How to conquer doubt1A great writer once said, “A philosopher is one who doubts.” Now, in my humble opinion, we are all philosophers, for there is nobody on earth who has not doubted at least once. So, in that respect, we are all philosophers.
The Sanskrit word for philosophy is darshan. Darshan means vision, to envision the truth. Sri Ramakrishna said, "In days of yore people used to have visions, and now people are studying it." One thing is to have the direct vision of the highest ultimate Truth, another thing is to study it.
Now, here I am in no way throwing cold water on the students of philosophy, far from it. I happen to be also an insignificant philosopher. But what I wish to say is this: philosophy leads us to spirituality, and spirituality offers us God-realisation and self-discovery. So let us start our journey with philosophy. This is the first rung of the spiritual ladder, and then the next rung is spirituality, and then the final is God-realisation.
Doubt. Doubt means absence of real knowledge. Real knowledge is true light, and true light is our inseparable oneness with the world.
Faith and doubt. These are like the North Pole and the South Pole. Unfortunately, a man of faith is very often misunderstood. We are apt to call a man of faith a fanatic. Here we make a deplorable mistake. A fanatic and a man of faith are two different persons. A fanatic hates reason, ignores the reasoning mind; whereas a man of faith, if he is really a man of faith, will welcome and accept reason and the doubting mind. Then his faith will help the doubting mind to transcend itself into the infinite vast, into something eternal and immortal. This is what faith offers to the doubting mind.
A man of faith is also a man of divine humility. The farther he advances in the realm of spirituality on the strength of his faith, the deeper he grows into the supreme humility.
Here at this point I wish to quote Keats’ immortal utterance, “My greatest elevations of soul every time make me humble.”
Doubt is our self-imposed ignorance. Faith is our inner vision of the ultimate Truth. Again, faith is our soul’s expansion and soul’s illumination.
We see darkness all around. We see impurity all around and imperfection all around. Again, it is we who have the inner inspiration, aspiration, capacity and adamantine will to transform the very face of the earth. How? If we conquer doubt, self-doubt, if we conquer our doubt of humanity, of God.
Doubt. Why do we doubt? We doubt because we do not have the conscious oneness with somebody else, with the rest of the world. If somebody doubts me, shall I doubt him in return? If I doubt him, then I sail in the same boat. But if I offer him my faith, my implicit faith, then either today or tomorrow, sooner or later I can transform his nature.
What do we learn from a tree? When we vehemently and ruthlessly shake a tree, what does the tree do? The tree immediately offers us its flowers, its fruits. Now, if others similarly torture us with their teeming doubts, let us offer them our snow-white faith. Then our snow-white faith will transform their life of teeming, darkening and darkened clouds of doubt.
With our eyes wide open we see that the world is ugly. With our ears wide open we hear that the world is impure. Now, we have the mind. Let us use our mind or compel the mind to see only the right thing, the pure thing, unlike the eyes. Let us use our mind or compel the mind to hear only the right thing, the divine thing. It is the mind, the developed mind, the conscious mind, the illumined mind that has the capacity in abundant measure to transport us into the highest regions of consciousness.
We are all under the laws of Mother Earth. Mother Earth is under the laws of Heaven. Heaven is again under the express law of God; and our doubt, cherished doubt, is under its own law. Its law is frustration, and in frustration destruction looms large.
Why do we doubt? Because we are wanting in proper understanding. There was a great spiritual saint named Kavir. He said, “Listen to me, brothers: he understands who loves.”
If we love, then we understand; and if we understand the truth, then we have neither the opportunity nor the necessity to cherish even an iota of doubt in our day-to-day existence.
We doubt God at our sweet will. We doubt God precisely because we think He is invisible. We doubt Him because we think He is inaudible. We doubt God because we think He is incomprehensible.
But to see Him, what have we done? To hear Him, what have we done? To understand Him, what have we done?
To see Him, have we prayed soulfully daily? The answer is in the negative, no. To hear Him, have we loved mankind devotedly? No. To understand Him, have we served divinity in humanity? No. We have not prayed to God. We have not loved mankind. We have not served the divinity in humanity. Yet we want to see God face to face. It is impossible.
God can be seen on the strength of our inner cry, which we call aspiration, the mounting flame within us. Every moment this flame is mounting towards the highest. If we know how to cry within, then this flame will mount, will climb up high, higher, highest; and while it is climbing up, it will illumine the world around.
There is an Indian proverb which I am sure most of you have heard, “A strong man fears his enemy when the enemy is far off, but when the enemy is near, he is no longer afraid of the enemy.” I wish to add that when doubt attacks a spiritually strong man, he becomes stronger, infinitely stronger. He does this by bringing to the fore his own soul’s light which energises him to fight against doubt and conquer it.
There is another way to conquer doubt: if we at this very moment feel that we are children, children of God; and again, if we can feel that God is a Divine Child playing with us. We are human children and He is a Divine Child.
A child does not doubt. He has implicit faith in his parents. He has implicit faith in everyone he comes across. We also can play the same role in our day-to-day life. Let us play with God, the Divine Child. There can be no shadow of doubt in our life when we speak, when we eat, when we move around, if we feel that we have a Divine Child within us, sporting with us. We are not alone. There is someone playing with us at every moment. If we know and feel this, then doubt can never eclipse our mind.
A lover of God, an adorer of God feels that deep within him, in the inmost recesses of his heart, there is an island of ecstasy; and this island can never be submerged by the floods of doubt, for his love has already made him one with this divine certitude.
A seeker of the highest order said, “Some say ‘He (God) is too far’. Some say, ‘No. He is at home here’. But I have found Him. He is in the cradle of love.”
When we love God, our problem is over. True, we all do not see God face to face. But we can imagine for a fleeting second that God with all His Love abides in our dear and near ones. Let us try to see the face of our Beloved in our dear ones. Where there is love, true love, there is all oneness. Where there is oneness, there can be no doubt — no darkening, no threatening, no destructive doubt.
Finally, how to conquer doubt. In order to conquer doubt, we have to be in the process of purification of our nature constantly. This purification has to take place in our physical. The body has to be purified constantly. It is not by washing the body or taking six or seven baths a day that we can purify the body. Our body will be purified only when we feel a living shrine within us. Then we have to install the living deity of light and truth within us. Then the body in no time will be purified. At that time we cannot have any doubt in the body, or in our physical mind.
The vital. The vital has to play the role of dynamism. It is the dynamic energy that we have to offer to the vital, and not the aggressive and destructive power, in order to conquer doubt in the vital.
The mind. Each moment the mind has to be flooded with clarity and right thinking. Each moment the mind has to consciously house divine thoughts, divine ideas and divine ideals. Then doubt will not be able to breathe in the mind.
The heart. Each moment we have to make the heart soulful so that we can easily conquer doubt in the heart. The heart has to offer the message of sacrifice for others, for the rest of the world; and while sacrificing his very life-breath, a sincere seeker feels that he is not sacrificing anything, he is just expanding his own inner consciousness and fulfilling himself here on earth.
Doubt can be conquered. It has to be conquered. How? The only answer is constant and soulful concentration on the mind, meditation on the heart and contemplation on the entire being.
MRP 11.University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland, Wednesday, 25 November 1970.↩