Isn’t it amazing how people change when given the anonymity of the Internet? Thanks to the faceless nature of social networking sites, forums and messaging boards, someone who would normally be religious and mild mannered in person can suddenly develop a wicked streak behind the shield of a computer screen.
I have seen some preachers bully other lay people on Facebook and religious forums, just because their way is different.
I have met some ‘spiritualists’ who look down on the comments of ordinary people as “utterly stupid”.
I have noticed some ‘mystics’ converse about spell casting and curses in the guise of “spiritual talk” on the Internet, only to plug their services.
I have watched some ‘new agers’ constantly wag their tongues in malicious gossip against other practitioners.
I have faced some ‘charities’ try to scam money out of people.
Being on a spiritual path does not make us more enlightened in comparison to others; rather it places us in a path of higher responsibility than most. This holds true in personal conversations, or virtual ones. One can’t be pious in real life and suddenly become a Devil’s Advocate online. How would you react of the priest on the pulpit suddenly gave you a West Elm coupon midway through his sermon, or praised the miracles of owning a TiVo? That’s what happens on the Internet.
As in the proper practice of the caste system in India, the Brahmin has just the same chances to reach enlightenment as a Dalit (a sub-group of the Untouchables caste) as they practice the daily rigors of their faith. It is just that if one is reincarnated into the Brahmin caste is blessed with more opportunities as well as is faced with more responsibilities than that of the lowly Dalit.
And the same goes for us, as we take on a spiritual journey. We are given more material blessings than the common folk, yet we also face more challenges and temptations in this chosen spiritual path. And how we fare in the face of these obstacles and share the blessings and lessons to all around us, whether it’s a someone we personally see, or an anonymous person we encounter online, is what measures our ‘level’ of enlightenment.
In other words, it is not how much we know, but it is how we live our lives (both real and online) that reflect our spiritual beings and enlightenment. And in that spiritual life, we (yes, that includes myself) must not confine our sharing with those within our ‘spiritual circles’ but to all the people whom we meet, personally or on the Internet.