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How I Went in Search of Myself and Found Jesus Instead

How I Went in Search of Myself and Found Jesus Instead

found Jesus

Note to readers: I respect all religions and love all people. This post is my personal experience I wanted to share with you, not a topic I’ll be writing about regularly.

I grew up a Hindu, visiting temples regularly, praying at home daily and attending my two weekly Hinduism-based religious classes, called Bala Vihar, on Friday nights and Sunday mornings.

Like many Indians in the U.S., I remember attending pujas and kirtans at homes of friends and family. The devotional singing and fellowship included chanting, prayer and always food – plenty of delicious, homemade Indian food.

The earliest memories I have of Jesus involved my parents attending Christmas Eve Mass when I was a kid.

No, we weren’t Christian, but my parents’ attempts to receive blessings from all divine entities led them to pay tribute to Jesus annually.

They had grown up attending Catholic schools and didn’t feel out of place in a church.

I also wasn’t surprised when we went to relatives’ homes and saw depictions of Jesus on the cross or the Virgin Mary in their prayer rooms.

No one in our family ever questioned or expressed anything critical about Christianity – except me.

Believe it or not, writing Vishnu’s Virtues while growing up (ha ha, yes, this has been around a lot longer than you think, as I wrote it for a family newsletter), I was the one who questioned Christianity more than anyone else.

(What do you mean, “Who has a family newsletter?” That isn’t normal??)

Some of my articles for the family newsletter questioned the evangelical practices of Christians and the over-zealousness of Christian missionaries.

Other than that, I had no beef with Christianity.

And I recall this particular verse from the Bible, which stood out for me as a teenager after I read it in a news magazine:

“For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Matthew 16:26 (King James version)

I reflected upon that quote from time to time as I began college in San Diego. While in college, I found the Hindu temple more inconvenient to reach than the local Self Realization Fellowship (SRF), which Paramahansa Yogananda had founded. I became acquainted with SRF when I read Yogananda’s spiritual and inspirational memoir, Autobiography of a Yogi.

The spiritual book about Yogananda’s life, plus the proximity of the SRF temple, led me to attend weekly sessions there in Encinitas. I became more interested in spirituality during this time because I found the university experience a struggle. I think that being away from most of my family for the first time and not fitting into a university filled with science-oriented, competitive students pushed me to seek meaning and fulfillment elsewhere.

I attended services once a week at SRF, where I regularly saw images of several gurus at the devotional alter. Not only did I see photos of Yogananda and his spiritual masters, I also saw that of the Hindu Lord Krishna – and, yes, even Jesus.

Throughout the years, I practiced SRF meditations and followed weekly at-home study lessons, but never felt a real connection to SRF. For three years, I tried to meditate, focus on the third eye and take up Kriya yoga-inspired teachings, but ultimately moved on from SRF.

Later, while married, I attended temples occasionally and prayed at home in my own makeshift prayer room. And because I enjoyed the music and worship so much, I created my own tradition of attending Christmas Eve Mass.

My journey to Jesus


Fast forward a few years to when my marriage started falling apart. I, like many millions of Americans, tuned in to Joel Osteen’s Sunday sermons.

I’m a tiny bit embarrassed to admit that Joel Osteen was the person who inspired my journey to Christianity, but I think his Christianity-light approach and heavy focus on practical application of spiritual principles in everyday life is why I tuned in.

I watched him religiously for a year after my separation, relying on his messages of hope and redemption more than his message of Jesus.

Joel Osteen didn’t necessarily lead me to Jesus but he did incite curiosity in me. He mentioned Bible passages that I looked up and became familiar with.

A few months after my divorce, I decided to travel and visit friends who had moved to Costa Rica. After a relaxing month visiting, seeing the country and enjoying the most scrumptious organic vegetarian food, I decided to brush up on the mediocre Spanish I had learned over the years.

