Faith is the driver behind all our eﬀorts. We get out of bed in the morning because we have confidence that we will be able to perform our duties for the day and take care of ourselves and our families. Faith is a force that keeps us going. When we enter school, we have faith that we will be able to master the material and eventually acquire a profession. When we are sick and go to a doctor, we have faith that the doctor will know how to help us. When we were little, we had faith that our parents knew how to take good care of us. When we came on the spiritual path, we had faith that by following the Master’s guidance, we will reach our destination.
However, before following any spiritual path, we are encouraged to read and study and ask questions. This process is necessary so that we understand within ourselves that this is the path we wish to follow. The more questions we resolve before initiation, the more prepared we are to turn our focus to the practice of meditation. First, we build an intellectual faith, and then through meditation, our faith becomes unshakable. Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II:
Without faith, we don’t make any progress at all. But ﬁrst we have to build intellectual faith in the philosophy. And in the light of the philosophy, we have to weigh the Master. And then real faith will come only when you practice.
Intellectual faith may lead us to ask for initiation from the Master. This preliminary faith helps us when we embark on the spiritual path. Indeed, it is needed for us to apply ourselves to any task. We study hard for our exams because we believe that our efforts will enable us to pass. We follow our doctor’s instructions because we believe we will get well if we do. We follow our parents’ guidance closely because we have faith that we will benefit from their knowledge. This faith is also what we need to begin a spiritual practice.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Hazur says:
You have to have preliminary faith in order to practice. In order to do research in the laboratory, preliminary faith is required. Otherwise, you will refuse to do research. But actual faith comes only when you are able to get satisfaction from that research. Then your faith comes, not before that. On the outside, we feel that we have a lot of faith. This is just a self-deception, I would say. We have no faith at all. Christ said that if you have even as much faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can move mountains. That faith we develop only from within, by practice, by testing within. Not outside.
It is our practice of meditation, our own inner experience, that builds faith. He emphasizes:
Actual faith comes by experience, and faith comes from within, it doesn’t come from outside at all. The faith that we build by seeing other people doesn’t have much depth at all; it’s very shaky. The faith that comes from within by meditation – which strengthens our faith, rather it creates faith – that is unshakable faith. Faith is very essential before we can put forth an earnest eﬀort to practice.
So, Master is telling us that faith must be developed from our research and practice, from within. Faith, like meditation, is an inward journey. It cannot be built on what others do or say. Through our meditation, faith grows, and our love and devotion for the Creator blossoms.
As we continue on the path, sitting in meditation every day as instructed, the Masters advise us not to have any expectations about results. We must recognize that everything is in the hands of the Lord, not ours. Sometimes, over years of effort, we may feel we have no visible signs of progress in our meditation, and our faith may become shaky. Why are we not making inner progress? When will my meditation bear fruit? Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, there are many aspects of worldly life that have no exact timetable for visible results. Who can guarantee how long it will take us to ﬁnd a career or advance in that career? Can we guarantee when or whether we will be married? Do we have a guarantee that any children we might have will meet our expectations? So much of life is totally outside of our control. Why should spirituality be different?
If we devote ourselves to meditation, we will eventually have no questions. And we will simply lose interest in any questions we may have had. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Hazur is asked, “Can the intellect ever really be satisﬁed except by the touch of the Master’s love?” He replies:
Intellect deﬁnitely gets satisﬁed. And deﬁnitely its satisfaction gives you certain faith, and deﬁnitely that faith leads you to practice.… When the time comes, all the questions which have looked to you like the Himalayas, they will become meaningless to you. You won’t bother or care about them.
As with all our questions about anything on the path, everything starts and ends with meditation. Knowing that our progress in meditation is in the Master’s hands, we might look at our actions and see if we put what we genuinely believe into practice. If we say we believe in Sant Mat, but don’t put effort into meditation, how can we deepen our faith? Eﬀort in meditation is what will create an unshakable foundation of faith so that we can proceed on our journey.
The whole purpose of our existence is to turn toward the Creator within and build our love and devotion. That is why we have embarked on this spiritual journey. We know where we stand today, and we also have a sense of where we want to reach eventually. The only thing we can do now to progress spiritually and to grow in faith is to devote ourselves to meditation. We must act on the instructions of our guide. Meditation is our action. Meditation is our eﬀort. Once we devote ourselves to meditation to the best of our ability, we can be carefree and rely on the Lord’s grace and mercy, which is always abundant.
In Honest Living, we read that:
Ultimately it is grace and mercy – the mystery of love, the Shabd – that brings a person to the spiritual path. It is our responsibility, however, to contribute whatever we can to make the journey easier. The Lord’s grace is abundant, and when he wills, he will wipe clean our debts. But our contribution to this great journey, however small, is highly signiﬁcant, for it is our eﬀort to move towards him that brings his grace.
Our part in all of this is small, indeed, yet essential. We know our limitations, but he sees our potential. By steadfastly applying ourselves to our meditation practice, we enable our faith to grow until it becomes unshakable.