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What is Faith? Faith in Hinduism

prasad1

Well-known member
Faith is what you believe in with conviction. Trust, confidence, belief, assumptions, expectations and inferences are aspects of faith only. The word faith is derived from the Latin “fides,” which means faith. In medieval Europe, faith became synonymous with religion or religious faith. Reason may sustain faith, but going by the definition, true faith depends upon neither proof nor reason but belief in something to be true. True faith is self-existing. It is sustained by itself either by intuition or belief, but rarely by an external proof.

In the Western world, faith has long been traditionally identified with religion. However, faith does not necessarily mean religion only. Religious faith is just one aspect of it. You can have faith in any number of things, which may be religious or secular, or internal or external. Having faith in yourself is more important than having faith in any religion. For your peace of mind and healthy self-esteem, you should have faith in your abilities, actions, methods, relationships and way of life.

Faith according to Hinduism

Faith has a great significance in Hindu devotional theism. In Sanskrit faith is known as sraddha or viswas. The theistic schools of Hinduism are faith based, in which devotion and faith (bhakti and shraddah) are central to spiritual practice. Faith in God, faith in the scriptures, faith in the teacher, faith in the path, faith in dharma, faith in the possibilities of liberation, faith in the inviolable laws of God, these are a few explicit forms of faith, which are emphasized in the scriptures of Hinduism as the highest virtues. Since God is invisible and unknowable to the senses, and since he cannot be verified by rational means, tradition suggests that the Vedas should be used to sustain faith, holding them as the reliable sources of verbal testimony to establish metaphysical truths about him and his eternal laws. Since they cannot rationally or empirically be established we have to rely upon faith and the knowledge of the scriptures to practice dharma and strive for liberation. While reason belongs to the mind, faith belongs to the heart. Hence, intuition is regarded as a corollary of faith. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (3.29.1) declares that the resting ground of faith is the heart.

In Hinduism, faith (shraddah) is used in a very broad sense. It not only means belief but also interest, dedication and application. They are interrelated. For example, you cannot be interested in any goal unless you believe in its possibility. You cannot dedicate yourself to a cause or to a path, unless you know in your heart, or believe, that it is good for you or lead you in the right direction. None of it would be possible, unless you have faith in yourself.
You should have faith (shraddah) not only to practice your religion or achieve liberation but also to gain mastery in any endeavor. A student should study with faith, a teacher should teach with faith, and a devotee should worship God with faith. If you are faithful to the gods and nourish them with faith, they will serve you with faith and strengthen your faith in them. In all these, faith is propelled by both conviction and dedication.

Faith according to Hinduism is the sum of your worldview, your values and convictions. It encompasses the whole spectrum of your thought since much of what you know is what you believe to be worth remembering and paying attention to. From faith arises trust, devotion, loyalty, commitment, dedication and assurance. Faith may arise from simple observation, facts, inference, intuition, assurance, experience, commonsense or a simple belief. Faith is difficult to sustain because the world is an appearance, and we are subject to delusion and ignorance.

The Bhagavadgita affirms that those who worship God with faith, who contemplate upon him and establish their minds in him are dearer to him, and they will be speedily rescued from the cycle of births and deaths. People who have faith in God and believe in his greatness are not deluded by his forms or appearances. They readily recognize him even when he manifests in mortal form, but the ignorant ones who lack faith cannot perceive him. They mistake him for an ordinary being and ignore his teachings. It is faith which sustains your devotion, and by devotion only you achieve union or oneness with God. Faith, thus, is at the heart of Hindu devotional practices.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
Although we are rational people, in many matters concerning our lives we rely upon faith or our beliefs rather than reason. Since we cannot discern everything and cannot always ascertain truth, we have no option but to rely upon faith to make sense of the world. Whether we know it or not, many of our conclusions and opinions about people, relationships, events, situations, and the world in general are derived from our faith or beliefs rather than facts. Since they are shaped by faith, many times it becomes difficult to resolve our problems or settle our differences with the help of reason. Faith also played a significant role in shaping our civilization. On the positive side, it led to many inventions and discoveries, but on the negative side it led to many wars and large scale destruction.

The crisis of faith
At some point or other, we all experience crises of faith. We may experience doubts about ourselves or others. We may doubt our methods, relationships, the integrity of people, the paths we have chosen or the world in which live. When something which we expected to happen did not happen, we may lose faith in God also or in the scriptures.

Many disciples lose faith in their spiritual masters, and some end up as their bitter critics. When spiritual teachers of great repute are caught in public scandals, it breaks the hearts of many. Faith sustains hope and keeps people going against odds. When it is shaken, people feel devastated and betrayed. Their reaction may range from mild to extreme, depending upon how important it is to them. Some people may even commit suicide or fall into severe depression from which they may not easily recover.

The world also often suffers from crises of faith. When people lose faith in their leaders or their governments or their political system it leads to social upheavals, mass protests, civil commotion, internal wars, and violent revolutions. When they lose faith in their religions or spiritual beliefs, it impacts their lifestyle choices, values and morals, marital relationships, social and religious issues and political affiliations. When people lose faith, they lose hope. When they lose hope, they become irrational and emotional, which in turn lead to other consequences. Whatever faith builds and sustains in you becomes destroyed when your faith is lost. It is like a part of you is destroyed forever.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
Perversion of faith
Faith itself is illogical or irrational because we cannot substantiate our beliefs with either proof or logic. Some aspects of faith can never be proved right or wrong, but some can be established with the help of reason or fact.

