From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Faith is a rare flower of inestimable value. It must be cultivated in the garden of your heart and nourished daily with the water of sincerity. The weeds of doubts and misgivings should be totally eradicated. Then it will strike deep, root, blossom and bear the fruit of devotion.

Faith can move mountains. Faith can work wonders. Faith heals and creates. Faith is the searchlight for finding God. Faith makes the weak strong and the timid brave. Faith makes the impossible possible. Faith can give you peace, inner spiritual strength, joy, freedom, immortality and bliss.

Faith is the greatest thing in the world. Even the highest rationality has faith as its background. Even the greatest philosopher has faith as his stronghold. No intellectualism can prove good if it is unsupported by faith. The whole world stands on faith and is guided by faith.

One cannot prove God without faith in God. God is only a matter of faith, which is the outcome of samskaras, past mental impressions. Faith is guided by impressions of actions done in previous births and the present faith is nearer or farther from the truth in accordance with the advancement made in spiritual evolution.

Hear not the voice of the mind. This voice will delude you. Follow the voice of your soul. This voice will lift you up and take you to the goal. Abandon all sorts of wrong notions, superstitions and ideas of impossibilities. Cling fast to faith in divine possibilities. Aspire constantly to live in the divine.

Blind faith should be turned into rational faith through understanding. Bhakti, devotion, is the development of faith. Jnana, self-knowledge, is the development of bhakti. Faith leads to the ultimate experience. Whatever you strongly believe in, you experience and become. The whole world is a product of a faithful imagination. If you have no faith in the world, the world does not exist. If you have no faith in sensual pleasure, they will not give you pleasure. If you have no faith in God, you will never reach perfection. Wrong faith can even turn existence into non-existence. Faith is the fundamental necessity for spiritual sadhana.

Faith is first and reason is second. Faith is life and doubt is death. Reason is powerless to know God. Faith alone takes one to God. One who has faith has everything. One who has no faith has nothing. Have intense, unswerving faith – in the measure in which you have faith, you will achieve. Faith brings God closer and reason puts Him far away. Faith is not blind belief – it grows out of the wisdom of the heart.

Often God tests us with the severest trials. But does it mean that He is unkind? That He does not wish to pay heed to our prayers? Obviously not. It is only a test that the aspirant must pass through. The faith may not yet be strong enough; the heart and mind might not have become pure yet. How can the aspirant strengthen his faith? How can he cleanse his mind and purify his heart? Only through tests and tribulations. Just as gold is purified by passing it through a crucible several times, so also the heart must become pure and the faith unflinching by passing through the crucible of trials again and again.

No progress is ever possible on the spiritual path without faith. You cannot reach the goal of life with a faith that flickers at every step. You must have a clear-cut ideal to live for, otherwise you will be headless, depressed and negative. Understand well before you take a step. Faith in God, faith in oneself, faith in the guru, faith in the wise teachings, faith in all that is good and noble – this is the sap of life.