My parents moved into the house they currently live in when I was in college. I never actually lived in Seattle, as I stayed in Los Angeles at USC. Up until then, they were a mere hour away from USC. They moved to the Seattle area my freshman year. In fact it was February 9, 1991. I was 18. They stayed in a rental while they looked for a house to buy. After they bought one, I went up there for some vacation, I think it was summer of 1991, and helped my mom unpack and set up the house. One day, we were cleaning out what was to be their meditation room. In the closet, on the floor, my mom found a small charm. It was of Jesus on the Cross. We looked at it and I was about to throw it away. I figured that since we don't follow Him, why keep it and what else are we going to do with it? My mother grabbed it from me and proceeded to hang it up in the room, alongside the other pictures of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. I asked her in an incredulous voice why she was doing that. And my mother proceeded to give me a lesson that, to this day, has affected how I deal with people from faiths other than Hinduism.
She told me that while we may not follow Jesus exclusively, we do not necessarily reject Him outright. Tolerance means accepting other ideas even if you don't agree with them. Many people follow Jesus Christ and there were qualities about him that were kind and loving and gentle. And that is what my mom respects. Obviously she does not accept the idea that everyone must follow him or be destined for Hell. Tolerance doesn't mean getting walked all over by people. But God is God and all the forms that we choose to see Him as are also to be revered and respected. Including Jesus Christ.
Hinduism is all about an individual approaching a personal God in an individual way. That's what I love about it. It is supposed to be private, sacred and personal. Hinduism isn't about yelling at the top of your lungs that you are religious and that your God is the one and only. It is about following what is in your heart, quietly and with dignity and humility.
Obviously, there are Hindus who do not follow these beliefs. There are these types everywhere. But I choose to follow in the footsteps of my mother and accept that there are other ways of thinking out there. I may not agree with the way people will take things to extremes, but I choose to try to remember that there are good values in each religion and try to just be a good person.
I only hope that I will make such an important and strong impression in my own children. Thank you, Mom.