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Knowing from experience

Do I Need to Have Faith to Know My True Nature?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावक: |
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुत: || 23||

Weapons cannot shred the soul, nor can fire burn it. Water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it.

Bhagavad Gita 2.23

अच्छेद्योऽयमदाह्योऽयमक्लेद्योऽशोष्य एव च |
नित्य: सर्वगत: स्थाणुरचलोऽयं सनातन: || 24||

The soul is unbreakable and incombustible; it can neither be dampened nor dried. It is everlasting, in all places, unalterable, immutable, and primordial.

Bhagavad Gita 2.24

अव्यक्तोऽयमचिन्त्योऽयमविकार्योऽयमुच्यते |
तस्मादेवं विदित्वैनं नानुशोचितुमर्हसि || 25||

The soul is spoken of as invisible, inconceivable, and unchangeable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.

Bhagavad Gita 2.25

अथ चैनं नित्यजातं नित्यं वा मन्यसे मृतम् |
तथापि त्वं महाबाहो नैवं शोचितुमर्हसि || 26||

If, however, you think that the self is subject to constant birth and death, O mighty-armed Arjun, even then you should not grieve like this.

Bhagavad Gita 2.26

जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्युर्ध्रुवं जन्म मृतस्य च |
तस्मादपरिहार्येऽर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि || 27||

Death is certain for one who has been born, and rebirth is inevitable for one who has died. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.

Bhagavad Gita 2.27

अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत |
अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना || 28||

O scion of Bharat, all created beings are unmanifest before birth, manifest in life, and again unmanifest on death. So why grieve?

Bhagavad Gita 2.28

To discover how your consciousness is all-pervasive, you have to use both reasoning and experience. Belief by itself is fundamentally weak, meaning it can be shaken. Belief is not absolutely reliable. 

We all know someone, a very pious person, who would pray every day until some tragedy happened. The tragedy was so horrible that their faith was shaken, and they stopped praying. Every belief is subject to being shaken if the circumstances are right.

On the other hand, knowledge is unshakeable. Beliefs are what we think to be true in our own mind, but knowledge is what we know to be true through experience or education. Knowledge can never be shaken because it is always based on truth. Your knowledge that 2 + 2 = 4 could never be shaken in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Would you have any doubt of this fact in a horrible situation?

Understanding through knowledge and experience

In these verses, Krishna says, this Atma is not perceptible, so it is not inferable. Atma is not changeable so not subject to destruction. Therefore knowing this so, you should not mourn. Sri  Krishna says having known, having understood, you should not be sad. He does not say having believed or having faith you should not mourn. Now, as eternally born or eternally dying, if you consider this, even then O Arjuna you should not mourn this. From the standpoint of our subtle body, if it is born and dying again and again, even then you need not greed this one.

Does this mean faith is not important at all?

Faith is important early on in our spiritual journey. In Fact Sri Krishna tells in Chapter 4 of Bhagavad Gita that: one who has faith gains knowledge. Meaning faith leads to knowledge. But faith or belief is not the goal in our spiritual journey.

What the Gita Teaches Us

Krishan gives different perspectives to Arjuna that he should not grieve his loved one’s death. His motive for all the reasoning is to make Arjuna understand the reality thorough reasoning, knowledge and self experience and not thorough mere belief or faith.

Understanding gained through experience and knowledge can never be shaken.