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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Anjali's Journy

You can find the full story at Thoughts from The Other Side of the Mountain blog or at Orrologion's blog. I knew her from OrthodoxCircle some months ago while she was still a catechumen. That's when I first read her story. She was just Baptized a couple weeks ago.
This is Her Baptism video!!!

This is a snippet of her story. You can catch the full thing at the other blogs.

"In a nutshell: I was born and raised Hindu, then was Baha’i
for 5 years (2002-2007) before becoming Christian and finding the Orthodox

How exactly did this happen? Well, as a Hindu, what I learned
about other religions were that there are many paths up the same spiritual
mountain to reach God. Maybe even the belief that the differences argued about
between different religions are like the blind men in a room with an elephant,
each feeling a different part and jumping to a different conclusion about what
it is - each accurately describing in his own way what one aspect of the
elephant was like, but unable to see the whole, and so thinking the others were
wrong. So I didn't really care that other religions said different things on
certain subjects, I just followed "my" way that I inherited from my family and
culture. I believed there was great wisdom in it, and assumed that other
religions probably also had great wisdom in them. I became interested in reading
about other religions as a hobby - and loved seeing that the core spiritual
teachings/messages seemed similar - about love, prayer, detachment, and
renunciation of self. It should be noted I wasn't reading about hardcore
theology of various religions - I was reading the writings of various spiritual
masters, mystical works, mythology, stuff like that. I had no urge to look
deeper into this mystery of how there were all these different religions, or of
looking more closely at the differences; I thought it was a waste of time,
foolish. One thing I didn't realize though, was that that whole blind men and
elephant analogy? It assumes that no particular religion truly has an
understanding of God - well, I understood that, but it didn't really bother me.
It never occurred to me that possibly one of the religions actually sees the
whole elephant, rather than only seeing a part. The idea was that it didn't
matter - you didn't need to understand the elephant as an elephant to get to
God, in fact maybe it was humanly impossible anyway, for people to conceive of
these things. It never occurred to me that God might have ever approached us
with a very particular way that He wanted us to approach Him, rather my focus
was on our imperfect selves trying to reach towards God.

Then I came
across the Baha'i Faith - it claimed to reveal the elephant itself, saying that
in the past, people were only ready to be exposed to whatever particular part
God saw was fit at the time. So all the previous religions were chapters in one
book, leading up to this chapter called the Baha'i Faith that reveals the unity
of all religions. But not in a mysterious way - it sought to provide distinct
proofs for this. This is what finally made me start looking analytically and
critically at all the world religions, including the Baha'i Faith, to see how
God's web of different religions were really and truly connected.
This was key -
until I started being more demanding, I was undiscerning in my happiness to just
accept all religions as they were, like different flavors of ice cream. I
enjoyed what flowed; I ignored what clashed, figuring it was just to be
expected, realistically. Different people will see through different lenses. But
as a Baha'i, I was told that if I looked really hard, I would see that all the
different religions really were one, and furthermore that all of them awaited a
Messianic figure whom Baha'is believed to have come in the person of Baha'u'llah
in the 19th century, founder of the Baha'i Faith. This fascinated me - and both
to better educate myself and also to be able to teach members of other religions
about the Baha'i Faith, I started studying.

Now rather than leaving it
all up to mystery, I said the Baha'i faith had specific explanations as to how
all the religions are different paths to one God, right? This was critical - in
the Hindu mindset, I would never had tools/measuring sticks that I expected to
actually work in this undertaking, so I would never seriously have undertaken
it, or would not have had a way of disproving/testing/evaluating any of these
beliefs about religions being essentially equal. At best, I would have prayed
like Sri Ramakrishna, who claims that Jesus, Mohammed, and other figures came to
him when he prayed, and so he believed whomever you prayed to, God would come to
you in that form - he experienced that, so he believed that, never thinking
maybe it was a delusion. As Orthodox monks say, you can have delusions, or you
can even have demons that approach you as angels of light! Anyway, back to the
story. The Baha'i Faith stated that all the different religions have the same,
unchanging, essential, ethical and spiritual teachings about God and soul and
our purpose, but have different social teachings about externals, or even about
things like marriage - these changing teachings are meant to suit the particular
people/culture/time to whom the religion is brought by a Prophet/Manifestation.
However, sometimes even the unchanging spiritual teachings are lost or corrupted
over time, and that also explains for some of the differences. We could only
tell what was right by measuring it against Baha'u'llah's explanation of all
that was true and false, for he had come to restore truth. This starts a nice
and neat process of circular thinking for determining what was true and what was
false in all the various world religions, to make them all match the Baha'i
Faith. It can be used to explain away anything, to make night appear to be day -
in fact, Baha'u'llah even says that you mustn't question the
Prophet/Manifestation, that you should even accept that day is night if he tells
you that. Then he also says we must be independent investigators of truth,
listening to no one - all these contradictions, but everyone denies they are
contradictory, believing all these paradoxes are true in some mysterious
spiritually wise way."

To read the rest, please visit one of the other blogs here or here.

Related links:
Anjali's Journy: part 2



Anonymous said...

Pray for me a sinner,
Gleanings from Orthodox authors and Holy fathers,
A person who suffers bitterly when slighted or insulted should recognize from this that he still harbors the ancient serpent in his breast.
If he quietly endures the insult or responds with great humility, he weakens the serpent and lessens its hold.
But if he replies acrimoniously or brazenly,
he gives it strength to pour its venom into his heart and to feed mercilessly on his guts.
In this way the serpent becomes increasingly powerful; it destroys his soul's strength and his attempts to set himself right, compelling him to live for sin and to be completely dead to righteousness. ''St. Symeon the New Theologian'' (Practical and Theological Texts no. 31)

Abba Anthony said, "I saw the snares the the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning,
"What can escape from such snares?"
Then I heard a voice saying to me,
''St. Anthony the Great, commemorated 17 January
Please pray for me a sinner,

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