Someone recently referred to me as a 'man of faith'. I detected the condescending tone in his speech. It was, I’m pretty sure, a subtle put-down. Faith is often frowned upon in today’s society – savvy people consider it unscientific, sentimental, primitive and a sign of weakness. Believe in what you see, they say, and take charge of fortune by shaping life on your own abilities and strength. It’s a psychological approach developing from reductionist science, which aims to explain everything in mechanistic, empirical and routine terms. It’s quite apt that the net result of ‘reductionism’ is to severely limit and impair our experience of life.
Faith is, without doubt, the most beautiful, extraordinary and empowering quality in existence! Without it, the world would be dull, dull, dull – life would be restricted to the boundaries of our own logic and rationale. Pretty limited indeed. People say faith doesn’t make sense, but that’s exactly why it makes miracles. Someone believed there was something beyond “the odds.” Someone knew there was a power and inspiration more profound than his own. Someone had the humility and wisdom to tap into a higher source of strength. Time and time again, we see how faith opens doors to the unknown.
This placement of faith is indeed a part of our natural psychology. In cultured societies it actually grows organically. Unfortunately, regular exploitation and abuse of faith has promoted scepticism and suspicion as the orders of the day. To live by your own judgement and discrimination is seen as safe and secure. Yet even that is a farce, since everyone, regardless of their ontological worldview, is impelled to put faith in something lest we're rendered entirely dysfunctional. Thus, the great saint Visvanatha Cakravarti states adau sraddha – “in the beginning there must be faith.” Faith is the foundation of our spiritual life, and the Sanskrit word for it literally means “to put your heart into something.” As we deepen our faith and endeavour with heartfelt conviction, an ordinary life morphs into a transcendental drama of magic and miracles. Gradually, we begin to realise how much we've limited ourselves over the years! It’s actually incredible how one can be so close and yet so far, simply because we couldn’t take a small leap of… faith.