I was hoping to study in Ecuador, but found this idea logistically difficult, as I would have to cross the Panama Canal. Instead I opted for Nicaragua, which was north of me. I did some research and picked the city of Granada, where I would attend a few weeks of Spanish school.

I had no idea what Nicaragua held for me but once I reached the capital city of Granada, I felt right at home. I fell in love instantly with this devout town that preserved much of its history and contained some of the most magnificent Catholic churches I had ever seen. I recall at least six churches that I had to walk by daily to get from my host family’s home to Spanish class.

Every day, I would stop into a different church to pray. Yes, it may have been unusual for a non-Catholic to drop into a Catholic church and pray, but, once again, with my Hindu upbringing (i.e., all religions are the same and all paths lead to one truth), I didn’t hesitate to do so.

I found out about the noon Masses, which started right after classes ended for the day. Later, I found an evening Mass that gave me another excuse to roam the town. For a good six weeks, this is how I spent my days: Spanish classes and then Mass twice a day.

I loved the churches because they had such a sacred vibe. And I felt that I could take solace in the Virgin Mary, who appeared in every church in town. At that point in my life, I found the Virgin Mother to be healing, compassionate and interested in all my prayers.


I prayed to Mary, I prayed to Jesus and I often tried to pray whatever prayers the Spanish-speaking clergy were reciting. I was lost among the advanced Spanish that the congregation spoke at Sunday morning Masses but was enamored with the Nicaraguan people and the amount of devotion I saw at the churches there. The people’s faith and devotion inspired me to show up more often and pray ever more deeply.

I was in Nicaragua and visiting churches during the most painful and confusing time in my life. I was ill-prepared to deal with the changes I was facing and I felt my life was spiraling out of control.

My pain and sorrow brought me to the church’s pews.

I prayed to end the suffering and pain. I prayed for healing and I prayed for understanding. I prayed for direction, forgiveness and compassion.

My Nicaraguan Catholic church experience led me back to California, where I was open to attending church services. When I moved to Southern California, a friend, who I will be forever grateful to, invited me to his non-Catholic church service at the Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills.

I started attending regular Wednesday evening worship and Sunday morning sermons. I loved the music worship and the celebration of Jesus in the church. I ate up the weekly sermons and the powerful message of love, forgiveness and salvation.

I read more about Jesus and his life story. His simple life and his bold call to surrender our lives to Him inspired me. Many of the lessons in the Bible about love, humility and forgiveness resonated deeply. I saw how much Jesus suffered as he tried to spread the word of God and the way in which he paid the ultimate price for others – with his life.

In Christ, I saw that I could start anew. I could give up the life I had been living: a life that was spiritually void and in which human frailties and shortcomings abounded. A life filled with mistakes, confusion and worldly pursuits. A life spinning out of control, without much direction or purpose.

The Bible became my solace and comfort.

The Psalms changed my life.

Every word of the Psalms, like Psalm 23, jumped off the page and blanketed me with hope and newfound peace.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me
.” (Psalm 23, 1-4)

While the word of God was convicting me and Jesus was blessing me, I wasn’t so hot on some of the political issues that the church was in the news for. When the pastors spoke of the sin of homosexuality or the sin of abortion, I shuddered.

These teachings contradict my personal views toward equality and women’s freedom.

In spite of these teachings, I continued attending church for some time, and also found myself, by simple circumstance, living with a Christian housemate who had weekly devotional meetings at his home.

You get the picture here: church twice a week and fellowship on Friday evenings in my living room!

The first home fellowship I attended was the most significant and life-changing one for me.

I didn’t have to walk very far, as I attended the meeting in our living room.

I wolfed down the delicious food and the soulful devotional music that the worshippers enjoyed after our meal. The shared group readings of Bible passages were also uplifting.

I felt great as the service ended and reflected that, here it was, my birthday, May 2013, and I was celebrating it with uplifting fellowship and praise of God.

Toward the end of the evening things became slightly uncomfortable – and my life changed.

As we finished the final reading and were about to call it a night, one of the attendees who had just met me asked openly if I had accepted Jesus into my life.

