Sorry bros. You’re not ready for this one. It’s too painful to accept.
You will never be Indian.
I think what Indians understood and the rest of the world clearly doesn’t, is that a religion is also supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to provide a framework that every aspect of human life can be fitted into.
The desire for reason. The desire for mysticism. The darkness of life. The untold senseless misery. And yes, the celebration, the joy, the lust. All of it needs to have a place. You can’t just take half the human condition, declare it “sinful” and “forbidden” and discard it like that.
And because different people have different needs, a religion needs to be able to fit varying human perspectives. Hinduism can do this. If you are an “alpha male”, you feel attracted to Shri Ram. If you are a kinder gentle soul, you may feel attracted to Shri Krishna. If you have a lot of darkness in you, you may feel attracted to Kali.
How is this supposed to work in Christianity? “Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a dark side to me, so the God I choose to worship is called… Satan! Wait, I think I’m doing Christianity wrong…” Rather than being able to incorporate a lot of different human tendencies, human tendencies are forcibly narrowed down until they fit into the Christian framework.
Catholics at least have Mary and the saints, but even Catholicism just can not offer room for the inevitable diversity of human religious expression. And the reality is also, that Christianity, especially Catholicism, is dying out in its European heartland. To some degree the clergy has itself to thank for that, but the reality is also just that we inherited a far less versatile religious tradition than Indians did.
Try finding a community of Catholics anywhere in the world, who are as ecstatically dancing and singing for a saint, as those Hindus are for Shri Ram. In India, Hinduism isn’t really “conservative”, it just is. It is able to adjust to the modern era, like it always has adjusted in the past. In Hinduism, Gods freely come and go. Brahma, the creator in the trimurti, was once worshipped just like Vishnu and Shiva are, but now his cult is nearly gone.
Similarly, the fact that Hinduism has a left hand and a right hand path, means that people who are prone to rebel against society, can still be Hindus. Consider for example, the Aghori. I’ve mentioned them before. They are radical Shaivists who follow a left-hand path. And they appeal to a young Indian man’s imagination just as they do to mine. That is how you get a living organic religion.
What we have in the West now is the vacuum of a dying religion being filled by a new religion, that consists of inventing new genders and where the highest sacrament is to create fake penises and vaginas for depressed teenagers. That’s our new religion. You can call me an LSWM, but be honest:
What other place can you think of, where people are so ecstatic in their religious devotion as those Indians, other than a Western pride parade? For many young teenage girls, seeing the pride parade with a bunch of guys in thongs dancing around is the closest they’ve ever come to experiencing religious ecstasy.
Catholicism today doesn’t do that for teenage girls. You have teenage girls who feel attracted to it, sure. But their desire is different: They desire to appear mysterious and sophisticated. Hence why they’re attracted to the “tradcats”, rather than to liberal Catholicism, the attempt of Catholicism to adjust to the modern world that now faces such massive backlash.
But Hindus don’t need to do that to keep Hinduism alive. They don’t have to become “trad hindus”. At age twenty you may feel your religious impulse satisfied at a psytrance band, at age forty by reading the Upanishads, at age sixty you may decide it’s time to renounce the world and become fully devoted to achieving Moksha.
In the West, there is this strange unspoken notion that religion and fun are supposed to exist on the opposite sides of a spectrum, with drugs and sex on the “fun” side and classical music and old literature on the other side. The Western religious impulse now seems to be mostly driven by fear and the desire to appear sophisticated. The same people who still go to church go to opera and classical concerts too.
The first instinct people in the West generally have towards Hinduism is mockery: “Haha, your God has the head of an elephant, how can you believe in that?” But the same thing that makes a spouse dear to us, is what makes a tradition dear to us. It has to be a little goofy. And Hinduism is a little goofy.
Islam can become oppressive and totalitarian because it’s not goofy, Muhammed is a pretty awful guy, but he’s not goofy. The Ganapati Atharvaśīrṣa states that Ganesha is the supreme reality. But even when you make an absolute claim like that, you just can’t build an oppressive theocracy around a blue guy with the head of an elephant. The idea is just too goofy for that.
And as with most cool things, anything goofy about Hinduism at a second glance starts looking cool. There’s the obvious cow worship. “Haha pajeets worship cows.” Well, I’d love to have a religion that offers some basic dignity to the animal humans abuse most eagerly.
Or just consider the face paint of this saddhu. At first glance, it’s goofy: “Why does that old guy look like he has a DMT trip painted on his forehead.” It’s an expression of his religious identity. And when you take a good glance at his complete outfit, the combination of colors, you realize it’s actually just aesthetically appealing. This is also what religious devotion can look like. We’re used to guys with beards dressed in all black.
In general I think people should wear face paint more often. Tattoos are cringe. You take something stupid like a butterfly, tell yourself that this says something about your identity and then you have it drawn forever in your skin. Why? Why not just temporarily decorate the skin? “Well because that’s not manly and badass and rebellious but just gay and cringe” Yeah, sure. But the saddhu looks cool. There’s no way around it.
Jai gau mata
I try to be intellectually honest to myself. And the reality is just that I’ve never walked into a church and thought to myself “now I’m feeling what the first Christians must have felt”. I’m not against Christianity. I think Jesus is a pretty cool guy. But that’s exactly the sort of nuance Christianity doesn’t really have room for.
And people in my situation tend to have three options:
-Try really really hard to be a good Christian.
-Become a full-fledged cringelord who pretends to worship the old Germanic Gods we know nothing about except for what was written down by Christian missionaries. Note, these Gods were worshipped by vikings who showed up to your shore to rape and enslave your ancestors and plunder your lands. Or do you want to go back 2000 years and decide to worship Nerthus?
-Convert to Hinduism (kinda cringe, as it really can’t be separated from its ethnic roots). As a convert to Hinduism in the Netherlands, you’re always just going to be “that guy”. And I’m already always “that guy”, so I don’t want to be “that guy” even more.
None of these three really come intuitively to a human being. You need to have pretty severe autism to be born into a Western secular household and be able to wholeheartedly embrace any of these three options. To me that is the most severe black pill there is.
And that’s why we’re stuck with the modern Western religion of worshipping Frankenstein monsters that pretend to be the opposite gender. Sexual perversion and promiscuity come pretty naturally to humans. That fills the void for us.
To any Indians reading along, try not to repeat our errors. Don’t declare yourself an “atheist” or some other cringe Western term. It’s easier to destroy something than to rebuild it. And even if you genuinely find yourself convinced it’s useless, your children may feel otherwise. I for one hope it continues to thrive and I hope that the people of Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh who were once Hindu rediscover the religion.
I think the ultimate answer to this question, is that we in the West, have to go through the process that Hindus have already gone through over thousands of years. We have to give birth to our religion. And like Hinduism, our new religion will have to be a little goofy. That’s what makes it lovable.
We can’t just recreate the old pantheon. And we have to incorporate the insights we have gained over the centuries. Just as Hinduism is ultimately based on an understanding of nature, I think our new religion will be based on the worship of nature. Our saddhus, will be those who are fully devoted to living in balance with nature.
I think that activist movements like Extinction Rebellion and the German Letzte Generation, create the kind of fertile layer of widespread discontent and apocalypticism in which new religions are born. Combine this reality with the widespread access that people now have to psychedelics and I think a new era of religious awakening can come into existence.