1. Irrational beliefs
People hold many irrational beliefs, which can be proven false or which can be disputed beyond doubt with the help of reason or facts. For example, if you believe that you are unappreciated, someone dislikes you or you do not deserve a good life because of your past actions, you can subject them to reality check to know whether they are true or irrational. By disputing the irrational beliefs which you hold against yourself, you can often find great psychological relief.

2. Learned beliefs
Secondly, our religious beliefs are drawn mostly from the scriptures, which we follow. We may also learn them from our parents, elders, authority figures or social influences and blindly accept them without questioning their justification. When they become part of your belief system, they may directly or indirectly affect your thinking and behavior.

3. Deluded beliefs
Thirdly, since there are no well-defined boundaries or principles to know what one can or cannot believe, people may often fall into the trap of self-destructive and perverted beliefs due to the influence of others or circumstances. When such beliefs have no basis in reality or have no correlation with acceptable behavior or established norms, it may lead to delusion, prejudice, superstition, obscurantism and many such negative consequences. Such problems of faith should be resolved by grounding yourself in reality and subjecting your beliefs to careful scrutiny.

4. Assumptions
Lastly, a part of your behavior stems from false assumptions and expectations, which are but aspect of your faith. If you understand them and identify them, you can improve yourself or change whatever that is necessary to be a better person. Many times your decisions are based upon assumptions. Even when you examine all the facts and do the necessary fact checking, still they can be underlying beliefs and assumptions hidden in your decisions and plans. Therefore, it is always good to check and recheck your decisions to minimize risks and unforeseen problems.

 

prasad1

Well-known member
Putting your faith in order
Your faith is the sum of your beliefs. They carry so much importance in your life because they are the decisions, or the conclusions, which you draw from your life's experience. If you think you or someone else is good or bad, friendly or unfriendly, it is a kind of belief only. Your opinions about yourself and others are mostly beliefs based upon your thinking, learning and values. Therefore, it is necessary to examine your beliefs and make sure that they help you rather than hurt you. As you understand your beliefs, you learn to think with greater clarity and purpose. In this regard, the following suggestions are worth remembering.
  1. Examine how faith influences your thinking, behavior and worldviews.
  2. Identify your major beliefs which form part of your worldview and religious faith.
  3. Find out why you prefer certain things and situations in your life and avoid others.
  4. Wherever possible, dispute your irrational beliefs which prevent you from being yourself or manifesting your full potential.
  5. Examine whether you have any beliefs which are responsible for self-sabotaging behavior.
  6. Know what beliefs motivate you and keep you focused and what beliefs hold you back.
 

mraghavan

Member
Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja suggests faith - Bhakthi - as the highest form of knowledge. It is an awareness of the Supreme Being Present everywhere and in every thing which leads us to see all operating by His Grace. In turn, we feel attachment towards Him and trust in Him.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
Bhagavad Sri Ramanuja suggests faith - Bhakthi - as the highest form of knowledge. It is an awareness of the Supreme Being Present everywhere and in every thing which leads us to see all operating by His Grace. In turn, we feel attachment towards Him and trust in Him.
I have no argument with the definition you quoted, but that is the ideal and high philosophy. That is not practical to be followed in mundane day to day living.

We are talking about an average person's day to day faith, and you are talking about a philosophy. There is a difference. If we really believed in what Sri Ramanuja said, then there would be no conflicts, no election needed. But that is not reality.
"Your faith is the sum of your beliefs." If you believe in Modiji's saying you vote for him, if you do not have faith in Modiji you vote for the opposition.
There is a place for philosophy as an ideal, but in practice it is different.
 
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mraghavan

Member
I am trying to understand what you are suggesting in your response. I thought we were talking "Faith in Hinduism ", not faith in Modi. Living faith with spiritual awareness should be a day to day thing.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
I am trying to understand what you are suggesting in your response. I thought we were talking "Faith in Hinduism ", not faith in Modi. Living faith with spiritual awareness should be a day to day thing.
Did you read my post specifically #3, which is what goes around for Hinduism as it is practiced?
I did not bring Politics in this thread.
 

mraghavan

Member
This could be my lack of understanding. Having grown up in the USA, I do not see faith as being so individualistic. Faith to me is a subscription to an idea, and trust that this concept is true. God is There to care for us - this is faith.
 

prasad1

Well-known member
mraghavanji,
I am also in the USA.
You are at a much higher level, so you are seeing the entire universe, at lower altitude you see the pollution.


Reposting from post#2

When people lose faith, they lose hope. When they lose hope, they become irrational and emotional, which in turn lead to other consequences. Whatever faith builds and sustains in you becomes destroyed when your faith is lost. It is like a part of you is destroyed forever.

Reposting from Post#3

1. Irrational beliefs

People hold many irrational beliefs, which can be proven false or which can be disputed beyond doubt with the help of reason or facts. For example, if you believe that you are unappreciated, someone dislikes you or you do not deserve a good life because of your past actions, you can subject them to reality check to know whether they are true or irrational. By disputing the irrational beliefs which you hold against yourself, you can often find great psychological relief.

4. Assumptions
Lastly, a part of your behavior stems from false assumptions and expectations, which are but aspect of your faith. If you understand them and identify them, you can improve yourself or change whatever that is necessary to be a better person. Many times your decisions are based upon assumptions. Even when you examine all the facts and do the necessary fact checking, still they can be underlying beliefs and assumptions hidden in your decisions and plans. Therefore, it is always good to check and recheck your decisions to minimize risks and unforeseen problems.
 

mraghavan

Member
I'm not sure about what level I am. But, I am certain the pollution we see is a product of our own false ego.
 

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