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The difference between belief, fact and Faith || Acharya Prashant (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
31 min
154 reads

Question : Trust is the foundation of all relations. Where does trust come from?

Speaker : Write down:

Belief – ImaginationTrust – FactFaith – Truth

All of these three words, belief, trust and Faith, pertain to ‘being’. They pertain to reality. Essentially all these three words are saying, ‘*something is there*’ or ‘*something exists*’ or ‘*it exists*’. Though when you say, “I believe this” Or “I trust this” or “I have Faith in this”, apparently you have an object to which the statement is directed. But really, you are talking about yourself and that remains hidden because that ‘I’ appears to be constant. You are saying, “I believe this”, “I trust this”, “I have Faith in this.” In all these three statements, because the ‘I’ is apparently the same, it appears as if you are talking only about some object that you are believing, trusting or having Faith in. But really, all these three statements pertain to the ‘I’. They pertain to what you know yourself as .

The believing mind, the trusting mind and the Faithful mind are three different levels of being. So that’s the reason why in the beginning we said that these pertain to existence itself. Who’s existence? Not only the existence around me, outside of me, but my own existence, my own existence . To simplify things, we can say that these are three levels of consciousness itself – believing, trusting and being Faithful.

Believing , as is obvious, is the lowest level of consciousness.

Why is believing the lowest level of consciousness? Because it is the farthest away from that which is . How do we know that in believing, you are far away from that which really is? Because believing is always, always dependent upon time and others. There can be no belief without time . So one requires a spread of time in order to believe. Otherwise you cannot believe. If there is no past, there can be no belief. If there are no others, there can be no belief either. Are you understanding this? Where do all beliefs come from? Past. You must have heard about it at some point in time . And you would have heard about it from somebody . So two elements are required. What? Time and others. Space and time. So believing is the lowest level of consciousness because it is farthest from the present, farthest from that which is. It is the farthest.

What is the definition of being conscious? Being conscious means knowing that which is . When you say, “I am conscious”, you can’t be called conscious if you are seeing that which is not. Would you call yourself conscious if you are seeing that which is not? Like a drunkard, he sees things that are not there. Would you call him conscious? So what does it mean to be conscious? To see that which is. Now in belief, you are farthest from that which is . So obviously, believing is the lowest level of consciousness.

Then we come a little closer. What is fact? Fact is that which the senses feed the mind and which the mind is hard-wired to take as reality. What is the difference between imagination and fact? In imagination, the mind is free to think and come to its own subjective judgements. Beliefs can be changed. All beliefs come from imaginations. Because they come from time, past and all. Beliefs and imaginations can be changed. But facts cannot be changed because in facts what we are dealing with is a deeper level of mind. You can call it the hardware of the mind, not the software. Just like in a computer system, you can uninstall the software and have another one. So beliefs can be changed. Facts cannot be changed.

What the eyes see as light, will be light for everybody, at least for all human beings. What looks like material will be material for all human beings. A wall is wall for everybody present in this room. Now the wall may be beautiful for some and ugly for some and that is your belief . But whether or not there is a wall is a matter of fact. Is that clear? So fact is nearer to that which is, in the sense that it is a deeper level of mind where the role of thought is not there. You don’t need to rush into the past. However, still, there is a small disconnect from the Truth.

The fact is not Truth . The fact is not really that which is . The fact shows you the wall but does not show you that which enables you to see the wall . The fact makes no mention of that which is the source of both you and the wall, both the subject and the object. What the fact says is that the wall is the final reality. Hence, what the fact says about you is that your senses and your mind is the final reality. Do you see this? What does belief tell you? Belief tells you that time is reality. Belief tells you that time and imagination are reality. So, what does it tell about you? It tells you that you are a product of time. You are a product of time. What does fact tell you? Fact tells you that material is reality. So what does it tell you about yourself? That you too are material – the eyes, the body, the brain.

