Even with all that I don’t understand and find downright puzzling about Hindu Temples and Ashrams, I have still found them to be surprisingly inclusive and welcoming … welcoming to the tourist, the spiritual seeker and those of every faith. Since I have been in India, I’ve been welcomed, blessed and fed by residents and caretakers of Ashrams and even prayed for by name by a Brahmin Priest. None of this was done to gain favor or to convert me, but instead because we meet strangers and friends on the journey of life, why not welcome them …?
For your presence is a blessing and your presence is an offering; not in the way that one should never give or support but in the way that a relationship is nurtured in presence; presence to others and presence to God.
I have met devout Christians who live in ashrams here in Tiruvannamalai as unquestioned Christian members of the community. I am intrigued by a space like an Ashram (which might be more akin to a retreat center or meditation space, it is not a Temple or a church.) Ashrams allow a space to be differently together seeking God.
I wonder if more followers of different faiths could seek God differently together, maybe we wouldn’t fight about our different faiths and understandings through violence, judgment and hate … maybe we could instead be more of a blessing to each other.