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Is there happiness in spirituality? How to build faith?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
16 min
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राजविद्या राजगुह्यं पवित्रमिदमुत्तमम्।

प्रत्यक्षावगमं धर्म्यं सुसुखं कर्तुमव्ययम्।।2।।

rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ pavitram idam uttamam

pratyakṣhāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam

Of sciences, the highest; of profundities, the deepest; of purifiers, the supreme, is this; realisable by direct perception, endowed with (immense) merit, very easy to perform, and of an imperishable nature.

~ Chapter 9, Verse 2

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अश्रद्दधाना: पुरुषा धर्मस्यास्य परन्तप।

अप्राप्य मां निवर्तन्ते मृत्युसंसारवर्त्मनि।।3।।

aśhraddadhānāḥ puruṣhā dharmasyāsya parantapa

aprāpya māṁ nivartante mṛityu-samsāra-vartmani

Persons without Sraddha for this Dharma, return, O scorcher of foes, without attaining Me, to the path of rebirth fraught with death.

~ Chapter 9, Verse 3

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Acharya Prashant (AP): Shri Krishna is explaining adhyātma or rāja-vidyā to Arjuna. That’s the context. So, he says that rāja-vidyā or adhyātma or self-knowledge or Brahmajñāna is the highest, the deepest, the supreme purifier, realizable by direct perception, endowed with immense merit, very easy to perform, and imperishable. And he adds, but those who do not have śraddhā for Dharma, return again and again without attaining the Truth, caught in the cycle of birth and death.

Questioner (Q): In verse 9.2, Shri Krishna has used the word ‘susukham’, meaning very easy, and has called this rāja-vidyā as the king of sciences. But, in my experience, the ego seems like a mountain that is just not budging. Please help me understand why is it said to be ‘very easy’ then.

Also, in the next verse 9.3, Shri Krishna has mentioned śraddhā as a necessary condition, and in my case, doubts creep along this journey because of the nature of the unknowable-unmanifest. How then does a sadhaka develop unwavering faith in the Lord?

AP: The path of adhyātma is accompanied by relaxation of inner tension. Please pay attention to the whole process.

Why does one venture into his interiors first of all? There is nothing in our system that is designed to take us within ourselves. The mind is configured to be stuffed with worldly objects carrying name, shape, and form. The senses all look just outwards. In short, man is a creature designed to remain in the world, dwelling in the world, belong to the world, arise from the world, and be consumed by the world.

Then why does the path of rāja-vidyā or adhyātma or self-knowledge appear attractive as a possibility to some people, because this path is not at all intuitive? There is nothing in our tendencies, there is nothing in our pre-existing design, there is nothing in our biological design that encourages us or nudges us to look at the looker, to look at the mind itself. Yet we know that the path of Dharma or spirituality, rāja-vidyā, adhyātma, Ātmajñāna or Brahmajñāna not only exists but is actually the highest path if we go by the testimony of those who have ventured upon it.

So, why does man go towards adhyātma first of all? The reason is man’s nature. Nobody likes to be miserable and suffering. And given the way we are biologically designed, given our default configuration and conditioning, we are pre-set to suffer. You could say man is a machine designed to suffer.

Man is a strange machine. Man is a strange machine because no machine, as we know machines, ever suffers, because no machine really has consciousness, because no machine ever has an ‘I’. Man is a strange machine; a machine with an ‘I’. The ‘I’ is enclosed in the machine and the ‘I’ does not quite like that, because the nature of ‘I’ is freedom. The nature of ‘I’ is joy that accompanies freedom.

But the machine is a machine. The machine is designed to act just as per the design, and the design does not favour, not even allow the machine to look within itself. However, the ‘I’ suffers. Irrespective of what the design of the machine dictates, the ‘I’ still clamours for freedom. The machine is designed to remain in bondage; the machine is designed to remain and function as per the design. The ‘I’ does not like any designs. The ‘I’ likes a design-less sky. The ‘I’ loves a pattern-less sky in which there are no bondages, no restrictions, no algorithms, no blueprints.

So, we are creatures of suffering. We continue to live in an inner stress, an inexplicable restlessness. Now you will understand why Shri Krishna says here that the path of rāja-vidyā is easy.

It is easy because it arises from our un-ease.

Because we stay queasy, therefore adhyātma is easy.

Because we stay in a state of dis-ease, therefore adhyātma is the path of ease. The more you move along this path, the more you move on this path, the more you feel at ease.

