Last Sunday, instead of going to my usual church, I went to a Hindu temple. I thought it may be good for me to see things from another perspective. I wasn't sure what to expect and I was a little nervous to go by myself, so I brought my sister, Danielle and my friend, Christa.
This was a strange experience for all of us. No one wore shoes in the temple. I figured it was a sign of respect. We saw all kinds of statues of gods -- most were statues of women, bulls and elephants. As we made our way into the main sanctuary, we saw people singing with no instruments. We had a seat on the floor near the back until we were invited to sit with the other people on these white sheets.
I really liked the songs they sang. I had started memorizing it and I would have sung along if I didn't know they were worshiping Gods I do not believe in. The priest explained that they had been chanting for 24 hours! At the end of the 24 hours, noon, they would start the service. The service was unlike any I had ever seen in my whole life. The priest played the accordion while the audience played instruments and sang along! We also did the "OOOOMMMMM" thing you see Hindu people doing on TV . . . which was kinda cool!
The message was about using your time wisely so you can make intelligent decisions and contribute positively to the community. He talked about how our energy affects us and the people around us . . . and he enforced the idea of evolution. Although I was a bit uncomfortable in this situation and I did not agree with some ideas the priest mentioned, I took a good message from it. I agree that we should use the free time that we have to benefit society in a positive way and I have been applying this message to my life all week.
Although this experience completely contradicted what I believe, I felt it was important to do it so I could have some understanding. When I encounter Hindu people in my life, I will at least have a basic knowledge of what they believe. I will be more able to see things from their point of view and I would save myself from looking like an idiot if I ever tried to explain my beliefs to them not knowing anything about what they believe. Why should they listen and try to understand ME and MY beliefs if I never took the time to understand them first? Have you ever noticed that the dumbest, most frustrated people are only that way because they refuse to try to understand things? When you let people know that you understand their point of view first, they will be more likely to listen and try to understand your point of view. This is the best way to approach every situation if you don't want to cause arguments.
If you would prefer to keep a closed mind, you are purposely keeping yourself from experiencing all that the world has to offer. My friend Christa, who went with me, decided that what she believes is the only true way to go and everyone who believes anything else is an idiot. She didn't want to hear anything the priest said, she didn't want to participate in the music and she definitely did not want to eat any of their food they offered after the service. She decided to close herself off from this experience and she did not learn anything from it. When she encounters Hindu people in her life, she may get frustrated with them because she never wanted to understand them.
You have a choice! You can open yourself up to new experiences, learn new things and become a very intelligent person . . . or you can go throughout life ignorantly. I would encourage you to try something someone else likes to do. If going to a Hindu temple seems a bit drastic for you, try something one of your friends likes that you never thought would be any fun. You may surprise yourself! If you don't like it, that's ok, at least now you have learned something and you have a good argument if someone tries to convince you to do it again.
Until next time,