Ways Faith Grows
As we continue to explore the statement ‘faith is unflinching trust in something sublime’ we look to see how faith can grow from small moments of trust to unflinching strength. The ‘something sublime’ in Krishna bhakti refers to Krishna, the supreme Lord, whose name means the all-attractive one.
Surveys show that there are five key ways we can consciously and actively deepen our trust in Krishna. We can say that as much as Krishna provides these ways for us, it is up to us to interact with them and use them to our faith building advantage. They are found in practical teachings, individual practice, helping others, big moments in our life, and inspirational people.
When we study the bhakti teachings, the great wisdom books (sastra), we find they are most effective when they are understood in ways that inspire us to act. When we follow their suggestions, we feel a change. When Krishna says ‘just depend on Me’ and we practice doing that, we feel something. We feel his presence, help, and shelter. We feel him as our friend, looking out for us.
That’s why great teachers are important - they write and speak in ways that give us ‘aha’ moments, causing us to try something or change something, and more than anything, giving us the courage to trust that we too are worthy of loving and being loved by God. “Chant and be happy” is the invitation of the Hare Krishna mantra. Permission to be happy? Despite all the personal challenges we face or how insufficient we feel? What a generous hand Krishna holds out to us and we need to receive it and the happiness it can deliver. A great teacher can help us do that.
They also personalize the teachings. Suddenly the Bhagavad-gita becomes a real story, a real conversation between two people, one helping the other making a difficult decision. How many times have I faced difficult decisions? Maybe there is something in the book to guide me? Maybe I too need to find a wise person to have a conversation with and seek direction?
We have a singular, individual task of building trust in our relationship with Krishna, considered the most important and wonderful relationship of our life. We cannot do this alone - we need teachings and teachers, and also family, friends and community. A great teacher will help us navigate our spiritual journey in the context of our lives. When we find such teachers, hold on to them for dear life. They are Krishna’s gift to us, to help us build our small faith into a deep, sweet, unflinching trust.