That’s the reason why Shri Krishna says that this path is easy in the same breath in which he says, this path is the most mysterious, the most esoteric, the most hidden one. It’s a kingly secret, he says. It is the deepest of all profound truths. It might be the deepest, it might be even the toughest, yet it is the only path that leads to ease. And is it too much to say that that which leads to ease must be rightfully called as easy? What would you call as easy? That which appears easy but leads to difficulties, or that which appears difficult in your calculations, in your assumptions, in your imaginations, but is actually a giver of ease if you adopt it?

Therefore, wise people always say that what they are choosing is actually the easiest. If you will go to Lao Tzu, he will say that the Tao favours ease. He will say, ease is right. Now, that can be misleading. We might feel that that which appears easy is right. No. It has to be interpreted to mean that that which leads to an inner ease is the right thing for you to do, and that which is right for you to do is called Dharma.

So, Dharma is that which leads you into ease. And that should be obvious. If we are stiff and rigid and tense and insecure and alarmed, then it should be great to be led into ease. Why would any man in his right senses call a movement into ease as something difficult? It would require a special kind of lack of self-love to deny oneself ease and relaxation by terming relaxation as full of tension and ease as a thing of difficulty.

Next you are asking, Shri Krishna has mentioned śraddhā or faith as a necessary condition, and to you doubts are creeping on your journey, because of the nature of the unknowable-unmanifest. And you’re asking, how do you keep unwavering faith in the Lord. Certain things have to be clarified here.

Faith and belief are very different things. Faith is different from belief. Faith is different from trust. Belief and trust both are affirmative in nature and are functions of the ego.

Belief is when the ego acts blindly and takes something in the external world as truth or true without even verifying it. Somebody came to you and told you a few things about something or somebody. And because one is internally lazy, mentally slothful, one did not even make the effort to really verify the stuff. This could be called as an example of belief.

Trust would be when you go out and experiment and examine and crosscheck for yourself. And then you say, “Fine. This is how it is. This is how it is.” That’s trust.

Now, obviously trust is higher than belief, but belief and trust still belong to the same plane, because the ego is choosing to invest itself in some worldly object. Right? The ego is saying, “That which I’m right now talking of is worthy of being considered secured.” Right? When you say you have trust in something, then you feel secure of that thing, right? You know that that thing will now operate according to your expectations. You have kind of sized it up, measured it up. That’s what you mean by trustworthiness, right? A person is called trustworthy if he’ll not violate your expectations. Correct?

So, trust is higher than belief, but in both belief and trust the ego is still relating to and relying upon something or somebody in the world; an object of the senses, an object of name, form, dimensions. The ego is still operating in duality with itself at one end of that duality, and something at the other end it is now considering as worthy of being called as true. Right?

Faith is an entirely different thing. The method of faith is negative. You cannot have faith upon something or somebody or some book or some scripture or thought, idea, ideology, something. No. Faith looks inwards. Faith does not say, “Oh, I have great faith on the Lord!” People who use such expressions are either not using language correctly or are not faithful at all. You cannot say that you seek to have faith on God or Lord or something, no.

Faith is the ability to look at the one who believes or trusts and see that all belief and all trust can come to a naught, that with great danger is all belief and trust quite fraught. That’s faith.

Now, faith is dangerous because faith shakes you up. Faith is not telling you, something out there is going to help you, something out there is quite reliable, dependable. In faith what you are seeing is that whatsoever you consider as trustworthy or belief-worthy is actually just a figment of your own little assumption and creation. Now, when you see that, not only do those objects get reduced to rubble that were appearing so dependable just a moment before but also the one who was choosing to invest beliefs in them is now reduced to looking like a fool. Are you getting it?

So, there is you who is finding something quite dependable. Let’s call that something as Y and you are X. Faith is when you see that X and Y are interrelated; that not only is Y not worthy of trust, but actually X is stupid to have been trusting Y so far. So, X and Y both are gone. Both lose their position of eminence. Now Y is not something sacred and X is nobody wise. Otherwise, the usual process of trust is: Y is sacred. Y is sacred and that’s why I have so much trust in Y. And I? I am wise! Because I am wise, therefore I am confident that my trust in Y is well placed. Because I am wise, so I’m confident that as X, I am doing the right thing by trusting Y.

Faith sees that both X and Y are just dream stuff. Faith sees that it is a mansion standing on thin air, on a very weak foundation. The pillars are all made of just sand; they will collapse upon the slightest impact. That’s what faith sees.

But this must be unnerving you. You would be asking, “But then, faith leaves me with nothing to live on or live by. How do I survive?”

