Blind faith is belief in a thing or person without any reasoning or basis.Unquestioned allegiance can be dangerous. Faith, on the other hand, is based on logic and rational thinking. You can approach a doctor just because your neighbour says he is good.Or you may accept the neighbour’s recommendation but do a background check before going to him. Having decided to entrust your health to him you do not question his bona fides at every step. However, you question him if you do not understand or agree with him.
Your adherence to the treatment regimen depends on the extent to which you are convinced that he is right.Thereafter you follow your conviction.
You must first survey the spiritual field and look at the options available in terms of the approach, the guru and methods prescribed. See if it suits your personality.There are three broad paths in the spiritual field — the path of knowledge, path of devotion and path of action.Most gurus emphasise one of the three. If you are a predominantly intellectual person and the path prescribed is that of devotion there is a mismatch and it will not help you.It is like going to a cardiologist with a fractured leg. So make sure the path suits your personality type.
The Bhagwad Gita gives three qualifications of a good student — pranipata, surrender; prasna, questioning; and seva, service.The starting point should be surrender or faith,an acknowledgement of your willingness to submit to the teachings of the guru.This must be followed by questioning.An active and alert intellect understands what the guru is recommending, reflects over it and questions where he fails to comprehend. Having learnt and grown with the help of the teachings, the student expresses his gratitude by way of service. He works in a spirit of sacrifice to promote the cause that is dear to the guru.A judicious blend of these three qualities helps the student progress towards the goal of spiritual enlightenment. In recent times,‘faith’has been misinterpreted as blind belief in a person or as some kind of concept, without understanding it.Truth is sacrificed at the altar of this so-called faith.Religion has been reduced to a pale shadow of its glory and magnificence.This neither helps the student nor does it add value to the teacher. A human being differs from other species because of the intellect.
If the intellect is not used or remains undeveloped, there can be no significant development of the person. The Bhagwad Gita emphasises the importance of the intellect and prescribes ways of developing it to attain excellence in the world as well as perfection in the realm beyond. Any course that does not help develop the intellect leads to regression, not development.
A wise teacher not only encourages questions but revels in being challenged. Only one who is not knowledgeable or is diffident, feels insecure when questioned and insists on blind adherence to his diktat. This does not mean that every action must be scrutinised before you develop faith.There will always be grey areas where you may not have sufficient data or the other person is at a higher plane. If you have faith in the goodness of your parents, you may not have subjected their actions to rigorous scientific testing. But your faith is based on your experience, which overwhelmingly endorses their good intentions over many years. Similarly, a true guru has evolved to a deeper understanding of life.You may not understand everything about him. But you can relate to his teachings and verify them in your own life.This leads to faith. Faith gives peace of mind. In an environment of trust,you gain more knowledge. More knowledge leads to more faith. Thus,you progress to the ultimate goal of enlightenment.