Another quiet day, except while trying to figure out where I wanted to eat, I wandered by a nice guy I've seen all over town collecting money for children's charities (one of the few times I've given money to a collector rather than through some mail/online form has been through him). We chatted for a bit, and eventually I found out that he's a Hare Krishna and spent several years in a monestary in India practicing. Floatng around discussions of values and conclusions we have in common (which are considerable), we talked for about an hour and he gave me a Hare Krishna version of the Bhavagad Gita. One of the things we didn't really talk about is my philosophical/religious identity, which often leads me into a trap where I come to feel really awkward, especially as in conversations like this, people tend to see both similar values and my understanding/use of religious terminology not known to many laypeople as a sign that I am one of them. This has happened with Christians, Buddhists, Judaists, as well as members of political/philosophical groups that have their own terminology (or phrasings) - once I realise they're talking with me as if I'm in some ways "one of them", massive discomfort sets in and I'm never sure how gently to say "no, I'm not actually X although I don't mind talking about the philosophy of it". The most intense feelings of this have generally occurred relating to Judaism (more than a few times, long conversations with a Rabbi have led to them calling me brethren and suggesting I visit their Synagogue to see if I'd like it there). I suppose I could wear a big name tag or a T-shirt that says "Atheist materialist socialist with philosophy inspired by very broad readings", but that'd be a bit silly. There's got to be a good way to handle this kind of thing better - maybe it's a bit less awkward because I mentioned skepticism as a high value that helps avoid missteps. Perhaps that could be expanded into a standard conversation inclusion that'd help make me feel less guilty of possible "deception through omission".
I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the invitations to come closer to their belief system/circle of friends/etc though (this too always happens)....
I really do love those conversations though, first because Hare Krishnas (and Buddhists, despite being fairly distant from the KH interpretation of Hinduism) have in common things with me that most atheists/agnostics don't. I think they'd call this spirituality, although the term isn't a great fit - it's more a combination of tendency towards mild asceticism combined with a strong concern for the public good and a desire for a system of morals/ethics. I would like to inspire these traits in more seculars - while I feel that the middle and latter will create at least a mild gravity towards some form of socialism (marxist or not), if anything these three traits are more important than socialism itself.
There is a ridiculous lack of kinship in my life.. I wish more people walked paths similarly to mine, or that I could extract some of these things I need from all these scattered people and shove them into a few really "awake" and interesting people. Otherwise, I think lonliness will eventually eat me up.
Sometimes I wonder if a very inward-directed thinker could be at peace in almost any nation or system, no matter how repressive. Phrases like "If you're not furious at the state of the world today, you're not paying attention" versus the discrimination between Bohdisattva and those who pass go... Still, could people achieve that kind of peace that even under Idi Amin or a similarly bad government, they could be so little affected by the world's challenges and pain that it would not poison them?
This copy of the Bhagavad Gita is shaped differently than my other copy - just like Rashi provides a lot of context to Torah (that one might or might not accept as being necessarily following from the text), this edition serves to paint Krishna's centrality in worship in a way that other Hindu versions do not. Interestingly, from the conversation, apparently many Hare Krishnas see Hindus as "other", although from the outside they're grouped as being within the Hindu cloud (vision: a moon dancing near its parent's Roche Limit... also, falling in resembles hitting an event horizon... Hinduism as a Singularity)
I recently dragged my IBM PC out of the closet and put it on my desk - it may seem silly, but looking at it gives me warm fuzzies (if I can find the right cables, I'll have to see if it still can boot - I think somewhere I might have some of the old basic games I wrote on it when I was 6 or 7 - it'd be a hoot to see them running again).