"After our youngest son had seen Star Wars for the twelfth or thirteenth time, I said, "Why do you go so often?" He said, "For the same reason you have been reading the Old Testament all of your life." He was in a new world of myth." Bill Moyers, interview with Joseph Campbell











PRABUDDHA BHARATAThe Power of Faith| Pravrajika Sevaprana  





              The Power of Faith



                 Pravrajika Sevaprana



     We have all heard the old clichu faith that moves mountains, yet we know that just believing in something does not necessarily make it true. Real faith is based on truth, and it has tremendous power. Sri Ramakrishna says that during his sadhana he went through a period when everything he even thought about would just come true. One time he thought, If this vision is true, the rock in front of me will jump three times. He says the rock did jump three times. (This is really hard for our Western minds to accept.) Even Mathur Babu once had an argument with Sri Ramakrishna, when Mathur said, Oh, come on. You cant go against the laws of nature. You cant have, for example, a red and a white flower growing on the same branch. Sri Ramakrishna said, Anything is possible for the Divine Mother. She makes the rules and she can also break them. Sure enough, in a little while he presented Mathur with a branch on which was growing a red and a white blossom. Jesus walked on the water and others saw it. It is said that Mohammed did not need to go to the mountain. The mountain came to him. What makes the faith of a Ramakrishna or a Mohammed different from the faith of other men? The words and actions of God-men are surcharged with power, because they are directly in touch with Truth.




     Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole




     In the case of a student and a teacher, much also depends on the shraddha, or faith, and earnestness of the disciple. Shraddha evokes a great power; it calls it forth as it were. In the Bible a story is told of a woman healed by faith. The incident took place when Jesus was travelling with his disciples near the seaside. He was teaching and healing people, and a great multitude of them were following him. Jesus had been asked to go to the house of an official of the synagogue. His daughter was dying and he wanted Jesus to heal this girl.


     We can picture it in our minds: Jesus was walking, on his way to the officials house, his disciples and a crowd surrounding him. There was a woman in the crowd who had been suffering for twelve long years with a bleeding illness. She had gone to all the physicians and had spent all her money on medicines and diet, but nothing helped her. She was desperate. And somehow in her was born the idea, if she could just see Jesus, just touch the hem of his garment, she would be healed. She pushed forward in the crowd, reached out and touched his robe. Immediately she felt herself healed. Imagine her joy. It is said she knew immediately she had been healed. And Jesus also knew. He turned and asked, Who touched my clothes? The woman was afraid. Imagine the scene: here was this God-man, surrounded by his disciples, and suddenly he stops and says, Who touched me? The woman came forward, trembling, fell sobbing at his feet and told him what had happened to her. And Jesus blessed her and said to her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. (1)


     What made Jesus turn back? Did he feel somehow the power that was in him go out to this woman? Who can say? But what a sweet picture: his turning, her confusion and fear, and yet also what must have been her wonder and joy. And what did he say? Thy faith hath made thee whole. Something in her, her faith, drew the healing power to herself. But where did that power come from? From within her, yes, but also from the Master. It is as though that which was blocking the vital force in her was knocked down as it were, removed by the power of purity and love that was coming from Jesus. Then the womans own prana healed her. Swami Vivekananda says that in the case of faith healing the dormant prana in the sick person is awakened by the healer and heals the person.




     The Meaning of Real Faith




     On an even more subtle level, faith is essential for spiritual progress, for only then, when one believes that God exists, does one strive to be free. One must have tremendous faith in religion and God. Sri Ramakrishna once told Swamiji that not one in twenty million in this world believed in God. Swamiji asked him why he said this, and Sri Ramakrishna told him, Suppose there is a thief in this room, and he gets to know that there is a mass of gold in the next room, and only a very thin partition between the two rooms; what will be the condition of that thief? Swamiji answered, He will not be able to sleep at all; his brain will be actively thinking of some means to get at the gold, and he will think of nothing else. Then Sri Ramakrishna said, Do you believe that a man could believe in God and not go mad to get Him? If a man sincerely believes that there is that immense, infinite mine of Bliss, and that it can be reached, would not that man go mad in his struggle to reach it? Strong faith in God and the consequent eagerness to reach Him constitute Shraddha [real faith]. (2)




     Shraddha to Exertion to Achievement




     The English dictionary says that faith is the confidence or trust in a person or thing - belief which is not based on proof. Often it is referred to as blind faith because it is not based on rational thought. People are directed to have faith and not to question. This is not what is meant by the Sanskrit word shraddha, although this word sometimes is translated in English by the word faith.


