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Awakening of Faith
The New York Talks 1922-1925
of B.P. Wadia

© 2001 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö 

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1.  The Awakening of Faith

If you turn to the 17th discourse of the Gita, you find the statement made that all men are born with faith and that there are three kinds of faith. One is pure and its manifestation is harmony, rhythm. The second is of the nature of motion, mobility. The third is of the nature of inertia, manifesting as its virtue, if you please, stability. Now all of us manifest one or another kind of faith.

Some have faith which is very stable, unmoving but unrhythmic. Take, for instance, the faith of the ordinary religious man. He never questions it. He never moves from it. He is there. His Bible or his Veda or his Koran; his temple or his church or his mosque say so. That is the nature of it. It is one kind of faith. Its expression in human nature is belief, belief that leads to dogmatism, to fanaticism. Now, you get a variety of this particular kind of faith in all parts of the world, in all kinds of religions, in all kinds of movements, including the Theosophical. For you do get that kind of a mere rigid belief and, just as the Hindu says, "I believe it because it is in the Vedas," just as the Christian says, "I believe it because it is in the Bible," so a person who calls himself a Theosophist, who ought not to, says, "I believe in it because it is in the Secret Doctrine " or the Ocean of Theosophy, or Isis Unveiled or such and such a book. That is faith, the faith of the orthodox churchgoer, who calls himself Christian or the orthodox Mohammedan who prays in the mosque. You believe in something different, but the expression that cames from within, the nature of the faith that energizes and produces that belief is of the same kind, Tamasic, of the nature of inertia.

You get another kind of faith, energized by motion, by mobility. It wants to move. You get it in science. You get it among the artists. You get it among the intellectual people; and their great argument is, we are not bound to think that or the other idea or fact or truth. We move on. And the faith that is in us enables us to move on. This is a superior kind of faith to the first. It is energized by this second great quality that the Gita speaks of, Rajas, and I will show you presently where it comes from.

Then, there is the third kind of faith, which expresses itself in rhythm, so that the effect produced by it is a result of inspiration, is beautiful, one that inspires and brings joy. Joy and inspiration are the two effects that rhythm produces anywhere you find it. You may find it in the picture. You may find it on the stage. You may find it in music. The thing that inspires and produces joy, in the final analysis, is rhythmic in its movement. And the faith that has the quality of movement, the movement that produces rhythm, that produces harmony, and whose quality is inspiration and joy, that is the faith of the illuminated man. Now, examine what is that faith. In comparison to that of the mere believer whose basis is rigidity and that of the person whose basis is move- ment, you find in the rhythmic faith the good characteristics of both without the weaknesses of either of them. That is to say, there is a stability, and there is a movement in the third kind of faith, but it has these two qualities without the limitations that accompany them in the first two.

Each of us, therefore, has a faith, and we want to analyze it. But we must not, make the mistake that so many people make, of judging the quality of our faith by what we believe in. That does not matter. You may believe in Christ. You may believe in Krishna. But how you believe, by what processes your faith makes itself manifest, that determines the quality of the belief. There is no difference in the faith of the fanatical follower of  Muhammed or the fanatical believer in the Christ. His faith is of the first kind, and we must not make the mistake that people so often make, who affirm "My faith is superior because I believe in So-and-So and not in So-and-So." It makes no difference. Therefore, whether you believe in the Bible, the Koran, or shall I say, the Secret Doctrine, if you believe in that way, so that rigidity is the result in manifestation, then you have faith of the first and lowest kind.

Now, we have reached, at the present stage of evolution, a place in our mental growth which makes our faith mostly of the second type. It moves. It moves on.

So that you will find often in the churches, you will find it among the priests, Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians, they want continuously to reform their churches. But when they put forward that idea, they seem to forget that they give themselves away very badly: for, if they acknowledge that their church or their temple needs reform, then it must have been wrong in the past. But the churches take up that position, because the faith that is manifesting itself in the human civilisation at the present moment is the second kind of faith. Why is it of the second kind? Humanity, especially in the Western World, does not believe that stability in faith is possible because the unchanging immortality of the object or the subject in which faith can be reposed is not preceived. They do not possess that higher faith because they have not come across any entity inside or outside of them, any object outside of or any subject within, on which they can rely in all instances and all the time.

When we analyze our own individual mental evolution, we find that our faith changes because we are not sure of the ground on which we stand. So it is with science, with philosophy, with the religions that change. We always want new knowledge. That very expression, new knowledge, ought to open our eyes to the fact that all that we believe in at the moment cannot be finally true for us, for, if it were, we would not run after new knowledge. We would seek for more knowledge of the same thing. But that is not our position. Most of us are trying to get new knowledge about new subjects, new matters, all the time. It is because the faith that expresses itself in our life at the present moment rests on something that itself is moving, is unstable.

