Why do people doubt God? Doubts arise from uncertainty, and uncertainty arises from attachment to the material dream of matter. Many people saw Jesus display miraculous powers, but failed to perceive his spiritual greatness. Such people were so enamored of the material delusion that they could not perceive the truth of Christ’s existence. Where there is truly no attachment to the material world, one no longer questions or doubts.
“O thou of little faith”
Doubt is a common obstacle on the spiritual path. Even Peter, Christ’s leading disciple, succumbed to doubt. Peter, by the power of faith, had become attuned to the Divine and free enough from matter attachment to be able to walk on water. When Peter saw Jesus walking across the lake toward the boat carrying him and the other disciples to their destination, Peter — at Jesus’ request — left the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
But when the wind grew strong, Peter became afraid and started to sink. He cried, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus caught him and said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” *
By “faith,” Jesus did not mean mere mental belief, but the deep intuitive realization of the body’s immaterial nature that comes through meditation. Only by the unshakable conviction that God is the sole reality can a devotee permanently transcend the consciousness that matter is real and the habit of doubt. When the devotee attains that realization, he is able to walk on water or fly in the air, at will.
The blind alley of curiosity
Devotees who are trying to contact God through meditation often fall into doubt from spiritual curiosity. I would find great joy in contacting God by meditation but then, suddenly, my mind would become very curious and ask: “If you know and feel God, why not ask Him what happened to Jesus, Shakespeare, Krishna, and other great human luminaries — or your own departed relatives?” When God did not immediately respond to my questions, I would become a “Doubting Thomas,” thus losing the joyous contact of God in meditation.
Beware of the dangers of spiritual curiosity. Many devotees would have found God and understood all the mysteries in the cosmos had they not strayed into the blind alleys of spiritual curiosity. The only way to know the beginning and end of all beings is to contact God in meditation.
Pitfalls of the mind
Don’t depend too much on your reasoning faculty. Wisdom can’t be achieved through reason and intellectualizing the truth. With too much reasoning comes hesitation, confusion, and doubt. In the end, you may find that your will power has become so paralyzed that you are incapable of acting at all.
Similarly, the long-continued over-study of all sorts of philosophical principles and treatises, without assimilating and testing them in one’s own life, results in doubt and disbelief in all spiritual laws. Such practices not only kill the hunger for truth, they also destroy your power to discriminate between good and bad teaching.
The harvest of wisdom
With God-consciousness comes unlimited powers, but there are few people who steadily develop themselves by meditation and form an unshakable conviction of the all-powerful nature of God. God does not speak in words. Being a Spirit, He vibrates His consciousness through the vibratory sound of AUM, which can be heard in meditation by devotees with developed intuition.
When less receptive devotees first hear the cosmic sound in meditation, they are filled with delight by both the sound and its wisdom vibrations. But as soon as they are tempted by material pleasures or persecuted by tests, they fall away — that is, they cease to meditate.
But there are those devotees who, surrounded by good company and good thoughts, contact the cosmic sound in meditation and patiently continue their meditative efforts until they contact God more deeply as bliss. By contacting God as bliss, they reap a harvest of wisdom far beyond their dreams. Those with any lingering questions as to the “whys” of life — the disparities of fortune, the seeming injustice of life, the intricacies of karma — find all their questions answered.
The vast image of God
God made us in His image, and as we meditate more, the image of God becomes predominant. Our tests are only designed to show us that we are Spirit. So never give up. Earth-life is not perfect. It is the arena in which we test our spiritual attainment. We must be able to behold the image of God at all times.
The physical body is a dream, and death is a dream. Every time you are tested, just say, “I am dreaming.” Ultimately nothing can really happen to you. The big fish eats the little fish, and both are dreams.
* Matthew 14:22-31.
Excerpted from East West and Inner Culture Magazines, 1925, 1934-1942; Conversations with Yogananda; and The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita.