The importance of faith
In a speech to graduating students at Stanford, Steve Jobs - the contemporary guru of technological innovation and perfection, power presentations and business success - narrated, in trademark fashion, just three stories from his life. During the course of his speech, he touched upon the importance of trust and faith. “You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever –“ and then went on to add, “sometimes life is gonna hit you on the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith-”
Faith is a word that is often used in the context of religious belief, but the usage extends much beyond and we find it being used in many other contexts. A very general working definition of faith is “a confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing.” Difficult to explain but powerful when experienced, it is said that faith can move mountains. Which is why there are so many interesting quotes on faith. Here’s a sample :
“Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.” – William James
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practiced, I am very sure a large portion of the evils and miseries that we have would have vanished.” – Swami Vivekananda.
“There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Believers and non-believers
The world can be divided into two groups – believers and non-believers. The composition of the two groups will depend on the definition that is applied. In its usual connotation, the believers are those who owe allegiance or have faith in a particular religious belief often centered around an omnipotent God. The non-believers consist of stoic rationalists, obstinate atheists and doubting agnostics.
Evidently the believers are strong on faith, but what about the non-believers? Actually, a large number of non-believers are also ardent practitioners of faith. Some have faith in themselves, others in their strong reasoning capabilities and yet others in the benevolence of larger cosmic forces. So whether you are a believer or a non-believer, faith is a very central pillar of one’s existence.
This debate is obviously irrelevant.
When is faith important ?
Faith is actually important all through life, but when the chips are down, when you get hit on the head with a brick, faith becomes a critical requisite for survival.
Why is faith important ?
While the believers will wonder why this question needs to be posed, it is definitely a valid question for all those who feel lonely and lost, not having surrendered themselves to experience the warmth and security of faith. So for their sake, let’s say that some of the important reasons why faith is important are:
1. It provides stability and calm, especially during stormy days when life becomes unpredictable and one is rocked about and holding on precariously.
2. Faith provides clarity in the pursuit of goals as an ambiguous future throws up myriad possibilities of unwelcome outcomes that spell failure.
3. It provides courage while taking risks and going solo in unchartered territories.
4. Faith is invariably a principal driver and motivator to enable human beings to manifest the finer side and achieve some higher good of real and lasting value.
How does one build faith ?
Faith calls for a temporary suspension of cold logic and reason, which is not all that easy for some. But it’s also true that we all have some measure of faith and it’s the vicious onslaught of adverse circumstances that shakes our faith. Religious practices foster a sense of wellbeing and strengthen our faith. So also meaningful self-exploration, meditation and other spiritual training can go a long way in shoring up self-confidence and building up strong faith that can withstand most onslaughts. Whichever method is adopted it has to be a lifelong process with gradual benefits over a period of time.