My temple currently resides in a former church. We are raising money to build our own new proper temple. Within a couple of years, the Murtis will be installed in a proper home, I am sure. It is one of just a few Hindu temples in Minnesota, and the only one that I know of outside of the Twin Cities Metro area. My wife and I just happened to move here a few years before I uncovered this path I am now on.
I’ve only been able to get to my local temple about once a month since I broke my leg, and I picked yesterday to go, as the temple put on a “Journey of Peace” program for which people of all faiths were invited. This yearly program is generally well-attended by Catholics, particularly nuns from a nearby convent. But not many people of other religions attend, I’ve noticed. So I invited my friend who is a Buddhist Monk, and a woman who I presume to be an atheist. The program put on explained the basics of Hinduism, and the three main paths of yoga. Then there was a Q and A session which I felt was quite useful.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how my path in Hinduism began. When I started, all I did was read books of talks by Paramhansa Yogananda and meditate. I meditated on the Trimurti but was not a Vaisnav. Immediately leading up to this conversion I had always referred to myself as a Godist. I believed there was a God. That was it. Early in my Hindu experience, I believe I may have been somewhat of a Brahmanist. I did not want to prescribe an image to God. I wanted to go far beyond the anthropomorphic male human image of God I’d developed as a Catholic. I was a jnani, I believe.
I also realize that before I developed a devotional practice toward Lord Vishnu/Sathya Narayana, I was probably much more of a jnani yogi than a bhakti. At the temple yesterday, one of the men gave a talk about jnani and it was defined as “knowledge conditional of devotion” which to me means that one cannot be a jnani without devotion. I found that to be quite true. I know many jnani yogis and not one of them is a mere intellectual speculator. All have attained, I think, what I would describe as their own Ishtadevata’s equivalent of what some Vaisnavs call Krishna Consciousness.
Another speaker talked about how he began his quest as a bhakti yogi, but in doing so, found the realization that one must supplement any of the three paths with elements of the other two. In doing so, he became a devout karma yogi. These three forms of yoga (karma, jnana, and bhakti) are yet another trimurti, all parts of a greater, indivisible whole. There are a lot of threes in Hinduism: sat, chit, ananda (existence, knowledge and bliss, which very well correspond to karma, jnana and bhakti), and the three gunas Sattwa, rajas and tamas).
The man giving this talk was the first person from the temple I ever contacted with questions about Hinduism when I started. I trust his words. I listen to him intently. I was amused to find that his path was similar to what I am currently thinking. You may have read on previous posts from me that I have recently realized that Bhakti is not enough. It is fine in what it is, but it must be supplemented.
In the Q&A session, a great description of the esoteric meaning of Lord Hanuman was given. This I found to be a great reminder of my own intent to delve into Hanuman. I have not thought much about Hanuman as a Deva. I have not written about Hanuman. I very well may in the near future.
I also was given a reminder that nobody can reasonably expect to “get there” quickly without the guidance of someone who has “been there.” We all have our own Sanjaya to rely on. But that, I think is different than guidance from a Guru. I was reminded how the week after I resolved to meditate, I found the book that changed my life, “Man’s Eternal Quest” by Paramahansa Yogananda. I plan to follow his teachings more closely and to attend the very first live feed of one of the periodic talks by Swami Vidyadhishananda that I am invited to after I get out of my cast. I have been unable to attend due to accessibility issues, but will be more free to do so, after my cast is removed.