In our spiralling materialistic tendencies the pious are often ridiculed and believed to be socially inept. By virtue of their faith they are tagged as backward and orthodox.
The materialist often views a religious person as unsociable, dogmatic and lacking in intellectual insight. The “freak” refuses to drink or smoke, prays before eating, frowns at the free mixing of the sexes, is superstitious, impractical, and way behind the times.
If, for instance, he achieves a prominent position somewhere, he is regarded as abnormal and a nuisance to those around him because he refuses to take bribes! In schools and colleges, some students wear conspicuous religious marks on their forehead and their classmates take pride and joy in insulting and degrading them. Sometimes he (or she) may even be physically attacked for his religious beliefs. Sadly, occasionally, an allegedly religious person takes to the streets in an act of violence himself.
On all the above occasions, whether the religious person remains quiet or whether he speaks out - society at large takes him to be a social misfit. The role of a religious person is not easy. He has to find a path which allows him to follow his beliefs in an environment that is constantly trying to pull him down.
The mundane person, in comparison, is a social chameleon who incessantly changes his colour to match his surroundings. In a second, he can turn from capitalist into communist, friend into foe, Jekyll into Hyde. He has no principles, beliefs or goals, except those which are conducive to his crude sensual inclinations. He flies the flag not of his country, but of his customer. He sings the praises not of his wife and family but of his sports heroes. He sings the hymns not of his Creator but the songs of film or play. These are the characteristics of the so-called “well-behaved” citizen. “Normality” is equated with goodness and “unusualness” is equated with ignorance. In such an environment, it becomes very difficult for a religious person to win - particularly if he or she is a child.
But the religious social misfit knows in his soul that one day, the world will turn to his or her way of thinking. He or she sees everybody as essentially spiritual, but they have become sensual - rather akin to the proverbial lion cub, which by mistake, joined a flock of sheep. The religious person understands that though he may be a social misfit, others are misfits of a more serious kind. They are spiritual misfits. They do not fit into the wider, more important, spiritual scheme of things. This larger context has been completely missed by them, due to their keyhole perspective of the world.
The more we broaden our horizons - even on the physical level - the more spiritual we become! It is only when we narrow ourselves and our horizons, that we become mundane. The awareness of the infinite cosmos and its miniature parallel - the human body - and the realization that everything consists of pure energy - bring about feelings of profound spirituality. This is why great scientists of the past such as Albert Einstein, were awoken to a deep sense of mysticism.
On his return to earth, astronaut Rakesh Sharma (who was the first Indian in space) described how he felt when he saw our wonderful globe suspended in infinite space. “Our planet looked so beautiful! And I just couldn't believe people were fighting down there.”
It is well known that astronauts, such as those who went to the moon, after their retirement, very often become priests! Russian physicist Andrei Linde, whose brilliant contribution to science, The New Inflationary Theory, predicts that the universe is actually billions of times larger than discernable through our telescopes, openly espouses mysticism and publicly expresses personal remorse about his career: “I'm depressed when I think I will die like a physicist,” he says.
Please take a moment and answer these questions for yourselves: If the whole world is blind, should you poke out your eyes or should you try to lead the way! If the whole world is lame, do you sever your legs or do you attempt to carry as many people as you can? And, if the whole world is insane, do you discard your intellect, or do you preserve your wisdom and strive to enlighten as many souls as possible?
Today, everyone is a misfit. Your answers to the above questions will reveal to you which one you are - social or spiritual.