I sometimes doubt God and have crisis’ of faith. I am definitely not enlightened, which means there are still fears bumping around in my heart and mind. Often seasons arise where I cannot understand how the Divine is at work until months or years have passed… and occasionally not at all!
Some people will tell you they have “perfect faith” and never doubt God or their Guru. Such conviction should indicate the complete absence of fear, which is enlightenment. Maharaj-ji said, “The eyes of a saint are always concentrated on the supreme self. The minute he is aware of himself, sainthood is lost.” Therefore souls with perfect faith think ONLY of the welfare of others, which makes me sceptical when someone tells me they never doubt Baba.
I was going through a rough time when I first met Maharaj-ji during an Ayahuasca journey (https://bit.ly/AyaCR). I had gone into the jungle for a period of soul-searching. Along with some family issues affecting my kids, a lifelong friend told me a big lie I believed and acted upon, which cost me dearly financially and caused me to question everything, including my faith (trust) in God. Those pains were forefront in my heart and mind the day I met Baba Neem Karoli and the band of saints that surround Him.
Not long after that ceremony, I began to wonder if I had somehow mentally created the experience with Maharaj-ji to distract myself from the despair I had been experiencing. I had recently re-read Be Here Now and thought I might have projected the whole thing. Today, having acknowledged Him as my Guru for over three years, I confess that I occasionally still wonder from time to time if all this is true – especially when the shit has hit the fan.
The thing that has always made me personally doubt the Divine most is what creates most atheists – people who claim to love God. Many individuals understand how it feels when someone who professes to love God sticks a knife in your back – it stings like hell! It hurts because we’re human. Often, such situations cause me to doubt whether what I’m following is true or not. Since I’ve been pursuing Maharaj-ji, the folks who have trolled me more than anyone else are people who claim to love and worship Him.
After some recent adverse developments, seemingly one after the other, I questioned Maharaj-ji, asking Him why He hadn’t given me better counsel in these situations even though I had patiently asked him profusely beforehand to guide me. Baba’s answer was to remind me that doubt is a standard part of the process for those who hold Maharaj-ji in faith –
In conveying the story of his son’s death from cancer, Dr Larry Brilliant wrote, “After Jon’s death, I didn’t believe in anything anymore. Girija and I removed all the pictures of Maharaji and Karmapa, angry at God for taking our boy through a disease I could do nothing about. It was worse than when I was in India, angry at God because I thought he must be a lousy manager to allow little babies to die from smallpox. Losing Jon was the hardest moment for my entire family, and I found it impossible to function afterwards… But doubt is the constant companion on the journey toward faith. And while the pain of loss does not go away, and I miss my son more than I can say, I also have found, as I have tried to be honest, digging deep inside, that I love my two other children even more than I thought I ever could, and I realize how lucky I am to have such wonderful young human beings so close to me. There is so much for me to be grateful for. Smallpox was eradicated, and I got to see Rahima Banu (the last child to receive a smallpox vaccination). Girija and I still love each other after nearly half a century. And we have since put the photographs of Maharaji, and all of our holy pictures, back on our walls.”
In his book “It All Abides in Love,” Jai Ram Ransom reported, “Radha Rani from Taos one day got so angry with Maharajji that she removed all the Maharajji photos from our house. She felt that Maharajji would not hear her and was not taking care of us. She was letting Him know it. I was out in the yard using a big weedeater. After some time, I took a moment to rest to get out of the hot sun and drink some water. As I passed by our Honda Element, I noticed that the small window behind the driver’s seat was smashed out. It was the window of the car that had a photo sticker of Maharajji on it. I was shocked that Maharajji had “helped” her by removing the last remaining photo. Sure, it was only a synchronicity. I’d clearly caused that. Yet it was not me. A series of events lined up for a long time to cause that. That event took all the steam out of Radha Rani’s anger. Maharajji had revealed Himself. After 2-3 days, many photos of Maharajji were back in place throughout our house…, and the window in the car was replaced along with a new photo sticker of Maharajji.”
Krishna Das related in his autobiography “Chants Of A Lifetime” that “He (Maharaj-ji) knew everything. When he asked me to come back to India, he’d given me a chance to overcome my own innate tendencies or vasanas and break out of them. But I couldn’t. And so this was the way my life had to go, schlepping through the valley of the shadow of death. From that point on, for more than 11 years, I lived in deep despair. My heart was dying for the love that I’d betrayed. It was almost unbearable. Despite the fact that my life seemed to be okay from the outside, I was unable to appreciate it and caused much unhappiness to myself and others. I was unable to help myself in any way because I truly believed there was no hope of ever being happy again.” As we know, he went on from this to become the number one grammy-winning Kirtan Walla in the world!
Manjul Joshi, author of “Journey – Maharaj To Ma,” observed, “Baba is the biggest perpetrator of bharam (illusion) I have ever come across in my life. I must confess here that when the going is tough, even I am sometimes shaken for a while. However, my questions are never about the divinity of the saint. My doubts are about whether the Baba is still there to take care of me or has He left me high and dry. Then suddenly, something happens to put me back on track.” Manjul goes on to say, “The Guru, from time to time, creates doubts in the minds of the disciples. This, I believe, is to test the faith and the mettle of the disciple.”
Ram Dass taught, “One difficulty most of us have is interpreting our suffering, and our doubt, and our confusion, and our loss of faith as part of the process of awakening. We keep feeling we fell out of grace—we blew it. “Why aren’t I high? What happened? Life stinks. Before, it used to be all sweetness and light, and now it’s so heavy for me.” Not for all of us at all moments, but every one of us has those moments. I sure do.”
If you’re like me, you’ve got some doubts too. How do we get past them for good? We don’t. The spiritual life is moving from valley to mountain-top and back again – there is no arrival. How do we find more peace and clarity amid doubt? Continual spiritual practice – meditation, chanting, japa – whatever floats your boat, but that’s where it is.
As we practice and the movie we call our life passes, old doubts turn into faith, and new doubts appear on the horizon. Otherwise, we stagnate.
And always remember that you’re in good company. Not only Dr Larry, KD, RD, and other satsang heroes. But also folks like Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Thomas, John the Baptist, and even Jesus, who in Matthew 26:39 fell on His face and prayed, “Father, let this cup (pain and suffering) pass from me!”
If you get frustrated with Maharaj-ji every now and again, that’s fine. You can throw His photos into the garage and out of your life for a little while if you’d like. Just know you’ll never get Him out of your heart!
In Christ with you!
P.S. Ram Dass’ “uncle” Emanuel transmitted –
As long as there is a material body
you are carrying doubt.
Do not despise your doubting.
That is the human condition.
When there is no more doubt,
you do not need to be human. Know that your every step is unerringly guided
on a perfect route to your destination.
Whatever you may consider to be a side road
is not a side road at all
but the best of all possible paths.
It is only by going into the caverns of doubt
that you find the truth and the Light.