Imagine a joyful and noisy room halting to pin-drop silence as all eyes focused on me.

I had about 0.2 seconds to think about this question, which I had no answer to. I thought about it for a quick half second, weighed the pros and cons of my answers, reflected upon the wonderful food I’d eaten and the lovely evening I had enjoyed and went with – “yes”!

“Yes, I had accepted Jesus into my life.”

“I had?” I asked myself moments later.

Over the next few days, I reflected upon my proclamation. Had I accepted Jesus simply because of a vegetable stir-fry, chocolate cake and an evening of devotional music?

Had I sold my soul to Christ for a little food and fellowship?

And that’s what led to the next 10 days of my life, when the most joyous feelings slowly overcame me. I was excited about something, and felt like getting out of bed regularly and jumping up and down. (I literally did that several times in the week that followed.) I saw the good in everyone, felt happy all the time and thought the world was miraculous.

I’m not a heavy drinker and I don’t use drugs (no matter what you think!), so I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I began to tune in more acutely to that feeling. After church a few days later, and after consulting a friend with whom I was reading The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren, I came to the conclusion that, Holy Christ, I was a believer.

The Holy Spirit had seeped into my life and I had, in fact, accepted Christ. It began, I concluded, after I publicly accepted Jesus.

Throughout the next year, I continued attending church, reading the Bible daily and praying regularly. The idea of being a Christian seemed normal and fitting to me, although I had no idea how I would explain it to anyone who knew me.

Outside of my small circle of friends, I hadn’t told many people that I had become a Christian, and definitely did not talk about it here on the blog.

I find it a little ironic that one of the reasons I started blogging was to share spiritual truths and examine spiritual matters, but more from an Eastern perspective and philosophy.

I was on a spiritual journey to myself and wanted to share the discoveries I was making about that journey. What was the difference between the different kinds of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita? What did enlightenment or nirvana mean? What was presence and mindfulness all about?

Instead, here’s where I am today: a Christian.

Exactly one year after my first experience with the Holy Spirit, I experienced it again before my trip to visit family in 2014. I felt the spiritual vibrancy and joy of the Holy Spirit for another 10-day period, which led me to speak to a pastor so that I could make sure I was okay and shouldn’t get checked out (mentally, I mean).

I felt it was a confirmation from God that I was, in fact, on the right path and that what had happened a year earlier was no fluke or wild flight of imagination.

To top things off and really take the plunge, this happened in October 2014, as I marked my journey to Christianity.


Yes, I was baptized in holy water a small swimming pool at church. I accepted Jesus and publicly declared my inward faith.

How do I feel about the whole experience?

I feel like all of this happened without me really wanting it to happen.

I didn’t set out to become a Christian and I’m probably just as surprised to tell this story as anyone who’s reading it.

Maybe I was seeking Jesus for comfort and faith, but I sure wasn’t seeking Christianity.

Also, I’m not sure how this whole thing will go over with my Hindu family. It’s a devout Hindu family that has started temples in Malaysia. My grandfather led efforts to build the only temple in town more than 50 years ago. Ten years back, my dad built the second one in the town I was born in.

And I’m not sure how the Bible will fit into my political and social beliefs. I’ve not had any major change of heart about equality for all people or women’s freedom. My personal beliefs remain contrary to church doctrine and the Bible.

I don’t know the answer to these questions.

All I  know is that I’ve accepted Christ into my life and felt a profound transformation.

I know that I had to share this story with you because I want to be completely honest and transparent with you.

This blog talks a lot about overcoming adversity and making comebacks in life. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t tell you a big part of what changed my life and helped me get centered again. I wanted to share with you what helped carry me through my most difficult time.

 “One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.
Other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life
When I was suffering from anguish, sorrow, or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, “You promised me, Lord,
That if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
There have only been one set of prints in the sand.
Why, when I have needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints
Is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson

Thank you for reading, your friendship, support and understanding.

