In the field of material science, we begin an experiment with a hypothesis and conclude with a verified result. But in the field of spiritual science, we begin the practice with a leap of faith which results in the direct perception of God.
The Bhakti Rasāmṛit Sindhu (1.4.15) states:
आदौ श्रद्धा ततः साधु-सङ्गो’थ भजन-क्रिया
ādau śhraddhā tataḥ sādhusaṅgo ’tha bhajanakriyā
The first step in the path to God-Realization is to have faith. Then one begins participating in satsaṅg (spiritual programs). This leads to the personal practice of devotion.
Often people say that they are only willing to believe in what they can directly perceive, and since there is no immediate perception of God, they do not believe in him. However, the fact is that we believe in so many things in the world too, without direct perception of them. A judge delivers judgment upon a case concerning an event that took place many years in the past. If the judge adopted the philosophy of believing only what he or she had directly experienced, then the entire legal system would fail.
Watch this interesting video by Swami Mukundananda – ‘Does God Exist?’
A President administers a country on the basis of reports from all over the country. It is impossible for him to visit and see all the villages and cities within his domain. Now, if he was not willing to believe these reports, on the grounds that he had no direct perception of what was happening, how would he be able to administer the whole country? So, even in material activities, faith is required at every step.
The Bible states this very nicely:
“We walk by faith, and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) [v3]
Belief in God is not a natural process that we as human beings just follow. We have to exercise our free will and actively make a decision to have faith in God. Those who choose not to have faith in the spiritual path remain bereft of divine wisdom and continue rotating in the cycle of life and death.