Spritzophrenia

humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

White People Need More Ganesh

Posted by spritzophrenia on September 9, 2010

I dreamed briefly about Ganesh last night, the god of wisdom, beginnings and removing obstacles. Meryl commented recently and asked why I find Hinduism weird; it’s mainly the polytheistic side that makes me feel funny. Blue gods, gods with many arms, elephant-head gods… Nevertheless, I found Ganesh ’warm’ enough in my dream.

Ganesh

Ganesh

I‘m amazed to discover he’s “invoked as Patron of Letters during writing sessions”. I’m a writer. Mystical connection, hello? Apparently Ganesha Chaturthi, the festival celebrating him usually falls between 20 August and 15 September— right now. Spoooky. He “is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival.”

Many neo-Pagans also believe in multiple gods, of the goddess and her consort at minimum, and possibly a whole lot more for those who identify with the ancient pantheons of the Greeks, Celts or Norse. Hindus can be atheist to pantheist to polytheist to monotheist and more. Indian religions are not one big unity, that seems to be an error of the West in naming the whole lot “Hinduism”:

Westerners approaching the Indian tradition for the first time … are faced with two equal and opposite problems. One is to find something graspable amid the apparently bewildering multiplicity; the other is not enforcing such a straitjacket onto the material as to overlook significant aspects of the diversity. The classic example of the latter is ‘Hinduism’: because of the existence of the name Hinduism, Westerners expect to find a monolithic tradition comparable to other ‘isms’. They remain baffled by what they find until they discover that Hinduism is a label that was attached in the 19th century to a highly complex and multiple collection of systems of thought, by other Westerners who did not appreciate that complexity.

Imagine the area covered by Europe and the Middle East at the time of the beginning of the Common Era— and suppose that outsiders had attached a single label to ‘the religion’ of that time and area. This will give an idea of what happened when ‘the religion’ of India was labelled Hinduism, and the extent of what needs to be unpacked to understand the tradition in its own terms.

~ Sue Hamilton, Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford Uni Press, 2001) p8

I love the Indian people, we had lovely neighbours growing up. It’s the large painting of Ganesh in their living room I dreamed of. I have thoughts about gods being representations of a deeper reality, something Jungian perhaps. I’ll leave that for you to discuss.

So there you go, a mystical/emotional/stupid brain experience (take your pick), made me think warmly about Ganesha. Maybe there’s hope for me yet?

Respond

How do you feel about multiple gods, some with alien-looking bodies?

The Moody Blues | Om More Westerners giving it a go. Damn hippies! 😉

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32 Responses to “White People Need More Ganesh”

  1. maysgg71 said

    I adore Ganesh, by far my favorite of the Hindu pantheon. An old friend of mine used to take me to the Hindu temple during his celebration feasts and I always left feeling so much more at peace. I was actually chanting his mula (root) mantra to myself the other night when I couldn’t sleep: Aum Gam Ganapataye Namah.

    Thanks for the beautiful image. Fabulous post!

  2. ‘usually falls between 20 August and 15 September— right now. Spoooky.’

    YOU made the connection…

  3. meryl333 said

    If you think that Hinduism is polytheist because of the “gods”, you need to educate yourself about how these manifestations of aspects of the divine are used to help unite with the ONE/Brahman/God/That. Part of Bhakti Yoga. Other yogas do not use images. All part of Hinduism. Talk to Anna. She’s edited an excellent book on Vedanta and may have a section on that that will explain for you.

    • Thanks Meryl. I’m doing plenty of reading (eg the book I quoted) and others, and plan to learn more about Vedanta and read Anna’s book. (Hoping it’s in my local library.)

      So you would say that they are not really considered separate entities from Brahman? I thought that at least *some* Hindus (noting the vast diversity) are – or were – “true” polytheists?

      • meryl333 said

        Buddhist or Hindu or Christian. The great teachers are doing their best to show us the way to experience God/Brahman/NoMind. The experience is called many names. Samhadi/Nirvana and so forth. Brahman IS. We cannot even discuss what it is, as once we use words we are in the realm of duality. We want to experience Brahman. Yet how do do that? Those who have had the experience can guide us, yet we will not truly “know” until we’ve had the experience ourselves.

        The “gods” are of the ONE as a spider web is of the spider. Inseparable. It is not essential that one worship any deities to be a Hindu. In fact, Jnana yogis & most Buddhists do not. Yet for many, deities or symbols are a juicy means of giving us access to our Divine Selves. These deities, Gods, teachers are as varied as we are varied in our psychology and the ways we find access the Self (Brahman). By worshiping Jesus, we may focus on compassion, and his sacrifice, with Buddha, we might focus on his compassion, unselfishness or Ramakrishna his detachment & unfettered Love, Sarada Devi for her selfless Mother Love she dispenses to all her devotees. Various deities are known for emphasis on mercy, playfulness, compassion, strength, powerfulness and so on. ( Do thou give me strength etc. ) Who do we pray to, but to our own Self? The mind is working with the mind to get beyond the mind. As one may use a thorn to take out another thorn… but then you throw both thorns away. Symbols, deities, imagination, meditation, prayer help give us to access Self. For those who worship them, they can be amazing means to transcend the mind and have experience beyond duality. And, sadly, their are too many people of all faiths who become fanatic worshipers of THEIR “god” and waste their minds in judgement and fighting. It is good for you to start discussions like this to help us get beyond that. 🙂

        • Thankyou Meryl. I’d had some of those thoughts myself, but partly to save boring people with a novel I keep my posts short, and hope they will stimulate thought (and spiritual progress?).

