What we believe vs how we behave


















We may try to share our beliefs with others by showing how rational our beliefs are. But people see how much we walk our talk, how well-behaved we are. 

To better appreciate this, let’s turn the situation around. When do we feel inspired to inquire about others’ beliefs? Usually when we are attracted by their behavior, when we see that they are good human beings by universally understood parameters of human behavior. Are they polite, courteous, gentle, tolerant, forgiving, understanding? When we see such warm behavior, we feel more intrigued to explore their beliefs and evaluate the reasonability of those beliefs. 

Our rationality is often affected by, if not subordinated to, our emotionality. Even if we are not prominently emotional people, still, if something is not obligatory for us, then we rarely do it simply because it makes sense. For things that are voluntary, we do them not just because they make sense but primarily because they feel good. Feel-good here doesn’t mean wishy-washy or sentimental; it means heart-warming through basic courteousness. 

The Bhagavad-gita recommends such cultured behavior when describing the qualities of the devoted in the twelfth chapter. It focuses not so much on their devotional qualities which involve their diligence to their spiritual practices; it focuses more on their human qualities in how they interact with other people. Indeed, the Gita urges us to not disturb people’s minds, but to engage with others in a way that is congenial (03.26).

Amid life’s ups and downs, if we can manifest these qualities, then we can connect with people and then communicate the principles and practices that are sacred for us. By putting what is first for people first in our interactions with them, we can help others on their spiritual journey.  

One-sentence summary:

People don’t care what we believe; they care how we behave 

Think it over:

  • What do we see when interacting with others?
  • How does the Gita stress the importance of human qualities on the devotional path?
  • How can you put your best foot forward when sharing your faith with others?

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