Next, think of this: he who believes that he is the body, what faith can he manifest save the faith of the first kind? He is a materialist. Why? Because he believes in matter. The body that moves not, that is the only stable thing for him. Body i s life and soul. He ceases to be a materialist the moment he acknowledges that life and soul are other than body. He becomes a Spiritualist, a psychical researcher, a higher scientist; his rank materialism goes. Come to the next, he whose mind is influenced by his feelings, so that his mind is swayed by likes and dislikes. His faith is of the nature of motion. He believes in his friends when he likes them. "I have lost all faith in him," he says, when he dislikes him for one reason or another. The last faith was rooted in emotion, whose very nature is motion.

But the mind that is not influenced by senses or sense impressions, that is not swayed by likes or dislikes, that is controlled and energized by the soul, the soul being the stable factor, of the nature of knowledge and love and bliss, produces the faith that is of the third and the higher kind, the spiritual faith. In whom does the spiritual man put his faith? In himself first. Why does he believe in himself? Because he finds that everything changes, save one thing and that is his own individual consciousness. His body changes. His senses and sense impressions change. His feelings alternate as thoughts come and go. He goes on. And when he recognizes that fact, the real faith awakens in him – this faith is named Shraddha.

Now this takes place in course of evolution. All those people who manifest the first kind of faith are dependent on others. Their nature is Inertia. Those who manifest the second kind of faith are partly dependent on others and partly dependent on themselves. Their nature is mobile. Those who manifest the third kind of faith are entirely dependent on themselves. Their nature is rhythmic and harmonious producing bliss, joy, beatitude. Hence the great law of Manu: Self-dependence is happiness; other dependence is misery.

Theosophy teaches that self-conscious and deliberate processes of evolution are possible for human beings. Hence, you can take your mind in hand and train it; hence, also, you can take your faith in hand and cultivate it.

Can we, when we have analyzed our faith, as it manifests in our lives, take any steps whereby we can manifest a higher kind of faith? Theosophy answers, yes, we can. What are the processes? First and foremost, to have faith in ourselves Secondly faith in the Law which we embody or rather, which embodies us. Those are the two fundamental, cardinal factors of awakening spiritual faith. We should note that it depends on our recognition of the soul-consciousness, above the mind, which controls and energizes the mind and feelings and senses. If we do not recognize ourselves as above these, we find that which surrounds us is of the nature of chaos. But let us have faith in ourselves first. Believe in the steadfast entity, the real I, continuous and persistent among the changing panorama of life, and the chaos becomes a cosmos.

The moment we believe in ourselves as soul-entities, we move from rhythm to rhythm, in which pain and pleasure are but two aspects, in which seeing and hearing, tasting and smelling, touching and feeling, liking and disliking, are all processes out of which bliss results. All these are but instruments of experience – not instruments of  torture, of punishment, or reward, but instruments of experience, which bring unfoldment and therefore increase power, and thus bring joy.

Faith in ourselves first and foremost. This enables us to find ourselves as part and parcel of the Law, and to recognize that nothing can happen to us that is not part of us, rooted in us, necessary for us. The illusion produced by time which for us separates cause from effect; the gulf in space between action and its recompense – reaction – have to be overcome and this we do by reflecting on the fact that motive-forces react on the plane of action, and feelings and thoughts beget their effects on their respective planes. From this study slowly emerges the identity between ourselves and the Law of which we are but a part. Thus we recognize that we live in an ordered Cosmos in which what seems chaotic only seems and does not really exist.

Now, the higher faith demands that we recognize that second factor, not only recognize ourselves as existing, but recognize ourselves as existing portions of the bigger whole, the law. This is a very important factor, because when we take our evolution in our own hands, when we begin to make a deliberate use of the great psychological laws of Self-growth, we are bound to come face to face with a universal experience. That is what is sometimes spoken of as the test of the soul, or as the dark night of the soul. What is it? It is a condition in which we find ourselves standing alone. Relatives are no ;more. Friends desert us. Acquaintances are unreliable. Everything is taken away from us. What helps us then is the highest faith. Our inner bliss abides, though we may be intellectually puzzled and emotionally depressed. Bliss abides because we recognize that we are part and parcel of the law.

Who can touch. us? What can affeet us? If people and things do, it is because we have permitted them to do so. Now if we are parts of the law, then other human beings are also parts of the law. We find that different people embody the Law differently; some are conscious of it, others are not, and so forth. It is logical to deduce that there must be those who are fully conscious of themselves being perfect embodiments of the law.

And here our third factor comes in; because we believe in the law partially felt and known within ourselves, we must logically deduce that there are Beings who have transcended the law, i.e., who are not slaves to it, but its arbiters – who are Masters of it; and hence faith in the Masters is awakened.

But, in this respect, faith often begins at the wrong end. People want to believe in the Masters before they have begun to believe in themselves, before they have even a concept of who the Masters are or what They stand for. It is wise therefore to procecd from the Teaching to the Teachers, from the Law to Those who embody it. Hence, if we want the real faith, three things are necessary: bellef in oneself; belief in the law; and belief in Those who perfectly embody the law. These three bring to us in our daily life the ideal that sustains and inspires us to go on and on, higher and higher.

