Almost all the pious pundits and religious gurus preach us to keep the faith or take a leap of faith to be liberated. I don't understand, what is the faith all about and what to keep the faith on? Most of them are talking about abstract things that we refer to as unknown.
See a related discussion had here Understanding "Emptiness"
The Christian theological doctrine 'Justificatio sola fide', 'justification by faith alone', specifically refers to works not being enough to justify a life, or to give salvation at judgement day and entry into 'a new heaven and a new Earth'. It certainly appears to serve a different role to trans-logical statements in Buddhism like
"To think ‘it is,’ is eternalism, To think ‘it is not,’ is nihilism:
Being and non-being, The wise cling not to either."
-Yogacara philosopher Nagarjuna
"The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for, or against, anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail."
-from the Hsinhsinming by Jianzhi Sengcan, third patriarch of Zen
But I would argue a similar role is served. There has to be a shift from analytical consideration, to simply being in the form or way which has been understood. This is to be in 'the state of grace', ready for the day of judgement, where what we are habituated to constitutes us:
"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." - Revelations, 22:10
It is not enough to understand how to be, we must at some point just be.
In the Roman tradition we have a description of the tension between death-bound time-bound mortality, and spiritual immortality in a similar way:
The seeds of life— fiery is their force, divine their birth, but they are weighed down by the bodies' ills or dulled by earthly limbs and flesh that's born for death. That is the source of all men's fears and longings, joys and sorrows, nor can they see the heavens' light, shut up in the body's tomb, a prison dark and deep. (Aeneid VI:843-848)
Here are some passages from Ecclesiastes which I think further this case. Elsewhere wisdom is situated, but it cannot be an end in itself. We must live, and harmonise our wisdom with our living, knowing that we must die:
16 “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.”
17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. .. Anyone who is among the living has hope —even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come
It is about the purpose of wisdom:
"There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels." - Dhammapada
Wisdom leads us to a place we must find ourselves, of peace. Like water that no one else can drink for you though, you must quench your own thirst. A paper rice-cake will not nourish you.
It needs to be understood that a certain amount of faith is necessary to function in any real situation. For instance, when you hop out of bed in the morning you have faith that the floor will be there to support you. When you add 2+2 you have faith that the answer will be 4, just as it was the last 1000 times you did that. And if given two large multi-digit numbers to multiply together you have faith that the multiplication technique you learned in elementary school still functions, even if you've never been presented with those two numbers before.
Basically "faith" is saying "Because these precepts have (mostly) been true in the past I will assume that they are still true."
The problem, of course, is when you accept as true claims which, on closer scrutiny, are not supported by experience, or by rational argument. Eg, a religious pundit may have presented you with a sequence of claims which you would like to believe but which have no logical basis. If you point out this lack of a basis for believing them you are told to "have faith" -- basically ignore your skepticism. This is a different kind of "faith".
Now, certainly there are things that you may not "know" for a "fact" but that you "believe". For instance, I believe that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is true, though I certainly lack the insight to know this for certain. So it might be said that I have "faith" in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. But I accept the possibility that my faith may be proven wrong at some time in the future, or that I may somehow be misinterpreting the meaning of the principle.
This is different from the kind of "faith" that many evangelizers may demand. They expect you to accept their claims without supporting logic, and without preserving the option of changing your mind should future revelations contradict their claims.
Basically, science and religion both require faith, but science leaves open the option (in fact, demands the the option remain open) to change your beliefs in the face of new information, while religion (and religion-like political/social doctrines) demands that you ignore any contradictory information.
First you try to know some basics from the following link and read my answer. After questioning all these several times accept the best by your power of discrimination.
Now read my answer to your question:
This is because if there is ego in us liberation cannot be attained.
Ego is often related to our body, mind etc. If we have faith in nothing, without having no peace of mind our life becomes miserable. And one can realize even (what you call) 'that abstract thing' and he would realize 'that abstract thing' was not a mere abstract idea like other things/ideas. If you have strong faith is in that abstract thing you forget yourself and your work would become more perfect and that would also help to weaken your ego. And this would make you happy and that would help you in your life even though what they call liberation, is not attained. Also, your works become benefit to the society. That is why pundits and religious gurus are preaching so.
I don't know whether all pundits' and religious gurus' preaching is after realizing this. I strongly believe it might not be so.
Even though, IMHO, those who have higher intelligence had better pursue the truth rather than keeping the faith or taking a leap of faith. Different paths have been suggested for people having different abilities. And if one has no attachment he doesn't need to worry about detachment or liberation. He may throw it away. But before that he must make sure whether he has any attachment to anything, anybody or any body.
I think I what they mean if they themselves struggle to understand -- 'cause that part is true, you need to make a certain leap of faith to become free. Or, it could be much more sinister -- they know the specifics, but whether they realize it or not, they are not selling freedom -- they are selling death.
One can see the same pattern, the same trick everywhere as a perfectly valid and useful concept is replaced with a fake, looking like its mirror reflection.
The Mirror Image Fallacy
(or skip to next section for the answer to your question)
Here is how it works. Imagine you are an evil genius and control humanity by pulling strings from the shadows. To make your job easier, you want to keep everyone too hurt and anxious to care for anything beyond the bare minimum -- but not too hurt to stop caring altogether, lol. And if it weren't already a delicate balance, those damn humans, much to your annoyance, keep coming up with new ideas for a better life! Of course, you know better than to try and suppress the dangerous idea directly -- that can easily backfire and draw even more attention to it. One of the better options involves deploying a decoy -- a similar-looking fake model -- to lure people away from the original.
