Chapter 1: Forming our Own Paradigm
The book opens with the theme that there are numerous options available to the spiritual traveler in Hinduism, some of which include what God means to us, what we call him, the favorite forms of God we worship, and how we define our relationship with him. Together with some beliefs that are more or less universal within the Hindu world, these choices outline the spiritual model for a seeker – the paradigm used for finding God. The intricately interdependent beliefs of karma, reincarnation, and the formation of karmic impressions, which are based on the eternal nature of the soul, are explained. The reader is also introduced to the goals of Hindu life and the classical paths to God, including the yogas of karmic surrender, love, and knowledge. This introductory chapter concludes with the notion that God is beyond theoretical explication and this understanding should be an inherent part of our spiritual paradigm.
Chapter 2: Getting Started: The early Impressions for Love
The reader is introduced to chanting, the most popular God remembrance technique. Why does a saint believe that a single chant of the Divine’s name is enough for liberation? How does regular remembrance differ from the selfless remembrance needed to reach God? Other popular devotional techniques, including satsang (collaboration with the righteous) and community service, are discussed.
Chapter 3: Developing the Feel for His manifestations
This chapter introduces the reader to the popular forms of God in contemporary Hinduism: Vishnu and his incarnations, Shiva, and Shakti. What are their attributes and what do people like about them? What is darshan (vision of God) and what is the feel of the devotee behind it? How does worshipping an idol develop impressions for actual transcendence? How our own desires define the form of the Mother Goddess we worship? Why do Hindu festivals revolve around the manifestations of God?
Chapter 4: Realization for the Career Conscious
This chapter is about spiritual awakening for the professional and opens with a revision of karma and karma yoga, the path of selfless action to God. Numerous hypothetical professional-world scenarios are used to provide pointers on how karma yoga can be incorporated into modern-day settings. How can choosing the ‘appropriate’ course of study (major) in college be an advantage for our spiritual realization? Can we initiate karma yoga by engaging in a vocation that does not interest us or is labeled ‘unrighteous’ by our mind? Why ‘planning the future’ with a desire for promotion in the corporate world becomes a hurdle for karma yoga? In the later part, the chapter explains how destiny connects our instincts with our workplace and how God turns out to be the actual doer of all karma.
Chapter 5: Monitoring our Progress
This chapter answers why monitoring spiritual progress is important. Our levels of adherence to non-violence and six other classical impulses, including anger and jealousy, which are said to hold us back from our divinity, have been presented as behavioral indicators that may be used to analyze our progress. If we believe that we are the “real force” behind our good actions, we may be far from being selfless. How we respond to our own good deeds and how we feel on receiving monetary gifts can also be used to estimate our spiritual level. Similarly, care for our environment and participation in humanitarian global efforts also demonstrate spiritual advancement, for such activities help us recognize the inherent oneness among all individual souls.
Chapter 6: From Remembrance to Love and Surrender
Focusing more on the devotional feel in contemporary Hinduism, this chapter illustrates the transition from simple remembrance to total surrender. It begins with an introduction of the difference between typical remembrance and bhakti (selfless love of God) and a highlight of Krishna’s statements in the Gita that have made an impact on how Hindus connect to him. How does love of God originate in the mind? Why do saints keep asking for more and more bhakti? What are the common moods of devotion in Hinduism? How can we use our creativity to make our own alterations on the path of love and surrender? Does ‘love of God’ include the path of selfless karma? What happens when love becomes
complete surrender? How is the Lord expected to reciprocate our love?
Chapter 7: Understanding Nature
The chapter opens with what ‘Nature’ means in Hinduism and what is the relationship between God, Nature and the individual soul. In the Hindu context, interacting with nature comprises of worshipping Nature as a form of God, forming a harmonious relationship with the environment, and embracing her higher instinct (goodness as opposed to passion and ignorance). The ultimate aim remains the same: development of surrender to God so that all the modes of nature, including goodness, can be transcended. How do Indian naturopathy and the creative arts aid Hindu spirituality? How does Nature bind us and why is interacting with family and friends selflessly a part of achieving realization?
Chapter 8: The Last Few Days: A Paradigm Shift
This concluding chapter intends to explain what is so distinctive about saints. It begins with the theme that as we approach God, whether we see oneness with God (monism) or have completely surrendered ourselves to the Personal God, we lose our individuality. As our spiritual paradigm is completely transformed, we realize that all our initial spiritual selections were not our own; they were all works of the Divine. What makes saints unique? In spite of initial oppositions from members of the community, why do saints opt to fully interact with us? Do saints perceive suffering as we do? How do they spend their last moments on earth? What happens when they reach spiritual perfection?
Appendix A Some initial choices involved in making a Spiritual Paradigm
Appendix B Various Interpretations of Karma Yoga
Appendix C Lord Krishna’s assurance to His Devotees in the Bhagavad Gita
Devotional Hinduism: Creating Impressions for God
Author: Mukul Shri Goel, PhD
Religion & Spirituality/ iUniverse, Inc.
Trade Paperback / 126 Pages / 6” x 9”
The book is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com