Consecutive Days Riding: 130 Consecutive Days Blogging: 112
Today’s Mileage: 5 Total Trip Mileage: 913
Today I decided to give myself a break. We are approaching two more pilgrimage sites and I have received several comments worth blog postings so I decided to reprint one of my most popular early posting. My friendship circle has expanded significantly since the first month of the stationarypilgrim journey so many of you did not get a chance to read this posting. We were preparing to visit the Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple of South Florida and I wrote: “I would like to share with you my personal experiences with the Hindu faith. I have never travelled to India, but I have been lucky to have crossed paths with Hindu beliefs and practices and to have been changed forever by these encounters.”
How does a young man from the plains of the Dakotas come to experience Hinduism and its teachings? The answer is in California! During my time in the US Navy I was stationed in southern California, a fascinating place for a wide-eyed youth. Every other street corner was inhabited by a new religion or cultural group!
I developed a deep friendship with a fellow sailor who had grown up in the LA area. He looked every bit the part of a beach bum surfer, but he was a vegetarian and a Hindu convert. He attended the Self-Realization Fellowship in LA. At his suggestion I read the book Autobiography of Yoga, by Paramahansa Yogananda. This opened up a fascinating new world of religious thought. I began to read the teachings of various sects of Hinduism.
This caused me to wonder about what other belief systems existed in the world which the nuns who directed my Catholic education had failed to mention. While intrigued by the fellowship’s teachings, especially the pluralistic nature of Hindu beliefs, I did not join the movement. I was a pilgrim on a new and fascinating journey, checking out the different paths and only sampling their offerings!
Change was in my future, as I returned from my first tour overseas. While in Thailand, I became acquainted with Buddhism and began to wonder about meditation. I got a call from my friend asking if I wanted to learn Transcendental Meditation. “Sure why not!” No three words have ever changed my life to the degree these three did (“I do” comes close, but in a totally different way)!
Maharishi Yogi founder of TM
With no preparation, no afterthought, I entered a simple suburban home and a dimly lit room. I stood before a flickering candle and the portrait of a bearded foreign face and entered a new world! My first meditation produced what is called a Monist mystical experience, a mind blowing state of nothingness and bliss (see yesterday’s posting for more on mystical experiences). I walked out of that house profoundly changed forever!
I meditated religiously twice a day for seven years. My anxieties and fears dissolved away, my awe and appreciation for the world around me deepened, and my growing compassion and concern for others pointed me in the direction of a helping profession. I do not view meditation as a “cure all” that works for everyone. Rather, it is a valuable tool on a path to physical, mental, spiritual health and happiness. Meditation became an integral part of my journey and reverberates within me still today!
“We are all part of the One Spirit. When you experience the true meaning of religion, which is to know God, you will realize that He is your Self, and that He exists equally and impartially in all beings.”
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