The Experience of Faith
Real faith you will be able to build up only by experience, and you get that real faith not with the whole experience, but with glimpses of experiences.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II
Faith – complete trust and confidence – is crucial in our journey on the path of Sant Mat. It helps us to practise meditation regardless of what is going on in this turbulent world. We can face the most difficult tasks in life with the power of faith.
To escape the cycle of birth and death, the Masters have told us meditation is the only way. Meditation is what we just need to keep doing, whether our mind cooperates or not. We’ve been told that all we need to do is put in the effort and leave the results to him. On this path, we are asked to live an honest and moral life, to follow a vegetarian diet, abstain from alcohol, tobacco, mind-altering drugs and to sit in meditation for at least two and a half hours a day. All we need to do is obey these instructions and live in his will.
But how do we know that all this will help us? Is there proof or evidence of the Master’s teachings? Do we have faith in what they tell us?
There’s a story of a village that was suffering from a terrible drought. All the fields and rivers had completely dried up. To survive, villagers had to walk five miles a day to fetch water from the next village. It was such a painstaking journey that some even chose to pack their bags and move away.
One day, a prophet came and told all the villagers that he would make it rain so that everyone would have easy access to water. He told them to meet him the next morning in the open fields, where he would make it rain. The next day, the villagers gathered, eager to witness the miraculous rain. When they met the prophet in the field, he looked at all of them with a disappointed face and told them to go home and to come back the next day. Many were confused and started to wonder if the prophet was deceiving them.
Still, many villagers returned the next day, hoping to see rain from God. Again, the prophet looked at all the residents and then asked them to return home and to come back the next day. The villagers became annoyed. Some even cursed the prophet.
On the third day, villagers gathered in the field still hoping that they would get to see rain fall from the sky. This time the prophet looked sad and disappointed. He told the villagers: You have not come prepared for rainfall; that is why I have not made it rain. The crowds were confused. The prophet told the villagers, if you had faith that it was going to rain, you would have come here with buckets and umbrellas! The villagers wanted help but did not believe that they would actually get it. They wanted to see it rain before they believed.
We go on journeys by planes, trains, buses and cars, entrusting our lives in the hands of pilots and drivers we don’t know and often never even see. We eat food at restaurants, trusting that the chefs are serving food that will not be harmful to us. This does not mean we have blind faith in them. We do our due diligence. We ride vehicles driven by qualified drivers, we seek out reputable restaurants. But still, even with all that due diligence, an element of faith is involved.
This intellectual faith is based on our experience traveling and trying out various restaurants. In life, we take one step at a time until we gain personal experience.
The Masters’ teachings are based on their experience. We have to put their teachings into practice to gain our own experience. This is the only way to discover the truth that they speak of for ourselves. Unless we take that step daily and diligently to do our meditation, how can we know for sure? Through the practice of meditation, we will be able to transform our intellectual faith into glimpses of experiences.
Whether we realize it or not, meditation has a profound impact on us. It softens the blow of our karmas so many of the difficulties we experience in this world feel like pinpricks. We can’t escape our karmas, but meditation helps us get through them. It changes our attitude and perspective towards life. It helps us to deal with all the ups and downs in this world without losing our balance too much. And in turn, our faith grows stronger. The ultimate grace of the Master is that he helps with our meditation. The Master is always by our side. All we have to do is put in the effort and leave the results to him.