On Faith

by N.Asokan

June 17,2007

In this age of scientific materialism faith has come under a lot of attack from the scientific and the rationalistic community as something unfit for human functioning. This onslaught has been there for the past few centuries ever since scientists like Copernicus and Galileo shattered superstitious beliefs about an earth-centered solar system. Darwin dealt another mighty blow to the catholic church by claiming that man has evolved from simian ancestors and that the biblical claim of a seven day creation was untenable in the light of earth’s evolutionary record. Though the elimination of such superstitions from human mentality is a service that science has done, still faith has a considerable role to play in areas where science has no business to be making comments and issuing judgements.

Faith plays an immense role in spiritual matters. Its role there is as great as the role of experimental inquiry in the physical sciences. The spiritual aspirant believes in proceeding on the path of Spiritual quest on the strength of his faith in the guiding power of divine grace as much as the scientist proceeds with his experiments on the basis of his faith in the data that he gathers through his experiments. Actually both are operating on the basis of faith with only the fields being very different. It is not only spirituality that demands the exercise of faith. A good deal of even our daily life and our daily functioning is based on faith and trust only. If these were removed even day-to-day normal life will come to a grinding stand still.

Faith is necessary for even normal functioning because not all of our life is within our zone of competence. When it comes to those areas of our life that are not within our zone of competence and familiarity we have no choice except to deal with others on the basis of trust and faith. If we believe only ourselves then we have to cook our own food, do our own work and travel to other places only by self-driving and do our shopping by ourselves only. But the fact that we do eat food cooked by others in restaurants, hire others as employees to do our office work, travel by bus and train and plane driven by others and send employees to shops to do purchase for us shows that we do trust others when it is necessary. If a man cannot trust that food cooked by others in a restaurant is safe to eat, then he cannot leave his hometown and go anywhere else. If he cannot trust a bus driver or airline pilot that they will safely take him to his destination he cannot travel much unless he owns a car and knows driving. If he cannot trust a doctor or lawyer that they will do a good job, he cannot take medical treatment when he falls ill and neither can he fight a case in the courts if some suit is slapped on him. The fact that millions of people deposit their savings in banks shows that they believe that their savings will be safe in the bank and that it can be retrieved anytime they want. Even in marriage, so many young Indian men and women agree to marry the person their parents have chosen only because they believe that their parents have chosen the correct person for them and that their spouse will fulfill their expectation of a happy married life.

Money has become a very essential element in our social functioning today. Without money our modern economy will simply collapse. If we take a few moments and reflect on the nature of money we will be amazed to find that so much of the power of money comes simply from the trust we have in one another. Paper money is simply printed paper that the government has declared through a fiat to be legal tender. At least gold and silver can be said to be having some inherent value because they are precious metals and as such can be easily ascribed with some value. But it is not very easy to endow paper money with value unless we respect the government’s authority and unless there is a widespread agreement among members of the society to treat paper money as symbols of economic value. We take money from others only because we believe that somebody else will receive this money and give us what we want. If this belief is not there then we won’t sell our goods or service to anybody and take money from them since we have lost our belief that somebody is going to take this money and give us what we want.

Even our day-to-day physical functioning is based on a good deal of faith invested in the functioning of our physical organs. When we eat we do so based on the faith that our digestive system will digest that food properly. When we do strenuous work or engage in strenuous sports we do so based on the faith that our heart and lungs will rise to the occasion and give us the required energy. When a woman conceives she does so as she believes that her body will cooperate and help her deliver the baby safely. The role that faith plays in these areas becomes apparent when we see asthmatics refusing to engage in strenuous activities and we see women who have had miscarriages becoming anxious about their second pregnancy coming to term successfully. Vegetarians visiting foreign countries where non-vegetarian food is the norm lose their faith that their stomach will adapt to unfamiliar food and we see them taking enormous pains to prepare food that will be agreeable to their palate and stomach.

