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645The Need for Faith - Swami Chidananda

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Sep 7, 2008
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      THE NEED FOR FAITH
      Swami Chidananda Saraswati
      Divine Life Society
      Rishikesh, India

      The differences in views and opinions in matters like politics and
      economics are understandable. But it is surprising that such
      differences of opinion and approach exist in the spiritual field
      also, even though the seekers have one common end as their aim, viz.,
      the realisation of the Supreme Being. What could these differences be
      due to? One reason advanced is that different facets of the Ultimate
      Truth are presented to different seekers. Suppose a pillar is made of
      gold and silver—gold on one side and silver on the other. Viewed from
      one side the pillar appears to be nothing but silver, and viewed from
      the other, it appears to be only gold. The second explanation given
      is that different people have got different capacities of grasping or
      understanding. Each one is able to grasp according to his capacity.
      So there are differences in the method of approach, like absolute
      monism, qualified monism, etc., to suit different men of different
      capacities. Therefore, there are no inconsistencies in the scriptures
      and they deserve our faith in them. Even with a grain or a mustard of
      faith you can do what is seemingly impossible.

      Where is the need for faith? Cannot man use his intellect and know
      things? No, because of the limitations of the mental process
      (Antahkarana). Great people both in the East and the West, after
      having experienced the Highest, have stressed the need for faith, and
      they could not have made a mis-statement, for they had no purpose to
      do so. In all our experiences of external objects, there is the
      person who experiences, the process of experience and object
      experienced. Without these triune factors one cannot live. Every
      moment of one's life they are present. These triple factors have to
      be annihilated for attaining the Supreme Experience. Triputi Laya has
      to be achieved. And then Consciousness alone remains. The Supreme
      Experience alone is present.

      The nature of the Supreme is existence. This can be illustrated by an
      example. You go to a jungle and see a tree there. The tree is.
      Suppose a wood-cutter cuts the tree; it is then called `log'. Though
      the tree has changed its form and name, its existence has not
      disappeared. It exists in the name and form of the log. If the log is
      then made into planks of wood, then the log is not there, but the
      planks of wood are, or each plank of wood is, there. The existence
      aspect continues. Suppose these planks are converted into tables or
      chairs; then the planks are not there, but still the tables and
      chairs are there. If after some years the tables and chairs become
      useless and are reduced to pieces of wood, then the tables and chairs
      are not there. If these pieces of wood are burnt, then the ashes
      remain. The wood now exists as the ashes. And if the ashes are also
      annihilated, according to the scientists, they still remain as atoms.
      Thus existence continues. The ultimate Truth is Existence, Eternity.

      But, we are not able to experience the Truth with our senses and the
      mind, for they are limited in their scope. One sees an object at
      night as long as there is light. But if the light is put off, in
      spite of his having his eyes opened he cannot see anything. So, the
      eyes depend on an external object for seeing, viz., the light. But
      suppose there is too much light, the eyes cannot see. The eyes will
      be dazzled or even perpetually blinded by excessive light, as for
      instance, of an arc-light. Again if a curtain hides an object, the
      eyes cannot perceive it. If a crystal-clear glass tumbler is filled
      with pure water, from a distance it cannot be said whether it
      contains water or not. If you are affected with cold, you cannot
      smell an object. You cannot hear a very low sound, and a powerful
      sound may deafen your ears. When you are absorbed in some thought,
      you cannot hear the external noises. However delicious it may be, a
      third or fourth cup of milk ceases to be delicious. If the milk was
      really delicious it must have been delicious always. Then, how is it
      that a fourth cup of milk is not delicious, and a fifth cup causes
      vomiting? So, our senses are limited in their scope. We cannot have
      uniformity of experience through the senses. You cannot remember what
      all dishes you took yesterday. You cannot remember the past nor can
      you foretell the future. However intellectual one may be, when
      something goes wrong with his brain, he has to consult a psychiatrist
      or go to an asylum. One dose of opium is sufficient to make him lose
      his consciousness. Such are the limitations of intellect and senses.
      Further, jealousy, anger, prejudice, depression—all these cloud man's
      vision. If a man is cheerful, everything is beautiful to him.
      Otherwise, everything is ugly to him. If a man is filled with hatred,
      everybody becomes an evemy to him. If his mind is filled with love,
      everybody becomes his friend. Thus knowledge derived through the mind
      can never be dependable.

