Why Bodhinatha became a Hindu

Bodhinatha talks about the recent symposium on Hinduism at the Pittsburgh temple. Some asked Bodhinatha why he became a Hindu. In addition to a routine response, he came up with some nice new pointsHinduism is an experiential religion, it's joyous, and it has a great collection of tools, techniques, that we can follow to cause us to progress on the spiritual path.

Unedited Transcript:

Another story. We went recently to Pittsburgh. It was a nice symposium there at which we spoke. 'Hinduism - Past, Present and Future', was the subject and there were about ten speakers. An impressive group of Ph.Ds, most of them. Some were very, very insightful, others were more theoretical.

What we spoke on, was 'Hindu Megatrends', which was a very interesting topic that is coming out in the next issue of 'Hinduism Today'. We are updating our ten Hindu megatrends. Remember we published some, about 12 years ago? It is a way of looking into the future. Ideally not just looking, but reflecting on the positive trends and the negative trends. taking advantage of the positive trends and trying to fix the negative ones. So ideally we just don't look at it as a nice document by Hindu leaders. We think on these trends and put them into use in a practical way.

One of the experiences was, one of the participants in the seminar came up during a break and he said, "Oh, you were not born a Hindu. What made you adopt the Hindu ways?" That is a common question you get asked and I always give the same answer. Well, Hinduism is an experiential religion. That is what I always say. It teaches you not just to believe in God but to experience God. Not just to believe in the deeper truths but to be able to experience them. That is why Hinduism is so great. That is what I always say, standard answer.

But in reflecting upon it, I realize I needed to expand my answer. My answer was good, it hit the core of the matter but it could be better. So I was thinking about that and added two more reasons and I will share those reasons with you.

It is joyous. How do you elaborate on that? But Yogaswami has a nice statement that goes into English. You know, you hear me quote it often, "Bliss, bliss, bliss. Here there everywhere am I." That is how it gets translated. Meaning, he is experiencing God's omnipresence as himself. So it is a very profound but simple statement. What are the first three words there? Bliss, right? Hinduism takes us into a bliss consciousness. We are not just denying ourselves and sitting there in hardship or something on a rock all day and hoping for something to happen. No, it is taking us ever more deeply into a bliss consciousness. That is the idea.

As Gurudeva said, "Life is meant to be lived joyously." So that is one of the greatnesses of Hinduism, it is leading us into our inner bliss. There is a nice word that we use in 'Dancing with Siva' - entasy. Instead of ecstasy, which is like outer bliss, this is inner bliss. We don't have to do anything to create it. Outer bliss, you have to do something to create it. If you are a child, you go on a roller coaster, bliss. You have to do something outside of yourself. Entasy means the bliss is inside, you just have to find it. You don't have to do anything. You just have to go deeply enough inside yourself to find it. Inner bliss, it is there all the time.

Sometimes, we don't convey that joyous sense enough, about Hinduism, particular to children, to youth. It is important. Sometimes the youth just encounter Hinduism as a strictness, as a set of rules. "You can't do this, you can't do this, you can't do this, you can't do this." A bunch of rules and the sense of joy isn't emphasized enough. But it should be, we need to balance out the rules with a sense of enjoyment, a sense of joy in the Hindu approach.

So that is the second reason why Hinduism is so great. There is a third reason. In Gurudeva's terminology, it has a great collection of tools, techniques that we can follow. As Gurudeva said on the last Innersearch, "I have given you all the tools and it is up to you whether you use them or not."

It is like we just recently built a carpentry shop. It has got some of the greatest tools you can have for carpentry in this shop. But the shop isn't that valuable, unless we build something. We have to use it. We have to have the skill, the knowledge to use the tools and then we have to actually turn them on and use them and build something. We are using it to build a shrine for Gurudeva, back there in the corner. If you are wondering what we are doing back there, that is a shrine for Gurudeva that we are planning to finish by his Mahasamadhi. So, it will be ready by November.

We have a great collection of tools, the best collection of tools, techniques to cause us to progress on the spiritual path. There is no tradition that has more tools than Hinduism. You got more tools than you can use. Even just the Trilogy - 'Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva' - you know, you won't be able to apply all those tools to your life. There are too many them but you grab onto the ones that are the most important and use those and you make progress.

So it has a great collection of tools, techniques to progress spiritually.