Around 2008, a young woman joined our community. I’m a minister in a Hindu spiritual tradition from North India called Kashmir Shaivism. You’ve heard of it, right? Just kidding.

Anyway, this young woman, let’s call her Rosa, taught yoga for a living. She had a husband and a delightful toddler. Along with the yoga came a slate of progressive social and political positions and a resolute rejection of her Latin-American Catholic upbringing.

Rosa’s marriage was on the rocks. She was regularly mean to her husband and used rage and disparagement to control him. They had little to no sex life. When she wasn’t hating her husband, she was hating herself. Despite the yoga, her life was regularly disturbed by intense, chaotic emotions.

I knew Rosa for a couple of years before she underwent a startling conversion to fundamentalist Christianity.

It happened while she was visiting a cousin who had already been reborn. At the time, Rosa was desperately unhappy, so unhappy that she was willing to try anything, including reading Christian scripture with her cousin. In the past, she’d always vigorously refused to do this.

To her surprise, some of the things she and her cousin read together made sense. On the long train ride home, Rosa prayed fervently to Jesus. She prayed for help. She prayed for rebirth.


And help came. As Rosa related the experience to me, she felt God’s love pouring into her, and feeling God’s love helped her to finally love herself.

After this, Rosa’s life began to improve. She was kinder to her husband. They resumed normal relations. She felt much happier, and she started to look for a fundamentalist church. I encouraged her.

I’ve spent the last 35 years meditating, chanting mantras and waving incense in front of Hindu deities. Politically, I’m leftish of progressive. Although I view Jesus as a great spiritual personage, I have never been Christian.

My guru, the 20th-century Bengali saint Anandamayi Ma, taught that all religions and spiritual traditions are made by God for our benefit. She taught that all paths, if walked with sincerity, can help us to discover wisdom and grace. These are lessons that I have absorbed deeply.

The best religion or spiritual tradition is the one that helps you. It’s the one that helps you to relax and feel God’s grace. It’s the one that helps you to learn what you need to learn, starting from whatever condition you are actually in.

The best religion is one that meets you where you really live. And every religion is that for someone.


My former student needed to be saved. Jesus saved her. This is a victory as far as I am concerned.

I have never wanted to be saved. Mine is a different path. But I’m grateful that spiritual help is available in so many forms, as many forms as there are different kinds of people with their differing longings and needs.

For me, the glory of God shines brighter because there are so many traditions. I feel God’s mercy in this.

Many of us want to believe that we are on a better path than others. Some traditions even encourage us to adopt this attitude. But when we disparage or discount other people’s spiritual traditions simply because they are culturally different, or hold different beliefs and teach different practices, we are the losers.

What do we lose? Paradoxically, we lose opportunities to deepen our own appreciation for the divine.

God is great. Much greater than our ideas about God. And in the wildly diverse patchwork of human traditions, we can experience direct manifestations of God’s compassion being expressed everywhere for our benefit.

With so many traditions speaking to the infinite variety of human conditions, we are all winners.

Shambhavi Sarasvati serves as the spiritual director of Jaya Kula in Portland. She is the author of five books about spiritual life. Jaya Kula is a vibrant nonprofit community of diverse people learning and practicing in the traditions of Kashmir Shaivism and Dzogchen. Visit for more information.

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