Now, fact does not require you to be wandering around in time. Remember the wall is there in front of you right now. You don’t really need to go into the past. Right? The wall is a fact right now. But the fact is still missing out on something. When you say, “The fact is this and my enquiry stops at the fact, now I have known the nature of reality”, then you are missing out on something very important. What is it that you are missing out on?


Science stops here. Material stops here. You don’t need to go any further. “Yes, now I know what the wall is.” And yes, you want to know more about the wall? Conduct research, set up a physics lab and do as many experiments as you want to do. But here is the wall and the search stops here. Fact says, “This is the wall and here you are. The wall and you.” The object and the subject and it stops here. Fact fails to see something very important. What is that?

Listener 1 : The observer.

Listener 2 : Subject.

Listener 3: How do I know the world.

Speaker : Yes, there is that, there is you, but what is this thing called consciousness? How am I knowing that there is a wall? Fact is silent about the process of knowing. About consciousness itself, fact says nothing. That is why science faces a huge problem when it enters the zone of consciousness. It is alright till the time you are looking at the pendulum. But the moment it comes to asking, “Whether the pendulum is really a pendulum and what is it within me that is giving the pendulum such shape and such form?”, science starts struggling.

To realize consciousness is to start moving into Truth. To be going towards that from where all subjectivity and objectivity arises is to go towards the Truth .

The journey towards Truth is, in a very strange way, related to knowing the fact. On one hand, one looks at facts clearly and only then can one move into the Truth. On the other hand, moving towards the Truth requires the fact to be demolished. So, while it is necessary to be close to the fact so that you can go towards the Truth, but as you come closer to the Truth, you find that there is less and less substance in what we call as ‘fact’. Just as imagination evaporates when facts come into being, similarly facts start evaporating as you come closer to the Truth.

You have asked about trusting. Whenever you will ‘trust’, you will use your mind’s conditioning in some way. Obviously one is acting stupid if one simply believes, with no inquiry, with no application of intelligence, then that is obviously stupid and the result of that will be that one will suffer. You will get a jolt. You are imagining and imaginations are very vulnerable to being hurt. Existence has no obligation to live up to your imagination .

You will imagine, and when you imagine you don’t call your imagination as ‘imagination’. Both imagination and facts, both belief and trust are very convenient alternatives to the Truth, very convenient alternatives. (Sarcastically) Why have Faith, when one can believe? Why know the Truth, when one can just imagine? And the one who is imagining will not say that this is just my imagination. What will he say? He will say, “It is the Truth.” But this is a very cheap version of Truth and it will soon get hurt and broken. It will soon be broken. So, obviously one must go and look into the facts and enquire. And yes, in that sense ‘trust’, the question that you have raised, is a good thing. Because you have gone and tried to make certain enquiries, you have examined, to the best of your ability you have tried to see. But remember, ultimately it is only to the best of your ability.

Even facts, do not hold good for a long period of time. Because what we call as facts ultimately need to have a meaning. When we say, “This is a wall”, apparently we are making a very clean statement that this is just a wall. It’s not so. Each one of us sitting here, when he looks at this wall, he attaches, subtly, a different meaning to it. The proof of that is that if you are asked to write five sentences about this wall, everybody will write five different sentences. Now, if it were really just a wall, how is it possible to write five different sentences about it? And those five sentences will be so very different, sometimes they may be just opposites of each other. Also remember that there is no wall without those five sentences.

There is nothing called a clean and pure fact.

There is always some hidden meaning that mind attaches to the fact, always. Are you getting it? There is always some meaning that is attached to it. It may be very-very hidden but it is always there. So, if one is living in facts, it is far better than living in imagination. If one is not believing, if one is rather trusting, it is obviously better. But even this would sooner than later crumble. And you would suffer. The wall would crumble and you would suffer.

Ultimately trusting depends upon the hardware of the mind. The hardware. In saying, “This wall is a fact”, you may not be explicitly going into the past. You may say, “The wall is here right now and I am talking about it”. You may not be explicitly going into the past but implicitly you are still in the past.