The Summer with Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and the Infant Jesus

The Summer with Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and the Infant Jesus

The summer of travel continues. I found myself in India this past month and visited the beautiful state of Karnataka, where the weather was cool and the people, even cooler.

One of the main highlights for me was visiting, the Murudeshwar temple, where I ran into 12o foot statute of Lord Shiva, sitting at the edge of the Arabian sea.  It’s the second largest Shiva statute in the world and is as breathtaking as it appears in these first couple photos.

A nearby elevator allows you to go upto Shiva’s heights to catch a spectacular view of Shiva and the nearby town. This statute of Shiva reminds us of his mythological awe, power, strength and prominence in Hindu religion and traditions.


In addition to the Shiva statute, there is a temple below devotees can visit, with a mighty tall 20-story temple tower (gopura) that appears to disappear into the sky.

Next up was the International Society for Krishna Counsciousness in Bangalore. There are advantages to being one of the first ones there on a Sunday morning: no cues and a peaceful, but always enthusiastic bhajan worship.

This temple does justice to Krishna’s role and influence in the Hindu faith. The walk up the temple (it’s a bit of long one) chanting Krishna’s name is sure to invigorate and inspire any Krishna devotee. You’ll certainly feel Krishna’s presence and blessings, being on the temple grounds.



Finally, one of my personal new favorite places in the world is this church in the City of Bangalore – the Infant Jesus Church. This is a church inspired by the Infant Jesus shrine in Prague. Visited by people all over Karnataka and India, it’s become a pilgrimage site for many devotees. I found my visit to be peaceful, inspiring and filled with blessings.  The message during Mass was down to earth and the music, heavenly.

Jesus    P1060803
Hope you enjoyed the photos and hope you’re having an enjoyable summer as well! If you enjoyed the photos, please share these photos with anyone you think might enjoy seeing them. Thank you.

When did God become a dirty word? 7 ways God trumps cheap medication and the mafia.

When did God become a dirty word? 7 ways God trumps cheap medication and the mafia.

Is God Listening?

I've given up, people. Blogging now instead.

Imagine random strangers sauntering through your home at all times of the day and night to visit the temple-like prayer room.

If you’ve lived in such a home, you know you’re likely going to need a therapist later in life, join a monastic order or become a spirituality blogger.

And no, not for a second as a teenager did I think it was odd to have strangers and friends seek the blessings of our 3-foot granite elephant God statue, housed in a make-shift prayer room.

Those who visited the friendly Lord Ganesha usually came seeking blessings, peace of mind and stock market insights.

Survey says…“Don’t talk about God!”

While I didn’t ultimately join a cult or spend many years in therapy, I did start a blog which focuses on improving your life and even occasionally mentions God here and there.

So imagine my surprise when I did a reader survey recently and received an overwhelming response from you reminding me that the last thing you wanted to hear about was…God.

You don’t want to read about it and many of us don’t want to even think about it!

And you almost can’t say the word “God” out loud in public places ‘cause people will think you’ve lost your mind.

We are more interested in a game of Angry Birds, Harry Potter novels, Miley Cyrus twerks, Kim Kardashian selfies and what the new royal baby, Prince George, is wearing today than anything to do with the ruler of the universe.

What we’re going to do during half-time of a football game has become more interesting than the afterlife.

Sunday football now trumps a day of devotion.

Instant messaging now replaces the rosary and prayer. Karaoke has replaced choir practice.

No doubt, God’s on the run. And there are some legitimate reasons for God’s disappearance from our everyday lives.

After looking at some of the many reasons for God’s absence from our lives, I’ll propose 7 reasons to consider allowing God back into yours.

A laundry list of reasons why God is less popular Vladmir Putin and bachelor Juan Pablo.

♠ Why would you ever want to worship a God whose many followers seem to be judgmental and carry around a holier-than-thou attitude? If God-worshippers are arrogant and ego-fueled, what can God really have to offer?

