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GOD > Pathway to GOD > PART III : SPIRITUAL SADHANA > Faith
(1) Disbelief, A Disease
It is the fashion, nowadays, to dismiss God from life altogether and insist on the possibility of reaching the highest kind of life, without the necessity of a living faith in a living God. I must confess my inability to drive the truth of the law home to those who have no faith in and no need for, a power infinitely higher than themselves. My own experience has led me to the knowledge that fullest life is impossible without an immovable belief in a living Law, in obedience to which the whole universe moves. A man without that faith is like a drop thrown out of the ocean which is bound to perish. Every drop in the ocean shares its majesty, and has the honour of giving us the ozone of life.
It is easy enough to say, "I do not believe in God" for God permits all things to be said of Him with impunity. He looks at our acts. And any breach of His Law brings with it not its vindictive but its purifying, compelling punishment. God's existence cannot be, does not need to be proved. God is. If He is not felt, so much the worse for us. The absence of feeling is a disease which we shall someday throw off, nolens volens.
(2) Need of a Living Faith
No search is possible without some working assumptions. If we grant nothing we find nothing. Ever since its commencement, the world, the wise and foolish included, has proceeded on the assumption that, if we are, God is, and that, if God is not, we are not. And since belief in God, is co-existent with the human-kind, existence of God is treated as a fact more definite than the fact that the sun is. This living faith has solved the largest number of puzzles of life. It has alleviated our misery. It sustains us in life, it is our solace in death.
(3) Testimony of Saints
True faith is appropriation of the reasoned experience of people whom we believe to have lived a life purified by prayer and penance. Belief, therefore, in Prophets and Incarnations who have lived in remote ages, is not an idle superstition but a satisfaction of an inmost spiritual want.
They say that anybody following the path they have trodden, can realize God. The fact is, we do not want to follow the path leading to realization and we won't take the testimony of eye-witnesses about the one thing that really matters.
(4) Faith and Reason
There are subjects where reason cannot take us far and we have to accept things on faith. Faith, then, does not contradict reason but transcends it. Faith is a kind of sixth sense which works in cases which are without the perview of reason.
Faith only begins where reason stops. But there are very few actions in the world for which reasonable justification cannot be found.
Experience has humbled me enough to let me realize the specific limitations of reason. Just as matter misplaced becomes dirt, reason misused becomes lunacy. If we but render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's all would be well.
(5) Limitations of Intellect
There is something infinitely higher than intellect that rules us as even the sceptics. Their scepticism and philosophy do not help them in the critical period of their lives. They need something better, something outside them. And so if someone puts a conundrum before me, I say to him: "You are not going to know the meaning of God or prayer unless you reduce yourself to a cipher. You must be humble enough to see that in spite of your greatness and gigantic intellect you are but a speck in the universe. A merely intellectual conception of things of life is not enough. It is the spiritual conception which eludes the intellect, and which alone can give one satisfaction. Even moneyed men have critical periods in their lives. Though they are surrounded by everything that money can buy and affection can give, they find at certain moments in their lives utterly distracted. It is in these moments that we have a glimpse of God, a vision of Him who is guiding everyone of our steps.
Intellect takes along, in the battle of life, to a certain extent, but at the crucial moment fails us. Faith transcends reason. It is when the horizon is the darkest and our human reason is beaten down to the ground, that faith shines the brightest and comes to our rescue. It is such faith that our youth requires and this comes when one has shed all pride of intellect and surrendered oneself entirely to His will.
(6) Have Childlike Faith
I would have brushed aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it but from their lives you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined. In order to do so you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas, we, in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith.
I claim to be a man of faith and prayer and even if I were to be cut to pieces, I trust God would give me the strength not to deny Him, but to assert that He is. ... I am surer of His existence than of the fact that you and I are sitting in this room. Then I can also testify that I may live without air and water but not without Him. You may pluck out my eyes, but that cannot kill me. You may chop off my nose, but that will not kill me. But blast my faith in God, and I am dead. You may call this a superstition, but I confess it is a superstition that I hug, even as I used to hug the name of Rama in my childhood when there was any cause of danger or alarm.
(7) Power of Living Faith
We want the steady light, the infallible light of religious Faith; not Faith which merely appeals to the intelligence but a Faith which is indelibly inscribed on the heart. First we want to realize our religious consciousness, and immediately we have done that, the whole department of life is open to us; and it should then be a sacred privilege of all, so that when young men grow to manhood they may do so properly equipped to battle with life.
It is Faith that steers us through stormy seas; Faith that moves mountains, and Faith that jumps across the ocean. That Faith is nothing but a living and wide-awake consciousness of God within. He who has achieved that Faith, wants nothing. Bodily diseased, he is spiritually healthy; physically poor, he rolls in spiritual riches.
(8) How to Acquire Faith?
But Faith cannot be acquired by force of intellect. It comes but slowly after deep meditation and continuous practice. We pray, sing hymns, read books, seek the association of men of God, and perform the spinning sacrifice in order to attain that Faith.