Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Shraddha: The Garden of Faith

All spiritual traditions emphasize the importance of faith.  Often they are even referred to as "faith traditions".

When using the word, they generally refer to a sense of trust, loyalty, and love. 

Yogis differentiate between two kinds of faith: 

  1. Blind faith.
  2. Faith cultivated through personal experience. 

And they definitely prefer the latter.

Shraddha is difficult to define.  There is no direct equivalent in English. 

Shraddha includes the qualities above but also confidence, awareness, and proof aquired through our own direct inner and outer experiences. 

Shraddha is one of the personal committments required on the path of Yoga or Self-Realization. (See Yoga Sutra 1.20)

Think of a garden.  We can grow beautiful flowers like these California Poppies from seed. 

Suppose someone gives us a few.  We plant them, water them, hope, wait and wonder.

What if that person isn't a good gardener and gave us bad advice?  What if the conditions in my soil aren't the same as theirs?  What if the seeds were for some other plant?  What if they're weeds instead?

We have acted on faith, but it was blind faith.

If conditions permit, we will be rewarded with a colorful field of bright blossoms bobbing their heads in the breeze as if to agree, even blind faith was a good start.

As the petals drop, they leave little seed heads which dry in sun.

Inside we discover more seeds!

Next year we will plant them with a different kind of faith, cultivated in us as confidence through personal experience.

The yogis say, don't believe everything you hear. 

They suggest, we use our own minds and lives as laboratories to test and evaluate what we learn and discover for ourselves how it applies to our practice. 

Employ both your intellect and your intuition to assess and apply the teachings of yoga and the result will be a firmly grounded faith that is mindful, tenacious and sustaining: 

The highest form of faith - faith in the Self!

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