♠ You can see your new Android phone. You can see and heart the photos you post on Instagram. You can observe the many floats streaming down 6th Avenue in New York during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Unfortunately, you can’t SEE God. Not only can you not see God, the entity, but you don’t feel you have enough evidence of God’s existence.

♠ You’re frustrated, confused or just offended by the mumbo jumbo in religious texts. You’re weary of words like sin and salvation, atman and samsara, the Covenant and the Law, tawhid and wahid, flustered by the myriads of angels, prophets, and kings in the religious books.

♠ The ways of worship trouble you. You might disagree or be offended by various cultural and traditional practices for worshiping God around the world.

You find fire worship and chanting loony, prayer five times a day obsessive, or the practice of confession disconcerting, scary and giving you a feeling that you might do some jail time.

♠ The same reason you hated school and your parents while growing up: rules and commandments.

There doesn’t seem to be leeway.

The standards are just too high. Accepting God doesn’t seem to be enough.

If you make the wrong move, commit the wrong sin, or find yourself off course, you’ve bought a one-way ticket to hell, or you might be reincarnated as Charlie Sheen in your next life.

♠ Although God is accepting and open to all, you’re offended by the close-mindedness of it all.

If you drink, you’re not permitted to.

If you party, you’re told God doesn’t approve.

You’re condemned if you divorce, lie, steal, text and drive, or watch House of Cards.

You’re told what is tolerable and what will make you burn in hell for eternity.

♠ You’re terrified that religious folks are using God for their own social and political agendas, absolutely petrified that your life will be dictated by principles in holy books and dictates from one religion or the other. You see the religious fanatics in every country trying to dominate the political discourse and hijack civic life with religious legislation.

♠ God ruined your relationship, gifted you a mother-in-law from hell, forced you to become a lawyer, or made you live in Flint, Michigan!

God allows billions of people to go hungry, die in war and remain in abject poverty.

What kind of maniacal God would allow so much suffering?

You didn’t get the job you wanted, the man you desired, the home you had envisioned in your mind since you were six. Instead, your life has been filled with disappointments, failure and heartbreak.

♠ Scandal-ridden clergy members and controversial ministers who are hypocritical, abusive and showy.

Not cool.

The men and women who claim to serve God include cons, sex-hungry thieves and scandal-filled charlatans. They drive fast cars, pocket from the people they lead and flash bling like 50 Cent (the rapper, folks!).

Now, there may be a myriad of other reasons God is simply an afterthought in your life.

Why do YOU hate God?

Why do you treat God like a house guest who has overstayed her welcome? Hang up on God like a telemarketer calling at dinner time?

7 practical reasons to give God another go.  

You might hate God and hate me now for writing about God.

As I said, many of you who answered my survey told me not to talk about God whatsoever, and yet here comes this post about God.

Don’t worry, friends, I promise you’ll only see posts about God as many times as you’ll see X-Factor judge, Simon Cowell, being kind to a contestant (never), but a little more than how many days it rains each year in Southern California (twice).

What God can do for you that cheap medication and the mafia can’t.

Forget about all the reasons you’re resisting and keeping God away from your life.

Develop a relationship with God and you’ll experience these 7 benefits in your life. (Hey, it’s cheaper than feel-good meds and less dangerous than asking for a favor from a mob boss)

1)    Strength.

When life-crushing and soul-shaking experiences come into your life, how do you deal with it? Ok, after you put down the gin and rum, how do you deal with it?

Alcohol and medication can only help you cope for so long. When life is unusually cruel or throws you under the bus and runs over you a couple times, allow God to carry you through the difficulty.

You can share your sorrows, summon the strength to carry on and seek the counsel of God. 

It’s like your own personal psychologist without the insurance companies, therapist couch or condescending personality, similar to a trusted, loyal, uplifting and supremely helpful best friend.

2)    Meaning and fulfillment.

Have you pondered the meaning of life after a binge 50-episode Duck Dynasty marathon?

