Isn’t chanting an act of blind faith?
Answer: Chanting is an act not of blind faith, but of reasonable faith. Reasonable faith is faith that is sensible and verifiable. Reasonable faith is not just desirable but also essential – and not just for chanting but for every human act. Let’s compare chanting with a common act of faith, taking medicines, because chanting does for the mind what medicines do for the body.
- Sensible: When a doctor gives a sensible explanation of the cause of physical disease, say, fever is caused by germs, and the way the prescribed medicine will cure it, say, antibiotics will remove the germs, then putting faith in his prescription is not blind, but sensible. Similarly, the Vedic philosophy that underlies chanting a sensible explanation of the cause of psychologicaldisease and the way chanting will cure it. For example, the psychological problem of short-tempered behavior is due to infection by the mental germ of anger. Anger promises a sense of control and a quick-fix solution to a perplexing situation, say, slapping to silence a nagging child. But such angry outbursts end up causing deep emotional scars that can last for years.How can chanting cure anger? Just as a specific symbols that comprise a formula, say, E = mc2, can solve complex problems in physics that an ordinary combination of letter can’t, the specific sounds that comprise the mantras prescribed in the Vedic literature can solve complex psychological problems that an ordinary combination of letters can’t. In fact, the etymological meaning of the word mantra is “mana” (mind) + “tra” (trayate or deliver), or, that combination of sound which is designed to deliver the mind from undesirable infections. The most powerful mantras are those which comprise the most powerful sounds. God being omnipotent his names comprise the most powerful sound. The mantra Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare // Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare comprises exclusively the names of God: Krishna, Rama and Hari, and so is rightly celebrated as the maha-mantra, the one mantra that includes the potency of all other mantras. Chanting this maha-mantra bestows divine power and divine pleasure, both of which enable us to resist and reject the urges of anger.
- It is verifiable: When a medical treatment promises verifiable results, say, decrease of the fever within three days of regular medication, then putting faith in his prescription is not blind, but verifiable. Similarly, chanting promises verifiable results, like, say, decrease of short-tempered behavior within three months of daily chanting for thirty minutes.
Therefore, when chanting involves reasonable faith, rejecting it offhand as blind faith is itself an act of blind faithlessness.