     Shankara defines shraddha as a firm conviction based upon intellectual understanding, that the teachings of the scriptures and of ones master are true. It leads to realization of the Reality.3 This type of faith is not just a blind or unquestioning acceptance or belief. According to Swami Nikhilanandaji, it is rather an affirmative attitude of mind. The mind is open and the will is directed towards a higher reality. So the mind that has faith is both receptive and also directed, but in a very focused way. This means that the aspirant who has faith is willing to make effort and sacrifice because he believes it is necessary. Belief is translated into action. Shankara says, Without faith there is no exertion, and without exertion there is no achievement. (4)


     Sri Ramakrishna says that one should have faith in the holy name given by the guru and with it practise spiritual discipline. He said that the pearl oyster makes itself ready for the rain that falls when the star Svati is in the ascendant. Taking a drop of that rain, it dives into the fathomless depths of the ocean and remains there until the pearl is formed. (5) In fact, he says that if a persons faith is deep enough, he will have the vision of God the minute the mantra is given by the teacher. It is almost as though shraddha attracts grace to a person, or perhaps it is just that shraddha clears the way for grace to act in the person.




     Fundamentals of Faith




     Shraddha is based on certain fundamental truths or principles. First we must be convinced in the existence of God. It is said that one does not have real faith until one has some spiritual experience. This is true, but before that, if we are seekers after truth, we can have a working faith in the existence of God and in the words of the guru. It is not just blind credulity. We will gradually know that God is real.


     We also need to believe that God can be realized. We get this conviction from reading the scriptures, where others have told their experiences and, mainly, from meeting spiritual teachers, those who, we know, have experienced God. I was reading a letter of Swamiji written to Balaram Bose in 1890. At that time Swamiji had gone to visit the holy man Pavahari Baba. He said that seeing saints like him gave one real faith in the scriptures. The quote is, Unless one is face to face with the life of such men, faith in the scriptures does not grow in all its real integrity. (6) If one is fortunate enough to have met an illumined teacher, then by the grace of God one really sees that realization of God is possible for a human being. It is no longer just talk: it is a living reality. This is the turning point in the lives of many, because this is when real faith awakens in the heart. When we see a person who has realized something higher, suddenly we find that our own spirituality begins to awaken. We see that what we have been reading about in the scriptures is really true. And we understand that if the person we have met has realized God, then it must be possible for another also to do so.


     When we have the first two convictions, that God is real and that He can be realized, then we really begin to yearn for God. We become convinced that God-realization is the supreme goal of human existence. It becomes our goal, and more and more other things lose their attraction for us.


     Sri Ramakrishna says, You must have heard about the tremendous power of faith. It is said in the Purana that Rama, who was God Himself - the embodiment of Absolute Brahman - had to build a bridge to cross the sea to Ceylon. But Hanuman, trusting in Ramas name, cleared the sea in one jump and reached the other side. He had no need of a bridge. (7) A person with faith has a determination and intensity that nothing else can give.


     Swami Vivekananda says, If this [God] is true, what else could matter? If it is not true, what do our lives matter! (8) This is the intensity we need. Suddenly the goal of life, God-realization, becomes real to us. We must have faith that He really exists.




