Reflections After Visiting a Hindu Temple: “It is not that God is ‘one’. It is that there is only God.” (Part 2)

By | March 22, 2011

When describing the worship space we visited, the word temple is a grave understatement in my opinion. The structure was more like a palace… The building itself, which was easily three stories high, was a picture of mystery and opulence. It was stark white, and there were gods and majestic horses and religious imagery carved into the stone from the very foot of the temple to its steeple.

The only thing more amazing than the outside of the temple was its inside… If the architects’ intentions were to make humans feel small and un-godlike in the worship space, they accomplished it. The ceilings seemed to be a mile high… The rooms seemed to be hundreds of square feet large. The statuary was beautiful and captivating. The smells were welcoming and familiar: incense… herbs… flowers… We were directed to the basement where the temple guru was giving a presentation:

“Every human being is called to peace… but humans don’t always understand the call to peace. If you do not believe me, listen to your language! The words we use to describe the way we live evoke violence and abrupt interactions with the world:

We hit the snooze button before we jump out of bed. We jump in the shower and throw on some clothes. We grab a bite to eat before slamming the door behind us in the morning. We hit the road and fight the traffic. We shoot a few emails to our colleagues… This is not the language of peace.

The life of a Hindu is to find peace in all things. We shower and pray: “God, as my outer body requires washing this morning, please cleanse my soul as well today.” We eat and say, “God allow this food to be nourishment to my body and my soul.” We work and pray for oneness with everything around us. You see, it is not that God is “one.” It is that there is only “God”, and we must learn to be one with God in everything we do.

The guru led us through the temple where we witnessed Hindu devotees making sacrifices to their gods. Many brought fruit, or money… Others brought incense or other valuables. There was one smaller temple for every god inside the larger worship space, each intricately designed in its own way. “When we need money, we pray to this god,” the guru said. “That is a priest,” she said of a man in white garb who sang a song of supplication to an eight-foot deity who was lying on his back inside a stone room. I stared at the gods, many of which had four hands or five eyes and thought about what these things meant to them. Oneness. All are one. A window to God.

That night, something was clear that had not occurred to me before. I realized that my only connection with the divine had been through a system of moral statutes and abstract codes. Christianity’s system of “holiness” was founded on principles that involve “being separate,” and being “different” or “otherly”. On the surface, these moral absolutes involve admonitions to “wear this, and not that…. Go here, and not there. Eat this, and not that…” The Christian’s aim is to join the more virtuous of two starkly different groups: The in, rather than the out. The holy rather than the profane. The chosen rather than the damned.

But through our system of holiness… of separateness… of stark absolutes… we often lose our oneness. We lose the sense that we really are all connected to one another.

Jesus prayed that we would all be one, just as he and God are one– and that we would be one with God, just as he and God are one. We have not yet realized that it’s our job to answer that prayer, not God’s. We have a responsibility to find oneness with one another. In doing so, we will have truly found a holy and sacred thing.

Go back to Part One.

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11 thoughts on “Reflections After Visiting a Hindu Temple: “It is not that God is ‘one’. It is that there is only God.” (Part 2)

  1. Drew Costen

    Hinduism is one of the only religions I've ever considered converting to.

    I'm sure it's been interesting timing reading “A New Earth,” eh? 🙂

  2. Crystal Lewis

    YES! lol… And actually, this post is a bit overdue. My class is studying Buddhism now, and we're visiting a Buddhist temple tomorrow. A New Earth has so many rich Buddhist themes. I really am enjoying this book and the temple visits. It has been awesome.

  3. Jim

    Wonderful articles, and you hit the nail on the head:

    “The Christian's aim is to join the more virtuous of two starkly different groups: The in, rather than the out. The holy rather than the profane. The chosen rather than the damned.

    But through our system of holiness… of separateness… of stark absolutes… we often lose our oneness. We lose the sense that we really are all connected to one another.”

  4. Kora Kaos

    You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    Hello again Crystal, (part one)

    “To offer eternal life to a Hindu is to offer a grave punishment. Hindus are trying to escape the cycle of being “born again”. They don't want to be trapped in an eternal life that cannot be escaped. Hindus believe that humans are endlessly reincarnated until they live well enough to escape the cycle.”

    I've become quite familiar with Hinduism and Buddhism. Yes, Hindus are in a race to not exist anymore. Apparently the goal is to dissolve in some kind of “ultimate”, lose your identity and personality and not exist anymore. Something to look forward to…

    What I'm sure that most Hindus (especially the mutated “westernized” form) won't be aware of is that the oldest writings in India are the Vedic writings. At no point do these texts ever refer, anywhere, to reincarnation. The Vedics speak of the continued existence of the soul after life. It seems that Deepak Chopra isn't even aware of this. I have seen him write “Hindus have always believed in reincarnation”. This is not at all true. Curiously, believe it or not, they gathered the idea from the Vikings. Reincarnation has been mutated in so many ways that in the west it doesn't even resemble it's earlier counterpart. Plus, there is absolutely no consistency about it from culture to culture…they can't all be right, can they?

    Karma meant that you would return as an animal, insect, or even an object. But that seems too yucky to the west, so reincarnating as animals and such has pretty much been dropped in favour of “learning lessons”.

