Faith is the first element of the inner poise required to overcome “fear, peril and disaster”. Sri Aurobindo defines the nature of the faith that is called for. This is not a blind or an arrogant faith, but a faith that understands the movements of Time and the evolution of consciousness at work through the universal manifestation, and which is able to accept this process with an open heart.
“Let your faith be pure, candid and perfect. An egoistic faith in the mental and vital being tainted by ambition, pride, vanity, mental arrogance, vital self-will, personal demand, desire for the petty satisfactions of the lower nature is a low and smoke-obscured flame that cannot burn upwards to heaven. Regard your life as given you only for the divine work and to help in the divine manifestation. Desire nothing but the purity, force, light, wideness, calm, ananda of the divine consciousness and its insistence to transform and perfect your mind, life and body. Ask for nothing but the divine, spiritual and supramental Truth, its realisation on earth and in you and in all who are called and chosen and the conditions needed for its creation and its victory over all opposing forces.”
We see that in the normal sense of the word “faith” as generally utilised, there is a large element of blindness, arrogance and fanaticism. Faith drives people, in many cases, to act in ways that are distorted and violent. It does not recognise the validity of other forms of understanding or belief, and does not leave room for coexistence and mutual understanding. “Faith” in this traditional sense has led to events like the “Holy Inquisition”, the Crusades, and various types of “doctrinal purity”, with a hierarchy in many cases actually determining what is “valid” and what is “heresy” to a particular religion, dogma, creed, philosophy or teaching.
Sri Aurobindo’s definition of faith is clearly of another order. It specifically calls for wideness and understanding and does not have any touch of arrogance or ambition associated with it. This type of faith allows us to overcome the limitations of the mental and vital framework within which we normally function, by allowing the higher forces to enter and do their work without opposition, with the understanding that what the mind cannot know today, it may at least be open and responsive for the promised transformation of tomorrow.
Faith reinforces aspiration and takes us beyond the walls of our mental structures and limitations.