I was once visiting a friend who had recently given birth to her second child, a lovely little girl. Her first child, a precocious three-year-old named Tamara, was exhibiting definite signs of jealousy towards this newcomer with whom she had to share her parents’ attention.
As my friend lovingly cradled the sleeping infant in her arms, Tamara approached with a knowing look in her eyes and asked, “Mommy, is that baby icky?”
“Oh, no,” was my friend’s reply, “she’s very nice.”
Attempting to plant seeds of doubt in her mother’s mind, she left with the words, “You never know.”
I’ve sometimes wondered if Tamara grew up to be a reporter, since raising doubt in people’s minds seems to be the modus operandi of the news today. Elected officials, spiritual leaders, health experts, sports figures: no one is immune from having questions raised about their integrity or their hidden agenda. Sometimes the headlines stoop so low as not even to pretend to have backup facts, but simply ask a question: “Is it true that Martians are living inside Mt. Everest?”
The insidious thing about being fed a regular diet of such information is that it continually activates doubt, which is a state of consciousness. Over time it becomes a chronic condition that has little to do with any particular issue, but leads to uncertainty, anxiety, and loss of faith in anything.
Paramhansa Yogananda called doubt “suicidal.” He said that constructive doubt, which questions only in order to arrive at the truth, is all right, but that destructive doubt is a habitual state that eventually paralyzes the will. He went on to say, “Doubt is a mental insanity by which you absolutely refuse to recognize your own ability to cognize the world around you and to understand everything.”
What can we do to rise above chronic doubt and reclaim our ability to know what is real and true? It’s good to limit the time we spend looking at news or social media. Even the positive content that’s shared online can take us away from our center if we give it too much focus. True knowing does not come from avoiding negative input; nor, for that matter, from seeking positive input: Its source is not the mind or intellect, but rather a sense of deep inner awareness.
Swami Kriyananda had a remarkable ability to see past people’s outer personas, and to understand who they really were. This enabled him to help others and to bring out the best in them. His understanding came not from knowing facts about a person, but from being fully centered in himself and relating to that center in others. This ability is born of meditation and of having achieved deep inner stillness.
Yoganandaji said, “With a strong lens the sun’s rays, focused through it, can ignite wood. Yoga practice, similarly, so concentrates the mind that the curtain of doubt and uncertainty is burned away, and the light of inner truth becomes manifest.”
With that burning away of doubt, faith emerges. And with faith dawns the realization of God’s presence in our lives and in everything. Once our faith is strong, no negative innuendos or aspersions can convince us otherwise. We know what we know because we feel it in every fiber of our being.
In The New Path, Swami Kriyananda writes: “I believe that the time is approaching when countless men and women will no more think of doubting God than they doubt the air they breathe. For God is not dead. It is man only who dies to all that is wonderful in life when he limits himself to worldly acquisitions and to advancing himself in worldly eyes, but overlooks those spiritual realities which are the foundation of all that he truly is.”
What is this approaching time of which Swamiji speaks? It is a new dawn, when people seek and find their answers within through meditation and prayer. Only thus can we clear away the fog of doubt which obscures our ability to know truth. Faith, indeed, is the proof of things unseen, and it is through the eyes of the soul that we can see the divine truth hidden in everything.
Your friend in God,
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