The word faith has not been understood well, and has often been considered to be a religious term. Really speaking, faith is not only something which is required in religion, but in all aspects of life that is the one thing that is required the most. It is the misinterpretation of faith that has taken away the value that could be attached to the word. If not, if I were to say any word in the world that is most valuable, it is faith. In the Orient they call faith Yakin, and there is another word used by the people of Arabia: Iman.
There are many things sacred in the world, but faith is the most sacred. Not faith in something, but faith in itself. Faith comes from above; doubt rises from below, from the earth. Therefore, one thing is heavenly, the other earthly. When a person is more worldly, they are more doubting. The less worldly, the more faith a person has. You might find a person who had great faith once, and then has lost their faith, and when you study this you will see that their life has gone from a less worldly condition to a more worldly condition. Being more absorbed in the life of this world makes one void of faith. This shows that faith is innate in human nature, doubt is what people bring. As the sun is the light, and the light is always light, but the clouds cover it. They do not cover the sun; they only cover the sun from our eyes.
When a person has no faith, that does not mean that in the depth of their being there is no faith. There is a faith, but that faith is covered by clouds. It is also just like focusing a camera. When the heart is exposed to the things of the world, then, rising from the earth are always doubts and they will cover the heart. Doubt gives a pessimistic attitude. One questions, “Will it be, or will it not be? Do I think rightly, or do I think wrongly? Am I on the right path, or the wrong path? Shall I succeed, or shall I fail through life? Will conditions be better or worse?” When there are two things, the earth impresses one with doubts against the good thing one wants to conquer and to have. One desires that the thing should be better, and what one finds rising from the earth are the doubts. Therefore, for their faith they do not get proper support from the earth. Since people do not see God, they do not look above. They only look below on the earth and want support from there. The great lesson that the Blessed Ones have taught to humanity was to raise one’s vision upwards, and to find faith in something which is free from all doubt.
Therefore, pessimism and optimism are two different attitudes. One attitude looks downward, the other attitude looks upward. Very few of us really know what miracle is hidden in faith, what power and inspiration are hidden in faith. We all think, “I can believe in some things, I cannot believe in some things.” When we believe, we want proof of it from the earth. In order to sustain our faith, we want a sustenance from an unlimited source, but we look for sustenance to the earth which is a limited source.
When a person looks at a tank full of water and says, “O, what a small supply, what shall I do for the next year?” they are right, but at the same time they are only looking at the tank. However, when that person looks above, they will see that the source is there, from which the rain falls, and many such tanks can be filled, even rivers, full of water. The blessing of all kind is there, if we only prepare our heart to receive it. If the heart is small like a glass of water, even if it was taken to the sea, it can only fetch a glass of water. If the heart is large, then it will bring back much more water.
No doubt, patience is the first lesson to learn on the path of faith, because it is patience which gives one strength to hope. My spiritual teacher used to say in his benediction, “May your faith be strengthened.” As a youth, I thought he would have said, “May you live long, may you be happy, prosperous,” or “May you gain wisdom.” Now I realize what he meant by it more and more, every moment of my life. For in faith there is all. All that you want, all that need, all that you wish to attain through life, it is hidden in your faith.
It is most interesting and laughable sometimes, how it is so easy for a person to fix their faith on small things, but they cannot fix their faith on larger things. A person fixes their faith on an object, not a human being. For instance, if you said to a person, “Here is a medicine for you, a medicine that will cure you,” it is easy for them to have faith. Yet when you say, “Well, I will think and pray for your cure, and you will be cured,” the first thing that will come to them will be a doubt. What is the proof? What is the reason? The reason is this: they see the object; they do not see the thought.
I have met with a very great healer who had great success, and I asked him the secret of his working. He said, “The secret of my working is that, in the first place, I have a religious shrine where people come, and they sit there. They certainly come with faith in that particular shrine. Well, then there is another thing: I give them some kind of mixture of powder. Really speaking they heal. I heal them, but they have no faith in that. I give them some powder or something to drink; and then they feel better.”
The whole effort that different religions have made, has been to make people see what is hidden in a human being. Rituals and ceremonies and different forms, all teach the same thing: find the secret and the mystery of life. Not only in objects, but when you have passed through it, in the human being. Then you see the same thing: that people can easily have faith in a person, but it is difficult to have faith in God. This is because a person can see a human being before them, but they cannot see the greatest power and perfection which is in the abstract. Faith is like a substance, and if a person does not possess that substance, then they cannot raise it to the highest ideal, which alone merits faith.
Now medical science is coming to the realization of the importance of psychology, although it is only considering thought waves and thought power. Faith is something else to be considered and studied. My experience with numerous students in this line has shown me that there may be a person who would be able to concentrate and maintain a thought; but yet that person is not fully capable, because there is no faith at the back of it. Therefore, faith is not something that may be called a thought. Faith is the ground itself. It is a ground. Thoughts spring up from this ground as plants, and if the land is not fertile, then the plants cannot come up. If there is not faith for a thought, then a thought is not beneficial.
Besides, there is another thing. Something that can be accomplished by the power of thought in a year’s time, is accomplished with the power of faith behind it in one day. Someone said to a Brahmin who was worshipping an idol made of stone, “God is formless. God should not be worshipped in an idol of rock.” The Brahmin answered, “It is a question of faith. If I have faith in this stone, God Who is everywhere will speak through this stone. However, if you do not have faith, even God of the abstract heavens will not be able to speak.” If that is so, is there anything that cannot be accomplished, that cannot be raised by faith? When we look at it from a metaphysical point of view, we shall find that the secret of the whole creation is faith. And the perfection of faith is when faith has risen to that ideal, that height, where it can hold itself without any support. Faith, therefore, for accomplishing all that is to be accomplished, will be the one thing, and that will prove to be all things.
February 27, 1924
CW 1924 Vol. 1, pp. 132-136.