I wrote this the day my niece was born; the poem shares her name: Faith. It came as one of those inspirational flashes where you have to get everything out in one shot lest you lose it to the ether forever.
Faith is a beautiful name, and the word itself is such a deep one that evokes all sorts of things to all sorts of people.
Ultimately we all have faith in something. Some people have faith that the work they are doing will provide the security they need to survive in the world. Some people have faith in the things they see on the news (right or wrong). Some have faith in their personal philosophy toward life, and others have faith in higher authorities.
It all requires faith though, and part of our journey is testing this faith to see if it is correctly placed. We take the chemistry teacher on good faith that if we follow his experiment we will get the same result. Then we do the experiment (although some of us never get that far and just accept the chemistry teacher was correct).
Similarly, in spiritual life faith is a key element. It starts with faith or śraddhā. We have faith in a certain aspect of the path and we test it out to see the results. When we receive reciprocation our faith develops and it leads to deeper experiences and more substantial ones at that.
Without faith you cannot begin to work. The same example: You have gone to a barber shop. He is shaving, and people blindly, closing eyes, and he has got a razor. He can immediately cut. But why do you do this? Because you have faith that "These people are professional barbers. They are shaving so many other people. They will not kill me. All right. Go on." This is faith. And if you have no faith, then you will never have clean shaven. You go away. So beginning is faith, but faith should not be blind. (Śrīla Prabhupāda, May 2nd 1976, Fiji)
First faith, then association with devotees, then removal of all misgivings, then firm faith, then taste, then God realization, and then love of God, the perfection. That is first-class religion. Not some ritualistic ceremony of "I believe, you believe." That is not religion. That is cheating. Real religion means to develop your love for God. That is the perfection of religion. (Science of Self-Realization 1D )