Mehta’s day-to-day work as a hospital chaplain at Beaumont Dearborn offers her many insights into reality. Whether her experiences are negative or positive ones, she says that all have been presented to her with a divine purpose.
Perhaps the most mystical and spiritual faith, Hinduism is rooted in the notion that humans should have mystical experiences on their journey to connect with the divine. In Hinduism there is no “other” and the divine deity exists within and without every being.
Hindu Chaplain Shama Mehta, BCC, will offer the latest lecture in IFLC’s “Exploring Religious Landscapes” series on Hindu mysticism 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17 at Sri Venkateswara Temple & Cultural Center: 26233 Taft Rd., Novi. Pre-registration is encouraged by registering here, but walk-in registration is welcome. A free will donation of $20.00 per program is suggested.
The event may also be livestreamed on our Facebook page.
At the lecture, Mehta will offer a brief overview of a 5,000-year-old religion and will teach the basic concept that the goal of Hinduism is to be “God realized,” meaning to become one with God and realize that there is no other, and no separateness between the divine and human beings.
She will teach about the two most visible aspects of Hinduism: Bhatki yoga – the ritualistic devotional practice that heightens the senses and Jnana Yoga, the philosophical practice of studying scripture relating to the scripture to everyday life experience pushing how are you experiencing divine in daily life. Unlike what most Westerners have come to understand of the mind-body concept of yoga as something to be practiced in a studio on a mat, the original meaning of yoga in this case means union; to unite; everything is already inherently and intimately connected.
The lecture will also be timed with the Temple’s evening prayer rituals, a sensory experience involving the smells of incense and flowers as well as the aromas of food is prepared and presented to the deities in the Temple. There will also be time to tour the Temple and to ask questions.
Eighty Five percent of the world’s Hindus live in India, and the land itself is a mystical one. Even the most pragmatic person can derive a spiritual experience by walking along the steps of the Ganges, entering the gates of Jaisalmer, or gazing upon in the Taj Mahal.
In Hinduism, intimacy with God and having one’s being in God as a palpable and living Presence is the very essence of religion. This intimacy cannot be constrained or defined by doctrines, dogmas or theology. Unlike other religions with a separate mystical tract or teaching, such as Kabbalah in Judaism or Sufism in Islam, Hinduism is a religion that is mystical in and of itself.
Experiencing Connection to the Divine in Daily Life
As Indian philosopher and statesman S. Radhakrishnan once wrote: “Religion is not doctrinal conformity nor ceremonial piety. It is participation in the mystery of Being, it is wisdom or insight into Reality.”
“My Hindu faith teaches me that even if I had a negative experience – like sometimes my help may be turned down by a patient because they were expecting a Christian and not a Hindu chaplain – I should not get bound up in it. I take every encounter as an opportunity to learn and that is what pushes me to keep moving forward.”
Holding a degree in healthcare management, Mehta became a board-certified chaplain in 2012 through the Association of Professional Chaplains. She holds a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Health Administration. Shama is also a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and a Qualified Bilingual Medical Interpreter.
“I fell into chaplaincy by chance, and ever since I have not looked back,” said Mehta. “It was a training process that pushes you to interrogate your old self and to reflect upon your own biases and prejudices that you may not even knew you had. Working in a hospital setting and growing in my own faith tradition has led me to increase my interfaith involvement.”
Now, Mehta participates in programming and activities through IFLC, WISCDOM and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.
Mehta is a first-generation American who in 2001 first immigrated with her family from the Western region of India to Canada at age 16 and then moved to the United States in 2007. She lives with her parents and sister in Livonia.