead to the proverbial “melt down,” but what if the kid who was about to “melt down,” didn’t, and it was because they learned that the toy was never meant to be theirs forever.

As I write this, I realize how difficult this may be to teach to someone at a very, very young age, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to try.

Let’s talk about how this might affect adulthood.

The first thing that comes to mind is the idea of renouncing materialism, which immediately made me think of Hinduism and Sannyasa. Of course, that’s a bit beyond what I had in mind when I was imagining our little ones learning about possessing objects. In fact, I was thinking more about Buddhism and Upādāna, which has to do with the idea of “grasping.” So, I wonder… if we were raised with the idea that objects aren’t meant to be owned/possessed, how different would our lives be? Maybe the whole idea of materialism fades away. Maybe we don’t spend much of our early adulthood (and for some, middle and late adulthood) acquiring things. Maybe we focus more time on enjoying ourselves and less time wishing we had a better car, house, or some other object that we deem desirable.

A Collection of Scriptures for Guidance: Hinduism, Part 7

Note: the first two paragraphs are introductory and are derived from the first post in this series. I’ll continue to repost them, in case this is your first time reading a post from this series.

When I was still a doctoral candidate at Sofia University, one of the courses I completed was “World Religions.” This was one of the classes I enjoyed the most during my time at Sofia University. I’d never had such broad exposure to the world’s religions before and this class really allowed me to gain a better understanding of them.

One of the papers I wrote for that class really tied in the fact that I was in a clinical psychology PhD program. The purpose of the paper was to collect quotes from scriptures of the various world religions that I could use with clients/patients when I became a therapist. While I’m no longer pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology, the quotes I collected could certainly be of use, so I thought I’d share them here.

Today’s collection of scriptures for guidance comes courtesy of Hinduism. Enjoy!

Anxiety

Those who surrender to God all selfish attachments are like the leaf of a lotus floating clean and dry in water. Sin cannot touch them. Renouncing their selfish attachments, those who follow the path of service work with body, senses, and mind for the sake of self-purification. Those whose consciousness is unified abandon all attachment to the results of action and attain supreme peace. (Bhagvad Gita 5.10-12)

Anger

Why, sir, do you get angry at someone
Who is angry with you?
What are you going to gain by it?
How is he going to lose by it?
Your physical anger brings dishonor on yourself;
Your mental anger disturbs your thinking.
How can the fire in your house burn the neighbor’s house
Without engulfing your own? (Basavanna Vachana, 248)

Addiction

Excessive eating is prejudicial to health, to fame, and to bliss in Heaven; it prevents the acquisition of spiritual merit and is odious among men; one ought, for these reasons, to avoid it carefully. (Laws of Manu, 2.57)

Death

Now my breath and spirit goes to the Immortal,
and this body ends in ashes;
OM. O Mind! remember. Remember the deeds.
Remember the actions. (Isah Upanishad, 17, Yajur Veda, 40.15)

Guilt

All evil effects of deeds are destroyed, when He who is both personal and impersonal is realized. (Mundaka Upanishad, 2.2.9)

If we have sinned against the man who loves us, have wronged a brother, a dear friend, or a comrade, the neighbor of long standing or a stranger, remove from us this stain, O King Varuna. (Rig Veda, 5.85.7)

Though a man be soiled with the sins of a lifetime, let him but love me, rightly resolved, in utter devotion. I see no sinner, that man is holy. Holiness soon shall refashion his nature to peace eternal. O son of Kunti, of this be certain: the man who loves me shall not perish. (Bhagavad Gita, 9.30-31)

If you liked this post, you might like one of the other posts in this series:

Could Washington, DC, Use a Little More Selfless Service?

