Sunday, October 11, 2009

Deep Faith and Blind Belief

The following portion of a poem is taken from the Masnavi Book III of Jallaudin Rumi.

Little is known by any one but the spiritual man,
Who has in his heart a touchstone of vital truth.
The others, hovering between two opinions,
Fly towards their nest on a single wing.
Knowledge has two wings, opinion only one wing;”

It is common knowledge what a strong conviction can do to individuals. It gives enormous strength in whatever activity that one engages in and the needed resilience to strive to complete the task that is driven by that conviction. Opinion on the other hand is shallow. Opinions are subject to change but knowledge rooted in inner realization is the bedrock of one's actions and existence. This is beautifully brought out by Rumi while reciting the story of a man who prayed in all earnestness for food as he was of poor health and could not earn a living and how God heard his prayers and a cow walked into his tent to become his food.

We have today innumerable tools on how to deploy the “law of Attraction” and how the cosmos is there waiting with its abundance to provide us with whatever we want. Many a time we reduce this principle to material or the physical level.
Here the words of Rumi give us the precondition for this principle to become active in us. He qualifies that “Little is known by any one but the spiritual man”. A spiritual realization becomes mandatory as knowledge is rooted in vital truth.

What is this truth that Rumi speaks of? It is the realization of interconnectivity and interdependence off all creation. It is also the inner knowledge that we are the same energy as is all creation from which we have been created. This knowledge gives us an irreversible thrust towards our higher potentialities as symbolized by Rumi relating to the flight of a bird with two healthy wings. Such realized individuals are equated to Angel Gabriel, who was the messenger of God, symbolizing a knowledge flow from a higher realm to the creation. This knowledge insulates one from ego contamination. This knowledge makes the spiritually realized shielded from duplicity and alienating opinions.

This is as the Holy Quran says “Then is one who walks fallen on his face better guided or one who walks erect on a straight path?”… Sura 67: 22.

The straight path is the path of this inner knowledge. So strong is this knowledge that nothing can dislodge a person. Rumi again says:

“Nay, even if sea and mountains should cry out,
Saying, “Thou art mated with error,”
He would not relapse one jot into vain imaginations,
Nor would he be grieved by the reproaches of his foes.”

This is rudimentary difference between faith and a belief. Hence faith must be based on knowledge, if not it is blind belief subject to the vagaries of moods and emotions just as the buffeted bird with one wing trying to take flight.

Love to you all


  1. What is popularly understood as knowledge and the inner knowledge metioned in the blog are poles apart.Attempting to understand the inner connectivity and interdependence and finally accepting your failure to do so and therefore surrendering befoe the Entirety is one way of reaching the goal of faith.On the otherhand getting immersed in the ritualistic faith with a simple and humble mind and at a point understanding the Absolute Truth through or despite the rituals remains as the spirituality of the masses in all religions. I feel it is not up to us to qualify or compare both.For those of us who have delved in tracking our inner conciousness the second option of simple spirituality is once and for all closed and we have to reach our destiny only through the untrodden path of searching.

  2. Subathra, there are three contradictions in your analysis which I would like to bring to your attention.
    The first is the statement "knowledge and the inner knowledge mentioned in the blog are poles apart". As humans we evolve both biologically and in our consciousness. Hence it is only from knowledge of the 'inadequacy of extrinsic knowledge', a deeper inner knowledge can develop. The only exception is if you are a divine incarnation. If one is totally immersed in the extrinsic, evolutionary and sensory knowledge there is no comparison possible. Even in an intuitive journey there is a threshold point of no-return which many mystics like Meister Eckhart say is the goal of realized souls.

    The second point is how can one be "surrendering before the Entirety" if one has no knowledge of what he is surrendering to. This is my definition of blind faith.

    The third point is you state is "getting immersed in the ritualistic faith". There is can be no ritualistic faith but there can only be ritualistic rites. These rites were intended to convey deeper meaning to lead to deeper realization but have failed to do so.

    There is also another explanation required. Deep faith and blind belief both have same origination, while deep faith is belief rooted in truth through the act of Divine grace, blind belief is a shallow conviction. Both can evolve from Karma, Bakthi or Jnana.

    My aim in taking up Rumi is that mystical poets understood the difference between True Knowledge and opinions. True knowledge leads to Faith and Opinions lead to belief.