Belief and faith are two different concepts, connected by a single thin thread that is invisible. They don’t depend on any religion, caste, creed or culture. They are present in both the Atheist and the Theist but to see this depends upon one’s perception. One of the stories everyone must have heard is the story of the rabbit and the tortoise, which has created a belief that the slow and steady wins the race. From three decades of experience I would never say that this is true, but almost everyone seems to believe in this. It is clear that if not for the mistake of the rabbit to have fallen asleep before completing the race, it would indeed have been the winner.
Now the story that I heard from my mentor, my Guru, is this: One day, the rabbit and the tortoise decided to have a race and when they started, the rabbit ran fast but before reaching the finishing line, it took rest under a tree. Eventually, it fell asleep and the tortoise slowly reached the finishing line and won the race. When the rabbit woke up, it found what happened and challenged the tortoise for yet another race. This time, the rabbit ran fast till it completed the race. This shows that while slow and steady is good, fast and steady is even better.
On the next day, they agreed to have the race again and this time the path was changed. On the new route, at one juncture, there was a big lake to cross and the rabbit got stuck on the banks of the lake. The tortoise reached the banks slowly, but it crossed the lake easily and reached the finished line. This implies that one’s path, skill and the belief in one’s ability determine the success in our journey and not the overconfidence.
For the next race, the rabbit and the tortoise got into an agreement that on land, the rabbit would carry the tortoise and on water, the tortoise would carry the rabbit. Well, this led to both winning the race! This suggests that in the path of success, one must have goal, belief, and skill but most importantly, the team work to achieve the goal, which makes our faith firm.
Another story which made me understand the difference between belief and faith is from the Puranas. One day, a wise man thought that to earn wisdom, it is best to practice penance in a deep forest. With his belief in God, he went inside the forest and started reciting the name of the Lord Narasimha, who has a lion’s face and the body of a human-being. He was doing deep meditation without having food or water while continuously reciting the name in the belief that the Lord will appear before him.
There came a hunter who saw this man. He asked him, “Wise man, why are you sitting here without food and water?” The wise man replied that he was there to see the Lord Narasimha. When the hunter asked about Lord Narasimha, the wise man described that he has the body of a human being and the face of a lion, has big nails and looks very ferocious. The hunter told him that he has been in the jungle from his childhood, but has never seen something like this animal. But, he promised the sage that he would bring that animal by the end of day, failing which he would give up his life.
The hunter searched the entire jungle with the simple faith that he would find an animal like Lord Narasimha and before sunset, he was able to see the animal that he was looking for. He took his rope, which he used to tie the animals after hunting and tied Lord Narasimha. He brought Lord Narasimha in front of the wise man and said that he has caught the Narasimha. The wise man, however, could not see Lord Narasimha even after the hunter told him that the animal is standing right in front of him. When the wise man again said that he is not able to see anyone else, Lord Narasimha roared mightily, which made the wise man realise that faith is greater than belief and only faith could bring even the invisible to come to life!
In the path to a successful life, belief is certainly very important. Belief and confidence in one’s goal, dream, skill, knowledge, and so on are indeed critical. Yet, a deeper faith, manifested by the power of our spoken words, imagination and visualization, is required to make dreams come to life.