Q: What do you say to some pious individual who uses his or her “religion” like a weapon? If I am a believer in Sanatana Dharma, how do I defend myself against wing-nuts who have convinced themselves that I am going straight to hell?
The relentlessness of the judgment is quite unbelievable, pretty psychotic and irrational, in my opinion. It actually has nothing to do with me! The next time I get called a godless heathen and a great disappointment to humanity, what do you think I should say?
First: Congratulations. If you weren’t on the right track those on the wrong track would not be so hysterically fearful of you and your spiritual path. Whenever emotion enters into a matter, the emoter is in the wrong. This is a principle I have found to be true for over fifty years when encountering the self-righteous and the willfully ignorant.
The Sanskrit proverb, Satyam Eva Jayate: Truth Alone Conquers (or Is Victorious) is true. Evil and ignorance (basically the same thing) are terrified of simple truth. The evil and the ignorant therefore hate and fear spiritual reality of any form. So their reaction to you is a trustworthy assurance that you are in the light they detest. You are right: it has nothing to do with you. It is all on their shoulders and in their hearts.
All right: what should you do?
- Remember that you were just like them in some previous life and reacted just like they are doing now. Otherwise this would not be happening to you. It is part of your karmic purification and will benefit you if you respond wisely.
- Realize that they are suffering. Their religion is a hell in which they are trapped. Oh yes, they hold to it and exalt it, but that just shows what a terrible trap they are in.
- Be aware that their reaction to you may be a sign of their own awakening–an awakening they don’t like, but which you can assist if you always respond to them calmly, reasonably and even with humor, unless that sets them off even more–you will have to be cautious with this. I have seen the most argumentative and obnoxious people turn completely around in a short time and change permanently in their thinking.
- Yogananda said foolish people argue and wise people discuss. Never argue or let them draw you into their emotionality. Be very firm about this. Just speak quietly and to the point. Say what you have to say and then be silent.
- Consider if the situation requires silence from the very first. Sometimes you have to refuse to even speak with such people.
- On occasion you have to just leave and make it clear that you won’t be around in the future if the unpleasantness persists.
- Do your best to love them throughout. If you can’t love them, try to respect them. If you can’t do either of these, then fake it. (Advice given by Alfred Hitchcock to Ingrid Bergman when she was making Notorious).
These seven points are not easy, but by following them, I have lived to see people (including my parents and some relatives) who declared me crazy and a devil-worshipping heathen come to believe in reincarnation and karma themselves and even consider their former beliefs foolish and false.
Others have kept to their ideas but decided that God must somehow accept mine. And the incurables have not bothered me because I have not given them a chance. There is no place in my life for them.
Again: Congratulations. You are going to manage just fine, because truth does prevail and conquer.
More Questions and Answers:
- Kali and the Virgin Mary: Two Questions
- Three Spiritual Questions
- Living Without Desire in the World Today