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Spiritual Preparation, Workshop 4: Hinduism—One God, a Thousand Faces

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

Since open-mindedness is at the heart of this program, and because Hinduism is so frequently misunderstood, take some time to seek a serenely open-minded attitude before leading this workshop.

Here is a two-part meditation to help you:

First, envision a prism. See in your mind's eye a clear light shining on the prism and the light dividing into streams of different colors. The colors all come from the same source—they are all true expressions of the original, full-spectrum light. While they may look very different, none is better or worse than any other, and when following any one of them back to the point of origin, you arrive at the same pure source.

Allow yourself to see a parade of images from Hinduism: elephant-headed and many-armed deities; long-haired yogis; extravagant, unfamiliar architecture. Allow them to contrast in your mind's eye with more familiar images, from your own faith. If your emotional response to the less-familiar images is one of unease, simply recognize this and see it for what it is.

With these images playing through your head, allow yourself to see that the prism is an apt analogy for religion. Just as the colors emanating from the prism flow from the same light, these wildly varying images originate from the same source: the human search for truth. Just as following any color of light back to the prism leads to the original light, these emanations we call religion can be followed, in all their variety, back to ultimate truth, whatever that may be. And further, that ultimate truth, though we may not know what it is, is the same for all. In adhering to a given religion, people are following the color of light that is most beautiful to them.

On the day of the workshop, take a few moments to connect with your co-leader beforehand. Share any concerns you may have, and decide how you can help each other during the workshop. Knowing that you are there for each other will help you maintain the serenity and open-mindedness you are seeking.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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