We’ve all met “one of those people”. They carry their Bible around with them everywhere. They quote their pastor in every conversation. They might even have an image of Jesus Christ as their desktop on their computer. Certainly they have a crucifix hanging around their neck. These are the people to avoid right? Because they will invariably try to ensnare you in a conversation about whether you know where you are going when you die. Right? And their Facebook pages become their own personal pulpit!
But wait. I’ve come to recognize a list of things about myself:
1. I wear an Aum around my neck all of the time.
2. I have a Bhagavad-Gita with me in my backpack at all times to take out and flip through during down times if I am waiting for a bus, or even on my lunch breaks at work.
3. I do not quote the priest at my temple but there are a few of the men in a Bhagavad-Gita discussion group who I can quote if the moment is right.
4. For a time, I had a very over-the-top image of Lord Vishnu riding on the mythical bird-like creature Garuda as my desktop image at work. What? I liked it!
5. My Facebook friends are regularly treated to quotes by Gandhi, Yogananda, Vidyadhishananda, Sri Krishna, etc. as well as random postings of images of Hindu deities. Only thing about this is a friend of mine who is similarly inclined has assured me that we are not proselytizing as we never tell anyone they need to believe as we do in order to save their mortal soul.
Though there are some people I know who don’t recognize how different the approach to “faith” is between a Hindu and a Christian, and may very well see these things and will think “we’ve got another religious nut here”, I also think that most people don’t give these things a second look, and I know why too.
1. Because Hindu deities and the Aum symbol have become such secular images in the Western World. You see them everywhere, in some of the most inappropriate places, placed there by people who often don’t know what they mean. I have a co-worker who has a Ganesha statuette though he is not a Hindu, but has a refreshing amount of respect for, understanding of, and respect for what it represents. But most of the time these images would seem to be just about interchangeable with Leprechauns or the Easter Bunny.
2. Another thing is that scriptures such as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads are often published with covers bearing the word “Classics” or something similar which seem to suggest that they are akin to, oh let’s say Dante’s Inferno. Related to religion, but not scripture.
I think these are the only things standing between me and religious zealotry.