Vedantic Wednesday: Understanding Faith

Vedantic texts and teaching – be it The Geeta, The Upanishads or Life and work of various saints; all propound the theme of understanding the futility of the world and developing faith in the higher. To many of us faith means an unquestionable trust that one places on someone/something, there cannot be any logic, rhyme or reason in that underlying emotion. But according to Vedanta faith is one that is born out of continuous questioning. Where you realise the futility of logic, faith starts. Faith built on the edifice of complete understanding and questioning will weather the storms; while that which is born without verification will drop at the earliest instance. Belief without understanding is short lived, is an extension of mind and gets easily challenged. But Shraddha is one that is born out of verification and understanding, through the use of both the instruments of mind and intellect. Shraddha, then gets strengthened when challenged.

I was able to appreciate this when I chanced to see a visually challenged young lady being helped by a man to cross a congested road at Annanagar. They were as different as chalk and cheese. The lady seemed well educated, neatly dressed and had a sense of purpose. The man on the other hand can be best described in the common parlance as a tramp. While everyone around her who could see very well were concerned about how this tramp would help her to cross– she allowed herself to be led by this person, crossed the road and thanked the person and just moved on.  What could have driven her to trust a person she can’t see? This got me thinking

This faith that she has in all fellow human beings can stems only from the fact that she has understood and accepted her inability to negotiate challenges of navigation.  She does not feel bad seeking help nor does she apply criteria, classification or conditions for the help received. This faith that is born out of her understanding and acceptance of her constrained context does not get challenged under any situation. She turns to reach out to the helping hand with a sense of deep gratitude and complete trust, that the hand will see her through her challenge. Such trust born out of complete understanding and acceptance of one’s shortfalls defines at best what Vedanta means as Shraddha/Faith. However today these words have been watered down to suit our convinience and habits.

In our wordly existence neither the understanding nor acceptance of our shortcomings is ever easy.  In the larger scheme of things all worldly efforts at an individual or collective level are but futile. It requires immense courage and objectivity for all of us to accept our helplessness within the larger karmic context. Only when we do that can we actually repose faith in the higher. Till then in whatever form, it is just a manifestation of superstition!