Dear Nayaswami Hriman, I’ve recently started dating a man, who as it turns out, is an atheist. We’re still getting to know each other, but I feel like this bit of info has thrown me off. It’s not that I feel superior because of my meditation practice (which he says he’d like to learn) but I feel like I am constantly looking for flaws in him now. Like a bad temper, unkindness, horns(!!) I am praying for help and guidance, but feel like something’s “stuck” in my heart! What should I do? :(
As Paramhansa Yogananda (and many others) have said, “Your beliefs won’t save you.” This is as true for religionists as for atheists! Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson once put it, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear your words.”
How often do we see orthodox believers who believe all the “right” things but who treat others unkindly or with judgment?
So, your friend may say he’s an atheist, but what he is in his character and consciousness are more important than his beliefs (or in this case, lack of belief). You are right to observe his behavior and attitudes, though one shouldn’t expect perfection in another person if you haven’t achieved it yourself!
The dividing line is on the basis of respect. If, as a self-proclaimed atheist, he is dismissive, antagonistic, and disrespectful of your (and others’) sincerely held spiritual practices and beliefs, I’d call the match finished! If he’s closer to being an agnostic (one who says, simply, he doesn’t know whether there is a God etc. etc., and may even be open to it but prefers to keep his distance from any assertion that, to him, is unprovable), and assuming other positive and compatible qualities, I’d say carry on and see how the relationship unfolds.
May the Light of Wisdom guide your steps towards truth and true love,