Imagine a capacity-filled auditorium. As the show is about to commence, the MC steps onto stage, points at a random person in the front row, and asks: “Can you tell me if Mark Naysmith is present in the audience?” The unnerved audience member is noticeably baffled and unable to reply. It seems a simple enough question, but he remains unresponsive. “Why don’t you know?” the MC challenges. Another uncomfortable silence. Innocently and nervously the audience member finally speaks out: “Even if I could see everyone here, I still couldn’t tell you, because I don’t know who Mark Naysmith is!”
Simple logic. If we don’t know who God is, how He looks, what His qualities are, how He interacts with His creation, and what attracts His attention, how can we expect to find Him? The popular argument, “First show me God and then I’ll hear and study about Him,” is inherently flawed. If we begin by hearing, studying and understanding God in depth and detail, then the prospect of finding Him becomes a distinct possibility. He may well be closer than we think, but without the necessary information, we’ll be completely oblivious to the fact.
In Chapter Seven, Krishna guides Arjuna toward a greater revelation of the Absolute Truth. It all begins with deep assimilation of spiritual knowledge. At the onset of the Gita, we witness how Arjuna is seated right beside Krishna, and yet confused. As he hears the wisdom from Krishna’s mouth, however, that confusion clears. Proximity to God, in and of itself, doesn’t guarantee spiritual revelation – it is the patient, attentive and conscientious hearing of the message of God that yields one the desired benefit. People may be ‘close’ to God by dint of cultural upbringing and family tradition, but that alone does not trigger divine experience. The process of spiritual seeing begins through the ears.
Someone once referred to me as a ‘man of faith.’ I detected the condescending tone in his speech. It was, I’m pretty sure, a subtle put-down. Faith is often frowned upon in today’s society – savvy people consider it unscientific, sentimental, primitive and a sign of weakness. Believe in what you see, they say, and take charge of fortune by shaping life on your own abilities and comprehension. It’s a psychological approach originating from reductionist science, which aims to explain everything in mechanistic, empirical and routine terms. It’s quite apt that the net result of ‘reductionism’ is to radically limit and impair our experience of life.
We can think of faith as trust – it is, without doubt, the most beautiful, extraordinary and empowering quality in existence! Without it, the world would be dull, dull, dull – life would be restricted to the tiny boundaries of our logic and rationale; pretty limited indeed. People say faith doesn’t make sense, but that’s exactly why it makes miracles. Someone believed there was something beyond the ‘normal.’ Someone knew there was a power and inspiration more profound than his own. Someone had the humility and wisdom to tap into a higher source of strength. Time and time again, we see how faith opens doors to the unknown.
Faith is the foundation of our spiritual life, and the Sanskrit word for it (sraddha) literally means ‘to put your heart into something.’ As we deepen our faith through the process of hearing spiritual knowledge, an ordinary life morphs into a transcendental encounter with God.
“Now hear, O son of Prtha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Bhagavad-Gita 7.1)
7.1 – Hearing spiritual knowledge gives one the opportunity to connect with God.
7.2 – Complete knowledge requires one to accept a descending methodology.