Our knowledge about God and His attributes are intellectual. God is an enigma for us because nobody has seen God. You have read and heard about God, but you have not seen Him. To experience God, along with knowledge, faith is essential.
When you accept something and do not try to reason it, that is faith. For example, you do not question whether your mother is really your mother. Even though nobody has confirmed it to you, you believe that she is your mother. Nobody has presented proof about your father either, yet you accept that he is your father. This is faith.
Faith and belief are integral parts of our nature. They are a part of our personality. Just as there is prana, life force, in you, faith and belief are also within you. If you have been born in this world, you dont have to learn these things from me or anybody else. The texts cannot teach faith. It is inherent in you just as the ability to see, hear and speak is inherent in you. All these powers are gifts of nature. The problem is that we have read too many books and learnt many things from different sources. You may strengthen your spiritual faith through satsang and study, but a day will come when you will have to tread the path without their help. Reason and intellect will help you in your initial journey, but thereafter you will have to transcend them.
When one is innocent like a child, faith is innocent too. But most of us are not innocent. We think like an aged and learned person. We have developed pride; we are obsessed about our own personality. This happens with everybody and it is an obstacle on the spiritual path. To understand oneself as something is pride. I belong to a rich household; I have a lot of money; I am beautiful; my children are very good; my husband is very good all these things constitute pride. To consider ourselves special or great means that we are not innocent.
There are many great people who feel shy of prostrating before idols. My guru was a Vedantin; he was highly educated and respected by all monks and saints. Every morning he would worship Lord Krishna and prostrate flat before the idol. I had studied Vedanta, I did not understand why he needed to do this. He read my mind, and told me, It is not important to prostrate before the image; the important point is to bend ones pride before others. A sannyasin or aspirant should be free from pride.
Our saints and seers have written many stories to remove pride. These stories awaken faith in us. Sometimes this faith becomes very strong and then miracles take place. In faith and belief lies the power of miracle. Sometimes the faith is weak and nothing happens. A half-hearted attitude does not work with faith. It should be sound or not at all. A tremulous faith will not work. Tulsidas begins the Ramacharitamanas with the words:
Bhavaanee Shankarau vande shraddhaa vishvaasa roopinau.
Yaabhyaam vinaa na pashyanti siddha svantahsthameeshwaram.
I pray to Bhavani and Shankar who are the embodiments of faith and belief, without which even the adepts cannot see God hidden within themselves.
Here the reference is to siddhas, not to sadhakas or aspirants. Even siddhas, perfected beings, cannot see God hidden within themselves without faith and belief. Faith and belief always help you flow with life, whereas intellect always entangles.
The western civilization is intellect oriented. Those who are influenced by western thought focus on acquiring knowledge and information. They are able to explain everything and even write voluminous books, but they lack the experience. The eastern civilization is faith oriented. This is why saints, seers and high souled persons have always been born in this part of the world. Christ was not from the West. He did not belong to Europe. Lord Buddha was not a Chinese. These high souled persons rekindled peoples faith by narrating inspiring stories whether of Satyanarayan, Hanuman, Gayatri or other Puranic tales. The effect was like a dying person being injected with new life.
You need to generate faith and belief in the mind and then express them towards the Supreme Being. You have not seen Him, but somebody has seen Him. Not everybody can see the atom bomb, but everybody has to believe in its existence. Not everyone has gone to the moon, but we have to believe that someone went there. Therefore, the purpose of tales and stories is to awaken faith and belief, which belong to the innermost dimension of our being. If awakened, they do wonders. One attains infinite bliss.
To walk the spiritual path, look upon your life as duty. Use your intellect to look after your family, household and profession. You have to manage all these, so do this through the intellect. It does not make any difference if you take a keen interest in earning money. But remember one thing: when you tread the path that leads to God, you have to go with the heart of a small child. Dont go there as a learned person or scholar. On this path, everybody is a child. Therefore it is said, Be like a child.
When Hanuman had the first darshan of Sri Rama and Lakshmana near the Rishyamook Parvat, he could not recognize them. He had come to find out who they were in the garb of a Brahmin. He was applying his mind and asked them, Who are you two handsome beings? You are moving in the forest barefoot. It seems you belong to an elite household. Rama replied, We are the sons of Kaushalya and Dasharatha. I have lost my wife in the forest. We are searching for her. Knowledge immediately dawned upon Hanuman, Oh, it is actually them! This means that as long as the intellect is operating, you cannot find God. Leave aside God; even when it comes to your relationship with a loved one, you cannot take a correct decision through the intellect. You can understand them only through the heart. It is the same with your relationship with God.
Doubts arose in the mind of Sati, Shivas consort, about Sri Rama. She started applying the intellect. If he is God, why is he running after his wife? If Sita is lost, why is there a problem?
If you act in a play in which your husband is killed, you cry but you are not in the grip of sorrow. You express sorrow but there is no sorrow within you. The same thing came to Satis mind. If it is a drama, why is he crying? Why is he so sad? He is God. He knows who has taken away Sita and where. Doubts arose in her mind because her questions were based on the intellect even though Shiva had told her that Rama was his ishta deva. The rest of the story is well-known.
Sati was reborn as Parvati and was married to Shiva. And the first thing she said to him was, O Lord! In my previous life, I had expressed doubts on your statement. Now my mind is clear and free from all doubts. It is my firm faith that Rama is immortal and the in-dweller. Now I have no doubts at all. Therefore, please tell me his story. Shiva speaks only one sentence:
Sakalaloka jagapaavani Ganga!
Poochehu Raghupati kathaa prasangaa!
Are you asking for the story of Sri Raghupati, which is as purifying as the Ganga?
He says, Now I will tell you that story because you have become free from doubt. You are not questioning the divinity of Rama. In your previous life, you had doubt; and that harmed you as well as me. You burnt yourself in Dakshas yajna and I became lonesome. That will not happen any more. Therefore, Shiva and Parvati are regarded as symbols of faith and belief.