How? Because all the hardware of the mind is a process of evolution and that has come from the past. Different hardwares in the process of their evolution have evolved differently. That is the reason why if an animal comes here, it may not see this wall as a wall. It may see it as something very different. What you call as light may be darkness to some animals. What you call as silence will be very noisy to some animals. Because their entire journey has been different. Their brain is hard-wired in a different way.

So, implicitly, imagination is still present in the fact. The fact is not free of imagination. Fact is just condensed imagination. In imagining you know that you are just wandering. When you are trusting then you not wandering; you are looking sharply at the object right now, but the agency that would be calling the object as an ‘object’ is still a product of the past. It is still a product of influences.

Listener 2 : Can we say that all imaginations are social conditioning and facts are physical conditioning?

Speaker : Not really. Though it’s close to that. All imaginations are thoughts or ‘ Vichaar’ . And facts are Vritti , the deep-deep basement of the mind. To imagine you will have to make your thoughts run. To look at the fact you don’t need to make thoughts run.

So, we were saying that trusting is a higher level of consciousness than believing. That in trusting there is a lower chance of suffering than in imagination. But still there is a definite chance.

In Faith, in Truth, there is no question of getting hurt because there is nothing that can be broken. In imagination you have something to defend. Right? You are imagining something about somebody. Now there is an image. All imagination is *image-*ination; so there is an image right? That image needs to be protected. If it cannot be protected then it will be broken. If it breaks then there is suffering. Right? In imagination there is an image that can be broken. In fact there is a wall that can be broken. Obviously the image can be broken a little more easily than the wall. You yourself can break the image. Moods of the mind. (Smiles) You can imagine differently. One piece of news and you can break the image. The wall is a little more difficult to break but this too can break. Remember that there is the hard-wiring of the mind which has come from the past and there are meanings attached to this wall. They can collapse. They can surely collapse.

See, take an example, this will help us understand. There is a crowded market. A large market in a city. Alright? You want to send somebody to that market. That somebody is a newcomer to your city and he does not know. So, he asks Anshu (One of the listeners) how to get to the market.

“Can you tell me something about that market? How do I reach that market?”

Anshu says, “Just ask somebody where the star mall is. The market is right around the star mall.”


Then the fellow asks Anuradha (One of the listeners) , “How do I reach that market?”

Anuradha says, “Oh, just ask somebody where Max hospital is.”

Remember the market is large and the market has all of these buildings. There is the mall, the hospital, this and that.

Anuradha says, “Oh, just ask somebody where max hospital is. The market is around the hospital.”


He asks Joy (One of the listeners) , “Where is that market? How to reach that market?”

Joy says, “Oh, just ask somebody where Zaika restaurant is. The market is just around there.”

Do you see that all three of them have stated the fact? Do you see that none of them is imagining? All three of them have clearly stated the fact. But do you also see that the fact is not the Truth because there is a large degree of subjectivity in the fact? Do you see their own personalities present in the fact? Don’t you see that? That is the deception of fact. A wall is not merely a wall. A wall is also a bundle of meanings.

When he has to send somebody to the market, what is he doing? What is he remembering first of all? The star mall. Now recalling the star mall tells something about him and also his perception of the listener. Do you see this? If she has to send somebody to that same place she talks of a hospital. Now the hospital is a fact, very surely a fact. But do you see her mind present in that fact? It’s not a pure fact at all. Because there are no pure facts . Without the meanings there is no wall. Without the hardwired and conditioned mind there are no facts. That is why the intelligent mind never stops at facts. It says, ‘No! No! No! A lot of conditioning is still involved here. I need to go further.’

Facts are also coming and going. There is no stability about facts. Right? We had said that imagination surely crumbles, facts also crumble. You see how facts are crumbling? Today she is sick, so what does that market mean to her? Max hospital. Tomorrow she is excited and happy, so what does the market now mean to her? Star mall. And both are facts. You cannot quarrel with her. But suddenly the fact has changed. Now what kind of facts are these that are changing? Imaginations change. But what do we see here?

Listeners : Facts are changing.

