Faith is not something static. Though it is a fairly stable condition of our inner being, it does go through changes. We live and grow in tandem with the dynamics of our faith. But when we are guided by the varying modes of energy and changing states of mind that nature sets in action within us, our faith too is affected and thus doesn't wield the power of which it is capable. But as we begin to connect with a self and consciousness larger than our egoic self and work for a higher ideal, a larger good, a different mode of intense, intuitive faith sets in operation. This type of faith is knowing, creative, empathetic, decisive and determinative, unifying and synthesising.
As we enter the Gita we feel that the very frame of mind and meaning in which the dialogue takes place and unfolds is embedded in faith. This is not an uncommon setting. In moments of utter crisis when we are not able to find a way out we approach someone in whom we can repose faith. In such moments a different mode of energy is set in action. Its movement is more inward and intuitive rather than outward and analytical.
"[I]f the centre of faith lies totally outward, howsoever powerful it may be, it proves inadequate. "
Caught in battle opposite his own kith and kin, the very nature of the crisis and conflict is subjective for Arjuna and compels self-exploration. As he has a "friend, philosopher and guide" close at hand to illumine him he seeks his guidance. All guidance that follows roots him in an even deeper subjective and intuitive mode of mind and consciousness. He is shown the way to explore the nature of his inner self. He is guided on how to connect his intelligence to this inner self. His whole instrumental self is trained to work in deep union with his inner self.
Arjuna has faith in Krishna as a friend to whom he can open out his heart, as a true guide who can show him the real way out of his crisis, and as a spiritual master and authority who can help him realise the true import of his self, situation and surroundings. But if the centre of faith lies totally outward, howsoever powerful it may be, it proves inadequate. As the dialogue goes in the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is first shown the way to realise his true self beyond the facade of his immediate outward crisis. Through Arjuna and his critical situation a message gets across to all humanity:
● All our conflicts and crises lie between the egoic centre within and the periphery to which it extends.
● There is a true self deeper than this egoic centre which is the real source of not only true solace and true strength but also to true solution.
● This true self equips us with a real firmament of faith.
● From this true self flows real empathy as well as all knowing and knowledge.
Thus faith is not incompatible with the urge to know or even argue or reason out reality. It is one of the essential conditions to gain access to higher knowledge. But its grain goes against the sandy stuff of scepticism (which it tends to become when one is lost in it). As the Gita puts it:
"The man of faith gets knowledge." (IV39)
"The man without faith and full of doubt perishes." (IV40)
This does not mean doubt is only useless and destructive. If it is conscious, well-meaning and well-directed, it is most useful and productive. Acting under the dominance of a positive mode of energy, it leads to positive argumentation and reasoning giving rise to systematic and methodical knowledge which we call science.
When its flow and force is directed inward, focused upon the self, it leads to self-investigation giving rise to self-knowledge and self-realisation. This is the state where all doubt is destroyed, knowledge and action become one, and true leadership is born.
As Arjuna gains access to the true self within he gains the correct perspective over his outward situation. Now he can connect with the outward source of light and knowledge better as he has discovered a source of light and knowledge within.
"Arjuna grows and gains greater strength as he is able to access higher dimensions of reality which are connecting and compassionate, evolving and elevating, illumining and integrating."
Before gaining access to this real source of faith and freedom, all our actions and faith are susceptible to nature's varying modes of energy in us which hold us under their sway. In accordance with the dominant mode of energy in us our faith is characterised by goodness, or passion or darkness. Thus faith is not a static state of our mind and consciousness -- it grows and evolves. Our faith gains real transformative power as it acquires universal and transcendental dimensions. Thus Arjuna grows and gains greater strength as he is able to access higher dimensions of reality which are connecting and compassionate, evolving and elevating, illumining and integrating.
More lessons come our way as we voyage through the oceanic waves of this divine melody:
● Real faith doesn't harden us. Rather it helps us empathise better as it enables us to know and connect better.
● Real faith empowers us as it helps us realise our deepest potential.
● In its purest form it is our "will to be and grow" to the best of our potential.
Thus faith has the power to recreate and remould us as we connect with the higher reality and let it act upon our essential nature. As we reach the heart of the Gita's teachings its words equip us with a real transformative power:
"In accord with the essential nature of every man
Is his faith, son of Bharat.
Man here is made up of faith;
As a man's faith is, just so is he." (XVII3)