Our class is finishing our discussion of “Transcendent in America” by Lola Williamson. The author gives a detailed look into HIMMs or Hindu-Inspired Mediation Movements. In part two of her book she discusses three specific movements that include Transcendental Mediation, Self-Realization Fellowship, and Siddha Yoga. I enjoyed reading and learning about these movements. Williamson is unbiased in explaining these HIMMs. Usually I find informational books such as this to be boring and unbearable. I found this book less painful than expected. I feel that the author tried her best to convey her experiences as well as others’ experiences. I believe some things were lost in translation, based on the fact that I have not had a personal HIMM experience.
We are currently going over “Transcendent in America” in class. This book goes into detail concerning Hindu-inspired meditation movements (HIMMs). I thought that the first section of this book was good and that the second section was informative, and I found the third section enlightening. Overall I think that this book was very informative and a good read. I really had no idea what went on in these religious movements, and this book really helped to explain it. The author does a good job at remaining impartial in her explanations despite her background of being in a HIMM, and she does not leave out information that show the HIMMs in a less than positive light. The author does her best to make some of the stranger practices seem relatable, but some of the things that go on in Hindu-inspired meditation movements seem a bit cultish. The absolute faith that one is expected to place in one’s guru seems to me to be dangerous, especially since this relationship is abused on occasion, and the cover-ups that happen to hide negative information do not sit well with me either. I think that the biggest problem that the author has is that there is an innate inability to explicate the experiences had by those who participate in HIMMs. The book relates some of them to Pentecostal church happenings, which are equally mysterious to me, and sometimes attempts physiological explanations (i.e. tingling spine), but ultimately I do not know what their spiritual experiences are like. If you have a spiritual experience by looking at the image of Gurumayi on this blog, please let me know.
This wikiHow article tells you the 11 steps required to be a Buddhist, and is obviously geared towards a Western audience, so I thought it would be an interesting read. I particularly enjoyed the cartoons. This article does relate a lot of information about Buddhism, but as it says in the Warnings section at the end, you might want to research Buddhism a little more to avoid embarrassment due to your lack of knowledge. I feel that this article is a good example of how Asian religions are now being geared towards an American audience, by oversimplifying a complex religion into 11 steps for an unfamiliar audience, and by putting it on a wikiHow page.
Impermanence in popular culture.
In Netflix’s newest original series, ‘Orange is the New Black,’ the character known as Yoga Jones provides a stereotype of the aging hippie. The series is set inside a federal women’s prison. Jones leads yoga classes for the women in the prison and sprinkles her conversations with wisdom from “the East.” She mixes references to Zen Buddhism with her own yoga practice. Like those of the boomer generation she represents, Jones mixes and matches from various religious resources generally labeled “Asian.” That Zen meditation and hatha yoga have no connection to one another outside of American culture matters little. As Yoga Jones says, “Everything is temporary,” a phrase as vaguely Asian as it is vaguely obvious.