     Realization Inspires Faith




     Generally speaking, because of our materialistic background, we have faith only in what we see with our eyes or what can be proved in a scientific way, perceivable by our senses. It is very difficult for us to accept anything as really true because we see falsehood all round us. Where is absolute truth in this relative world? Where is even a relative truth when everything is always changing and everything is mixed, good and evil, transitory and illusory? Where can we ever see a person truthful in speech and action? It is very difficult to have faith and real trust in anything or anybody in this changing world. That is why it was such a wonderful thing when Swamiji asked Sri Ramakrishna if he had seen God and Sri Ramakrishna answered with such conviction, Yes, I have seen God more clearly than I see you. Hearing that statement directly from such a teacher would certainly stop the doubting, fluctuating mind in its tracks!


     The Quintessence of Vedanta tells us, To the extent to which one speaks the truth, one inspires faith. The Vedas are to be trusted because they constitute the word of God. (9) Not just because they are Vedas, but because they are revealed truths, that is, realized by men and women. The words of an illumined teacher are trusted because they are also true, experienced by him. Something in us tells us they are true and he is speaking from experience. If he has realized it, then it is also possible for us to realize it. By his very existence, he is telling us that we can also realize these truths.




     Needed: A Glimpse beyond the Senses




     The real awakening of faith in the heart of a person takes place when he gets a glimpse of something beyond the sense world. One can intellectually accept that there may be some higher reality, since so many scriptures and spiritual teachers have said so, but real faith will not come until the heart opens a little and one gets a glimpse of that higher reality within ones own self. Then one really knows that there is a higher reality. And once this glimpse comes, it is never forgotten. It may get covered up, but it is never really forgotten. Swami Brahmananda says, Real faith cannot be had at the beginning. First realization, then real faith - at the beginning, blind faith it may be - in the words of his guru or some great soul; but only then can he advance toward the goal.


     So we start out with a working faith in the words of scripture or in the guru and we make that our own. We are not just to accept blindly, we must realize it. Swamiji says, If any one of you believes what I teach, I will be sorry. I will only be too glad if I can excite in you the power of thinking for yourselves. You have to realise truth and work it out for yourself according to your own nature. (10)




     Hearing and Reasoning




     It is said that one should first hear about the truth, then reason about it. We must make this truth our own. It is ours; it is with us all the time, but it is covered up. By thinking about it, by questioning a teacher, our reason can become satisfied that what is said in the scriptures must be true. We can accept a lot by inference, by accepting what others tell us. We cannot, however, really grasp the higher truth with our intellect, but we do need to question before we are really able to settle down to serious spiritual practice. For some people this intellectual questioning and searching seems to take longer and seems to be more intense than for others. Swamiji says, I fought my Master for six years with the result that I know every inch of the way! (9.411)


     In the end the mind itself must become our friend. It can help us tremendously if we watch it, understand it, discipline it, maybe even cajole or humour it. Somehow we must convince it that this is really what we want to do. Ultimately, the mind must be turned towards the goal. It must be made our friend. This task can be daunting. As Arjuna says in the Gita, trying to control the mind is like trying to control the wind. (11)




     Waywardness of the Mind




     If we watch our mind we often find that it is carrying on a constant conversation within us. In his book How to Know God, a commentary on the yoga aphorisms of Patanjali, Swami Prabhavananda gives us a picture of how a normal mind works. He says we flatter ourselves that we spend our time thinking logical, consecutive thoughts, but our mind is more like a fog of disconnected sense-impressions, irrelevant memories, nonsensical scrapes of sentences from books and newspapers, little darting fears and resentments, physical sensations of discomfort, excitement or ease. The swami says further that the thought-pattern in eighteen or nineteen minds out of twenty is irrational, maybe something like this: Ink-bottle. That time I saw Roosevelt. In love with the night mysterious. Reds veto Pact. Jimmys trying to get my job. Mary says Im fat. Big toe hurts. Soup good. (12) When I first read that I just laughed out loud, because I could certainly recognize that it was like what my mind was feeding me, and I simply had never stood back and really looked at it before, never really listened to what was going on inside my mind.




