Barefoot College is an amazing story of faith in action. There is the vision of its founder, Bunker Roy, the faith of every single middle-aged student, the confidence of every village the women students come from and return to electrify, and the belief of Barefoot supporters around the globe. If you’d like to know more about them, check out the PBS Religion and Ethics story.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali cites faith in the first book, thread #20. It is linked to spiritual consciousness. Is it possible to have a spiritual consciousness without faith? Well, yes, but it would be very limited, circumscribed by human potentiality.
Nischala Joy Devi offers a contemporary interpretation of Patanjali in her book, The Secret Power of Yoga. She says identification with Supreme Consciousness is enhanced (her interpretation of Patanjali) by “faith, dynamism, intention, reflection, and perception.”
Faith implies a power unseen, and in the Barefoot College case, a power unheard of. It doesn’t usually happen in a day though. Faith is a gift, yes, but it is a grace that can be trained by taking gradually larger steps. It’s often linked to disciplined practice and development of energy. Your asana practice can be greatly influenced by a constant diet of faith. In every pose you attempt, feed yourself a dish of faith, no matter what else is going on. No matter what physical or mental ailments you may be undergoing, sup on faith and your asana will feed you in return.
Not only can faith feed your yogic development, when faith is pointed at social issues, the world changes. Take a look at some of the incredible steps taken by Social Edge bloggers such as Global X, Kiva Chronicles or, Forging Ahead.
There is a word for faith in Sanskrit that Patanjali uses in the Yoga Sutra-s. The word is “sraddha”. This is a very beautiful word, which comes from the root “dha” – to hold or sustain. The idea behind the word sraddha is that if we have faith, it will sustain us or hold us and not allow us to fall down. Yoga Sutra says that when we have faith, we will have confidence and through this we can achieve anything, even in times of difficulty.
Let’s make a commitment together to foster faith in one another. Ditch the competition. It only brings you down anyway. No one ever wins.
It’s through healing on many levels that we come to abide in our True Nature. Yoga teaches us to heal contemporary as well as ancient wounds. Learning to open ourselves to faith should be an integral part of our yogic development. Knock loudly on that door and watch what blasts through. You may never be the same, nor will I.