Sunday, 9 November 2014

FAITH and CONFIDENCE : Definition and Difference

Sometime back, I wondered aloud to some friends on the difference between Faith in God and Confidence in God. Are they the same, and if not, what is the difference? The quote below started this train of thought in my mind.
Where there is FAITH, there is love;
Where there is love, there is truth;
Where there is truth, there is peace;
Where there is peace, there is bliss;
Where there is bliss, there is GOD.
Many of us would recall Bhagawan quoting the above words during a Divine Discourse or during a personal interaction in the interview room, or during those unforgettable Trayee sessions in His residence at Brindavan (Whitefield). And perchance if we missed hearing Him here then technology ensures that we can still listen to Him through audio or video recordings preserved for posterity. 
'Trayee Brindavan,' Whitefield ashram
Swami had a way with words ! Profound spiritual truths from the Vedas or the Upanishads and from world religions flowed from Him seamlessly, in simple words tailored to suit the modern sensibility that otherwise has no time for philosophy couched in abstruse language. But Bhagawan could hold your attention and force you to think through His pithy aphorisms that had layers and depths of meaning and might take a lifetime or two to internalise.

As a student in the 80-90s period in Swami's University, when I listened to the above quote, I would feel happy for of course I had faith in God and in this Divine manifestation in front of me. I loved Him, I followed Him and had great regard for Truth. Hence, why worry, my life would be awesome, henceforth ! Life did take an awesome turn -- I spent nearly two decades in His physical proximity and I had my fill of Divine Bliss in many ways. I witnessed many marvellous, unbelievable things happening in front of my eyes. But there was one thing that still eluded me and this was PEACE. I was happy and inspired but not peaceful and this bothered me a lot. In fact, lack of peace sometimes dented away my happiness and I came into a dark place where I wondered how if I could not find PEACE in the 'ABODE of Peace' (Prasanthi Nilayam), near the Avatar of LOVE, then nowhere in the world would I find it. The ups and downs of life teach us many lessons; I had the added advantage of living near the 'greatest Teacher on Earth' and I learnt many lessons about life, but peace eluded me still. This 'peaceless-ness' was accentuated especially when things did not go the way I thought they should, apart from the daily, everyday irritants. At every turn the unexpected awaited me and I had to change my road-map many times. (Now I don't have a road-map -- I tore the last one and did not replace it !). Living near Divinity I discovered first-hand that 'CHANGE is the only constant in life' and Bhagawan's favourite message was: "LOVE MY UNCERTAINTY, for it is not a mistake". (Why didn't somebody warn me about this, that spirituality was no guarantee against uncertainty/chaos?!)

And here I remained for a while, till something subtly shifted in me. Some time in the 2000s, I noticed something Bhagawan had begun to emphasize in His discourses and through other more dramatic ways. One concrete example is how He started presenting the quote on FAITH (quoted on top) as below:
 "Where there is CONFIDENCE, there is love;
  Where there is love, there is truth;
  Where there is truth, there is peace;
  Where there is peace, there is bliss;
  Where there is bliss, there is GOD."
   (ref. Sanathana Sarathi. June 2003. P. 171)   

The word FAITH had been replaced with this newbie called CONFIDENCE in this quote. Are they then mutually replaceable and interchangeable? Bhagawan always emphasised on the importance of possessing the quality of self-confidence to succeed in life. Easy enough to understand when we deal with everyday matters. If at the beginning of some task we doubt our ability to carry it through, then failure and not success is assured. "Do your best and God will do the rest", we have been taught. Or for those who do not believe in the existence of God or His/Her relevance to life, confidence in one's self is faith in one's abilities, strengths, talents. Can this be applied to life too, when the unexpected happens, when familiar situations could shatter, when loved ones are lost or when pain/illness pays a visit and decides to stay on ? What of times of accidents, natural calamities, bomb blasts and other such events beyond human control that are sadly a part of life too? Is human capacity as we know it enough to raise us up?  We may be doing our best, and still nothing changes. We may be stretched to our limits and God does not respond (for those who pray). Something within starts faltering. Something snaps. And this is then called a TEST of FAITH. At this point TWO things might happen. Either people stop believing in God -- they lose their faith (for a God who cannot deliver is no God), or they feel something IN them attracts disaster (call it bad karma, 'graha-dosha' -- planetary malevolence, in-built destructive patterns of behaviour or just plain, old bad luck) and the sense of self-worth gets eroded -- they lose their confidence, or BOTH. In this context, the connection between these two words FAITH and CONFIDENCE gain significance. It is arriving at a solution between two conflicting world-views -- a 'materialistic' world that believes it can do everything by itself and a 'pseudo-spiritualistic' world-view that tends to depend on an external Source/God/Universe for succour.

(My FB friends can now heave a sigh of relief, I am coming to the relevant quote !)
Anyhow, these questions rumbled on somewhere in the recesses of the mind and the beginning of clarity came when I read the following words Bhagawan had spoken in a personal interview: Both faith and confidence are forms of a BELIEF. BELIEF in 'what' is what subtly distinguishes them. Bhagawan said: (words are rephrased here, since the original source is not with me) 
FAITH in God is believing that an Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent Power exists and you believe in its reality, come what may. In other words, GOD IS -- (Devudu unnadu).
CONFIDENCE in God is the belief that this OMNIPOTENT Power is at hand to personally help YOU at every point, come what may, and you move ahead.
CONFIDENCE and FAITH are linked up and are two sides of the same coin because the GOD that I believe exists -- Devudu Unnadu -- (FAITH), and is always at hand to help me (CONFIDENCE) is also the One who dwells WITHIN me. While God is Omnipotent, vast and magnificent, I am worthy of His/Her LOVE and care, because I am a spark of that Divine and am God's child moving towards the awareness of my oneness with Him. Self-confidence then is the linking up with God within and accessing His power, through LOVE. Thus self-confidence is literally confidence in the Self and not merely ego. Both FAITH in God and CONFIDENCE in God are equally necessary to navigate the waterways of life, they are two sides of the same coin and this I leave to the reader to ruminate on, while I got reminded of something else here!
For those who say they are on the spiritual path, this issue of faith and confidence is also a test to clarify our spiritual goals. Why do we follow this path? If it is to gain some 'extra' dividends in the material plane, then we might be in for a disappointment! While spirituality is not about retreating to a cave or a jungle to pursue life-long penance it is neither about merely leading a successful life with all attendant 'perks', because we believe in God. The goal of spirituality finally might be to be reach a state of PEACE, no matter what might happen in life. It is living in the world and yet not forgetting our true home and the greater purpose of why we are here. It is to constantly be REMINDED, "Be in the world, but be not of it".

PS: I thank all my awesome friends who contributed to this discussion on FB and deepened my understanding of this.


  1. Sai Ram Sister, I really found your blog interesting. Would like to know if you have compiled your thoughts in a book? If no, please do come up with a book. I got to know about your blog via your post on Onam at Radiosai Fb page. Earlier I felt that only Brother Aravind has his blog, I didn't have any idea that there are other good blogs too by Anantapur students of Swami. It was only via your link that I came to know about your blog. Your blog has really good and inspiring stories. I loved reading them. Thank you. Please, keep up the good work. Jai Sai Ram :)

    1. Sairam Sai Aanchal ! Thank you for your encouragement; this will motivate me to work with more intensity to write a book on Swami. Shall surely let you know when and where :)
      I am happy to know that you loved reading the stories !


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