Investment of faith is a natural part of our psychology, and in cultured societies it grows organically. Unfortunately, regular exploitation and abuse of faith has promoted scepticism and suspicion as the orders of the day. Faith, they say, is for the weak and unintelligent. To live by your own judgement and discrimination is seen as rational and progressive. Yet even that’s a farce, since everyone, regardless of their ontological standpoint, is impelled to put faith in something. When you fly across the world, you put faith in the pilot. When you pursue academic education, you put faith in an institution. When you navigate to a destination, you put faith in the GPS. Without faith, nobody can live. Without faith, we’re rendered entirely dysfunctional.
In Chapter Seventeen, Krishna explains the divisions of faith. According to our mentality, we develop a certain type of faith. That faith moulds our lifestyle and endeavours, which thus determines the knowledge and experience we gain. Krishna invites Arjuna to develop a high-quality faith which will yield him a transcendental experience. Faith can bring one face-to-face with God. How do we develop that faith and conviction? Are we required to begin with blind acceptance?
Someone could propose that the true path to inner peace is to walk into your closest multi-storey car park and smash the windscreen of every blue vehicle while simultaneously screaming at the top of your voice! You could potentially do it, but I doubt anyone would. Aside from the small issue of criminal arrest, is the lack of any logical evidence to believe it’s true.
While there are many options and choices in life, there is also an inbuilt screening process which filters out the nonsense. Amongst the many options in life, psychologists have explained that only ‘live options’ be taken seriously. A live option is practical – one can easily do it without any harmful consequence or drastic change to their life. A live option is beneficial – there is intrinsic value in it which makes logical sense. A live option is probable – many people have practically experienced the benefit of choosing it. If something is practical, beneficial and probable, it’s obviously in our self-interest to seriously consider it. To whimsically reject such live options would be irrational, unintelligent and unjustifiable.
The proposition of the Bhagavad-Gita is incredibly practical. It doesn’t require massive lifestyle changes, but simple additions of yoga and meditation into one’s daily routine. There are huge benefits on a physical, emotional and spiritual level that make logical sense and are directly perceivable. Further, millions of people testify to the profundity of the Bhagavad-Gita, and gain immense spiritual wisdom, insight and inner peace from its teachings. While being cautious to avoid blind following, it would be just as absurd to blindly doubt something. To categorically dismiss the option, without any significant investigation, suggests a stubborn, irrational and illogical predisposition towards a certain worldview. How can one reject such ‘live options’ without thorough investigation, and simultaneously claim to be ‘scientific’ and free from subjective superstition?
“Anything done as sacrifice, charity or penance without faith in the Supreme, O son of Prtha, is impermanent. It is called asat and is useless both in this life and the next.” (Bhagavad-Gita 17.28)