Monday, December 29, 2008

The Reward of Faith

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thous mayest understand."- St. Augustine

Faith is something that must be put to the test, that must become an active part of our lives, applied to all the various facets of the undertakings of our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls.

Our faith must become realized and alive in such a way that it doesn't become an abstract, reaching "belief" that can be easily shot down by the likes of such modern-day "pundits" as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

Why did Srila Prabhupada constantly describe the process of Krsna Consciousness as the "science of God" and "the science of self-realization"? Anyone with a fourth-grade education can tell you with some gusto that science and faith are mutually exclusive, so if we are practicing a scientific process of self-realization, then what is the role of faith?

Quite simply, we can understand, or try to understand, that so much of the spiritual realm beyond this material shell is incomprehensible to our mild minds and shattered senses. But we must have the faith in the descriptions of the realized acaryas that this is actually what the spiritual world is like, that this is what Krsna looks like and this is what He does.

At the same time, our process of bhakti-yoga is active and verifiable in its results in a way that can be observed by the scientific method.

By chanting the maha-mantra reguarly, by following the four regulative principles, by preaching widely and consistently, by reading Prabhupada's books, etc, we get the results that are advertised. Our lives and our existences become absorbed in the flows of auspiciousness, as mentioned in the opening verses of the 16th Chapter of the Gita. We actually become brahmanas!

This is a great point for preaching. The faith we hold, essential for any aspiring spiritualist, needs a process, a daily practice, to become mature and realized. The sankirtana process and the society of devotees with Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya as the guiding lights provide, when practiced humbly and properly, the best and most scientifically verifiable method of self-realization available today.

Prabhupada writes in his purport to S.B 3.15.33: If the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, putting faith in Kṛṣṇa as the center, live in harmony according to the order and principles of Bhagavad-gītā, then they are living in Vaikuṇṭha, not in this material world.

It's a powerful statement, something which we have to yet to fulfill on a large scale within ISKCON. The important part is living in harmony with the order and principles of the Gita. This deepens our faith with Krsna at the center, and makes it a vibrant, ecstatic reality.

So many people want something more tangible than just the misguided and misdirected faith they are offered. Let us offer them not only the most mysterious and sublime of faiths, but also the way to see it face-to-face.

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