Or charged off on a holiday shopping spree to rival those of Victoria Beckham? All the while feeling like you’re caught up in a consumerist lifestyle which gives importance to material wealth and social status?

God allows you to find meaning and fulfillment in your life. You’ll realize that you yourself are enough. You’re divine! You don’t need to be anything or anyone else.

Your purpose now is to live a divinely-inspired life.

Cozying up to God can help you find fulfillment and purpose, including loving your neighbors, loving God more, serving others, or inspiring others to live more divinely-inspired lives.

3)    Humility.

You may think you’re smarter than Einstein, hipper than Jay-Z, more beautiful than Heidi Klum and more talented than Jessica Chastain, but you’re probably more likely living in a place where cannabis is legal.

Many religious traditions talk about being meek and humble. You may find that tough to do as our monster-like egos consume our lives.

Putting God in perspective allows you to surrender your ego to this omniscient, omnipresent entity.

The greater presence of God in your life permits you to be open to others, to temper that gigantic ego and to be a person of service.

4)    Peace of mind.

Isn’t it nice to know that you don’t have to travel life alone?

God’s available at a moment’s notice to listen and to be there for you.

You can conveniently unload life’s thorniest and weightiest problems on God.

All you have to say is, “God, I can’t handle this, give me the mental stability and emotional peace to deal with this challenge. Walk with, walk beside me, and help me through this one…”

5)    A practice of love and compassion.

Having a greater divine presence in your life allows you to see the divine in other people.

You can become a more loving person by becoming a more God-inspired person.

God doesn’t want to hurt anyone or see anyone suffer. God’s NOT a mafia boss or an angry ex-lover.

God is love and compassion. Seek more God in your life and you’ll find that you’re more loving and compassionate to others.

Interestingly, today’s religious fanatics are usually the worst at showing love to others.

If you, on the other hand, understand that everyone shares the same divinity as you, you can’t help but feel a kindred spirit with your friends and neighbors (and even your family)

6)    Hope in despair.

How will you wake up tomorrow?

How are you going to deal with your house being flooded, cancer, a divorce or a legal squabble?

With God, you have two kinds of hope. First, God promises that you’ll get through the rough patches and make it to a better day. You’ll have the strength and courage to face life’s most cruel trials.

God may not alleviate the situation as much as transform you to be more accepting and resilient in your life’s struggle.

God can inspire you to find solutions, seek resources and light that spark of creativity to change your circumstances.

The second way God can provide hope is by giving you comfort at the end of life.

Your trial run on earth can be rewarded with heaven, enlightenment, reincarnation or other eternal rewards.

7)    Community and fellowship. Although there are many complications you’ll encounter with religion, each tradition offers you a unique way to congregate and respect God.

Find a suitable religion, and leave ones that don’t resonate with your soul.

To deal with life’s trials and tribulations, God can help us through the dark alleys, but you can also benefit from the help of a congregation, church or temple community on a similar life path.

Most traditions of God-worship are communal and bring together a community of people.

Your co-worshipers can provide the additional courage, understanding and direction to help you through the ups and downs of life.

They’ll be there in the good times and the soul-wrenching ones.

I hope you’ll consider giving God another chance.

I hope you’ll even consider purchasing this book I wrote about God, Is God Listening? I wrote it 2 years ago, but just put it up for sale for your reading pleasure. Yes, you’ll laugh, cry and think about God differently.

Are you willing to give God another go? Or are you going to jump out the third-story window if you ever hear the word “God” again 🙂 ? Let me hear you in the comments below.

Malaysia Visit: Kota Bharu Temples

Malaysia Visit: Kota Bharu Temples

My life will forever be tied to Kota Bharu, Malaysia.

Yes, it’s officially the name I see on my birth certificate under birthplace.

But this also feels like the town of my spiritual birthplace.

Growing up, visits to Kota Bharu were always filled with audible Muslim prayers around town throughout the day, visits to the Hindu Sri Muthumarrian temple and plenty of 4 a.m. prayer time with my grandparents. Well, they prayed. I tried to stay awake.

