Faith and Doubt
Faith and doubt are as light and darkness. The moments of faith are like the moments of the day and the moments of doubt are like those of the night. As both day and night come in life, so hours of faith and hours of darkness also come. It is the seeking of the soul to reach that stage where it feels faith, and it is the nature of the soul to gather doubts around itself. Therefore the soul attracts both faith and doubt. If it happens to attract doubts more, then more doubts will be gathered; if it attracts faith, then more and more faith will come.
Doubts ace likened to clouds. If there is one cloud, it will attract others and, if many clouds are gathered, still more will be attracted to join them. If there is one current of the sun shooting through the clouds it will scatter them, and once they are scattered they will be scattered more and more, and more and more light will manifest itself to view. Doubts cover faith but faith breaks doubt. Therefore faith is more dependable: doubts only come and go.
It would not be an exaggeration if I said that doubt is a disease - a disease that takes away faith. Perhaps it would, be more appropriate to say that doubt is the rust that eats the iron, the iron-like faith. It is very easy to allow doubts to work, and it is difficult to keep faith. However much evolved a person may be, there comes a time when doubts take hold of him, and the moments he is in doubt the light of intelligence disappears. Therefore there is a constant conflict between doubt and faith. If there was not this enemy who always fights with faith, man could do great things, wonderful things; every man would perform miracles, every man would be perfect. This shows that the greater your faith, the greater person you are; the more deeply rooted your faith, the higher you reach.
One might ask: Is it possible to develop faith? Is it possible to find faith? Yes, in every person a spark of faith is hidden somewhere, but sometimes it is so covered, clouded and buried, that it needs digging, it needs being dug out. What is it buried with? With the sand of doubts. As soon as the sand is removed, the faith-like water springs up.
One can study this principle in a child: a child is born with faith. When one says, "This is water, this is bread, this is father, this is mother", the child does not refuse to believe it; it does not say, "It is not so". The child at once takes it to be so. It is afterwards that doubts begin to come. When the infant grows up, when it begins to hear a story and asks, "But is it real?", then doubt begins. Very often worldly knowledge gives more and more doubts; the experiences of worldly life make one doubt more and more, and when doubt becomes predominant in a person's nature, then he doubts everything and everyone. He doubts those who should not be doubted and he doubts those who can be doubted; there is always a doubt before his eyes. No sooner does he cast his glance upon a person than the cloud of doubt stands between them. In this way inspiration is lost, power is lost, the personality is lost; man has become a machine, a mechanism.
In the business world, in the world of industry, a person does not care what your feelings are, what your being is, how much evolved you are, how deeply you feel, what your principles are, what your thoughts. What this person is concerned with is if the other will sign the paper, whether he will stamp that paper at once, and whether there are two witnesses who watch it at the same time. It does not matter what you are, who you are, as long as the paper is perfect. We are coming to mechanical perfection, we seek after worldly, earthly perfection.
Five hundred years ago - this shows how gradually the world has changed - a Hindustani poet has written: "Those days have passed when a value was attached to man's personality". That is so; it is some centuries since the world went downward. It seems that man has no trust, no faith in another man; what he trusts is the written word.
Faith should be continued to the end. One may have faith when climbing stairs of a hundred steps; one may climb ninety-six steps with faith, and then one may lose it. Before the four steps that are still to be climbed one may lose faith; doubt has come and the whole journey is spoiled. This happens very often in the lives of so many people who are face to face with their success and yet fail. They have just approached what they wanted and then they lose it. In nearly every person's life one sees this, and the greater the person the more one sees it; for the greater the person the more powerful his faith, and therefore he is able to see the play of faith. It is just like sending a kite so far into the sky - and before it reaches higher it drops down. The enemy which causes this is doubt.
One may do something during one's whole life and accomplish it to a great extent, but through lack of a little more faith one will lose it, and all that was done will be spoiled in a moment's time. How long does it take for a house to be built, and how long does it take to destroy it? How long does it take to make a business really prosperous? How long does it take to fail? One moment. When one learns this principle and thinks about it, one begins to see that the whole world, with all that we hear and see and touch and feel, is all illusion in the face of faith. Faith alone is reality, and compared with faith all else is unreal. But since we do not see faith with our own eyes, it is very difficult to call faith real and all else unreal; our eyes cannot see faith and we do not know where it is.
Now arises the question: how can one find faith in oneself, how can one develop it? One can find faith by practising self-confidence as the first thing, by having self-confidence even in the smallest things. To-day most people have the habit to say with everything "perhaps". It seems as if a new word has come in use; they say "perhaps it will happen". It is a kind of polite expression, or a word of refined people to show themselves pessimistic. I can see their reason; they think that it is fanatic, presumptuous, and simple to say, "It will be", or "It will come", or "It will be accomplished", or "it will be fulfilled". To say "perhaps", - so they think - makes them free from the responsibility of having committed themselves. The more pessimistic a person, the more "perhaps" he uses, and this "perhaps" has gone so deep in souls to-day that they cannot find faith.
After self-confidence is developed, the second step is to trust another with closed eyes. One might think that this is not always practical, and one might think that it might lead to great loss. But at the same time even that loss would be a gain, and a thousand gains compared with the loss of faith would be as nothing. A person is richer if he has trusted someone and lost something than if he had not trusted someone and preserved something - that one day will be taken away from him! He could just as well have given it up.
One might say that every simple person is inclined to trust another. Yes, but the difference between the wise person who trusts bravely and the simple person who trusts readily is great. The wise man who trusts, if he is influenced by another that he may not, or must not, trust a certain person, even if he is given a certain proof, even then that habit of trusting will remain with him. As to the simple man, as soon as anyone says, "Oh, what are you doing, you trust somebody who is not trustworthy", his trust will change. That is the difference between the wise and the foolish person. The foolish person trusts because he does not know better; the wise person trusts because he knows that to trust is best.
The third step towards the development of faith is trust in the unseen, to trust in something which one does not see. Reason does not show what it is, where it is, how it is, how it should be gained, how it can be brought about, how it should be obtained, how it can be reached. One does not see the reason, one only sees: it will be done, it must be done, it must come. It is that trust in the unseen which is called trust in God. When you do not see any sign before you of something that should happen, and yet you think, "Yes, it must happen, it will happen, it certainly must happen", and you have no doubt, then your trust is in God.
The first principle of the Sufi message is faith. It is not only occult study, nor is it scientific analysis, nor psychic phenomena. The first lesson of the message is faith, and it is with faith that the message will be spread. We each shall work in our own way in serving, in spreading the message, and it is with faith that the message of God will be fulfilled.