From Hippie to Hare Krishna – Candace Brazier
Since the day I was born my life has been tangled with religion at its very core. My parents were a part of what I call a hippy farm. They (and a large group of others) co-existed on a ranch in Northeast Texas. I don’t remember it, but I’ve heard stories and seen pictures. My father was an ordained minister, and my mother a recent college grad. They were legit holy rollers. Up until I was in about 5th grade I’d only gone to private Christian schools- and when I say private I mean PRIVATE. Only the kids of these other parents within the company/community my own folks were a member of attended and we were taught by the retired teacher parent of the company president’s wife. What was this company you ask? You can google “Agapeland” and get all the deets, but in short they produced Christian children’s music (even got themselves nominated for a Grammy). We did everything together. Grow up, play, go to school, go to church… it was a very tight knit group.
Even after the dissolution of the hippy farm my dad pursued a career in ministry. We went to church several times a week, and it pretty much defined us as a family. My dad wasn’t ever kidding when he’d joke with friends or colleagues that we had our best fights on the way to church. We did.
My faith didn’t really come into question because it wasn’t something I consciously chose, it was just my life. It never occurred to me that expanding my horizons was even something to consider until my ex-husband declared himself a Hare Krishna (in a speech on why he would not be eating the sausage pizza I’d made for dinner). He bought me some books, introduced me to a strange online community and then started visiting a nearby ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) on a weekly basis. At this time in my life I was pretty much on board with anything he wanted because our marriage was falling apart and I wanted to fix it.
For three years I practiced this lifestyle. We followed the Four Regulative Principals; we even lived in an ISKCON temple in Idaho for several months. I kind of loved it. I am fascinated by spirituality and what all it entails both mentally and in the tactile motion. I found the personal peace I’d been searching for, but my ties to my husband spoiled my experience. Eventually when the shine of trying to fix my marriage wore off I realized that even though my soon to be ex-husband was a total moron, there was some truth to this philosophy we were studying… and in complete contrary to my beliefs, I found them to be utterly compatible.
Once the trappings of politics, and preconceived notions, and cultural barriers are stripped away there are truths in all philosophies, and they are all connected. Absolute truth is without regard to perceptions or perspectives. It simply is. I have never felt closer to God than when I let go of my attachments and accept what is there. God made this entire Earth, and we are all on it together. So many Christian hymns talk about making a joyful noise. I can’t imagine anything more joyous in in Heavenly ears than the sound of everyone singing together for once.
I wouldn’t really say I practice either Christianity or Vaishnavism at this point in my life. I wear a St. Jude Thaddeus patron saint medallion that was a gift from my mother, and a bracelet made from the Tulsi beads of my old Japa necklace. I don’t really pray to or on either, but I keep them as a reminder that while I may wander now, God will always be with me. Because that is the God I believe in. One of love and forgiveness. Otherwise, what’s the point?