Speaker : Even the facts are changing. So the intelligent mind will not stop at facts. He will say, “There is still something higher to be reached. That market is neither the hospital, nor the restaurant, nor the shopping mall. That market is something else. I have to figure it out.” He goes deeper into his mind to find out what is happening. “What is the source from where all of this is arising?”

Obviously you cannot reach that point, the Source, by thinking and thinking. Soon you find that you are unable to think anymore. Or, if you are thinking then you are thinking in circles, so thinking has become useless. So thinking has to stop. Now enquiry is continuing. Remember, enquiry brought you from imagination to the fact. Enquiry is still continuing but without thought. Thought has stopped, enquiry is still there. And then you realize something for which there is no tangible proof but you have surely, surely realized it.

It is coming not from your imagination but from your deep enquiry. That realization is Truth and that point, your location, is Faith. Faith and imagination are similar in some sense. Both are not facts. Both are not tangible. Just as you cannot show somebody what you are imagining, similarly you cannot show somebody the Truth. Are you getting it? But they are poles apart. In fact they are very-very different dimensions. Imagination is a very low level of consciousness. It’s a very basic activity of the mind. Faith is when all imagination has seized. When even your trust in the fact has seized. Just the enquiry has not seized. And then you just know.

What do you know? Well, difficult to say. But you just come to know. There is no name. There is no tangible outline of what you have known. But there is a proof that you have known. What is that proof? The proof is that till the point you do not really know, how do you feel? If you want to know something and you do not know, how do you feel?

Listener 3 : Restless.

Speaker : Restless. The final proof that you know is that your restlessness stops. And that is Faith. Now you cannot demonstrate it to somebody. If somebody asks you, ‘What is the proof that you know?’, you will not be able to show any proof because the proof is within you. The proof is,” I don’t feel restless anymore”. What is the proof that you are not thirsty? Or let me ask it this way. What is the proof that you have had water?

Listeners : You are not thirsty.

Speaker: You are not thirsty anymore. You are no more thirsty. “I am no more thirsty and that is proof enough that I have had water. That I have come to the fountain from where water springs.” Now here nothing can be broken because there is nothing to be broken. Imaginations crumble, walls crumble, but here there is nothing, so what can be broken? You have not thought of anything so there is no question of that thought being substituted. That is why *Faith is invincible* . That is why Faith can never be broken. What will you break?

If I believe in Hinduism, you can shake my belief. Right? Yesterday’s facts are no more today’s facts. Right? Or I may lose interest in facts all together. But how will you challenge Faith? Alright, challenge Faith. Now what will you challenge? You have a great problem. It’s like fighting empty space. You take a gun and you start shooting space, what will you shoot? What will you shoot? At most you can shoot the gun itself. ( Laughingly ) Or if you are Rajnikant , you can fire a shot and then shoot the shot. But there is nothing else to be shot at. What to shoot? There is nothing.

So, when people use expressions like, “You know, don’t challenge somebody’s Faith”, they do not know what Faith is. Because it cannot be challenged, there is no question of challenging it. And then people use expressions like, “I have deep Faith in God”. They do not know what Faith is. Faith has no object. If there is an object, either it is an imagination or a fact in which you are having trust. Faith has no object. You can never have Faith ‘in’ something. Faith is just Faith . Faith is when you are going beyond objects. When thoughts are no more there. Yet the deepest enquiry has brought you to the point where you just know . Just know. And there is deep peace which indicates to you that now you know. This peace cannot come without knowing. “My peace is a proof that I know.” Obviously you cannot hand over that peace to somebody. Facts can be circulated. Imaginations can be told. Not Faith. But yes, Faith shines upon the face . It is nothing, but it makes everything worthwhile. It is nothing by itself but it makes everything worthwhile. Peace is nothing. Can you show me a little bit of peace? It is impossible. But in peace, life becomes worth living. Is that not so? Do we realize these three and the difference between them? Yes?

Listeners : Yes.