     Filling the Mind with Holy Ideas




     Comments about other people or circumstances, worries, anxieties - they all seem to come to the surface in words. We know that in the end words must stop. We dont have to go on listening to all this. It is said that when one realizes Brahman the mind turns back along with speech. (13) So this talking mind has ultimately to turn back. But for a long time we have to work with this mind to make it our friend instead of our enemy. Just watching it and noticing what it says can help a lot. It is almost as if it gets shy and embarrassed if we watch it, and sometimes it quiets down. Again, if we watch the mind we find that it is feeding us negative thoughts, blaming others or doubts about what is to be done or about our capacities. We dont have to go on listening to these negative or random thoughts. We can feed the mind good thoughts. Of course, one of the best practices here is to substitute the constant mind-talk with the mantra. Give the mind something to talk about. Underneath this talking mind there is a substratum where there are no doubts and no words, a substratum that is Knowledge itself. If we can somehow open up to this inner truth, the battle is won. Real faith can do this in one stroke. It directly opens the pathway to truth. This is going to sound very simplistic, but we can pray that we have faith. Sounds too simple, doesnt it? But this is exactly what Sri Ramakrishna says we should do: pray for devotion and faith. Truly, a simple faith can unite the mind and make it concentrated, and a sincere prayer can do wonders.




     Faith in the Guru




     According to Vedanta, faith in the scriptures is not enough. We believe in the scriptures because they are revealed truths; they come from saints and sages who realized the truths written there. But we need to receive these truths directly from a living guru. They are quickened by the teacher. They become living truths in the heart of the student. It is said that when the disciple is ready the guru comes. We cannot really understand the truths of the scriptures until we are taught by a living teacher who has experienced the truth himself. He ignites the spark already present in us and urges us forward on the spiritual path. We must have faith in his words. Everything is realized according to ones faith. Shankara says, One should therefore cultivate supreme faith in the guru, and in what the Vedanta says. It is by faith alone and by no other means that the earnest seeker attains liberation. (14)


     How does that faith in the words of a teacher come to us? For some it is a slow process of questioning and watching and testing what they are taught. What the teacher says must agree with the scriptures and should not contradict reason. But here again, real faith comes only when one gets a glimpse of something higher. Often, it is the power of love that draws us in and gives us faith. We find that no one has ever loved us before with the kind of love that comes from a really pure illumined soul, because in that love there is no selfishness. When we come in contact with that type of love, something in our own hearts awakens and responds. Love awakens in us, and it is so sweet that we want nothing else. Everything else fades out, becomes shadow-like, and our faith grows.




     Openness to the Divine Impulse




     Who is the teacher anyway? The teacher is a conduit for Truth to reach the soul. The more faith one has, the more one is able to receive, because the more open one is. It seems that real faith or belief implies openness to that divine impulse. There is no doubt blocking it and the will is directed towards receiving truth. Real faith is like yearning for God, for in both cases the fact that God is and can be reached is intrinsic. A man doesnt have to work hard if he has real faith, faith in his gurus words. Sri Ramakrishna used to tell the parable of the milkmaid and the brahmin priest: A milkmaid used to supply milk to a brahmin priest on the other side of a river. Owing to the irregularities of the boat service, the woman was sometimes late. One day the priest rebuked her for the delay, and she explained that sometimes she had to wait a long time for the boatman to ferry her across. The priest said, But my good woman! People cross even the ocean of this life by uttering the name of God. Cant you cross even this little river? From that day onwards she was never late with the milk. One day the priest asked her how it was that she was never late any more, and she said simply, I take the name of God and cross the river just as you told me! The priest was astonished and wanted to see for himself, so he went to the river with the woman and watched her as she uttered the name of God and started to walk across the water. Halfway across, the woman turned and saw the priest following her, timidly holding his skirt up out of the water. She said, Why is it, sir, that you are repeating the name of the Lord and at the same time holding up your skirt to keep it dry? Have you no faith? We do this. We are constantly trying to hedge our bets. It is really very hard to fully believe anything.


