We continue with this series of teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the fundamental theme of faith. The previous post in the series may be found here.
Confidence is assured not by blind belief, but by careful insight into the life which surrounds us. The higher self is then able to be like the rider on a horse, and direct all the affairs and actions of the lower self. Faith defends the innate desire of the higher self, and the more faith develops, the greater is its influence, through us, upon our whole environment. Faith breeds faith. Also, faith must dominate the reason and direct the reason; and it will do this the more surely when we realize that every thought, desire, and impulse that comes to our heart is from God, to be accomplished for some great purpose of His own.
Sometimes a person will say, ‘I had great faith once, but in the course of my life I have met with people one could never trust. They deceived me, and since then I have lost faith in everybody’. That person is much to be pitied; he has lost so much more than anybody else. The good quality which was in him has been killed by unfortunate experiences. How important it is that the heart of the faithful should be kept unbroken!
In India, birds are made to fight as a sport. It is called baterbazi [=birds’ fight]. Two birds are brought together on a table, while all stand round to see the fun. As soon as the birds see one another, they attack each other. The owner of each bird thinks that his bird will win, that the prize will be his. But as soon as it appears as if one bird will be beaten, its owner takes it away, saying to the other, ‘You have won, we will not continue the fight’. This is because he wants to save his bird from being disappointed. The bird would then be without faith.
Those who have no faith in themselves, those whose faith is broken, are like the bird which is allowed to be beaten. However strong he may become, there will always remain the impression in his mind of having been beaten; and this he cannot bear.
It is like this with the elephant, too, giant animal as he is. Once he is beaten, all his strength and power go. For years he will not forget it. In spite of all that power which is within him, he will never attack another elephant. The faith that really gave him his power has all gone.
There is a Hindustani saying, ‘Failure and victory are both in the mind’. If there is failure it is in the mind; if there is victory it is also in the mind. As long as the mind has not failed, a seeming failure may be a victory, but if the mind has failed, a seeming victory becomes a failure. That great power which the mind has is nothing but the power of faith. People who have done great works have not done them because of their worldly heritage, for there are instances in which people began life without a penny, and yet have ended their lives the possessors of millions. They have had no help to encourage them in life, or to raise them in life; they have raised their position themselves.
So we see that reason has no part in faith. People may be called fanatics because they work only by faith, their critics thinking that faith only enables them to imagine things. But there are numberless people who are thinking and reasoning all their lives, asking themselves, ‘Shall I do this? How can I do that? How can I overcome these obstacles?’ And all the time they are thinking of the hindrances, or waiting for suitable circumstances to arise – and they never do. Their whole life may be spent in the pursuit of something which reason prevents them from attaining.
It is quite otherwise with faith. When there is faith, there is no thought about whether there are any means of accomplishing the desire that has entered one’s mind, or whether there are no means. This does not matter when faith is there to care for and to defend the thought, to rain upon the thought and make the plant grow and bear fruit, so that some day one may see its realization.
Ask those people who have led wonderful lives in the world. See what they have to say about it. What does Christ say? What does Mohammed say? Christ said to Peter, when he walked on the water, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’ If Peter had had faith, he could have conquered the waters.
In the different wars that the Prophet of Arabia had to face throughout his life, what do we find? From the beginning to the end there were wars. He was born an orphan, for his father was no longer alive and his mother died in giving him birth. There were no resources, either of money or of influence when the message was given. Later the whole community rose against him; even his relatives were against him. What stood by him? It was his faith. His call to his people was to have faith.
It once happened that when the army of the Prophet’s enemies had been successful, one among them by chance caught the Prophet alone. He was kneeling on his chest, and wanted to kill him. But before doing so, he said, ‘O Prophet, all your life you have taught the name of God. Now tell me where your God is. Where has he gone?’ And the Prophet called on the Name of God, on whom he called night and day; and as soon as that Name came to his mind, the strength of the whole world came into the Prophet. With one bound he brought the man down, took his sword in his hand, and said, ‘Who will save thee now, since thou art again in my hands?’ And he answered, ‘Thou, Mohammed’. And Mohammed said, ‘O man of little faith, till now thou hast not learned the lesson. Now thou hast seen that my faith in Him saved me. He has just saved me. If thou takest the Name, He will save thee too. Ask Him!’
The strength of that faith and the hope it imparts, the power it gives, the might that faith can give, is there anything like it?