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Faith, Aspiration and Self-Surrender

by Swami Sivananda

Faith is Sraddha. Faith is the greatest thing in the world. Even the highest rationality has faith as its background. One cannot ratiocinate on things in which he has no faith. Even the greatest philosopher has faith as his stronghold. No intellectualism can prove good if it is not supported by faith. The whole world stands on faith and is guided by faith. Religion has faith as its root. One cannot prove God if he has no faith in God. God is only a matter of faith. This faith is the outcome of previous Samskaras. Certain men are born-philosophers and certain others do not grasp the fundamentals of religion even at the age of seventy. This is all due to past Samskaras or impressions. Faith is guided by impressions of actions done in the previous births and the present faith is nearer or farther from the Truth in accordance with the advancement made in spiritual evolution.

Blind faith should be turned into rational faith. Faith without understanding is blind faith. Bhakti is the development of faith. Jnana is the development of Bhakti. Faith leads to Final Experience. Whatever a person strongly believes in, that he experiences, and that he becomes. The whole world is a product of faithful imagination. If you have no faith in the world the world does not exist. If you have no faith in sensual objects, they will not give you pleasure. If you have no faith in God, you never reach perfection. Wrong faith turns even existence into non-existence. "One who thinks that Brahman does not exist, himself becomes non-existent" says the Taittiriyopanishad. Faith is the fundamental necessity for spiritual Sadhana.

Aspiration is a development of faith. It is one step ahead of faith. The flame of faith burns as the conflagration of spiritual aspiration for Moksha. The aspirant yearns to have divine experience. It is no more mere faith but strong feeling which cannot be easily shaken by external events. The devotee longs to have union with the Beloved. He has no sleep, no rest. He always contemplates on how to attain the object of his love. He prays, sings, and gets mad of his Lord. Divine madness overtakes the devotee and he completely loses personality in the aspiration for attaining God. This is called self-surrender.

Self-surrender is the end of Bhakti Yoga. The self or the ego is surrendered or parted with for ever as an offering to the Lord. The devotee is lost in the consciousness of God. He has plunged into the ocean of bliss. He has taken a bath in the sea of nectar. He has drunk deep the essence of Immortality. He has become an Apta-Kama, for he has attained God, the root of the universe.

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