I’m back once again visiting this northeastern Malaysian town that has so much family and spiritual significance to me. It’s also the place my great-grandfather moved to from India nearly 100 years ago.

Here are some photos of the Sri Muthumariamman temple from the Thai-border town of Tumpat. The South Indian Mother Goddess Mariamman, believed to have been found in the sands along the beach of the coastal town of Tumpat 100 years ago, resides here.

Like my friend Vidya who shares beautiful visits of temples in South India, I hope you enjoy a few photos below from my recent travels and temple visits.

Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha


Lakshmi- the Hindu Goddess of wealth

The 100+ year old Tumpat temple

The 100+ year old Tumpat temple

Decorative tower, gopuram, above the temple entrance.

Decorative tower, or gopuram, above the temple entrance

So many memories of Tumpat temple visits, which is about 30 km away from the main town of Kota Bharu. The last years in Kota Bharu have brought forth a more centrally-located temple, the Siva Subramaniyar temple. The temple opened in 2004 and serves the local Indian Hindu communities in the central part of town.  A few more pics:

The newest Kota Bharu addition.

The newest Kota Bharu addition


Hindu Gods welcoming visitors


Say What!?!

As I’m visiting temples and family in Kota Bharu, I hope you’re having a good summer too. Going anywhere interesting? Let me know in the comments below.

* Did you know that I post inspirational message and travel photos on Facebook. Add me and keep in touch:)

Baptisim, Communion and Confirmation – A conversation with Jose Lisi

Just to keep things interesting, I thought I’d take this week off from writing and share with you a video interview post with a friend of mine, Jose Lisi.

I met Jose less than a year ago but have gotten to know him and his family pretty well over these few months. And I was lucky enough to attend his Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation ceremony here in Southern California.

It was quite the ceremony and naturally, I had a few hundreds of questions about Jose’s experience and why he was going through this process now.

If you have five minutes, take a listen.

To pick up my book, Is God Listening?, about where God is during our life’s trying times, click here

How to Find Spirituality Where You Are (without ditching your job, moving to an ashram or living the life of a monastic)

How to Find Spirituality Where You Are (without ditching your job, moving to an ashram or living the life of a monastic)

Is it too late to go back to Brooklyn?

Is it too late to go back to my regular life in Brooklyn?

If you’re a spiritual-seeker hunting for the truth, you might feel like you’re regularly letting yourself down.

You don’t have enough hours in the day to play chauffeur to the kids, be a fabulous manager at work, and super-volunteer in your church and community.

You may feel like your spiritual pursuits go to the wayside. You’d like to live a more spiritual and religious life but you’re just not able to do it ALL.

Wouldn’t it be nice to give it all up, move to a local mountain-side commune and spend the rest of your life seeking self-realization?

Should you disappear into the forests once and for all until you’ve become an enlightened human?


Learn to find spirituality in the world you live in.

You don’t have to pack up the suitcases, sell the house, abandon your family and hit the closest mountain resort to live the monastic lifestyle with a religious community.

You can be just where you are and continue to seek the spiritual life.

Learn to live in the ‘real’ (ok, “illusionary”) world.

You will learn many spiritual lessons in the world you live in today.

You want to move to the ashram, mountains or cave to find enlightenment. But you’re not going to find it there. Well, you might find it there but you’re not going to get to realization if you can’t conquer living in the places you do now.

You’re not going to get traffic jams, lawsuits, suspicious neighbors, antagonistic supervisors, penny-pinching landlords and rebellious children in the ashram!

You’re not going to get offended, heart-broken, crushed, pained, lied to, saddened, depressed in a mountain setting.

No money worries, loved ones dying, divorce, bankruptcy, failure, when you’re solely in deep spiritual pursuits.

Balance your spiritual life with your material life.

Your life gives you plenty of opportunities to practice spirituality: it allows you to confront people and circumstances who will hijack your peace and test your patience.

