In this final instalment of the short series on the subject of faith, Hazrat Inayat Khan makes clear that faith is not only necessary for our inner life, but for all progress in the outer life as well. The previous post in this series may be found here.
The question arises, is it right to cover up our reason and act according to our faith? The answer is that it is not right. Reason is the servant of faith, and faith is the king of reason. But failure comes when reason becomes the king, and faith the servant. Success comes when faith is king and reason is the servant. If faith says, ‘I wish to open a factory’, reason replies, ‘Yes, you can proceed with your factory in this way. You will be successful.’ Reason is the servant; faith is the first thing. Faith says, ‘I will succeed’. Reason says, ‘These are the different paths you will have to take’. This is how faith is helped by reason.
It is very different when reason is king. When reason is king, it says, ‘Open a factory? Why, just look at yourself, without a single penny in your pocket.’ Faith says, ‘Yes, you are right’. Reason says, ‘You don’t know anything about a factory; how can you pretend to carry on such work?’ And faith answers, ‘Yes, I will not think about it any more.’ When reason is the leader of faith, the result is failure; it is when faith is the leader of reason that success comes.
With regard to trusting people, a person may think, ‘Is it right to believe in anything a person says? Is it right to trust everybody? There are many people who are not worthy of trust; shall we then trust everybody in order to develop our trust?’ The answer is, yes. Perhaps we will have failures, but we will only trust another person when we trust ourselves; when we have faith in ourselves, then we will have faith in another. Without faith in ourselves, we can never have faith in another; to have faith in another is to have faith in ourselves. It does not matter if once or twice we are disappointed; but if we are afraid of being disappointed even once in our lives, perhaps we will doubt all through life, and so there will never come a time when we will be able to trust anybody, even ourselves. There are many things that can develop our trust. Sometimes an unworthy person can become worthy of trust.
The Hindus say that if one has faith in an idol-god, that god will listen and grant one’s desires; but if one has no faith in the God of Heaven, even He is helpless to do anything for one. The Bible says that faith like a grain of mustard can remove mountains.
There is a story that a preacher was once speaking in a little village in India. The peasants he was preaching to could not understand philosophy or mysticism or the great problems of life. What the preacher taught was, ‘Have faith in God; faith is such a great virtue’, and he told them that if a person repeated the sacred word he would be able to walk on water. Everyone was delighted to hear this, saying, ‘What a great thing! He is always talking about this same thing.’ Next day an old man came and said, ‘Sir, I cannot understand the deep problems of life, but I was very delighted with your idea last evening’. The preacher answered, ‘What was that?’ He said, ‘I was very much surprised. Will you come and dine at my home? It will be such an honor.’ The preacher said, ‘Yes, with great pleasure’.
A day was appointed. When the day came, the man arrived to fetch the preacher, and they set off together. On their way, there was a little river which had to be crossed. When they reached the bank, the preacher said, ‘Where is the boat?’ ‘Why do you ask for a boat?’ the peasant replied. ‘The other day you said that when you use that sacred word, you can walk on the water. And I was very much astonished to find that it is so. Why take a boat when it is only necessary to say that word?’ But the preacher could not do it; he was not a true teacher. So he said to the old man, ‘You are my teacher. I have spoken, but you have acted; and if I had had your faith, I should also have been able to cross the water.’
This shows us that things sometimes seem obscured, as if in a mist, as if seen through a dark glass. We fear beforehand that a thing will never come, that there will always be disappointment, failure, sorrow. Depression comes on; we begin to think the times will never alter, and the same conditions will always continue. The only remedy to clear these clouds away is to look for a better time, to hope for something better in life, to feel that every thought, desire, and impulse that comes to our heart is from Him, and that it is to be accomplished with all that power for some purpose. No circumstances in our lives, not even friends and advisors, nor our reason or our doubt should be allowed to prevent the realization of our thoughts. It is through that one thing, faith, that our thoughts are kept powerful and full of strength; it is by nothing but that one thing: faith.