When we thus see how much faith is necessary even for ordinary social and physical functioning, it become needless to stress the role that faith will play in creative work even if it is of a scientific kind. All creative work will involve entering unknown areas and exploring unknown grounds. Inventors cannot be sure of when they can succeed in coming up with their inventions. This is more true of explorers who are not even sure of finding what they are looking for and much less sure of coming back home to tell their story of discovery and explorations. Those who went on polar expeditions and mountain climbing and jungle explorations were men prepared for encountering many unknown dangers and those types of undertakings are not possible without an immense faith that against all odds success will be secured finally. Faith is even more necessary in military encounters where the adversary may be much better equipped than the home side. One only needs to remember the battle of Britain and Churchill’s role in saving England against immense odds. The Royal Air Force was outnumbered five to one and the whole rest of Europe had surrendered to the Nazi war machine. England was fighting a lone battle with no known source of immediate help. Still Churchill believed that England could beat the Nazi aggression and would not have to surrender. His bold and emphatic challenge to the Nazis was backed by an immense courage and an equally immense faith in the capacity of England to resist the invasion. The final outcome showed that it was faith that won against superiority in armaments.

Idealistic pioneering work demands a persistence that can come only when that work is backed up by an immense faith in the ideal and means employed. When the Mahatma declared that he will win independence for the country through non-violence and civil disobedience few believed at the outset in the power of non-violence or satyagraha for evicting the British from India. But the Mahatma was not deterred and went ahead with his campaign and finally after numerous ordeals and imprisonments saw his mission coming to a successful end. Any man with less conviction in the power of his principles would have given up the campaign and either switched over to armed struggle or quit politics altogether.

When the ideal is spiritual the level of faith demanded is much greater. When the Mother met Sri Aurobindo in 1914, she entered in her diary that even if thousands of men were plunged in the densest ignorance Sri Aurobindo’s presence on earth was enough to ensure that a day will come when darkness would be changed into light and the divine’s reign would be established. She had such a faith in him that she could feel he alone was enough to bring about the supramental transformation even if the whole rest of the world was oblivious of the next step in the earth’s evolution.

Faith acquires paramount importance in the spiritual field because the field is invisible and to that extent therefore unfamiliar. The physical world of concrete forms, tangible entities and familiar faces is somewhat reassuring. But there is nothing concrete or tangible in the subtle spiritual planes and therefore one needs a good deal of faith to even believe in the truth of spiritual principles and powers. Spiritually faith is defined as the reflection of the knowledge of the soul at the mental level. The soul may know something to be true. But there is no way for the soul to transmit that knowledge to the mind since mind is in ignorance. So the mind is simply told to believe in the unknown truth or power and proceed on the basis that faith will deliver the results.

The spiritual field comprises of serious spiritual seekers who aim for transformation as well as ordinary people who are simply seeking the power of spiritual grace to get relief from pressing problems and to get their prayers for prosperity, good health and other good things fulfilled. Whether it be a serious sadhak aiming to discover his psychic being or a pious householder voicing a prayer for prosperity, both need a strong faith each at his level to accomplish what they want.

The sadhak needs the faith to overcome doubts about his ability to surrender his ego while the devotee seeking prosperity needs the faith to believe that grace can deliver that prosperity in spite of the adverse situation prevailing in his life.

Spirituality demands perfection in all its aspects. Spiritual values like gratitude, humility, truthfulness, aspiration, self-giving, surrender and consecration all need to be total in order to be fully effective. Faith is no exception to this. Once a devotee takes a stand that he is relying on Mother’s grace to get his problem solved or prayer fulfilled he must then not allow any doubt to weaken that faith. Faith and doubt are direct contraries and to the extent the person allows doubts to enter his mind to that extent he cancels his own faith. Let us say a devotee has accumulated debts far in excess of his capacity to repay. Now he prays to Mother to raise his income to a level needed to clear his debts. Once he tells the Mother that he believes that Her Grace has the power to raise his income he must stand by that faith and not allow his mind to raise questions and doubts about how grace will find opportunities to raise his income. His rational mind may tell him that the scope for raising his income is limited. But he must not pay attention to those doubts and he must instead concentrate on tuning himself to the action of grace by cultivating all those habits and practices that are conducive to prosperity such as hard work, cleanliness, up-to-date accounts and punctuality and self-giving etc.