    Reincarnation and karma fall down sharply when closely examined. After all, what or who made the first “bad move” that started karma on it's way/cycle? There's no logical answer to that question. Living well enough to escape the cycle…hmmm…when faced with difficult situations, human beings almost always react with indignance, thus creating more bad karma. So, it would seem that there is no possible end to this cycle after all. Did the holocaust Jews just get what they deserved? Was Hitler really doing the holocaust Jews a favour by fulfilling their karma for them? I dare anyone to tell that to the family of a holocaust Jew…and if they did, they'll probabaly need a good pair of shoes so that they can run away very fast. Idi Amin? Saddam Hussein? Milosevic? In India people cut off the heads of cows every five years in a ritual to satisy one of their “goddesses” (who needs blood) so that the goddess will grant them their desires for the next five years. Westernized reincarnation bears no resemblance to Hindu reincarnation and karma. Perhaps the most devastating blow to reincarnation, comes from so called NDEs. Virtually all NDEs claim “timelessness”…that their is no linear time, no past, no future, only “now”. Well, if there is no past and no future (timelessness), then there can be no “re” incarnation because it is impossible to be in a “re”, “pre” or “post” linear time state. And if there is no linear time, then all those supposed “lessons” have already been learned. This eliminates what seems to be the man made concept of linear successive reincarnations and karma.

  6. Anonymous

    Hi again, (part two)

    Another fascinating claim that people make is that reincarnation was removed from the Bible. Yet, for all the “evidence” of it that they claim to find in the Bible, one has to wonder…well, was it removed it or not? If so, where are the documents that were removed, that contain reincarnation? No such documents exist. The fact that there is no evidence to support something is not “evidence” that it happened. Plus the “evidence” that they claim to find is so easily refuted, it's sort of laughable.

    People will worship a thing they call a god, who will endlessly torture even their own family, and they're happy to do it. Others will blindly allow themselves to be totally oppressed and abused because some leader has informed them that it is their karma. Others will allow people to starve while sacred cows walk in the streets. Karma demands that it is actually a BAD thing to help anyone who is suffering because that's their karma…in other words, they deserve it. I happen to think that if burning/killing so called “heretics” was allowed, there are still some people who would willingly do it.

    A god who will torture even your own family and still demands worship…people striving to hasten their own permanent non-existence…dissolving into an ocean of consciousness…there is no life after life and nothing matters, just live for today (atheists)…only the minds of human beings could come up with such ultimately hopeless and pointless “truths”, and insist that they are absolutely true while ignoring all the contradictions that exist within their systems.

    -Take care, Rob

  7. Pingback: Reflections After Visiting a Hindu Temple: "It is not that God is ‘one’. It is that there is only God." (Part 1) « Diary of a Christian Universagnosticostal

  8. Avni


    You have written beautiful article about oneness. Many ancient sanskrit shlokas/mantras highlight the importance of oneness and harmony. I like Vedantic philosophy because of the loftiness of ideas it has. In vedas the time scale runs in billions of years, the distance runs in light years and the sholakas talk about universe, the consciousness connecting the entire universe, and world peace. There is a story in the vedas about a king who went to other aakashganga or galaxy and when he came back he was the same age but his relatives had died and his descendants were ruling the kingdom – its amazing to think that in 1000 BC they knew about the concept of relativity.

    “Ekam sat, vipra bahudha vadanti” = There is one truth, wise people describe it in different ways.
    “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam” = World is family
    “Aham Brahma Asmi” = I am the consciousness of the universe (which means that I have the same consciousness as the supreme power that drives the universe ). This one is my favorite and I chant it whenever I have self doubt. I tell myself that human beings have immense, untapped inner power that we never realize.
    The entire shanti mantra (cant type it here – too long) asks for peace of the mind, the earth, all the life in the universe and in the entire universe itself.

    I think Rob above has taken a wrong view of Karma and reincarnation. Karma does not mean retribution, it simply means that the universe works in a way where no thought or action is redundant or meaningless, everything has its impact. Even science today proves the impact of subliminal messages, the power of vibrations, positive and negative aura.

    Karma means for example if I wish bad for a friend or harm him in someway, my wrong thoughts or actions will come back to me. It can be in any form. For example, the destiny might play a dice wherein I might have to take care of the same friend or do something good for him – in this life or the next. It might also happen that I might get mistreated from some other friend of mine. The same works for good deeds and thoughts. If I help everyone around and am devoid of wrong feelings of jealousy or hatred, I gather good karma which purifies my soul and also ensures I get good deeds in return, in this life or the next. The idea that you should not help a poor person because it is his/her karma is totally wrong. In fact we have to do good specially for them to gain good karma and to purify our souls.

    Reincarnation means coming back to mortal form and yes it can be in any form even animal form and even on some other planet. The form will depend on how evolved our soul is – on this planet humans are considered to possess a higher level of consciousness and hence the most evolved souls who have gathered good karma through their right thoughts and right actions are born in human form. But even in this form some souls are not relatively refined or produce negative thoughts, hence we need to evolve our understanding of the world with every reincarnation. Many prophets and saints of this world have reached a level of enlightenment when they understood the oneness of the universe and felt the vast, unimaginable universe within themselves, with this knowledge they are devoid of any negative thought towards anything because ultimately everything is one. The same energy is running through the entire universe – with the internalization of this knowledge they achieve nirvana or moksha, the freedom from the cycle of birth and death and they become one with the most evolved soul, the divine power running the universes, that is God.

  9. Pingback: Reflections After Visiting a Hindu Temple: "It is not that God is ‘one’. It is that there is only God." (Part 1) | Crystal St. Marie Lewis

  10. another anonymous

    Nice article.
    relation with god and leaving being is like mother-child relation.
    there is only one mother for every child.

  11. another anonymous

    Early you quoted that temple is grave as per your opinion. But in reality temple is built on concept of ‘human body’
    where god iS considered as supreme soul .

    if you think deeply you are temple and your soul is god
    you worship supreme soul within you.

    There is only one religion called love god lovE you the same manner your mom love you. We call Jesus we call krishna we call Allah and so on.

    Great scholars never criticized god. They know god is one. We human make religions

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