Of Spiritual Paths and Other Matters
The New York Times takes a look at four arrivals in Washington with religious views that differ from the commonly (if inaccurately) understood norm:
For the real underdog story in the elections this year, you have to look further out on the margins of popular respectability. Consider the half-Hindu yoga practitioner just elected to Congress from Hawaii. Or the new Buddhist senator. Or the two religiously unaffiliated women headed for the House and the Senate.
These politicians constitute an unusual mini-caucus, whose members are unusual not for their religion, precisely, but for the fluid and abstract terms they use to talk about it — when they choose to talk about it, that is. Mormon or Orthodox Jewish politicians have succeeded before, but as the price of admission they have been forced to explain their faith. This new bunch is just saying, so to speak, “Don’t worry about it.”
That’s fine, of course, but then we read this:
Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat and an Iraq war veteran who won a seat in the House from Hawaii, is the daughter of a Hindu mother and a Roman Catholic father. She calls herself Hindu, a first for a member of Congress. But it is not quite that simple.
“I identify as a Hindu,” Ms. Gabbard wrote in an e-mail on Thursday. “However, I am much more into spirituality than I am religious labels.”
“In that sense,” she added, “I am a Hindu in the mold of the most famous Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, who is my hero and role model.”
Ms. Gabbard wrote that she “was raised in a multicultural, multirace, multifaith family” that allowed her “to spend a lot of time studying and contemplating upon both the Bhagavad-Gita and the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.”
Today, her spiritual practice is neither Catholic nor traditionally Hindu.
“My attempts to work for the welfare of others and the planet is the core of my spiritual practice,” Ms. Gabbard wrote. “Also, every morning I take time to remember my relationship with God through the practice of yoga meditation and reading verses from the Bhagavad-Gita. From the perspective of the Bhagavad-Gita, the spiritual path as I have described here is known as karma yoga and bhakti yoga.”
TMI, I think.
Exhausted, I abandoned the rest of the article.