Faith is NOT Positive Thinking

Are faith and positive thinking synonymous..? Or is faith the basis of positive thinking..?

On the surface, though it appears that either they are synonymous or faith is the basis of positive thinking, on deeper analysis, I think, it is not so.

Some people suggest that either faith is positive thinking or faith is the basis of positive thinking.

According to our scriptures, Positive Thinking is of passionate or Rajas nature and not the correct method to be followed. We need Saatvik Faith, which is balanced thinking and not Positive Thinking.

What is positive thinking..? Let me present something from wiki on positive thinking of Norman Vincent Peale, the positive thinking guru.
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Positive Thinking:

"Positive thinking," as described by Peale could be broken down into a three step process of practicing repeated self-hypnosis, attaining "divine" or God’s power to use for oneself, and eliminating and avoiding all negativity in life.

The first step in positive thinking is focused on the use of repeated "techniques." Peale describes positive thinking as first and foremost as "simply a series of practical and workable techniques for living a successful life."

The reader was instructed through constant repetition of affirmations to bypass his conscious mind and implant suggestions into his unconscious mind where they would operate automatically, without the interference of conscious will. "Let them sink into your unconscious and they can help you overcome any difficulty. Say them over and over again. Say them until your mind accepts them, until you believe them – faith power works wonders."

Peale's readers were instructed to "pray ceaselessly," to use his techniques repetitively and permanently.

Peale promised the reader that if they followed and practiced his techniques, they could attain success over almost any adversity. "It is a power that can blast out all defeat and lift a person above all difficult situations."

Peale insisted that the only way to acquire these attitudes was through the unconscious and through his techniques. Peale repeatedly instructed his readers that their conscious will, their self knowledge, self determination, courage and intelligence were not be enough to live a successful life. He described these conscious acts of will as unreliable, untrustworthy and not sufficient to meet the demands of life. The conscious, self-determining self was to be rejected, disempowered and "surrendered," so that Peale’s techniques and the unconscious were now the determining and motivating factors in the individual’s life.


Peale also promised his readers that if they followed his techniques that they could always think positively and remove all negativity from their lives. Negative attitudes were not to be tolerated but avoided at all costs according to Peale. Negative thoughts were to be repressed, cancelled out and destroyed through his techniques. "It is important to eliminate from conversations all negative ideas, for they tend to produce annoyance and tension inwardly."

Peale’s readers were instructed to never doubt or question a statement Peale made or this would cut off the "power flow." Any negative doubting of Peale or whether his techniques worked were to be immediately canceled, and the reader was instructed to immediately repeat the Peale phrases.

The Peale statements, and the words that made them up were actual "things" according to Peale. "Thoughts are things," and the repetition of his phrases were more important than actions. Repeating positive only statements would cause only positive things to happen. But according to Peale, the reverse is also true.

Thinking negatively causes negative things to happen. Thus the fear of negativity, of avoiding all negative, fearful "thoughts" and realities is part and parcel of positive thinking. There can be no positive thinking without this avoidance of negative thinking, according to Peale. "Never think of the worst. Drop it out of your thought, relegate it. Let there be no thought in your mind that the worst will happen. Avoid entertaining the concept of the worst, for whatever you take into your mind can grow there."

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Positive thinking suggests that all negative thoughts need to be removed from our mind. In my view it is not practical.
If one really follows it to the word, the person will either become insane or live in his own cocoon, irrespective of his environment.
Positive thinking looks like synonym for 'blind belief' in a way.
U become what u believe. So believe whatever u want. U will become that. Does that sound logical..?
How can anyone believe anything and become that..?
Also, Why should we not think negatively..? In fact should we not think negatively and analyze what all could be the negative things that could occur and be prepared for it ? Why should we remove negative thoughts totally..?
Why should we cocoon ourself with blind belief of positive thoughts…?
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Faith:

Religions use faith as a tool to promote belief in some particular way of life. Humans use faith as a mechanism to reinforce belief systems between themselves for variety of relationships.

There is only a thin line between belief and blind belief. Most people who use faith try to harp on the blind belief to reinforce their own comfortable living.

There is no limit to faith, when it is blind. I can believe that I am god. Or someone else is god. I can believe your house belonged to me in my previous birth and hence on account of my faith, it belongs to me.

Faith has been made synonymous to blind belief by so many people and has lost its real meaning. It has been stretched to blind limits loosing its relevance totally.

But what is faith in our custom..? Is it blind belief..?

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The closest Bhagavad Gita comes to faith is with a word called 'Shradda'. While 'Shradda' is definitely faith, it is faith in whatever we are doing. It is not blind belief.

Chapter 17, Verse 2:

sri-bhagavan uvaca
tri-vidha bhavati sraddha

dehinam sa svabhava-ja

sattviki rajasi caiva

tamasi ceti tam srnu

 

Krishna says, "Sraddha(faith) becomes of 3 types, based on one's own nature. Saatvik (peace), Rajas (passion) and Tamas (indifferent) are these".
That is sraddha or faith that one develops is based on the nature of him being peace loving, passionate or indifferent.
A peaceful person develops appropriate confidence and is devoted to whatever he is doing.

A passionate person develops overconfidence and is blindly devoted to whatever he is doing.

An indifferent person does not have much confidence and is not fully devoted to whatever he is doing.
In other words, a saatvik person has belief. No blind belief. He worships the gods. He accepts what he gets.
A rajas-ic person has tendencies of blind-belief. He worships the demons. He cannot accept what he gets. Hence he worships demons to get what he wanted.
A tamas-ic person lacks any belief on himself or others. He worships the dead. Neither he seeks, nor he gets.
Needless to say 'Saatvik' faith is the best faith of all these.

All these point towards the fact that, while our scripture would promote faith or belief, they are against blind-belief, which is of rajas nature. They are also against no belief, which is of tamasic nature.


The right approach is to have belief in one's self and seek, but be ready to understand, analyze and accept what we get and proceed from then on for trying again or exiting.
Gita also states that people are bound to be there with Rajas or Tamasic nature. The idea is to move over to Saatvik nature of normal belief from the natures of blind or no beliefs.
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So how is Faith and Positive Thinking getting related..?
Positive Thinking if it promotes blind belief is against faith of saatviks. Instead of Positive Thinking, we need to promote Saatvik Thinking.
The idea is not to hypnotize ourselves into a cocoon or a make-believe world, which is the 'power' of positive thinking. This is of the Rajas type and not recommended.
Instead, to have a normal belief on one's self, but which needs to be critically questioned by ourselves, which can be done only by having negative thinking.

Thus, we need to have balanced thinking.
The correct faith is the faith of the Saatvik type. Saativk Type promotes balanced thinking.
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Our faith has to be the belief, concentration and devotion in whatever we are doing. But we also need to know we can go wrong. We also need to know, that we are limited and cannot become everything, just by thinking. There are things beyond us.
Our faith has to be the belief, that in every problem we have, an opportunity is seeded. Hence it is a question of seeking that opportunity in every problem.

Hence we need to keep our senses totally open and not close it by hypnotizing ourselves.

Our faith has to be the belief, that in every good thing, there is something bad and in every bad thing, there is something good. Hence we need to make the best out of every thing.
We need to try to our level best without worrying about the results.

Hence, (Saatvik) Faith is NOT Positive Thinking.

-TBT

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