     If a man has real faith, the moment the teacher tells him Here is God or Thou art That, he will realize the Truth. A less evolved aspirant will really begin to search for realization, because he will believe it is possible. Even in a more worldly sense, one with faith will progress more rapidly.




     Faith and Concentration




     There is a story in the Mahabharata about Arjunas student days in archery that illustrates this point. When Arjuna was young he was educated in archery with his brothers and cousins. They had the great Drona as their teacher. When Drona was reaching the end of his instruction to the young princes, he devised a test to see which one had learned archery well. He constructed a stuffed bird and had it placed high at the top of a tree almost out of sight. Then he called the young princes and told them to try to shoot the target.


     First he called Yudhishthira, the eldest, and told him to aim at the target. Yudhishthira put an arrow on his bow. Drona said, Aim at the bird, and asked, Do you see the bird? Yudhishthira said, Yes. I see the bird. Then Drona asked, What else do you see? Yudhishthira said, I see the bird, the tree, the sky, and I see you. Dronacharya was not pleased. He said, Put down the bow. You will not be able to hit the target. Then Drona called Duryodhana and his brothers and also Bhima forward, one by one, and asked them to aim at the bird. When each one aimed his arrow, Drona asked, What do you see? Each one replied, I see the bird, the tree, the sky, and I see you. Each one was sent away. Finally, Drona called Arjuna forward and asked him to aim at the bird. Arjuna aimed his arrow. Then Drona asked, What do you see? Arjuna said, I see only the bird. Then Drona said, Aim at the eye of the bird. Arjuna aimed his arrow. Then Drona asked, What do you see? Arjuna replied, I only see the eye of the bird. Drona then said, Shoot. Arjuna shot his arrow and it pierced the eye of the bird, and the bird fell at his feet.


     Real faith or shraddha is said to be something like this. The teacher points the way. What the teacher says to concentrate on, that and that alone the student sees. This excludes a whole lot of extraneous thoughts and scattered energies, and results in real concentration of the mind.


     In the Mundaka Upanishad realization is described in terms of archery: Om, the mystic syllable, is said to be the bow; the self within, the arrow; and Brahman, the target. One should hit that target with an undistracted mind, and like the arrow become one with it. (15)


     Swamiji says, These [great souls] are signposts on the way. That is all they are. They say, Onward, brothers!' (16) They point the way.




     The Grace of Our Own Mind




     And we read in the Gospel: As is a mans meditation, so is his feeling of love;/ As is a mans feeling of love, so is his gain;/ And faith is the root of all. (17) Everything can be attained through simple faith! But our faith must be practical. Belief must be put into action and it must be based on reason. The intensity of our striving is actually based on our faith in the existence of God. We may be able to quote all the scriptures, but that wont help us at all if we dont really believe that it is possible for us to realize the Truth. One must have the grace of ones own mind. That is, the mind should not be divided against itself. One must be directed and open to the Truth, and have patience and endurance to carry on ones spiritual practice. We must know that it is possible for us to realize God.




     Faith in Ourselves




     We must have faith in ourselves before we can have faith in God. Swamiji says:


     The ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us. Throughout the history of mankind, if any motive power has been more potent than another in the lives of all great men and women, it is that of faith in themselves. Faith in ourselves will do everything. The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is the atheist who does not believe in himself. But it is not selfish faith, because the Vedanta, again, is the doctrine of oneness. It means faith in all, because you are all. Love for yourselves means love for all, love for animals, love for everything, for you are all one. It is the great faith which will make the world better. (18)


Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God - this is the secret of greatness. (3.190)


     According to Swamiji, religion is a matter of fact; we are not to believe in it just blindly. We have to analyse our own souls and find what is there. We have to understand it and realize what is understood. That is religion. No amount of talk will make religion. (2.163)


     At first we must cultivate faith. It is listed as one of the great virtues and must be nurtured with all the other qualities that perfect our character. It is only when our character becomes really pure and stable, when our nature is perfected, that true shraddha dawns. Until then all our belief in God, in the guru and in the scriptures vacillates. Our aim in life should be to have firm unshakeable faith.




