FAITH AND REASON
There is no conflict between faith and reason. May we examine the issue in some detail? In this context prayers offered in full faith are very efficacious. Prayer does not change things. It changes people, and they change things. So do not pray for lighter burdens; pray for stronger back.
Rabbi Eliezer once said, ‘Turn to god one day before your death.” His disciples asked: “How can a man know the day of his death?” The Rabbi replied: ‘Then you should turn to god today; perhaps you will die tomorrow; thus everyday will be employed in returning to god.”
Faith, as embodied in religion, and reason as embodied in science are often but erroneously thought of as being in opposition to each other. Science is not an enemy of religion, only of superstition. Both science and religion are engaged in the search for truth, the main difference lies in the methodologies used.
Science is an investigation of truth in the finite nature outside, the object. Religion is an investigation into the nature of the infinite, the subject. Science aims for universally verifiable knowledge. Religion aims for individual realization. We are closer to the physical world than to the metaphysical. We respect science, because it is premised on reason.
Swami Sivananda holds that science knows little about the origin of life, the origin of thought, and the origin and destiny of human nature and the universe. Faith is beyond reason. There are many questions to which our faith alone can help us find answers.
Sri Paramahansa Yoganand asks for experimentation in religion. He says:” Why should we merely read and hear discussions about god, and know nothing from personal experience? It is possible to put religion into practice, to use it scientifically. Without practical application, religion is of little value”.
The first experiment with religion ought to begin with silence. This is the first step towards meditation. As Yoganand says: “If you make a
supreme effort in the silence of the night or early in the morning, then after a little while you will see a glimmer of god’s light or feel a ripple of his joy coming your consciousness.”
Experimentation with religion is very different as the results take place right inside you.
Truthfulness is another spiritual principle recommended for experimentation. Yoganand says that truth is always wholesome. Giving happiness to others is vital to one’s own happiness. The world outside is an extension of the world inside. So we ought to practice self-control, forgiveness, and communion with god in our day to day life.
One can evolve spiritually without being religious in the conventional sense of the word. After all, we are spiritual beings, part of the one supreme spirit. We exist beyond our bodies. To follow the path of prayer and single-mindedness of thought is enough.
Prayer is surrendering oneself to god completely. It does not demand intelligence or eloquence. Swami Sivananda says that one should pray for god’s grace, not for earthy goods or for heavenly pleasures. Selfless faith and prayer and patience can work wonders.