But how would you come up with a model that:
a) looks so similar, it can be mistaken for the real thing b) still appears coherent and reasonable, and, yet c) is useless or even harmful when put to practice?
Sounds impossible? Well, as it turns out, "a mirror image" of the original model usually does the trick. It exploits an otherwise useful feature in our intuition -- when searching for a match, it trained to make no distinction between a pattern and its mirror image. Which makes total sense -- like, you are seeing the same cat whether you are looking at it, or its reflection, aren't you?
And sure, the above is not always true, but ask yourself what is more important -- a) cats, or b) which way the causality runs?..
Or take self-love, for example. It goes like, "You must learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else." Seems reasonable -- and if only loving yourself wasn't this tricky in the first place! Such a shame, really, isn't it?..
Well, no, not really. I mean, that concept's ubiquity, despite being a decoy, sure is. But it works exactly like it should, because, you see, loving (or anything) yourself never comes first! <== that's the mirror fallacy, but it's not the only fallacy here -- (ab)using the l-word adds to the confusion, as it can denote way too many distinct states of mind, and not all of them that benign either. So let's clarify: whenever they say "self-love", what they really mean is "self-compassion".
To sum up: your relationship with yourself mirrors (no pun intended) your relationships with others. Wanna treat yourself better? -- start treating others that way. In fact, start with people you aren't particularly fond of, because let's face it -- we usually place ourselves smack at the top of that list.
Now back to your question:
The Leap to Freedom
So why we must have faith?.. Two words: Cartesian doubt. You see, relying on pure reason alone, we must conclude that impossible is nothing, leaving us thoroughly deprived of freedom. Wait, what?..
OK, that does sound a bit counterintuitive, but first, we really can't know if God is real, or the real world is real, or we live in the Matrix, or are dreamt by Cthulhu, tho the last one would explain a lot... still, anything is possible -- it just doesn't mean we can actually accomplish anything. An attempt to do something could produce just that, but also every other imaginable outcome (and every one that isn't).
Imagine walking in darkness. You are "free" to pick your heading literally on every step. Only you won't get far that way -- you'll be walking in circles instead. It's not real freedom unless you see, where you are going. Unless you can use your eyes to drastically limit your freedom, limit which way you are going. That's how you get where you want, by knowing where to go.
"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2 + 2 = 4 [and not 5]. If that is granted, all else follows. -- Goerge Orwell, 1994
How can we get to knowledge then? Our only other choice is to start assuming things. Assumption means we pretend, irrationally, that we know something we don't. The other term for it is a "leap of faith". A leap, as opposed to unconditional faith. The latter, being an open-ended proposition would simply put us back to square one, as faith makes anything possible.
What we want to assume, instead, is a core belief capable to act as the first premise of a fully rational, otherwise -- or scientific! -- system of beliefs. That way, rather than ditching rationality, we are making a certain leap of faith as our only rational choice -- if even!..
'Cause the first premise of science, itself qualifies as a scientific theory.
Specifically, it posits that we all belong to the same explainable, through logic and reason, reality. The One, and the only, in terms of science. Or call it God,1 since we are talking faith. Also -- told you! -- since John 16:25, "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father."
So I don't know... You think that was plain enough? I think that was plain enough. And there's more below.
And, if you were wondering, I can totally explain the "I" thing. Like sure, before Abraham was born, I AM, but keep in mind that I is "the lógos became flesh". Jesus was the flesh part, and maybe he did some weird things with it, but he has his reasons and his flesh. And I have mine, and I'd prefer it to stay that way.. if no one minds terribly.
No endless cookies either... OK, I'm not trying to be unreasonable, I merely suggest that you beautiful people might want to check out something else I offer, cause it is just as endless too. I've got human souls waiting for you, those "lógos" things, ready for consumption, for free -- keep your virgins! (actually tho.. 'cause gets weird, ok)
Anyway, I'm not kidding, and the time is no longer coming. It is here now. And that's everyone's choice -- a cookie with my name on it, or a copy of the divine spirit,† a human soul with yours?
P.S. I do believe I answered your question, but let me know if I left some step out.
† And I can just as easy retell this story in terms of evolution, neuro-, computer, etc. science. I go archaic simply to emphasize that I did not come up with all this after 2020 of staying home with drugs, an empty room, and all the marbles on the floor to keep me company. All usernames checkout -- but please, don't take my word for it, check it out yourself!
1 Needless to say, the Bible and many ancient texts start making a whole lot of sense once you've got the metaphors right. Like "God" ==> "the objective reality"; a "human soul" (or lógos) ==> our conscious rational "Self"; the "divine spirit" (lógos again, 'cause everyone gets their own copy, but in the God's image.. well, in theory they do) ==> wait... I'm not sure if we actually have a word for... whatever makes the world go round in strict accordance? Because Other than through [the lógos], not a thing has been made, unless it, indeed, has not! <== I'm sure it'd sound better in Greek, but that's where the "explainable" part comes from, keeping the scientists happy.