Do I Need to Have Faith in God to Realize the Self?


In the path of self realization or realization of Brahma, where is the place of God? I did several inquiries (self) and cannot find a place! Precisely my doubt is, is it necessary to have faith in God to realize the Self? And is it a prerequisite to leave normal life to seek the spiritual life?

—Raju, India


Dear Raju,

It may be a matter of how you understand the term ‘God’!

In the deepest sense, God is beyond any human description. But the teachings of yoga also emphasize that God is within every aspect of creation. The Self in Self-realization refers to the oneness in spirit that we come to experience as we go beyond ego attachment. In otherwords, the Self is the individualized expression of Spirit or God.

The sanskrit term, satchidananda, offers a helpful concept of what the goal of Self-realization is all about. The way that Paramhansa Yogananda defined satchidananda is “ever existing, ever conscious, ever new bliss”.

If we can expand our concept of God, as well as make it practical in our everyday living, then it is indeed helpful to have faith in God. The point is to come to our own experience of inner communion with God as bliss, and not just believe in a concept of God.

There is no prerequisite to leave normal life to seek the spiritual life. Indeed, Yogananda’s and Ananda’s emphasis is to show that one can carry on one’s worldly responsibilities while living a deeply committed spiritual way of life. As Lahiri Mahasaya once suggested, “live in this world but not of it”.

Blessings on your journey.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswami Pranaba