Not wanting to punch the motorcyclist who just cut you off on the freeway is a divine practice.

Choosing to forgive the man who just duped you of your life’s savings is a spiritual exercise.

Your life allows you to tame your ego, perfect your character and make choices about how you accept your life’s circumstances.

You will also have time for inner spiritual growth, mindfulness and prayer.

You can bring in spiritual practices into your life if you simply prioritize the importance of them.

Start small spiritual habits and be consistent with them.

A little spirituality every day.

Become a better person every day. Build your character every day. Find the spiritual answers to your life’s problems and circumstances.

Take the high road. Take the spiritual road. Give. Forgive. Love.

Be mindful. Peaceful. Thoughtful. Generous. Soul-Centered.

Use every situation and encounter to practice love. 

Build up small spiritual practices daily that recognizes the divine. Practices which allows you to reflect on your mind and see through the illusions of the material world.

Stop the “I don’t have time excuse”

You may want to move to the ashram or commune of your dreams because you’ll have all the time in the world there to pursue your spiritual desires.

Pursue those desires right from where you are.

Make time for the things that matter in your life.

If you’d like to seek God, wake up earlier to reflect upon Him.

If you’d like clarity, be mindful throughout the day and spend a few minutes each day watching your thoughts drift through your mind.


Find the time. Make the time. Schedule the time.

Refuse to live by the “all or nothing” strategy some realized beings have taken.

You DO NOT have to go all in. You DO NOT have to spend every minute and every hour in prayer and meditation. You don’t have to do that remotely, in silence or by yourself.

You can chose the middle path. You can straddle the world you live in with the spiritual world.

You can be in the world. You don’t have to be of the world.

You don’t have to choose between the normal life of suburbia and family against the spiritual world of realized beings.

You can seek your best self and find your highest source of inspiration in daily life and everyday moments.

Forgive yourself for imperfections and keep trying every day.

If you’re human, you’ll have a bad day. You’ll fall off the fire-truck when putting out a fire.

You’ll blow half your salary on the roulette table.

Commit perjury, adultery, forgery, thievery and find yourself with all kind of other quandaries.

You might not have time today for silence, meditation, prayer, divinity.

Intentionally hurt someone else.

Refused to forgive a parent who’s wounded you.

Ignored your friends who desperately seek your help.

Refused to let go of your ego so you can salvage the friendship.

When you fall off the path to self-knowledge and enlightenment, keep going. Start over. Start again.

Do not move to the woods, mountains or your favorite religious order in search for the truth.   

Friends, if you ever tell me you’re moving to the woods to spend the rest of your life trying to reach enlightenment, I’m going to do three things. First, get a hold of my ex-wife, a psychiatrist, to give you a special rate on weekly therapy. Second, contact the local police department to try to stop your planned-escape and finally, spend the rest of my time trying to track you down and bringing you back to your regular life.

Don’t take the easy way out.

Refuse to disengage completely from people, circumstances and the pressures of the world around you.

Listen, you’re hearing this straight from someone who would be first in line to join a monastery, new religious order or cult. If there’s a promise of free meals and self-realization, I’d get in line like your zealous holiday shopper, setting up a tent overnight to purchase my flat screen tv.

I’m not going to join the order. The brotherhood. The nunhood. Or any ‘hood’ with anyone wearing robes, saffron sheets or sunbathing in the nude.

I’m going to stay and fight. Fight, you say. Fight what?

Fight to come to terms with your human self. To become a better version of you.

Fight your anger, ego, desires, imperfections and all of your human qualities. Fight to become a better person.

You can’t fight in isolation without other humans, without worldly problems and without being challenged. In my opinion, that’s the easy way out.

Let’s confront our nemesis, face our ego, work on our shortfalls. Let’s work on loving our Creator more every day while we’re fighting the battles of our daily lives.

Ever thought about living the life of monastic? (Oh, you haven’t. 🙂 )

To pick up my book, Is God Listening, about God, spirituality and resiliency, click here

Photo credit radhanads