     Faith and Doubt Cannot Coexist




     Says Sri Ramakrishna, If a man has faith in God, then even if he has committed the most heinous sins he will certainly be saved through this faith. Let him only say to God, O Lord, I will not repeat such an action, and he need not be afraid of anything. (19) There is no point in brooding over past mistakes. Theyre over. We can let go of them. In the song Shakti samudra Swamiji calls Sri Ramakrishna a mighty weapon that destroys the demon of doubt. Sri Ramakrishna is very close to us. We can use this weapon to cut down the doubts at their root. He can quieten the confused hubbub of the mind. In the Gospel someone asks, Sir, is there no help, then, for a worldly person? Certainly there is, says Sri Ramakrishna. From time to time he should live in the company of holy men, and from time to time go into solitude to meditate on God. Furthermore, he should practise discrimination and pray to God, Give me faith and devotion. Once a person has faith he had achieved everything. There is nothing greater than faith. (87) We are back to that very simplistic idea: one can pray to have faith.


     Once a man was about to cross the sea. Vibhishana wrote Ramas name on a leaf, tied it in a corner of the mans wearing-cloth, and said to him: Dont be afraid. Have faith and walk on the water. But look here - the moment you lose faith you will be drowned. The man was walking easily on the water. Suddenly he had an intense desire to see what was tied in his cloth. He opened it and found only a leaf with the name of Rama written on it. What is this? he thought. Just the name of Rama! As soon as doubt entered his mind he sank under the water. (87)


     Swami Saradananda says, he who has taken refuge in the Lord, has he anything to complain of or worry about? He knows that he has surrendered himself to Him and the Lord has accepted him. This is all that he need be aware of. Like the kitten, he knows only his mother. Wherever his mother places him he is contented. (20)




     Faith of a Child in Its Mother




     Sri Ramakrishna tells us, God cannot be realized without childlike faith. The mother says to her child, pointing to a boy, He is your elder brother. And the child at once believes that the boy is one hundred per cent his brother. God bestows His grace on the devotee who has this faith of a child. (21)


     If we try to remember our very earliest memories, we can see that we had total trust and faith in our mothers. There was simply no question of anything else. We were held, fed and cared for by our mothers. We were so dependent on them that we never even thought who was going to feed us or care for us. In fact, in the earliest times I dont think a small baby even distinguishes completely between itself and its mother. I know that for a long time I never really distinguished the face of my mother. She was more a presence, a warmth and a love. If we try to remember this relationship even on the human level, we can understand better what is meant by real faith, because our human relationships are really mere reflections of the divine. There is absolutely no doubt in the relationship between the mother and her child. It is complete, open trust, so much so that it approaches unity. Maybe it is because of this inherent understanding that Swami Brahmananda says, Women generally have greater results spiritually in less time because their faith is greater.




     Faith Born of Realization




     We must have faith in our higher selves. Sri Ramakrishna has a story to illustrate this:


     Once Vyasa was about to cross the Jamuna, when the gopis also arrived there, wishing to go to the other side. But no ferry-boat was in sight. They said to Vyasa, Revered sir, what shall we do now? Dont worry, said Vyasa. I will take you across. But I am very hungry. Have you anything for me to eat? The gopis had plenty of milk, cream, and butter with them. Vyasa ate it all. Then the gopis asked, Well, sir, what about crossing the river? Vyasa stood on the bank of the Jamuna and said, O Jamuna, if I have not eaten anything today, then may your waters part so that we may all walk to the other side. No sooner did the sage utter these words than the waters of the Jamuna parted. The gopis were speechless with wonder. He ate so much just now, they said to themselves, and he says, If I have not eaten anything ! Vyasa had the firm conviction [faith], that it was not himself, but the Narayana who dwelt in his heart, that had partaken of the food. (22)


     In the Bhagavadgita it is said that shraddha, devotion and self-control are the necessary requirements for knowledge. (23) In his commentary on this verse Madhusudana Sarasvati defines faith as a taste for the supreme Truth.