          I disagree with some of what you said, I value mind and thought more than you seem to. I do desire experience (and have had some – eg my dream of Ganesh in this very blog), but distrust it more than you appear to. That said, I am still really glad to hear your POV, as it shifts / challenges mine.

          There is so much more that I think/feel than I have time to write. One day, Brahman willing.

          I am still curious as to whether there are any “true” polytheists out there, who do not see their deities as part of the One. I suspect that there are, I have an interview coming up with one of them next week.

        • meryl333 said

          Not sure what you mean when you say “you value mind and thought” more than I seem to. Also, don’t understand why you distrust your own experience. Someone can tell you that the moon is made of green cheese, but if you don’t see for yourself, how can you trust that? When you say “I” experienced a dream about Ganesh. Who is that “I” you are referring to? Who experienced the dream. Is it real?

        • Hi Meryl. I’m changing my comment settings, so will reply to you further down the page.

          Hope this makes sense.

  4. Anne said

    Fascinating comments about Hinduism… Jonathan, in a way it isn’t surprising that your dreams are so much in line with spiritual/cultural events. With all of the research, writing, and introspection you’ve been doing these past months, I’d say you’re pretty much having a Jungian self-analysis experience. (My interpretation; you/others may see it completely differently.) Well–and this is not a spoof on your experience in any way–I had to laugh because I realized I’d been picking out baby things (for my expectant stepdaughter) with blue elephant heads all week. Hmmm. Maybe this blog is having an effect on me.

  5. Venga said

    Nice youtube song you have there Spritzophrenia.

    Thanks for posting the song.

  6. Venga said

    Bro,

    So far so good!!!!!!!!!!

    “Genius is the gold in the mine; talent is the miner who works and brings it out. ~ This quote is dedicated to you Bro!

  7. Anne said

    Re: your response to my comment, I did understand that you dreamed of Ganesh without any conscious activity around that or of similar gods. Here is how I see this: Because you’re working pretty deeply with spiritual concepts, you may be more open to archetypal symbolism, the language of the unconscious.

    I agree with Jung’s belief that the unconscious is a vessel, hooked into shared experience and common symbols that are accessible to us even if we haven’t consciously and individually studied them. Deities are powerful archetypes, therefore relatively “easily accessible” by our unconscious. The fact that you had this dream during Ganesha Chaturthi without any conscious knowledge of it would, to me, say something about unconscious knowledge of “seasonal order” or of a cultural focus. It may not be learned knowledge, but felt knowledge. (This is where the concept of “knowing” has to be separated from what we consciously learn.)

    If someone is consciously inviting connection with their soul, or just trying to know more about life’s meaning, they are inviting their unconscious mind to “bring up” the connections, or pathways to meaning, it finds. Ganesh may be telling you something about what you’re working on. That’s my take on this.

    • Thanks. An interesting idea, and I’m not sure what I think. So much to learn!

      There are pagans I know who use that idea to talk about their deities.

      • Anne said

        I’m not an expert on paganism, but I think the difference for me would be that I see the archetype as only a symbol that sometimes has a shared meaning (and other times may just be a meaningful symbol for an individual).

  8. Anne said

    Love the Moody Blues!!

  9. Meryl,
    responding to your comment above:

    Reading back, I think I read more into your reply than you actually said, and made assumptions, so i apologise for that re: “you value mind and thought”.

    “Also, don’t understand why you distrust your own experience.”

    I guess this has been a theme of a few posts, and will probably continue. I have dreams, and have had past drug experiences. It’s distinguishing the “real” spiritual from those that i find problematic.

    I know Vedanta teaches that all paths eventually lead to the one. I WILL read more on V, promise! (Once I get through my current pile.)

    “Who is that “I” you are referring to?”

    I grant that I have to trust that some things are real without proof in the “100% infallible” sense. (I’m well aware that extreme philosophical skepticism leads down a black hole that is useless to everyone.) See my https://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/i%E2%80%99m-not-driving-that-strong-rationalism/

    I suppose it’s WHERE in the continuum from complete distrust through to completely gullible I place myself. ?

  10. Venga said

    Bro,

    Thanks for the reply. Bro check out this youtube song for Lord Ganesha from David Newman.
    Below is the link.

    Take care Bro & wishing you a great day ahead!

    Regards

    Venga

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