Speaker : Okay. Let me clear a misconception before it arises. To have a Faithful mind does not mean that I do not look at facts now, or that I have lost the capacity to imagine. All it means is that at the center lies Faith. Faithfully I look at facts and Faithfully I imagine. Not that imagination is a crime. Not that thinking of past and future is a crime. They are not crimes. You have not fallen if you are projecting the future . No. But you must be firmly stationed in your seat, the center of Faith. And then if you want to look at past, if you want to read a history book, what are you doing when you are reading a history book?

Listener 3: Looking at the past.

Speaker: Now then if you read a history book then it’s worth it. Go into the past. Alright. Or if you are reading science fiction, a story that is set out in the year 2150. What are you reading?

Listener 2: Imagination

Speaker: Aren’t you reading imagination? It’s alright, you can read imagination. But please be centered rightly . Yes?

Is the difference between these three – imagination, fact and Truth, clear?

Listener 3 : Sir, what is the example for Faith then?

Speaker : The only example for Faith, rather proof, is your inner quietness.

Listener 3 : Sir, how do we know that we have Faith, like true Faith in something?

Speaker : You cannot know true Faith because what you call as knowing is just thinking. But you can know your restlessness. Don’t you know that? Aren’t you aware that there is some kind of a churning always going on? This and that voice, an internal conversation, rather internal parallel conversations are always happening. Is that not so? Yes? A lurking disquiet here, a hidden fear there. Are these not always there? These you know, right? When these are no more there, that is Faith.

So, Faith cannot be known. But when these become unknown then that is Faith. Yes? (Smilingly) The thing with these is, these are our so called ‘life’. The entire internal conversation. These are what constitute our personality; our goals, our targets, our urge to achieve. We are saying, Faith is when these just evaporate. But the evaporation of these would mean the evaporation of your personality itself. And you are deeply identified with your personality. So Faith would be a total transformation. Getting it? You question that ‘How do I know that I have Faith?’ Becomes invalid because that ‘I’ itself will be very much transformed. You will not have Faith, Faith will have you . (Laughs) ‘I’ is all that circulates here, right? Wanders, sits, saunters, all that is personality? The cessation of that is the indication of Faith.

Listener 3 : Sir, so in a way, we don’t have Faith on our parents?

Speaker : You cannot even have Faith on God so how can you have Faith on parents? Even God cannot be an object of Faith, how can parents be an object of Faith?

Listener 5 : Once you mentioned in one of your sessions that, “There cannot be an example of health. There can only be an example of disease.”

Speaker : Yes. We misuse the word Faith. You meet somebody and you say, “You know I have Faith in your product.” You meet a shopkeeper and you say, “I have Faith in your product. In this new soap.” That is the level to which we have reduced Faith. We have started having Faith in soap cakes. Yes? Or a new brand of pizza. “You know I have Faith, their cheese is the best.”

(Listeners laugh)

“I have belief in God and Faith in the pizza.” Have you not heard this expression? “Believe in God.” Have you not heard this? That is the language at which our common wisdom operated. “Belief in God and Faith in the cheese.”

Listeners 6 : Sir even when we write application we write – “Yours Faithfully”.

(Listener Laughs)

Speaker : I was having a discussion and this girl just springs up and says, “Sir, Faith has no value.” “Why?” I asked and to which she replied, “Sir only dogs are Faithful.”

(Listener Laughs)

Our language abuses words because the words have fallen in the hands of those who do not understand where they come from and what do they mean. They have no understanding. Never use this word Faith lightly. It is one’s basic honesty towards himself to call a belief, a ‘belief’. If it is a belief, just say it is a belief. If you are imagining, why not accept that you are imagining? Accept it. That will help you. Remember, imagination is no crime. The crime is when you think of imagination as the Truth. So imagine, but remember that you are imagining. Do not start saying, “You know, it’s a fact.” We start calling our subjective judgement’s as facts. What is not a fact must not be called a fact and what is not Faith must not be called Faith.

Listener 6 : Sir, do we call it Truth because then our position becomes shaky if we call it imagination?

