The Sunlit Path|Jul 27, 2004 9:53 AM| by:

Keeping the Faith

It is said that nothing is achieved without Faith, whether in the ordinary life or in the spiritual life.  Many great personalities in various fields have spoken about its importance and the role it has played in their lives.

It is also said that Faith is blind.  We do not generally understand the true meaning of this saying, whether Faith is truly blind or has a different type of knowledge and, most important, how we can develop it and what is the attitude we must have, especially as sadhaks and spiritual seekers.

We give here some questions which are often asked and the answers selected from the letters of Sri Aurobindo.  These words are so beautiful, revealing and full of inspiration and power they can help to kindle and strengthen our Faith.  Some words have been put in bold by us for emphasis.   

Question : What is the difference between faith, belief, conviction, reliance, trust  and confidence?

Faith — a dynamic entire belief and acceptance.
Belief — intellectual acceptance only.
Conviction — intellectual belief held on what seems to be good reasons.
Reliance — dependence on another for something, based on trust.
Trust — the feeling of sure expectation of another’s help and reliance on his word, character, etc.
Confidence — the sense of security that goes with trust.

Faith is a feeling in the whole being, belief is mental, confidence means trust in a person or in the Divine or a feeling of surety about the result of one’s seeking or endeavour.

Question : Are there various types of faith?  What is the difference between mental, vital, physical and psychic faiths? 

Mental faith combats doubt and helps to open to the true knowledge; vital faith prevents the attacks of the hostile forces or defeats them and helps to open to the true spiritual will and action; physical faith keeps one firm through all physical obscurity, inertia or suffering and helps to open to the foundation of the true consciousness; psychic faith opens to the direct touch of the Divine and helps to bring union and surrender.


Mental faith is very helpful, but it is a thing that can always be temporarily shaken or quite clouded—until the higher consciousness and experience get fixed for good. What endures even if concealed is the inner being’s aspiration or need for something higher which is the soul’s faith. That too may be concealed for a time but it reasserts itself—it undergoes eclipse but not extinction.

Question : Is faith “blind”?  What is the nature of the faith that each spiritual seeker must have in himself herself?

The phrase [“blind faith”] has no real meaning. I suppose they mean they will not believe without proof—but the conclusion formed after proof is not faith, it is knowledge or it is a mental opinion. Faith is something which one has before proof or knowledge and it helps you to arrive at knowledge or experience. There is no proof that God exists, but if I have faith in God, then I can arrive at the experience of the Divine.


Faith does not depend upon experience; it is something that is there before experience. When one starts the yoga, it is not usually on the strength of experience, but on the strength of faith. It is so not only in yoga and the spiritual life, but in ordinary life also. All men of action, discoverers, inventors, creators of knowledge proceed by faith and, until the proof is made or the thing done, they go on in spite of disappointment, failure, disproof, denial because of something in them that tells them that this is the truth, the thing that must be followed and done. Ramakrishna even went so far as to say, when asked whether blind faith was not wrong, that blind faith was the only kind to have, for faith is either blind or it is not faith but something else—reasoned inference, proved conviction or ascertained knowledge.

Faith is the soul’s witness to something not yet manifested, achieved or realised, but which yet the Knower within us, even in the absence of all indications, feels to be true or supremely worth following or achieving. This thing within us can last even when there is no fixed belief in the mind, even when the vital struggles and revolts and refuses. Who is there that practises the yoga and has not his periods, long periods of disappointment and failure and disbelief and darkness? But there is something that sustains him and even goes on in spite of himself, because it feels that what it followed after was yet true and it more than feels, it knows. The fundamental faith in yoga is this, inherent in the soul, that the Divine exists and the Divine is the one thing to be followed after—nothing else in life is worth having in comparison with that. So long as a man has that faith, he is marked for the spiritual life and I will say that, even if his nature is full of obstacles and crammed with denials and difficulties, and even if he has many years of struggle, he is marked out for success in the spiritual life.

It is this faith that you need to develop—a faith which is in accordance with reason and common sense—that if the Divine exists and has called you to the Path, (as is evident), then there must be a Divine Guidance behind and through and in spite of all difficulties you will arrive. Not to listen to the hostile voices that suggest failure or to the voices of impatient, vital haste that echo them, not to believe that because great difficulties are there, there can be no success or that because the

Divine has not yet shown himself he will never show himself, but to take the position that everyone takes when he fixes his mind on a great and difficult goal, “I will go on till I succeed—all difficulties notwithstanding.” To which the believer in the Divine adds, “The Divine exists, my following after the Divine cannot fail. I will go on through everything till I find him.”


That is the true resolution. Keep it firm inside you even if waves of other consciousness cover on the surface. If one plants a faith or resolution like that firmly in oneself, then it remains and even if the mind for a time gets clouded or the resolution dimmed, yet one finds it re-emerging automatically like a ship out of a covering wave, and goes invincibly on with the journey through all vicissitudes till it reaches the harbour.

– Sri Aurobindo