Once a devotee learns Mother’s principles with regard to work, money, relationships and accomplishment etc, if he unhesitatingly follows them in his life, then it means he has faith in those principles. If he says he has faith in what Mother says, but hesitates to act in that recommended way when a real-life situation arises, then his faith is not perfect and is only theoretical. Let us say a devotee learns that exhausting one’s available financial resources and doing the work in a sincere manner will attract more money for the expansion of the work at the moment the money is exhausted. If he fully believes that he must come forward to spend all his available money and start the work. There are people who have done precisely this and seen for a fact that more money arrives at the point of exhaustion so that the work can continue to expand. Instead of acting in this manner if he insists that he can start the work only when all the required money has become available to him, then his faith is only superficial and there is no substance in it.

When a man says that he is operating by faith, it means he believes in the higher logic of the infinite. That higher logic is directly contrary to the logic of the finite. What we call a miracle is only the intervention of the logic of the Infinite in the physical plane and the setting aside of the logic of the finite so that the power of the infinite can manifest. So it will be useful for those who operate by faith to know some of the essential ways in which the Infinite differs from the finite. When they learn these rules and follow them, their actions may look foolish and ridiculous to those around them. But they should not be discouraged by that and continue with doing what they know is the higher truth.

The logic of the Finite

The logic of the Infinite

1. Growth is possible only by taking 1. Greater growth comes only by giving
2. money supply increases by saving 2. Money supply increases by spending
3. The outer circumstance is more important than the inner factors. The Outer decides the Inner. 3. The Inner dominates the Outer. The Outer circumstances are only a direct mirror of the Inner condition. So the Inner decides the Outer.
4. Our own point of view alone should prevail 4. The Other man’s point of view takes precedence over ours.
5. The past is very difficult to correct. 5. The past can be easily neutralized and reversed by consecration of past events.
6. The whole is bigger than the part 6. A part can be bigger than the whole
7. Growth is limited as physical resources are limited 7. Growth is unlimited as our mental resources are unlimited.
8. Space and time limitations cannot be overcome 8. Space and Time limitations can be overcome when the Timeless plane intervenes.
9. The ego should maximize its hold on money, property, men and materials 9. The ego should loosen its hold everywhere and let the spirit have its impact on the physical
10. The finite grows by active assertion of its Will Power 10. The Infinite grows more by Silent exercise of its Will

Those who learn these higher principles of the Infinite Plane can live and function by these principles if they can develop full faith in these principles. This would mean that a devotee business man who believes in these higher truths should come forward to increase the salaries of his staff as a means of improving their productivity and thereby expanding his business. He must not go by the conventional wisdom that calls for increasing efficiency by minimizing expenses everywhere including wages and salaries which are seen as a burden. He must happily come forward to reduce cost for customers as a way of expanding his sales and not wait for chances to increase his prices as conventional wisdom would demand. He must believe that his organizational values and human resources are much superior assets than the support he gets from the market and the availability of cheap raw materials etc. He must look at all business transactions from the customer’s point of view and not thrust his point of view on others. Even if he has suffered losses before coming to Mother, he must realize that after coming to her he can easily reverse and recover from past losses by realizing his past mistakes and dissolving their effects by past consecration of those events. He must realize that even if his whole company is taken away from him, he is bigger than his company and that he can form a new company that will grow bigger than the old one. If it has taken him 10 years to grow his old company to its present size, he must believe that he can grow double that size in half that time by intensifying application of values in the new company. If his employees want to leave his company and start on their own or seek greener pastures, he must happily let them go and not think of them as troublesome competitors. He must believe that instead of going out to the market by active canvassing for orders, he must make the market come to him by his inner thirst for expansion and progress.