Speaker : Reality. You can call all of that as reality. Imagination, facts and Faith together all these three constitute reality. Even when you are dreaming, you are in reality because to you there is nothing real except the dream. So you can call it the reality. There is no problem with that. No problem. Whatever is happening is real. Just call it reality. There is nothing called unreal. Everything is real. It’s just that the reality comes to you at different levels of consciousness. Is imagination without Truth? Can imagination stand on its own feet? Without Truth imagination cannot stand. It’s like a tree. The one who has myopic vision, goes and looks at the leaf and says, “This is the tree.” The one who can look a little more widely looks at the branches, the trunk and says, “This is the tree.” And then there is somebody who can look at the entire system consisting of the leaves, the trunk, the roots, the soil, the clouds that water the soil, the entire system. And when you say entire system, remember you’ll have to look at the entire universe because the entire universe is responsible for the tree. And when there is that breadth of vision, that is the Truth. The total. But the fellow who was looking at the leaf, was he looking at something unreal?

Listeners : No.

Speaker : So it’s alright. The leaf is the reality, just that it is not the total thing. It is fragmented. It’s not a falseness, it’s just fragmentation. See, there is a door, and that door has a keyhole. Now there may be somebody who is afraid of entering this room. So what does he do? He peeps in from that keyhole. What does he see? The first time he peeks from it he sees, “Oh, Sir is sitting there.” So what does he write? “Sir is sitting in this room.” And he goes away. Now is he stating something wrong?

Listeners : No.

Speaker : It’s just that he is stating the incomplete thing. Because you are looking at the entire thing from the limited keyhole. So you cannot see the whole thing. It’s all real, yes, I am here but then so are you, and so are many other things, right? Wisdom never says that imagination is to be discarded. That is another misconception. Wisdom never says that past and future are untouchables. All it says is that past and future have no legs of their own to stand. The present is their base, their root and their source. The present is their mother. Be with the mother, that’s all that’s being said.

Even goals and targets are alright, but they are not at all alright when they become substitutes for deep contentment in the present*. * Contented in the present, if you want to have a goal, go ahead, wonderful. But our goals arise not from contentment but from dissatisfaction. Why do we have goals? I have asked this question a hundred times. Why does one have goals? Because one feels incomplete and dissatisfied. There is something missing. So, then you want to have goals so that you can achieve and feel a little better about yourself, right? If your goals can arise from your present contentment, your present sense of fullness, then goals are not only worthy, but holy. These are holy goals! Then this is the dance of life, Leela . Wonderful.

So don’t ask this question repeatedly, “Sir, if we do not have any goals then what will happen?” Being what you are, you will obviously have goals. There is no point in asking, “Sir, if we will not have goals?” Can you not have goals? Can you not have goals? It’s impossible. You will keep on having goals. If you maintain your current state of mind, goals are inevitable. They will come. The point is not about goals or this and that; the point is about the mind that is so afraid, it is screaming for help. Goals are just an indication of the mind’s restlessness. Of its utter disquiet. So goals are not the primary thing. Primary is the quality of mind from where it is arising.

Let the mind be settled. Let the mind be joyful within itself, contented, and then do whatever you want to do. Existence has given you complete license. You want to sit? Sit. You want to sleep? Sleep. You want to run? Run. Then your want is a divine want. You want is the desire of existence. Do whatever you want to do.

I can put it this way – Kindly die , and then live whichever way you want to live . But die first. Kindly die and then live as per your wishes. Not getting it? Then you can have everything. Then desires are wonderful. Then you chase desires like anything. Whatever you want to eat you have complete freedom, go ahead. Once you are gone, once your current heap of rubbish has just been burnt down, then you are the son of existence. Then who is there to stop you? Nothing stops you. Play. But till the time you are Akshay (Referring to one of the listeners) you cannot play and if you play you will get a smack. Akshay is not allowed to play. (Laughingly) Akshay has to die.

(Laughingly) Playing is not for the player. Don’t forget this. Life is not for the living. Life is only for the dead.

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