On the plane ride over, I was enthralled with the book “Divine Initiation” –it’s the book that the guru, Bhagavan Shanmukha, of Shri Kali Ashram wrote. I love all the history and facts that he pulled together to debunk what people thought was the interpretation of the Vedas. It was something familiar to me because I was always annoyed how Pastors and other leaders in the church would use verses from the Bible completely out of context. I love history so I was highlighting like a mad woman, knowing I wanted to read it over again and ask the guru questions later when I met him.
What I loved even more about what I was reading was that at the core of the Vedas it’s actually monotheistic, meaning they believe that there is only one God. I remember being a Christian and people would describe Hinduism as a belief that had many gods which was blasphemous, or that they were idol worshippers or heathens or secular or devil worshippers or that they would all burn in hell for not believing in the one true God. Actually to be honest I heard Christians say a lot of this about all kinds of religions. I realize now that they were just afraid of what they didn’t know.
We hold on to things that have formed our reality and we grasp on to those truths to understand our existence and we believe these truths because it gives us an understanding of where we’ve come from and who we are. We hold on so tightly to what we’ve been told or what we have learned without allowing room for growth or new understandings to expand our perception of this reality. That’s exactly what happened to me. I believed in Christianity. I believed in what everyone taught me and I held on tightly refusing to let new information change my perception even if I resonated with it. I blindly followed without seeking my own truth and it led to the collapse of the comprehension of my self and to my entire world falling apart.
When I walked away from Christianity I didn’t walk away from the truths I believed and knew were true from my own personal experience. I walked away from religion, people, and false teachings. I got tired of people telling me how to live my life and using fear and the Bible to make me live a certain way. I got tired of people who were leaders but used their pain to control others. I got tired of Christians hating and judging and using the Bible out of context to justify their cruel actions. I got tired of the church spending money on material possessions instead of helping those in need. I got tired of people being comfortable with Sunday teachings but never really applying what they learned. I got tired of all the judgments. I got tired of being judged.
I was fed up with all the BS so I decided to leave Christianity and become a sinner. I wanted to see if God would strike me down or make me suffer for my sins. I wanted to understand this angry judgmental God the church had painted. Don’t get me wrong, the church also painted a loving God, but there was this cruel God that seemed to exist and I had to find out what was true. I moved to Austin and started drinking and hanging out with all the heathens. I took a shit ton of drugs. I had sex outside of marriage. I did whatever the fuck I wanted to and it was one of the most liberating and freeing experiences I ever had. And it was also one of the darkest, painful, heart wrenching points in my life.
On my second night at the ashram I got to meet Bhagavan. He talked of many things. How we move too fast and we need to learn how to slow down. How people don’t really understand yoga –morphing it into things it was never meant to be. How all the answers we seek are inside of ourselves. How fear traps us. How we don’t need to compete with others or with our own self. How we have forgotten to just be. The importance of rest in life, but also between each asana pose. How we think too much. How we must learn to feel more rather than think. How women were afraid to be themselves because of sin. That we must have freedom and be ourselves. That at the foundation of Tantra is that we are all divine, beautiful and perfect.
Everything he said resonated with me. I had freed myself to just live—to experience life without fear. Granted I learned some of these things in Christianity, but what I love about this path is it’s full of so much freedom instead of fear, guilt, and shame. The ashram doesn’t discriminate any religion or belief system. People come here from all kinds of backgrounds. All they teach us is truth and none of it is forced upon us. If we choose not to believe in something no one is going to debate with us. If we decide to integrate these truths into whatever we believe than so be it. It’s actually really beautiful and a lot more peaceful than the world I came from. I don’t think I’ll ever claim that I belong to any faith or belief system ever again, but I do know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Although I don’t claim Chirst as my Lord and Saviour any longer I do thank him for showing me and so many others the way. Christ was and is a perfect example of how we can unify with the Spirit of God and become whole. I’ve experienced this with Christ and I thank him for showing me all the truths he has. I will always be grateful for his soul, but I’m ready to take the journey that Christ did. I’m learning that Christ actually went to India to study under a guru and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m following Christ’s footsteps and making my own path to the light.
I no longer choose to live in fear, shame or guilt. I no longer believe in a God who sends people to burn eternally. I no longer believe that any of us are sinners.
I believe we were meant to live in joy and perfect peace. I believe in a loving God who has a perfect plan where hell does not exist. I believe in a God who sees us all as divine, beautiful and perfect.