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Faith Develops Into Perfection Through Various Stages Of Growth

‘Different forms of God are suited to different natures. One may have affinity with the ideally ascetic deity Shankara and another with the lovable Vishnu. The teacher gives the disciple the word symbolizing the deity suited to his nature. He is naturally attracted to Him and the realization becomes easy. Otherwise it becomes comparatively difficult.

‘Faith is not mere assent but deep conviction that leaves no room for questioning. We do not put our hand into the fire because we are unquestionably certain of its burning property. If it does not burn wood, we are unsatisfied and do not rest till we see it do so. This is perfect faith. It is of course based on direct perception and is about a perceived thing. But by continued training of the mind, a similar mental state can be brought about with respect to unperceived things.

‘And when the climax, that is, the mental state of absolute questionlessness in the existence of an unperceived thing is attained, in its wake follows its perception. In other words, perfect faith and perception are simultaneous. The word causes the realization of the signified form by gradually creating such faith in its existence in the receiver’s mind.

‘Faith develops into perfection through various stages of growth. The disciple must learn to have intense faith in the efficacy of the word. Every time he repeats the word, let him expect the realization as he expects the burning of his hand if put into the fire—this is one of the ways to develop faith. Mere expectation will be raised by degrees to more and more certainty and, last of all, to perfect faith.

‘Have faith that a stone is God and you will see God in it. We have faith that Brahman is the world and we see the world. Have faith that the world is Brahman and you will see Brahman. All spiritual practices end in faith. He realizes at once, who has faith for a moment.’

Source - January 1904 Prabuddha Bharata Magazine – excerpts from article titled Master and Disciple