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W ill, faith and confidence are the elementary factors which contribute to an easy success on the path of realisation. A strong will to achieve reality means that we are inwardly awakened to the thought of recognising Self. We proceed on with the idea and select a path. The very first thing to be looked at seriously is that the path we select is the right one, leading directly to our goal. It is, therefore, quite essential to have in our mind a clear and definite conception of the final goal.

Now the final goal of different people may be different in many respects, and consequently the means to achieve it may also be different. We have thus to select the right path leading directly to the final goal for which we aspire. Hasty judgement in the matter often leads to disappointing results, for it is just possible that the path you have been persuaded to adopt may not be the right one leading to your destination. Often by adopting a wrong course, you lose sight of the real thing and are led into false conceptions and illusions. If you persist on the same course, your final approach to reality becomes impossible. This often happens when you unfortunately fall under defective guidance and wrong training. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary at the very outset to try every possible means to judge that the path you have adopted for realisation is really the right one.

Do not follow a path because it is the oldest, for the oldest one may be most ill-suited to the changed conditions of the world and society. Do not follow a path because it has been followed by the majority of men, for the majority may not always be right and are more often led by only a chosen few, who in all possibility might have been misled. We must be thoroughly considerate in judging the merits of a thing, applying all possible means at our disposal. We should never come to a hasty conclusion without due consideration and trial, through the help of reason and experience.

When we are finally convinced of the merits of the thing, we may stick to it with faith and constancy. Faith thus reposed shall be genuine and lasting, while faith promoted by inducement offered by outwardly attractive features and the display of pretty materialistic achievements is no faith at all, but may rightly be termed as persuasion. It has no stable foundation to rest upon and disappears under ordinary adverse circumstances.

Gross types of worship of idols in solid material shapes and rigid adherence to forms, symbols and rituals do not actuate real faith. It is pure and simple materialism, which promotes prejudice and not true faith in the hearts of those who pursue it. They believe blindly in what they are induced to, without applying their reason or judgement, and are not in the least inclined even to consider any other course. I find people acknowledging the efficacy of certain other means of direct approach to Reality, but still they are not prepared to follow them because, as they say, they cannot get away from the path they have already adopted. They have, in fact, no faith in reality but only faith in forms and symbols, which may rightly be termed as prejudice. It means that their vision has become limited, and they do not want to rise high to seek Reality. Their fate is sealed, and they remain in the same confined sphere forever. In fact, what keeps us down, checking us from rising higher, cannot be termed as faith.

It is, consequently, very essential for every one to fix his eyes on Absolute Reality with faith and confidence and to adopt ways helpful and conducive to Self-realisation. We then march on up to the final point, where we assume the same pure form we had at the time of creation. For that, we have to renounce necessarily all our belongings of samskaras, maya and egoism, and grow lighter and lighter at every step. Heaviness of mind or internal denseness caused by gross forms of worship is thus a great impediment to our spiritual advancement and should be avoided. If they maintain it with ever-increasing intensity, they remain entangled in the thorny bushes of grossness and deception, far removed from the realm of perpetual bliss.

The other important factor of a spiritual life is faith in the Master, for as I have already said before, the help of a capable master is indispensable for higher spiritual attainments. He is the only medium through whom the divine impulse comes to an aspirant. It is, therefore, but essential that the guide we select should be one of highest capability and practical attainments. To judge the real worth of the guide we must associate with him for some time, trying and testing him by all means in our power. When we are thus convinced of his capabilities through reason and experience, we may accept him as our Master and submit to his guidance. If we disregard this principle, we are likely to be deceived in our judgement.

We must never follow anyone blindly, having been attracted towards him by his outward imposition and display of knowledge. For proper judgement of the true merits of a man, we must take into account his practical attainments in the spiritual field. We must seek in him the real thing we crave for. When we are thus convinced, we naturally begin to feel an inward attraction for him and think him to be the very person who can shape our destiny. The feeling gradually develops into faith, and we begin to love him. We submit to his views with due regard to his personality and proceed along the path under his guidance. The experience of achievements gained during the course convinces us further of the extraordinary capacities of the Master, and we begin to look upon him as a superhuman being. Our faith now is greatly helpful to us in our spiritual progress. It dispels clouds of doubt and uncertainty and removes difficulties and obstructions from our path.

Faith is really the foundation of the entire structure of spirituality. Faith in reality, faith in the right course you have adopted for realisation, faith in the worthy Master whom you have submitted to – this is the rock upon which you must build your edifice of spirituality if you really aim at success. You will thereby be possessed of an internal force strong enough to shatter all the forces of evil that might be surrounding you. It will help you to draw fresh divine impulse whenever you require it.

Some people take a very erroneous view of faith. They believe that faith alone is enough to solve their problem of life, no matter what path they have adopted or the guide that they have submitted to might be. Nothing probably can be more misleading than this absurd belief. Is it ever possible for a man to reach Calcutta by taking up just the opposite direction? Can a man ever become a selfless saint by submitting himself to the guidance of a self-seeking impostor? Can a man ever free himself from the bonds of attachment, prejudice and pride by following a self-conceited hypocrite inspired with the feeling of attachment to worldly objects and of self-aggrandisement? We must never be led away by the mere outward glittering aspect of a thing, but we should go deep into it to discover reality at the bottom.

Inducement based on an outward show of knowledge, eloquence, or power promotes blind faith, which in most cases leads to disastrous results. A conscientious man will never allow himself to be led away blindly into delusion by such false impositions which have no real significance in the spiritual field. Blind faith is no doubt greatly advantageous only when the path you have adopted is by accident the right one and the guide you have selected is really the proper person of the highest calibre, who is devoid of all feelings of attachment and pride. Your unshakable faith in such a Master shall then lead you to the farthest limit of spiritual attainment, for you shall then associate yourself with Reality.

Faith, in the true sense, is a lively link connecting the mortal with the Immortal. It is, no doubt, effected through the medium of the Master who is himself connected with the Immortal. The link, when once connected, cannot be broken under any condition and subsists all along during the course of our march up to the final point. It is one of the six sampattis of the third sadhana of yoga. At this stage, faith is real and genuine and is so firmly established that a man cannot even for a moment get away from it. The reasons for this are, however, beyond his understanding. Before this stage, faith is really artificial and is formed, lost or regained many a time for a variety of reasons. A worthy master shall never rely upon it and shall put up with all the emotional outbursts of love and devotion of a disciple, looking forward patiently to the time when he comes up to the final stage of shraddha (faith) as depicted in the four sadhanas of yoga, when the real faith begins to assume the form of self-surrender.

True faith is really an unspeakable virtue which is beyond the scope of religion; it is the dauntless courage which leads us on to success; it is that ubiquitous force which makes our path smooth; it is in fact the only thing that solves our problem of life.