Our existence and our faith are related causally, constitutionally and consequentially
Some people say how we live is all that matters, what we believe doesn’t matter.
Actually however, the relationship between our life and our faith is much more nuanced. The Bhagavad-gita (17.03) states that our existence shapes our faith; we are made of our faith; and as our faith is, so we become. Thus, our existence and faith are related causally, constitutionally and consequentially. Let’s explore these three connections.
Causally: As we live, accordingly our faith is shaped. For example, somebody may be nominally religious, being born and brought up in a pious family. But if they live materialistically, driven by the longing for worldly pleasures, then, sooner or later, their religious faith declines and their faith in materialism increases.
Constitutionally: We are defined primarily by our faith, not by our externals. Our faith determines what we value and what we pursue. Someone may dress in religious apparel, but if they have materialistic desires, they are materialists, their dress notwithstanding. In contrast, someone may be dressed like a materialist, but if their heart is devoted to transcendence, they are spiritualists. Of course, the faithful usually express their essence through their externals, but in those cases when the essence and the externals differ, the constitutional internal is more defining.
Consequentially: As our faith is, so we become. Consider someone who has faith in Krishna, but is presently materialistic. The Gita (09.31) indicates that even if their material conditionings divert them occasionally, their steady faith and resilient devotional practice will soon make them pure.
Among these three aspects of the relationship between existence and faith, the third is the most consequential for us spiritual seekers. Even if we are materially conditioned, if we associate with faithful devotees and strive to practice bhakti-yoga, our faith will strengthen, making us purified and spiritualized.
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