Faith , Hope and Charity

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Radiant Divinities! When an individual soul comes into this world, that individual soul, from a relative point of view, from an earthly angle of vision, comes alone, makes this journey of life alone and departs alone. All scriptures and philosophies declare, all saints and sages again and again reiterate: “Alone thou art, alone thou comest, alone thou goest.”

In this lone journey we seemingly have companions. But each one is intensely preoccupied with himself or herself. For each one, the most important person in the universe is oneself. A little attention is diverted outside, all other attention is directed upon oneself; morning till night one is centred in oneself, constantly thinking of oneself, self-preoccupied. This is individual consciousness, individual life. This is the truth about each individual. From the moment you wake up you are engaged and concerned in things pertaining to yourself—your eating, your drinking, your activities. Whatever you have planned for that day, that comes first.

This involvement in oneself—one’s own concern, preoccupation and constant thought of oneself—is called one’s subjective life. But willy-nilly, whether we want it or not, whether we like it or not, we are also pushed into relationship with others. Because, we do not live in a wilderness, in a desert or in a deep jungle. We live in communities of beings; wherever we are, we live amongst others.

In this too, one keeps up these relationships primarily for oneself—perhaps later on for others, but primarily for oneself. We are concerned with those who cook our food because they cook our food. If they cooked for themselves only and said, “Nothing for you,” then we will not have any relationship. We go to the bank not because we are interested in the bank, but because our money is in that bank. So relationships are there, but arising primarily out of our relationship with ourselves.

And thirdly, whether we want it or not, we have a relationship with that Being Who ultimately is our only resort. Because, before we came here we were related to Him only and no one else, and after we go we shall have Him only to fall back upon and no one else.

Therefore, we must have some norms to govern this triple relationship which constitutes life, which is an inescapable part of life. This triangular relational pattern of each individual soul going through this life journey towards the Divine was not unknown to our ancients. They had something to say about it. The Bible too speaks of the cardinal virtues of one who wishes to attain the Supreme Being.

In so far as our relationship with God is concerned, Jesus said that one who wishes to attain the Father, the Kingdom of God, must have absolute, unshaking faith in the Supreme Being. When someone started losing faith, Jesus said: “O ye of little faith, shame upon you, open your eyes. Can you not see? When a child asks for bread, the father does not give a stone. When an imperfect person like a human father, who has got selfishness and so many defects, fulfils the faith of one who turns to him in faith, do you think that the Supreme Being, Who is Lord of the whole universe, Who is omnipotent, omniscient, full of compassion and kindness, full of justice, do you think He will deny you your due?

“Even if a contractor is corrupt, dishonest, yet when he has employed labourers he gives them their labour’s due at the end of the day. Shame on you that you do not repose faith in that all-perfect Being.” So He chastises them, takes them to task: “O ye of little faith, have faith. The result of faith is seen by you, day by day, all around you, even in this world. Why do you hesitate in reposing faith upon that all-perfect Being?”

“Towards Him,” Jesus said, “have absolute faith.” And in his list of prime virtues, Sankaracharya listed sraddha—faith in the Supreme. Long before Sankaracharya, Lord Krishna said: “sraddhavan labhate jnanam—that wisdom that releases, banishes the darkness of ajnana and grants liberation, is for him who has firm faith.”

The second dimension of relationship is our relationship to this world—to other beings, to other people, men, beasts, everyone, all things. Be considerate. You wish others to be considerate of you, so be charitable. Do not sit in judgment, do not condemn, be charitable. “It is Mine to judge. Do not usurp My place, My function. Leave judgment to Me.” Be charitable.

That is why Magdalene became eternally grateful to Jesus. And when others condemned the woman caught in sin, He refused to condemn. When others were about to throw stones at her, Jesus looked upon her with compassion. And when she asked, “Do you not condemn me?” He responded: “I am not concerned with your past, I am concerned with you today, at this moment in time, and I am concerned with your future. Go forth, walk the path of purity. Everything will be alright.” So exercise charity all the days of your life, every moment. Think how you would feel if you were being condemned. And therefore bear, forbear, tolerate—exercise charity.

And the third relationship, dimension, is how you relate yourself to yourself. Are you a good companion to yourself? Can you tolerate yourself when you are alone, or is it a mass of self-pity, self-hatred, self-condemnation, self-accusation—a turmoil, a mass of negativity inside? Or is it serene positivity? One said: “Hope, forever hope, while there is life, there is hope.” Santushtah satatam yogi—a Yogi is always contented. Be full of good cheer. Have hope, have faith in yourself also. Never despair, face the Light. When you have reposed faith in Him, all will be well. Have absolute hope, always be positive.

An English poet said: “Life is not an empty dream, heart within and God overhead. From dust thou art and to dust returnest was not spoken of the soul.” Like that, heart within, rely upon yourself, be confident, do not despair. Have faith in yourself and absolute trust in Him. All is well, take heart. And thousands of years ago someone said: “You must lift yourself up by yourself. Never allow the spirit to be depressed. Have faith in Me, rely upon Me, think upon Me. You will have nothing to fear. Na tvam sochitum arhasi, ma suchah—it is not proper that you should grieve, grieve not.”

Thus the cardinal virtues arising out of the context of the Christian religion are faith, hope and charity—charity towards all of God’s creation which you have to encounter day after day, morning till night. Ever have a hopeful attitude towards yourself in your subjectivity; let your heart be filled with hope, never negative despair, never darkness. And in your relationship with that Being, have absolute faith. Similarly, in the Indian context we have sraddha (faith), atmavisvas—faith in yourself, self-reliance, ever a hopeful attitude, ever an optimistic view of life and daya (compassion). Tulsidas says: “Compassion is the root of righteousness, pride is the root of sin.”

“Yes, whatever has gone by has gone by. Now I shall work for a better future, and He will help me. He is all-powerful, all-wise, all-blessed. And while I thus live with absolute faith in Him, hope, reliance and confidence in myself, I shall be charitable towards others.” Faith, hope and charity—never let go of these. Always let them be enshrined within you—faith in the Supreme, hope for yourself and charity towards all.

Thus finish your journey and you will attain the Goal. The journey will take you to your destiny—your divine destiny, the fulfilment of which is the most important thing in life. All other things come afterwards; they are secondary. In this way, understand your life, understand yourself, understand your relationship to the Maker, and understand your relationship to the rest of creation.

May God bless you to understand. We have to live with wisdom, we have to live with understanding. That alone can take us to where we can ultimately shower ourselves with blessedness. Our intellect has been given to us to be exercised and to enable us to live wisely.

God bless you all! May you ponder these cardinal points of your life’s journey—charity towards God’s creatures, absolute hope about yourself, and absolute faith in the Being Who has brought you into being, Who has placed you among His creatures, so that you may become like Him and you can attain Him as your supreme Goal!

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