Clashing convictions can portend problems

In 1993 hinduism today received a  most unusual letter from a Christian: “I feel that the nine tenets of Hinduism as presented in a recent Christianity Today article ring much truer than their Christian equivalents [see page 32]. Is it necessary for one who believes in Hindu-ism to formally become a member and, if so, how is this done?” This was a crisis of faith, for to most Christians belief is paramount, and questioning dogma can make one apostate to the faith. By comparison, most Indians never bother about their beliefs. Emphasis is placed instead on sadh-a-na, religious effort and striving. 

However, when Hindus begin serious striving, beliefs become important. Vive-k-a-nanda thought Ramakrishna mad to say he saw God everywhere. The young man just didn’t believe it. One day Sri Rama-krishna taught him a lesson: for three days Vivek-ananda literally saw God in everything around him. Only after gaining this belief would the young monk progress further under his guru. Even so, it was not until near the end of his life that a vision of Shakti similarly convinced him of Ramakrishna’s realization of the personal God.

Yogis report that conflicts can arise when practicing one path while believing in another. Resolving such dichotomies requires self-reflection, even painful reevaluations.

This process of inner discovery is still happening. Deva Seyon, a missionary, told Hinduism Today, “I’ve been working with seekers for ten years helping them to find and understand their spiritual convictions. The seeds of belief can give a kind of disturbing experience which prevents one from fully embracing a pure set of Hindu beliefs. Clearly, belief births attitudes which, in turn, determine one’s daily actions. Once someone eliminates psychologically conflicting beliefs, they become a spiritual dynamo. Actually, you are what you believe.”

Sadhana: Examining Beliefs

• Study each list of Hindu beliefs on pages 30 to 33, writing down what you believe by comparison  

• Discuss beliefs with family and  friends

• Consciously discard conflicting views