During a trip I took earlier this year, I happened to pick up a USAToday. I don’t often read the USAToday, but that has more to do with the way that I aggregate articles. As I was reading, I came across an op-ed about Tulsi Gabbard, the newest member of the House of Representatives from Hawai’i. In the context of what had just happened with the drama of the fiscal cliff, there were some important points that I want to highlight:

The problem in Washington today is that legislators almost always act based on how they think their actions will help or hurt their political careers. An antidote to our epidemic of partisanship can be found in the “great tradition of conciliation” in which American statesmen from Thomas Jefferson to John Kennedy put the good of the country above the interests of self, party, or region. This tradition could be revived, if only we would heed the words of George Washington, who warned against the “mischiefs of the spirit of party,” or of Patrick Henry, who exclaimed, “I am not a Virginian but an American.”

It could also be revived by an infusion of the Gita’s principle of selfless service. If Democrats and Republicans could learn to cast their votes without first (and foremost) calculating the costs and benefits to their personal careers, Capitol Hill would start to look a less like a battlefield between rival clans and more like the arena of compromise and conciliation our Founders intended it to be.

Selfless service.

How often do we hear that phrase used in the context of politics?

The irony of this op-ed about selfless service is that a day later, I heard this same point echoed on conservative talk radio. Dennis Praeger and his call-in guests were opining that politicians weren’t concerned about the big picture — they were focused on what was going to get them elected and keep them elected. How interesting, eh? While I don’t know that the author of the op-ed is liberal, the fact that he’s writing about diversity in Congress (and about a Democratic House Member, in particular) might lead one to believe that he might be. There’s also the fact that he wrote a rather pointed post for CNN around election day last year. So, it’s safe to assume that back in January of this year, we had people on both sides of the ideological aisle talking about how important it is for politicians in America to start thinking about what’s good for the country rather than their district, party, or reelection chances.

While I’m totally on-board with a bigger picture perspective, I would wonder how to reconcile not keeping the interests of my district in mind when voting. Isn’t that how people get elected in the first place? I’m going to represent you in Washington… I’m going to represent what’s important for our town when I get to DC… How could one turn one’s back on one’s district?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but it’s a conversation worth having.

Thoughts on the Movie “Life of Pi”: Letting Go

Life of Pi 3DFirst and foremost, the story is fantastic. If you haven’t seen it, be sure to — you’ll be glad you did. As I have with other movies, I’m going to talk about some of the plot, so if you haven’t seen it, save this post and come back to it after you have (if you don’t want some of the plot spoiled for you).

*Spoilers!*

There’s a really important lesson that Pi expresses towards the end of him telling the story to his lunch companion: letting go. So many times throughout Pi’s life he’s had to “let go” and if he didn’t “let go,” he probably wouldn’t have survived his time on the Pacific.

Throughout Pi’s early life, we learn of his experimentation with many religions. As a young boy, he first learns about Hinduism and the multiple Gods. Later on, he learns of Christianity and Islam. As a result, he starts to follow the teachings of the three religions — no easy feat. I find it a bit ironic that when we meet Pi in his adult life and he talks about the story of his time with Richard Parker, the lesson he believes is the most important: “letting go.” That’s Buddhism. Do a quick Google search for Buddhism and let go and you’ll find almost 4,000,000 results. Of course, Buddhism doesn’t have some sort of trademark on the idea of letting go, but of the religions, Buddhism is the one I’ve most heard the idea of letting go expressed.

There’s one more thing I wanted to touch on about this movie — the ending, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Someone asked me if it was because of Pi telling the different story to the two Japanese fellows from the company and I don’t think that’s why. Just for me, there was something about the way the film ended that didn’t match the fantastical story. Throughout the whole movie, I was right there with Pi on the Pacific and scared as ever for him. I can’t imagine floating on a lifeboat on the Pacific — much less — a self-made raft, so that the tiger doesn’t have me for lunch.

There are two things I can do:

1) I can go and get the book and read the last few chapters (or the whole thing) — to see if maybe there wasn’t something carried over from the book to the movie (with regard to the ending).

2) I can simply let go.