In all religions we find the ideal of the Savior, the Prophet, the Teacher. Why does that ideal fail? Because people begin to believe in the Prophet or Savior – before they begin to believe in themselves, before they begin to recognize themselves as part and parcel of the law. If one believes in the Christ without recognizing the fact that he, himself, is an unfolding Christ, and that there are other people who are also unfolding Christs, he will posit a wrong basis, give a wrong place to his ideal, and the realisation of that ideal will bring pain instead of pleasure, and will take him from one kind of ignorance to another kind of ignorance, instead of from ignorance to knowledge. An ideal is a necessary thing in one's life, for the purpose of awakening faith, but it must be an ideal in which all three factors are present, and one in which the individual recognizes not only his own existence but the identity of himself in essence with the ideal. Why is the Christ not :real to many church-going Christians? He is superficially real. Why is He not actually real? Because they do not believe that they are like Him in their individual essence. They do not believe that their difference from Hin is a difference in degree of unfoldnent but not in kind.

If we are worshipping an ideal, then we must recognize ourselves as worthy of relationship with that Ideal. What is worship save to prove ourselves worthy of relationship with the object of our adoration?

Now, there are people to whom an impersonal ideal appeals, while there are others for whom a tangible or an objective ideal is necessary. But, one way or the other, we come to personalities embodying principles. We cannot help it. Masters are personalities; Prophets are personalities; why do we want to follow Them? Because They embody principles, because They are institutions. They are not men. They stand for something which we want to show forth in our own life, and that particular fact we ought to keep in mind. All of us are trying to realize in our own life the beauty of our own ideal, but we do not achieve success therein unless we understand the principles which our ideal manifests. Therefore, the ideal which we select as an object to be worshiped, as a subject to be made our own, that ideal must be as high as possible.

Hence, in India, we are given, for the purpose of awakenirig faith, the idea of Avataras. People worship Shri Krishna, the inkarnation of Godhead, exactly as Chrisitans worhip the Christ. How do they do it? By reconstructing the mind, for we cannot realize the principles which are universal by the help of minds which contact only a very limited universe. Just as, if we want to appreciate a wonderful piece of music, we must have music in us, so also, if we want to realize our ideal which embodies eternal principles, we must have the roots of those principles in us. The law of consubstantiality works.

What is the law of consubstantiality? We might explain it this way. We are able to see stars millions of miles away, but we are not able to see a spook or an angel right before our very eyes. Why not? Because the substance of which the stars are made is to be found in the composition of our eyes, but the substance of which the spook or the angel is made is not to be found ordin- arily in the material composition of our eyes. What are clairvoyants? They are people of clear vision, who have in them the substance that can see what is ordinarily invisible. It is a scientific method of seeing things which are invisible to us and presupposes consubstantiality of eye and object. Therefore we want on the plane of consciousness the same substance in us that is in our ideal.

If we want to worship the Masters, to become worthy of relationship with the Saviors, the Buddhas, the Christs of the ages gone by, we must have within us the substance of which They are made. They are eternal principles embodied in Beings. We cannot contact them unless we are ourselves eternal principles endeavoring to embody ourselves as Beings. We get a scientific basis for the work that lies before us, by which we can so train our minds that they are not swayed by senses or sense impressions, by feelings, likes or dislikes, but so that our minds are energized from within by the spiritual consciousness which is our real Self, our true I, and which uses this mind because in Himself is the vision of immortal principles, call those principles by any name you please.

Now, Shri Krishna says in one of the discourses of the Gita that the path of the impersonal is hard to tread. Does he mean thereby that people do not tread the impersonal path? They do. It is hard, but the path of the impersonal begins in the impersonal and then contacts personalities, personages, institutions. The mistake is made when they begin with personalities, without verifying their position in reference to the principles which those particular personalities embody. Then they discover their mistake and are disappointed.

Let us always look for principles. We will find that they are embodied in personalities. Let us follow the personalities then in reference to those principles. If we take H.P.B.s great statement: "Follow the Path I show; do not follow me," and the teaching given again and again by all the great mystics; we will find a great truth therein. Let us follow the personalities if we like, but let us make sure of the principles which those personalities are embodying. Hence, at the end of the Gita we find Arjuna ready to follow Shri Krishna, because he is shown the principles which Shri Krishna is embodying in Himself; and hence the statement that where Arjuna is, where Shri Krishna is, there is happiness and prosperity.

Thus we find the highest form of faith. This manifests itself in human nature as illuminated reason, sometimes spoken of as pure and compassionate reason, sometimes as intuition. We should note the fact that many things are called intuition that are not.

Intuition is this high condition of conscicusness where the individuality energizes the mind and illuminates the field of observation at one f'lash. There is no reasoning, argument, dissension necessary. The clear light of the Sun illuminates everything and all objects on which it falls and the light of Faith acts in the same manner. Let us endeavor to awaken the Real Faith which enlightens our whole being and the beings of those whom we contact.


The Theosophical Movement, May 1958, Vol 28, # 7.

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