Many times in the course of meditation you will think of things you’d rather be doing. There may be moments of boredom, of sexual desire, doubt, or fatigue. At these moments you must call upon your faith. Faith in what? Faith in the power of meditation to change your awareness and your perspective about reality.
It is to strengthen this faith that you study books rather than simply do your practices. Study brings you a deeper understanding of why you meditate and what to expect. When you read other people’s stories of a meditative life you get a sense of the possibilities for your own. These inspirations can generate sufficient faith to override the difficult moments in meditation. Understanding feeds your faith.
Along with faith comes the requirement for dogged persistence. At first meditation may bring you mild highs or some relief from suffering. But there may come a time – just as there does in the development of any skill – when there will be a plateau. You may be bored, discouraged, or even negative and cynical. This is when you will need not only faith, but persistence. Often you will find yourself in training that forces you to sit when you wish you didn’t have to. You subject yourself to this because something deeper within tells you to go on. It forces you to persist despite your abhorrence of the process. This persistent effort brings greater faith.
Even to the end of the journey faith is vulnerable. For example, though your faith may be strong enough to sit in meditation, if you mix with people who sneer at it, their skepticism may weaken your resolve. But if you stay with meditation, faith in your path will strengthen until you can withstand any criticism, even your own doubt and dark night of the soul.
When meditation works as it should, it will be a natural part of your being. There will no longer be anything apart from you to have faith in. Hope starts the journey, faith sustains it, but it ends beyond both hope and faith.
– Ram Dass