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Faith and Sraddha


We all think we have faith until we don't.


Imagine living in a world where you only believe what you see. When the sun is out you feel happy and peaceful and you know that you will be safe, but the second the sun goes away you panic because you believe it will never be back. Or a storm? Imagine a thunderous storm comes upon you and the earth literally shakes beneath you and the world looks as if it is about to end, all gloom and doom. What a terrifying way to live.


It is easy to forget at times with storms, or on any given day understand that the sun has never left us, nor will it ever. The sun is always in the sky, regardless if it is cloudy, stormy, or even if it is nighttime the sun is always in the sky regardless if we see it or not, regardless if we do not understand what the sun is, regardless if we think it is God itself and we worship it by taking the lives of other beings to please the Sun God. Regardless of what we believe, what we see, or what we know or do not know, the Sun is always there, it has never left us, it never will.


This to me is faith, knowing and not forgetting that storms bring rain and rain brings life and all is as it should be.


Faith is not a passing fancy and is only there when the sun is shining. Faith is to stand in your space and truth while all the walls and ceilings are tumbling down and still knowing you will be fine and all is happening to bring a greater outcome to you beyond your expectations.


Faith is the opposite of fear?

Both are illusions! One is just an easier illusion than the other.

This may confuse and possibly upset some of you but I would like to expound on this concept more.


Everything we fear has already happened or will never happen.

Everything we have faith in has already happened or will never happen.

They are the same, but both will change how we spend our time and our day, what our thoughts, dreams, nightmares, and desires are but still, they are all illusions. You must realize that the choice between filling our minds with fear or faith is indeed your choice.


Stories


We all have our own story to tell, perhaps a story of collapsing to our knees, exhausted and in despair, eventually picking ourselves up from wherever we’ve fallen in order to keep going. What is it that makes us capable of persevering through pain and adversity? The easy answer is faith. But what is faith? Sraddha? What is sraddha and how does it really work? Because faith is compared more to the issues of the heart than to common sense, it’s something we can feel but not necessarily define with absolute certainty. We tend to think of faith as something we have or we don’t, as in having faith in God or the Universe, or in a worldly sense, as having faith in humanity or a specific mission. Yoga perhaps offers another perspective, one that links faith to personal practice.


The difference from what is probable to what is possible is life-changing.


What Does Sraddha Mean?


The Sanskrit word sraddha translates to faith or trust. But the deeper meaning of this word is more interesting, B.K.S. Iyengar describes sraddha as “mental and intellectual firmness, which fosters an innate trust”. Vyasa, an original commentator on the Yoga Sūtras, interprets sraddha as “clarity of mind that sustains us as we move along with our yoga practice. When the mind is clear, truth reveals itself; With untainted vision, we can see the way forward and trust it”.


Faith in Yogic Practice


Faith is something many of us long for, and it’s also something we need – a deep trust in our purpose, to attain mental clarity and fortitude. Faith is, without question, a necessary component of yogic philosophy. It’s our sustenance, our spiritual nourishment. But faith is also a practice in and of itself. It’s a quality of being that need not be left up to chance, but rather is something we can cultivate. Just as any type of personal growth stems from effort rather than luck alone, we can develop a relationship with faith wherein it becomes a reliable and vibrant force in our lives. I know this will be hard to accept, but the practice of meditation will bring you into many areas where you will experience things that you will need faith to believe in them.


Whether it’s faith in the potential for personal transformation, faith in humanity, or faith in the goal of equity and justice for all, it starts with quieting our minds. Faith is not a straightforward process, and that’s because focusing the mind and removing obstacles, like ignorance and attachment, are not easy. “Our minds are wild and turbulent like the wind, and therefore nearly impossible to control”, as Arjuna explains in the Bhagavad Gītā 6.34. But, Lord Krishna replies in 6.35, “It is possible to control the mind, however obstinate it might be, through practice and detachment”. Yet, try as we might, “sometimes the mind is steady and focused, revealing our true nature, and at other times we identify with our fluctuating thoughts” (See Yoga Sūtras 1.3 and 1.4).

Our Practices


As we work to transform ourselves and better the world around us, it’s normal and necessary to fall down from time to time, whether from doubt and despair, humility, or just exhaustion. Understand that each moment is an opportunity to examine ourselves, to try again, and to make real change happen. If we give it the time faith will lead us somewhere special, towards authenticity, deeper empathy, and compassion, so we truly become caretakers of each other. If we work to still our minds, truth will arise and reveal the next right steps.


We can’t force faith upon ourselves through any type of logical thinking, but we can allow it to expand within us by creating the necessary conditions to reveal our inner selves as holy places where truth does exist. In times of great despair and hardship, it may feel like we’re dragging ourselves across the floor, hoping for just a shred of strength to peel ourselves up. In those moments, practice faith like medicine. Be still and listen, we must know truth in order to persevere. We must seek out that divine wisdom, adjust our course accordingly, and then allow that steady breath to fill our sails. It will lead us to where we need to go.


Hari Om Tat Sat


Berta

Sources

Iyengar, B.K.S., translator. Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali

Bryant, Edwin F., translator. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.

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