Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acarya (Sanskrit for “teacher by example”) of ISKCON, gives a very interesting definition of faith in his Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He says "Faith means unflinching trust in something sublime."
Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at this idea of ‘unflinching trust’ and ‘something sublime’ as they intersect with our daily lives. When we take ‘something sublime’ as God being a person (we call Him Krishna) then where does such faith come from? How do we deepen it? Why does it sometimes seem so thin?
We use faith all day long. We trust that the organic produce we buy is organic, the money in our bank account is safe, and the water we drink won’t poison us. We have unflinching trust in many things - when we finally find the ‘sublime’ (meaning supreme) watch/ phone/ car we are loyal for life. Think of the things you use and the people you trust. Until they let you down, you are in.
With things other worldly it seems a little different. For some people having faith that God exists is a tall order, and for others, having faith that we are all a bunch of chemicals that somehow or other exploded into magnificent order is a tall order. Either way you will find the line of faith.
For a Krishna bhakta, one who has taken up the practice and study of consciousness, faith is a big part of the conversation. It’s similar to following a doctor’s recommendation - if you take this and do this you will feel this - ideally better. We practice some faith in the doctor and the process. And if it doesn’t work? We go back to the doctor, talk about it, and try something else.
In bhakti-yoga the faith/ trust quest is to uncover our spiritual identity, that is - who it is that hears, speaks, and moves in this body that grows old and eventually dies. Or dies before we even grow old. There is indeed some urgency to figure out this thing called life. For us it begins with a little faith in the teachings of Krishna and the spiritual scientists and explorers who have gone before us.
In the end, unflinching trust in something sublime, means a relationship of love and trust in a power and a person much greater than us. It’s something that we have to settle in our own hearts, in honest and authentic ways. And it’s meant to satisfy our deep longing for happiness, for completeness, and for answers to the big life questions that unsettle us.
How we live our faith and move to unflinching trust will be different for each of us, and different at different times in our lives too. But there are some similarities, such as the five common catalysts that grow faith and the four key relationships in life that our trust interacts with, which we will explore over the next few weeks.