Some individuals have a hard time accepting the idea that they should have faith when they have no basis for it on the intellectual or mental level. This is particularly the case when it comes to spiritual matters, although they seem to have sufficient faith, in many cases, in the unseen, unknown and unknowable predictions and assertions of Western science. On the other side, there are those who place their faith in a particular religious doctrine, without again necessarily having any method of personal validation of the tenets of that faith. These extremes make the understanding of the true nature and role of faith in the spiritual process somewhat challenging as humanity tends to go to extremes rather than finding a nuanced and subtle balance.
Sri Aurobindo points out that necessarily, when one takes up spiritual practice, faith becomes essential because we are attempting to bring into being and manifestation powers of consciousness that exceed the normal limits of the human mental framework, and thus, stand outside the range of what the mind can weigh, judge and determine. Faith represents a knowledge, in this case, that needs to be perceived and validated with another organ than the mind. The key to this knowledge is the soul, which, as a portion of the Divine in manifestation, has secretly embedded within it, the knowledge which, until it can become manifest, must be called the soul’s faith.
Sri Aurobindo advises for the integral Yoga an unshakable faith is necessary. “It is therefore necessary from the beginning to understand and accept the arduous difficulty of the path and to feel the need of a faith which to the intellect may seem blind, but yet is wiser than our reasoning intelligence. For this faith is a support from above; it is the brilliant shadow thrown by a secret light that exceeds the intellect and its data; it is the heart of a hidden knowledge that is not at the mercy of immediate appearances. Our faith, persevering, will be justified in its works and will be lifted and transfigured at lat into the self-revelation of a divine knowledge. Always we must adhere to the injunction of the Gita, ‘Yoga must be continually applied with a heart free from despondent sinking.’ Always we must repeat to the doubting intellect the promise of the Master, ‘I will surely deliver thee from all sin and evil; do not grieve.’ At the end, the flickerings of faith will cease; for we shall see his face and feel always the Divine Presence.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 11, The Master of the Work, pg. 233