How faith and doubt can both be used spiritually
A functional car needs to have both an accelerator and a brake. While driving, when we are on the right track, we can press the accelerator to go faster. And when we are going off-track, we can use the brake to stop and correct our course.
The same principle applies to our spiritual journey wherein our body-mind is like a vehicle, faith is the accelerator and doubt is the brake. The Bhagavad-gita (04.34) points to this complementarity when it urges us to seek truth by combining a submissive service attitude (analogous to faith) and an inquisitive spirit (analogous to doubt). Faith helps us to move ahead on a path confidently and swiftly. But if faith is all that we have — if faith is not balanced by careful, critical thought — we may gullibly follow a path that leads us not to enlightenment, but to illusion. We need to complement faith with doubt, thereby equipping ourselves to evaluate various truth-claims.
A vehicle with only the accelerator and no brake can go fast in the right direction, but if it veers off-course, it can go fast in the wrong direction too. Similarly, if we have only faith and no doubt, we will go fast not just on a wise path but also on an unwise path. A vehicle with only the brake and no accelerator will go very slowly or may not go anywhere at all. Similarly, if we have only doubt and no faith, we will sentence ourselves to paralysis by analysis and won’t be able to follow any spiritual path.
On our spiritual journey, faith is like the accelerator that we can use to go rapidly on the right track and doubt is like the brake that we can use to avoid going on the wrong track.
Think it over:
- On our spiritual journey, how are faith and doubt comparable to accelerator and brake?
- What happens if we lack either faith or doubt?
- How can we use both faith and doubt?
04.34: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.