Friday, May 05, 2006

what's your religion?

One God
One Worship
One Sacred Place
One Holy Book
One Worshipper
-Kamau Daaood from One

Recently on a day too rainy to bike, I was getting around by cab. Usually the division between front seat and back seat is more than enough to keep the journey quiet. Not today. I don't really mind a little chit-chat with the driver cause the conversation tends to be pedestrian at best. Not today.

In the last stretch of the drive my cabbie looks at me in the rear-view and says, "What's your religion?"

"Sorry?" I was caught off guard.

He repeats, "What's your religion," pulling at his face to indicate that my furry chin must have a connection to something organized. "You know, Muslim, Hindu, Christian...?"

Maybe he thought I wasn't familiar with the term. "I don't have a religion."

"No," but he seemed to be waiting for more. "I'm a yogi." Silence with a quizzical expression. "I'm a yogi. You know yoga?"

"No," he smiles and shakes his head.

"It comes from India." Somehow that seemed to be enough for him, and seconds later we were at my door.

It wasn't really enough though. I didn't so much mind the question. I just didn't expect it, or have time to process it. The more complete answer (on a longer trip) should have been:"I don't have a religion. I'm a yogi, and my religion is God." I don't consider myself religious but I see my practice as a divine experience. It's my time with God.

Asana is moving meditation and physical prayer; devotion in motion. Sitting cultivates my curiosity of what's on the other side of the out-breath, and allows me to contemplate my own divine light. Chanting is praise time, pure and simple. I read sacred texts for knowledge and inspiration.

It kind of sounds like religion, save the fact there is no one God in my practice. Though I chant to Ganesh, Hanuman, and Shiva every day, my practice has taught me to see the Divine in all things. God is everywhere and everyone. My practice allows me to walk my own path, inspired and informed by those who have walked similar paths before me but not bound to same routes.

I didn't have the chance to fully answer my curious cabbie. In fact, I don't think he would have wanted my answer. I think he would have liked a one word answer from a familiar list to settle the debate in his mind. Oh well.

At least his unexpected question prepared me for next chatty cabbie, and gave an answer to my own chatty mind. For now.

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