04.39 – Faith bridges the distance between scriptural revelation and personal realization
“What is the role of faith in understanding the Bhagavad-gita?” Faith helps us persevere in our spiritual journey till our personal realization catches up with scriptural revelation.
We begin our spiritual journey by intelligently examining the Gita’s basic philosophical teachings: the temporality and misery of life in the arena of matter, and the eternality and the ecstasy of life in the arena of spirit. With guided and open-minded study, we recognize that these teachings make sense.
The Gita is not just a book of analysis but of action; all its analysis is meant to gear to action its original student, Arjuna, – and all its subsequent students, us. When we act to apply the Gita’s basic principles in our own lives, we experience a dual inner transformation. Firstly, the fuzziness around matter clears, helping us to see material indulgences as sources of misery. Secondly, the vagueness around spirit lifts, helping us to perceive spiritual reality centered on Krishna as rich and relishable. By such dual reformulation of our vision, we realize the veracity of the Gita’s basic teachings.
Subsequently, when some Gita teachings don’t seem real or make sense to us, we can bank on our past experiential confirmation of its teachings. This track record helps us repose faith in those scriptural revelations that our personal realizations have not yet reached. The Bhagavad-gita (4.39) points to this role of faith (sraddhaval) in paving the way to the attainment of realized knowledge (labhate jnanam). This realized knowledge deepens our faith which then bridges the distance to hitherto unrealized scriptural knowledge.
Over time, this symbiosis of reposed faith and realized knowledge engenders a living deepening devotional experience of the supreme reality: Krishna himself.