College is a time for change and the mill of experiences, realizations and revelations. While it probably doesn’t bother most people when they change their majors, course schedules or political affiliations, what about when someone changes his or her faith?
If your beliefs — or lack thereof — have been shaken or shattered, you might be looking for something new.
On campus, you can take a religion class, or you could check out any of the multitude of religious student organizations.
Off campus, it’s no mystery there’s a Catholic church on University Avenue or, if you’re Jewish, that you can go to Hillel to learn about that religion.
But beyond the faiths in plain sight, there lie communities of believers that can support those in search of their religious calling. Go explore these faiths and the people who practice them, and maybe you’ll find a new home right here on earth or even beyond.
uHare Krishna (ISKCON)
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON, was founded in the ’60s in New York City. Members propagate the teachings of Krishna, as laid out in traditional Hindu scripture, mainly the Bhagavata and Bhagavad Gita.
In ISKCON, the methodology of worship is known as bhakti yoga, encompassing methods of studying, worshiping and understanding Krishna. For example, members often chant or sing the Maha Mantra, the holy names of Krishna and Rama. Other aspects of the religion involve creating a strong, supportive community of believers and living a simple, natural way of life. Members refrain from eating meat, fish and eggs and abstain from any substance that causes intoxication. This encourages their four-part Dharma, which consists of mercy, austerity, truthfulness and cleanliness.
Learning more about the religion and lifestyle propagated by the Hare Krishna movement couldn’t be easier. The Krishna House, at 214 NW 14th St., is an excellent place to start learning. Visit the Krishna House in person for late lunch served weekdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., or visit http://www.krishnalunch.org to learn more and to see what opportunities are available for classes, workshops and service.
If you have an interest in Buddhism, you have local resources. Lama David Bole runs the Traditional Acupuncture Center and is a teacher of Tibetan Kagyu Buddhism.
All practices of Buddhism, including Kagyu, revolve around gaining an understanding of the teachings of the Buddha. Most do this through mantra and meditation.
Starting March 27, there will be a six-part weekly introduction to Buddhism course. The class will be held Sundays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida, 3131 NW 13th St.
At 11 a.m. on Sundays, there is also a weekly meditation course at the same place. Bole will lead students through a selection of Buddhist text and practice meditation.
“More than anything, Buddhism is a science of the mind,” Bole said. “If you have a mind, you can benefit from practicing meditation.”
For more information on Kagyu Buddhism in Gainesville, as well as class schedules and meeting times, visit http://www.davidbole.com or http://www.ktcgainesville.org, or call the Traditional Acupuncture Center at 352-335-1975.
Founded in Iran in the 19th century by the prophet Baha’u’llah, Baha’i today has more than 5 million members worldwide. Baha’is believe in one true god, but not in the way God often is perceived in other monotheistic religions. Rather than a single god at odds with the gods of every other faith, Baha’is believe all religions represent a stage in the revelation of God’s will. Baha’u’llah’s teachings stress the unification of people as one, but members are encouraged to pursue an independent investigation of divine truth.
Although Baha’i has no clergy and no formal church service, members hold study groups and programs to educate in the teachings of Baha’u’llah. Most study groups are held by individuals in their homes, but the Baha’i Center of Gainesville, at 4451 NW 19th St., holds a weekly open devotional at 10 a.m. Sundays.
For more information on the Baha’i community in Gainesville, call 352- 375-5552 and visit either http://www.bahaigainesville.org or http://www.ufbahai.org.