      Our great masterminds have tried to show that anything that we try to
      perceive is only appearance of a thing, and not the essence of a
      thing. Take for instance, a piece of cloth. You say it is a piece of
      cloth. Suppose you remove its warp and woof. You remove all the
      threads. Then you get a heap of threads. It is no more the cloth that
      it was formerly. It is now called a heap of threads. Again it can be
      reduced to cotton, and cotton again to atoms. So in reality we are
      wearing only atoms!

      Then, are the senses and intellect not useful at all? They are
      useful, of course but to a certain extent. Up to a certain stage
      intellect is useful, but when that stage is reached, the intellect is
      no longer useful. It is an obstacle thereafter. It should be
      dispensed with. Even in Vedanta, which is mainly a process of
      constant enquiry and analysis, the intellect has to be avoided when
      one reaches the point of meditation, of drawing the mind inward.
      Master-minds knew that mind was not the essential part of man and so
      they gave a kick to the mind and intellect and boldly took a leap
      into the Unknown. They had direct experience of the Truth and enjoyed
      the Supreme Bliss which they wanted to share with others. So they
      said, "Come ye, O seekers, we will show you the way to eternal
      beatitude, where there is perennial bliss and lasting peace." So to
      believe in their words is not blind faith.

      Faith is Spirit responding to the Spirit. The ultimate essence in man
      responds to the Infinite. Faith does not spring from the mind and
      senses. Faith is the nature of the innermost Being of man. Faith is a
      power. It is a great primal power which elevates man and lifts him to
      the transcendental experience.

      The giant intellect, Sri Sankara, himself has laid down `Sraddha'
      (faith) as one of the six-fold virtues in Sadhana-chatushtaya which
      consist of Viveka (discrimination), Vairagya (dispassion), Shadsampat
      (Sama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Sraddha and Samadhana) and
      Mumukshutva (intense longing for Liberation). If everything could be
      understood by analysis and enquiry, then why did he
      stipulate `Sraddha'? Without faith, an aspirant cannot practise even
      Sravana (hearing). If he has no faith in the teacher, if he doubts
      that what his teacher says may be incorrect, how can he learn
      anything at all. Even in our daily life, faith is indispensable.
      Somebody cooks food and we take that food. We do not doubt, that the
      cook might have put some poison in the food. We go to a doctor for
      medicine and take the medicine that he gives, without doubting that
      what he gives might be poison. In the spiritual realms also, the same
      is the case. There have been sages who have plumbed the depth of
      Truth and given out their experiences. We repose faith in the words
      of persons who say that they have visited the moon. Similarly it is
      reasonable to repose faith in the words of those who have seen the
      Truth because they say: "We have experienced the Truth, so you can
      also experience the Truth, provided you do what we have done in order
      to experience the Truth. Experiment for yourself and then see whether
      you attain the same result or not." The sages give us assurance that
      we can also experience the Highest Truth by following the proper self-
      analysis.

      Saint Tulasidas says that faith is like the hand-maid of a queen. If
      anyone wants to see the queen, he cannot be led by the servants of
      the palace to the innermost chamber in which the queen is. Only till
      the gateway to the innermost chamber others can lead a visitor.
      Thereafter, one of the hand-maids of the queen alone can take the
      visitor to the queen. All our reasoning, theoretical knowledge, etc.,
      will take us only upto a certain stage. Beyond that they cannot help
      us, but only faith can help us in attaining the Supreme Experience.
      Faith is necessary for all aspirants, be they Raja Yogins, Bhakti
      Yogins or Jnana Yogins. May God bless you all with supreme faith to
      experience the Bliss!

      * * *

      Towards the world, let our motive be one of goodness, friendliness
      and selflessness. Let us live for the good and peace and happiness of
      others, even of those who deceive us and inflict injury upon us. Mind
      not dear Sadhaka! For this is not your lasting abode. You are a quick
      passenger to your eternally shining original abode. So, on your way,
      while you are here for a short while, try to bring about a little
      happiness to others, try to lessen the discomfort, fear and anxiety
      of your neighbours, try to wipe out tears from others' eyes. Try to
      remove as far as you can the gloom, despair and sorrow of your fellow-
      beings.

      This should be the attitude for your Bahiranga Jivan (external life,
      relative living).