     Again, describing the characteristics of a true devotee, Sri Krishna says, Those who fix their minds on Me and devotedly worship Me steadfastly with supreme shraddha - they are the best of all contemplative persons, the best of all devotees. (12.2) Latu Maharaj once said, He alone is fit to take sannyasa who can throw himself, at the behest of his guru, headlong from the top of a palm tree, with his hands and feet outstretched. Such a man alone has developed a true dependence on the guru and on God. Do we have that type of trust, that faith?




     Faith and Self-surrender




     It seems that real faith is like self-surrender because with full trust one submits to the power of God, which immediately fills one up. It is not a small thing to really surrender. It is as though one is driving a car up a steep mountainside, trying to get to the top, where there is an immense treasure of bliss. We have an idea of the goal and of the way to get there. One is concentrating on every turn, driving the car, struggling upward, when suddenly, near the top, the road becomes straight and smooth for a short distance. The car gains speed and suddenly becomes airborne and heads for the sun. For a second, one thinks My God! Whats happening? Where am I headed? Im out of control. This was not what we planned, not part of our agenda. Without real faith one grabs the wheel and tries hard to get the car back on the familiar road. We cling to our body consciousness, to our ideas of what the goal is and what the path is, what our meditation should be. With real faith one might say, Yes, the sun! Yes! Yes! My God the Sun! Im not in control. This is what Ive been waiting for! One lets go and is lifted into that Light of Consciousness. Otherwise, without real faith, we may turn away from the Light in fear when it comes to us. We may try to hold on to our little individuality, our ideas of who we are, afraid that somehow we are going to be annihilated.


     That is the leap of faith. One gives up ones sense of little self and of agency. One dies as it were. And what does one experience? After that experience there is no more doubt. Real faith is born. We cannot realize Truth without that leap, without letting go at some point, because we really dont know what the goal is until we experience it, become one with it. It is not whatever we think it is, no matter how noble our idea is. We are going to be surprised when we realize it. And we cant attain it by our own efforts. At some point we have to resign ourselves and let the higher reality shine through. It takes faith to let go, to make that leap. Once God is experienced, the knowledge or belief that God exists never dies.


     This is the faith that moves mountains, real faith based on truth and realization. The Gita says, Established in realization [and faith born of it], a man is not shaken even by the heaviest sorrow. (6.22) We see this type of faith in those who have realized God. All doubts disappear when one realizes the Self. Those who realize God rest in faith as it were. And the certainty of such men and women inspires faith in others. They are so sure that the knots of their heart are cut asunder and they are carried, as it were, by faith. This is the power of faith. Swami Brahmananda is said to have remarked in his last days, I am floating on the leaf of faith and knowledge on the Ocean of Brahman. (24) What a blissful state!








     1. St Mark, 5.34.

     2. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 9 vols. (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1-8, 1989; 9, 1997), 1.407.

     3. Vivekachudamani, 25.

     4. The Quintessence of Vedanta, trans. Swami Tattwananda (Kalady: Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, 1979), verse 212.

     5. M, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, trans. Swami Nikhilananda (Chennai: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2002), 244.

     6. CW, 6.221.

     7. Gospel, 87.

     8. CW, 8.261.

     9. Quintessence, verse 216.

     10. CW, 6.64-5.

     11. Bhagavadgita, 6.34.

     12. Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, How to Know God (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1975), 46.

     13. Taittiriya Upanishad, 2.4.1.

     14. Quintessence, verse 215.

     15. Mundaka Upanishad, 2.2.4.

     16. CW, 1.483.

     17. Gospel, 108.

     18. CW, 2.301.

     19. Gospel, 87.

     20. Swami Aseshananada, Glimpses of a Great Soul (Los Angeles: Vedanta Press, 1982), 124.

     21. Gospel, 865.

     22. Ibid., 247-8.

     23. Gita, 4.39.

     24. Swami Prabhavananda, The Eternal Companion (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1981), 107.

International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015








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