Split personality

Many of us on the spiritual path lead double lives. Carefully avoiding the image of an over-zealous religious nerd, we sometimes end up hiding our spirituality and even compromising our principles so we fit into the crowd. Initially, people may appreciate the added spiritual dimension to life, but when one’s interest grows, commitment deepens and priorities begin to change, that’s when the alarm bells start to ring. Parents are happy with the morality and principles that the practice of spirituality brings, but later they fear you may become too detached from the world, lose your drive for success and renounce your duties towards the family. Friends think it’s cool and funky to ’think deeper’, but later they complain that you’ve changed and how your company no longer stimulates them. How do we balance our spiritual journey with our worldly relationships? Is it possible to maintain your principles without becoming a social recluse?

In the second chapter of the Bhagavad-gita Krishna explains that “what is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.” Once, when asked what the purport of this statement was, Srila Prabhupada replied “they think you are crazy and you think they are crazy!” Materialists look at spiritualists and pity what they see as a conservative life of self denial and childish fairytale. Spiritualists look at materialists and lament their illusory pursuits for pleasure, foreseeing the frustration that comes from seeking substance in the shadow. Everyone has their own take on life. I guess the most important thing for a spiritualist is to come to terms with who they really are. There comes a point when you realize that life is too short to put up false pretences and masks. If you’re not comfortable with yourself, we can’t really expect anyone else to be.

Interestingly, as a spiritualist matures, he is not only unaffected by the scepticism of others, but by his conviction and inspiration he can often influence and transform those very same people. Going to a deeper level, we realize we have lots in common with others. Everyone, despite their aspirations and goals in life are all actually looking for the same things – peace, love, achievement, relationships, security etc. The only difference is that we are all looking in different places. In this way, a spiritualist need not see himself as a black sheep, standing out like a sore thumb in society. Rather they can be likened to a drop of red ink thrown into a pool of water. By boldly taking the plunge and confidently expressing themselves, they will colourfully enrich the lives of everyone around them.

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