Well, you see, faith demolishes all that you were trusting so far, as well as the one who was trusting so far. And having demolished everything that you were clinging to for support, faith lets you see that you are still alright. Everything you considered as very-very important for your existence, for your survival, for your well-being is exposed as hollow and false and dangerous. And going by your assumptions, once this exposure happens, you should have simply succumbed, collapsed, died badly. But instead something else happens: you find that as soon as all the nonsensical stuff is gone, and as soon as the one who used to believe in nonsense is gone, not only are you not dead, but you’re actually now really alive for the first time. That’s faith.

So, faith then is to be alright without support. That’s faith. Faith is to expose the hollownesses of all your support systems. Faith is to expose the hollownesses of all your trusts and beliefs. And after that exposure you do not find yourself killed; after that exposure you find yourself born, reborn, or rejuvenated. That’s faith.

Therefore, faith is not belief, not trust, not confidence. You must’ve noticed the word that accompanied faith three times right now: ‘not’.

Faith operates in the negative.

Faith demolishes.

Faith says no.

Faith is strong because it says no to everything that seeks to give you support. If you can say no to everything that you have been using so far for support, then is it a symbol, a sign of your weakness or your strength? That’s what faith is. Faith says, “No beliefs are needed; no confidence is needed. I won’t live by knowledge. Of course, I won’t live by imaginations; I won’t live by anything. I don’t need to live by anything. I’ll keep aside everything that I have so far used to prop me up. I’ll throw away my crutches.”

That feeble voice within, that voice of the feeble one within keeps nervously warning you: “No, no, no, please don’t throw away the crutches! You need them! If you throw them away, then you’ll collapse!”

Faith is to not to listen to that voice. Faith is to say: No. I’ll be alright!

“Why will you be alright? I have proofs that you can’t be alright without your support systems!”

No, I’ll be alright.

“How will you be alright?”

That I do not know. That I don’t bother to know. I’ll just be alright.

“You will just be alright? That’s stupid!”

Then let that be. I don’t care. If that’s stupid… (shrugs)

Are you getting it?

So, you don’t need to have faith in the Lord. Rather, you need to have disbelief and distrust in yourself. That’s faith. Faith is to negate all beliefs and all trust. Faith is to be open to life. Belief and trust surround you, ostensibly secure you, shield you. But what they actually do is that they cage you against life.

Faith is to be open, available, vulnerable.

Faith is not to receive any wounds.

Faith is not that you will not receive any wounds; faith is not to never fail, but faith is that solid realization within that even if you will fail, you’ll be alright. The faithful does not say that “my lord will not allow bad times to come to me; my lord will not allow bad things to happen to me.” The faithful one says, “Let bad things happen to me. I’m alright.” And therefore, the faithful one obviously cannot live attached or identified with stuff that is prone to destruction. If you are living attached and identified with destructible and temporal stuff, then you will not be able to say that you’ll be alright irrespective of what strikes you. Are you getting it?

Please get this clear.

If you are praying to the Lord: “Oh Lord! Let good things happen to me! Let only good things happen to me! Please ward off all the bad things!” then you’re not faithful. The faithful one says, “Come what may. I’m ok sir. Come what may.” And bad things happen to everybody. It’s just that when bad things happen to a faithless person, bad things have a bad impact on him. When these bad things happen to a faithful person, the badness does not enter him. Bad things are happening—he’s still alright. Everything that can be called ‘bad’ is happening on the periphery. All the destruction, all the robbery, all the loss, suffering, defeat—all that is happening in another dimension, in the dimension of mortality, morbidity. In that dimension, losses are there, deaths are there, the disease is there, suffering is there. All that keeps happening there and that cannot be avoided. All that is happening to the body-mind complex and it is inevitable.

But, the faithful one remains distant. This game of happiness and sadness keeps happening. There is a disease, there is recovery, there is a disease, there is death, there is victory, there is defeat, there are profits, there are losses.

Losses do not touch the faithful one because profits do not mean much to him. No defeat will ever shatter him because no victory is too important for him.

That’s the faithful one. He’s alright under all conditions. He’s unconditionally alright—that’s faith. He denies all conditions in that sense.

Faith is negative.

Faith denies.

Faith denies the impact of all conditionality.

Conditions by definition change. The faithful one lives changelessly.

That’s what is meant by living in Krishna; to live in the unchangeable One.

It’s beautiful isn’t it? To be so absolutely secured. That’s Faith.

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