Does belief come spontaneously or by effort?25

Belief comes spontaneously. Belief comes by effort. In the spiritual life a sincere seeker, an advanced seeker and a surrendered seeker can and will have spontaneous belief. Belief by effort, personal effort, without the divine Grace, without God's unconditional Protection, cannot be as effective as spontaneous belief.

Spontaneous belief is a gift of God for the human in us to see, to feel and to grow into the very image of God. Belief by personal effort is a human earthly discovery, although to some extent it also is necessary.

Believing is seeing. Seeing is believing. When believing is seeing, a seeker becomes a perfect instrument for the Supreme to use in His own Way. When seeing is believing, a seeker makes a solemn promise both to God and to himself that he will realise God and he will fulfil God on earth. But there is no certainty, no guarantee; he may, but he may not. He may not fulfil his divine promise, for at any moment during his long journey he may be assailed by teeming doubts, fears, worries, anxieties and ignorance-night. Belief by effort is the acceptance, the mere acceptance, of Truth and Light; and this belief is usually mental and intellectual. But spontaneous belief is the conscious and constant oneness with Truth and Light. It is not that belief by personal effort is of no use; personal effort has its own value, but it is not as strong and sure as spontaneous belief.

Not only ordinary human beings but also many spiritual giants have suffered from doubts and other undivine qualities in their human nature before devotedly and wholeheartedly launching onto the spiritual path. So we must not be doomed to disappointment when we are assailed by doubts in our spiritual life. Belief that comes from within is at the head of the divine spiritual army, and this army destroys our doubts, or rather, let us say it illumines our doubts, perfects our imperfections and transforms our limited bondage into divine plenitude.

We have two principal organs: the eye and the ear. Our eyes quite often, if not always, believe themselves. Our ears very often believe others. These are our human eyes and our human ears. But the divine eye, the third eye, will believe only in the vision of Divinity, and the divine ears will believe only in the truth of Reality. When we listen to the inner command, when we have the capacity to grow into constant obedience to our Inner Pilot, we feel within and without the presence of spontaneous belief. Belief is the reality of our inner obedience. This is divine belief, spontaneous belief. Belief by effort is a restricted, disciplined human understanding.

Belief is power. A real seeker of the infinite Truth knows this. An insincere and unaspiring seeker is aware of the truth that belief is power, but he cannot go beyond understanding or awareness; whereas a sincere, genuine, devoted and surrendered seeker knows that belief is dynamic power, and he has this power as his very own.

We see a tree. The tree bears flowers, and soon afterwards we see fruits. The flower is the harbinger of the fruit. In the spiritual life, belief is the flower. Belief is a divine angel which enters into us as the harbinger of the Lord Supreme.

We can cultivate belief. If we do not have belief we can develop belief. How? We can do it by mixing with sincere spiritual people who care more for God than for pleasure. There are also people who care only for God in human beings, and if we mix with those people we can cultivate belief. When we have belief we can walk with God in His Garden of Light and Delight.

But in the spiritual life, spontaneous belief need not be and cannot be the last word. There is something infinitely higher and deeper than belief, and that is faith. When we have belief we can make tremendous progress for a day or for a month or for a year. But then, if we unconsciously or consciously become a victim to undivine forces, our belief loses its strength and we cannot make fast progress in the spiritual life in spite of having belief.

The strength of belief, even spontaneous belief is not enough to take us to the ultimate Goal. Belief is like a child’s instrument that you can play upon for a limited number of hours or years. But when you have faith you come to realise that you are an eternal player and at the same time you are an eternal instrument. And when you go farther and deeper you come to realise that the player is somebody else, the Lord Supreme, and you are His instrument. He is the eternal Player and you are eternally His chosen instrument.

Spontaneous belief will make you feel what you eternally are: God’s chosen child. But if you do not have faith you will not have the abiding satisfaction and the abiding feeling that you and He are eternally one, that you represent the One and that your very presence on earth is the manifestation of the One, the Absolute Supreme. It is only when your outer being and your inner being are surcharged with faith that you can manifest God here on earth. Faith in oneself and faith in God must run together.

If you say that you have no faith in yourself but you have all faith in God, then I wish to say you cannot go very far. You have to have faith, constant faith and abundant faith, not only in God, but also in yourself since you are God’s son or God’s daughter. When you truly feel that you are God’s child, you will find that it is beneath your dignity to make friends with ignorance. Reality, Eternity, Immortality and Infinity are not vague terms; these are your birthright. When you have that kind of faith, God will shower His choicest Blessings upon your devoted head and surrendered heart.

But faith in oneself must not exceed its own boundary. I said before that you have to have faith, constant faith in abundant measure. But you have to remember the source of your faith as well; you have to remember where it comes from. At some time you may think: “Oh, I am working so hard for my realisation of the absolute Truth, for my perfection. It is all my effort, my effort. One per cent of the work will be done by the Grace of the Supreme, and ninety-nine per cent will be my personal effort.” But when that most auspicious day dawns and you realise the Absolute, you will see that just the opposite is true: your faith enabled you to contribute one per cent in personal effort towards your realisation, and God supplied the other ninety-nine per cent as His divine Grace, unconditional Grace. And when you are about to manifest your realisation, another truth, a higher and more profound truth, will dawn on you. You will realise that the one per cent of faith you had, which was absolutely necessary, was also God’s gift to you.

You were chosen from among countless people to run towards the Light. Others are still fast asleep. It was sheer Grace, God’s unconditional Grace, that inspired you to come out of ignorance and look towards the Light. Since it was He who inspired and invited you to join consciously in His cosmic Game, you have to feel that the one per cent of faith you had in the beginning also came directly from God, the Absolute Supreme.

Some people do not have belief; they want to follow the negative path. No matter how far they go, their minds tell them that there is no God. But I wish to tell you, on the strength of my own oneness with God and with humanity, that they will not have even temporary satisfaction on this earth, not to speak of abiding satisfaction. A day will dawn when they will feel that their lack of belief, their denial of God, is not giving them what they want. They will be compelled to look for a fulfilling belief.

We who have started walking along the spiritual path are the forerunners. All will eventually run towards the same Transcendental Goal. The majority of mankind will not always lag behind. All children of God, no matter how unconscious and unaspiring, will one day run towards the common Goal. This Goal is the supreme discovery of one’s Divinity and the constant and perfect manifestation of one’s everlasting Reality.

GNS 24. Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations, New York, 2 October 1972.

Sri Chinmoy, The Garland of Nation-Souls, Aum Press, Puerto Rico, 1972