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1. Is religion or spirituality important to you in your daily life? If so, how? Of course as part of the OnFaith team, I have a daily focus on religion and spirituality as it pertains to working with so many of our members who are contributing content to the community on a broad range of topics through the lens of faith. It is a wonderful experience to listen to all their voices and their perspectives help me gain a better understanding of my own journey, and how to make sense of it in my own life – as a professional, a father, a husband and a friend. As for how religion plays a role in my personal life, I find that it happens in moments. Sometimes it may be how I rely on lessons I have learned from religious texts or traditions to help me explain a concept to my children, to draw on strength I need to get through a challenge at work, or to bring context to something wonderful I may be experiencing – like a new travel experience, or even a sense of wonder in a beautiful sunset. I find that I turn to my faith most during a major life event – like having a first feeding ceremony for my daughter which makes me fully involved in that Hindu tradition, or the loss of a family member when I find myself turning to multiple traditions for solace, understanding and the will needed to move forward. 2. How has your understanding of “God” evolved throughout your life? I was first introduced to the concept of God like most people by my parents. When I was growing up we had a home shrine, which is a typical in a Hindu household. This is where we would say a prayer to Saraswati the Goddess of learning everyday before school, sit as a family on the weekends to listen to my Mom sing devotional songs, or pray to remember family members who had passed. I was also fascinated by the myths and stories of the Hindu tradition – that I learned through reading comics (Amar Chitra Kathas). These stories introduced me to a rich tapestry of Gods and Goddesses that all served specific purposes – but who were all just manifestations of a single truth – that ineffable omnipotent force that we call “God”. We also participated in community celebrations (poojas) with other Hindu families on major Holidays throughout the year. From these I learned about the communal way of celebrating God, something that involved people getting together in a shared experience to pray, engage in ritual, eat and share joy with one another. Of course growing up in Maryland, most of my friends were not Hindu, but practiced their own faiths. In school I was introduced to saying The Lord’s Prayer in Chapel, and I would visit Jewish Synagogues for friend’s Bar Mitzvahs. I would share Midnight Mass with friends and their families, and when we would travel I got to see and experience even more religious traditions. For me these experiences made my understanding of God one that I understood to be very personal – believing that the traditions that people used to connect to their own personal connection with God to be most likely the ones they were taught. As I have grown older, I believe that while the first language that people may have to connect with God is the one that they first learned, it seems that for many it is a process toi figure out what really works for them. For me that evolution has been to embrace a variety of paths to feel connected to God when I need to be – whether in good times or bad. To be honest, the way I probably connect to God the most now is through my children. They are absolute miracles to me – and when I see the world through their eyes I cannot help but be moved closer to my faith that there is something unexplainably wonderful far beyond my understanding – I think this is what I call God. 3. What do you think about religions other than your own? I am fascinated by religion. I believe that what we call religion – a way to understand that which we do not know, come together as a community, guide how we treat one another and the world in which we live, and what we use to be the best that we can be – is something that is completely natural to the human condition. This is why it has developed in every time and place and has focused on the same questions. In that way I think of other religions as the explanations born in a time and place and then shaped by the people who have lived those traditions and made them living, breathing parts of their own lives - over generations, centuries, millennia. I hope to learn about as many of these traditions as possible – because there are differences in how questions are answered and even how they are understood – but I have great respect for all – and hope to better my understanding of my own life by learning from them. 4. Can you share a time when your faith helped you understand a significant event in your life? When my wife and I got married we had two ceremonies – one Episcopalian (the tradition of her family) and one Hindu. We wanted to honor both of our cultural and religious heritages, and in doing so I think it helped me connect and solidify what I believe. That my faith is that I believe in the power of learned and shared rituals, the importance in the lessons that they teach, and that for me – no one tradition has a primary position among them – but rather it is like anything in life – that we get out of them what we put into them. I had experienced poojas, masses, etc. – but when my wife and I were the focus of these – they became real for me in a way that they never had been before. I was able to see these rituals as so personal – that I realized what I was experiencing was faith. I rely on this faith everyday now – 14 years into my marriage, but also beyond my marriage. I am happy I had a moment to make all that I thought I believed real in that moment – I return to it often to connect with my faith. 5. What is your faith in one word/phrase or image? Be kind and walk the earth gently. Read more OnFaith Five member responses here https://www.onfaith.co/a/onfaithfive