Q: What is the role of faith? How do we cultivate it? How necessary is it on the spiritual path?
Sadhguru: Unfortunately, people have begun to regard religion as faith. Religion is just a set of beliefs. Faith has nothing to do with belief. When you understand that you are just a brief happening, here today, gone tomorrow, when this is a living experience for you, you are in faith. A person of faith – a devotee – has no agenda in life; he just wants to dissolve. Once you have no agenda of your own, the rest is very simple. Only because you have your own agenda, you and the Divine are going in two different directions. You want to go in the opposite direction and still meet Him. Hence the challenge. If you want to go in His direction, that’s the end of the problem!
Right now for most people, faith is about making deals with the Divine: “Dear God, I will put ten thousand rupees into this project; I must get ten million rupees.” You try to make a deal like this with anyone else and he’ll dismiss you! But you think the creator is such an idiot that he will fall for such a deal. This is not devotion. This is deception.
If you look at the prayers of the world, 99% are about “give me this, give me that, protect me, save me”. This means, fundamentally, prayer is coming either out of greed or fear. This is simple, basic survival. Every creature on the planet handles its own survival, but only human beings – supposedly the most intelligent of all the species – route their survival through heaven!
If you want to survive, you have to learn to use your body and mind right. There is no other way to survive. If you are constantly looking up and praying, it may be okay as a psychological ploy, but it is not faith. Faith means you have no agenda of your own; you are willing to go along with the agenda of the Divine.
The faith that most people are talking about is loyalty. That’s for slaves and idiots. People who talk loyalty are vested interests. Faith is not a device to bind you to this group or that. It is about liberating you.
You need a very childlike, innocent mind to walk the path of faith. When Jesus said, “Come, follow me”, the educated and the powerful weren’t the ones that followed him. The fishermen, the farmers, the simple folk did. The others ignored him. Those who could not ignore him, crucified him. Faith is only for the innocent. The moment you have a logical, questioning mind, talking faith is just a waste of time.
The Right Combination
Does that mean faith is impossible today? No, that’s not what I am saying. I am only suggesting that you start with something that you have right now.
Yoga recognizes that every person has a head, a heart, a body and some energy. These are the only four realities that you know. The rest you have the choice to believe or disbelieve. If you use your intelligence to reach your ultimate nature, we call this Gnana Yoga. If you use your emotion to reach it, we call this Bhakti Yoga. If you use your physical body or action, we call this Karma Yoga. If you use your inner energies, we call this Kriya Yoga. There are four paths: the yoga of intelligence, yoga of devotion, yoga of action, and yoga of transforming energies.
Everyone is a unique combination of the head, heart, hands and energy. You need to handle all of them together. Only then you will progress. It is like driving a car. If you align your four wheels in one direction, you move ahead. Otherwise, you are in trouble.
The reason why this tradition has laid so much stress on the presence of a living master is only this: he will mix these four dimensions in a proper concoction for you. The yoga that I give to one person will not work for another. Everyone needs a unique mixture because everyone is a unique combination of these four ingredients.
There has been so much talk of faith in the world because it was taught as a means of intensifying people’s emotions. Most people do not know what it means to have an intense body or intense energies, but emotions can be intensified very easily. Once your mind is dominant however, you take control of everything that is important to you; God is just an insurance policy on the side. This kind of “faith” won’t work.
In any case, people who walk the path of faith are insane as far as society is concerned. Today, after hundreds of years, you worship the Mirabais and Ramakrishna Paramahansas of the world. That’s easy. But when they lived, people thought they were utterly crazy. If your neighbor jumps into your garden in the middle of the night, hugs your tree and cries, would you think he’s enlightened or plain mad? If your wife thinks she is married to a god, would you think she had reached divinity or that she needs psychiatric treatment? That is how it would be, living around Ramakrishna or Mirabai. Bhaktas or devotees don’t care for anything around them other than the object of their devotion. They are wonderful within themselves, but socially, they aren’t easy people.
An Unwavering Focus
Faith is essentially a tool which gives you an unwavering focus in life. An unwavering focus is the only way a human being can reach the ultimate. This makes faith a wonderful tool; it could change your life in a very fundamental way. But if it is regarded as a truth, it will only put people to sleep. Once you believe faith is the truth, it won’t change your life fundamentally; it will only make you a fundamentalist.
Incredible things could be done with faith, but unfortunately, the most disastrous things on the planet have been done in its name. This is because faith is generally understood as a belief system. So, after some time it becomes “my faith” versus “your faith”. That’s a recipe for disaster. People usually believe because they are not sincere enough to admit that they do not know. Once you destroy “I do not know”, you have destroyed all the possibilities of knowing in your life.
Drawing a line between faith and belief is important. Belief breeds hope. Faith doesn’t. Faith is pragmatic. Faith just means organizing yourself in one direction, because without being one-pointed you cannot penetrate your limitations.
Faith is not something that you do; it is something that you become. It cannot be cultivated; it can only happen. It is an inner experience, a deep falling back into existence that can propel you from one dimension to another without your having to traverse the road. It empowers you to take a big leap from here to there.
Editor’s Note: Sadhguru explores the realm of the enlightened in “Encounter the Enlightened.”