All these applications of the higher logic of the Infinite require tremendous faith in the truth of the Higher plane. For those who dare to have that faith the rewards are great. Society traditionally has placed a lot of faith in money, power, social status and social conformity and many other things that are part of ordinary social living. He who wants to shift his faith to the higher divine power must necessarily give up his faith in these lower values and rely on the higher power alone for his functioning. When a problem comes to him he must not think first about solving that problem by using his money power or the power of his post or by using the influential connections he has due to his higher social status. If he tries all that and fails and then calls on the grace for help, that is not the sign of a perfect faith. If he surrenders the problem at the very outset to the action of the grace and lets grace guide his further steps, then we can say that his faith is perfect. Let us say a rich and influential devotee is forced to come to court by another who files a suit against him. If the devotee thinks immediately of hiring a leading lawyer to argue his case based on his ability to pay him the hefty fees that he will demand, then he is only relying on his money power. If he thinks of summoning other influential people he knows to depose in his favor as witnesses, then also he is relying only on his influential connections to win the case. If he relies on title deeds and documents that are in his possession, then also he is relying on his resources only and not on the Divine Mother’s grace. If his first remembrance when he hears of this court case against him is not his money, his influential contacts or the documentary evidence in his favor, but only Mother and Her grace, then we can say that his faith is perfect. There is a big difference between relying on one’s money power, social contacts and documentary evidence and using all these as simply means in the conduct of a court case while placing our faith in something higher than these. If the faith is in the higher power and the problem is surrendered to the action of the grace, the other party who dragged the devotee to the court may reconsider the initiative to go to court and come forward to compromise. Or the leading lawyer may not ask for hefty fees and all the influential contacts of the devotee who are connected to the case may happily volunteer to come as witnesses once they know that he is in trouble and not wait for him to ask. The judge may dismiss the other party’s suit as flimsy and unsustainable without the devotee having to show all the documentary evidence in his possession. When the devotee’s faith in Mother’s is total any of these outcomes is possible. It is also equally possible that when the faith is missing, even all his money power, the legal acumen of his lawyer and the influence of his social contacts may not be able to save him. Final remedy may come to him only when he realizes that grace is the only thing that can save him and that faith is the best resource he has to summon grace to his rescue.

Many people take the limitations of the physical plane to be final and have difficulty in even believing that grace has the power to overcome those limitations and give us what we want. If a patient hears from a doctor that he has developed cancer and that it has spread too much in the body to be cured by medicines or surgery he takes the doctor’s word to be final and gives up hope that his body can remedy itself. If a person loses his money or valuables in a busy crowed area his common sense tells him that what is lost is lost for good and that he cannot hope to recover his purse or cell phone or ring that he left behind in a shop or in an auto or fell on the road. Money and valuables left unattended will be immediately stolen is traditional expectation and those who believe that take that to be final. Missed opportunities rarely come back is another common belief. Hard work extended over long periods of time is traditionally believed to be essential for prosperity and if somebody tells that the duration can be compressed and prosperity achieved in much shorter time, he is not taken seriously.

But what is not realized is that grace can act and reverse everything even at the last moment provided the person fully believes in the power of the grace to act and remedy the situation. An airline pilot in America named Morris Goodman who in 1980 crashed his plane and crushed his spine was pronounced a hopeless case who would remain for the rest of his life confined to the bed in a paralyzed condition. When he was brought in, the doctors found that he had injured his voice box, diaphragm and cervical vertebra and so they pronounced that he would not be able to speak, breathe or eat solid food or even walk for the rest of his life and that he would have to be hooked to a respirator for the rest of his life. But he refused to believe anything they said and took a decision to walk out of that hospital in the next six months. He summoned all the inner powers he was capable of and believed that only and not a word of what the doctors were telling him. His power of positive visualization was so tremendous that he corrected all his body’s failures one by one and walked out of that hospital by the date he had fixed in his mind. What enabled him to do that was his immense faith in his higher self and his decision to rely on that only and reject all that the doctors were telling him. The fact that he relied on his Higher self is what matters. That immediately put him in touch with Mother’s consciousness and delivered him the result that he wanted though in all possibility he had no idea of who the Mother was.

So the final conclusion is as follows:-

Faith delivers

The Higher Power takes over our life

The minute our faith is complete.

When the mind falls silent, the vital withdraws its urges

And the body surrenders

And the soul gets to have its say

Life turns into a marvel.