The irony of faith

Even when you think you don’t have it, you do.

Growing up in a secular household, the topic of faith, to the best of my memory, was never discussed. We didn’t discuss things like God, religion, life after death and so forth. The only questions I remember asking about these topics would come after the occasional visit to church for a funeral or a wedding. To the pious, it appeared I had a lack of faith.

But this lack of faith, or more appropriately this lack of knowledge about faith, was never a problem until my later years. Certain touchstones would cause me to pause and reflect on faith: my father’s death, the events of 9/11, the feeling of emptiness that would frequently overtake me. Those events, while trying to elicit a faith-response within me, simply clouded my understanding of faith and religion. To add fire to the brimstone, I’m reminded every four years of my lack of faith by presidential candidates who deem any religious experience not consistent with their own to be a moral sin upon the Earth. Those precious candidates at least taught me one thing: you can’t guilt someone into faith.

So without an organized concept of faith, god or religion, I stumbled upon spirituality in my late 30s. The concepts felt warm and comfortable. After all, most spirituality puts the person at the center of the universe instead of God—I liked that. I also liked the intellectual pursuit of spirituality, researching the great teachers and their lessons and studying them with a philosophical lens. Yet hundreds of books and seminars later I found myself still aching for an understanding of faith.

What does one have faith in? Certainly for most people it’s a faith in “Almighty God.” Having thrown that concept in the trash, I needed something else. “Faith in myself” sounded better, but still didn’t feel right as I struggled with life and didn’t still trust myself. We are told that faith is a belief not based on proof, which makes acting on faith all that much harder. If you can never quantify such a belief until perhaps after death, what good is it to hold such faith?

When I read Jane Robert’s The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher: The World View of William James, I was particularly taken with James’ view on faith. He defines it as a growth medium, turning the tables on our traditional view of faith “in” something.

“This brings us to faith, of course, which as I now perceive it is a physical, biological condition of growth and a psychic or spiritual condition as well. It is as if faith were the agent that developed a negative into a definite picture in the darkroom of the mind; and without faith, the events will not “take,” Roberts writes.

My intellect started processing this concept immediately. This view takes it for granted that faith is a constant presence in the universe, an active substance that makes life possible. Faith grows the body. Faith nurtures the seedlings. Faith turns the invisible wheels of the Earth and points us at the sun for just the right amount of time every day. Faith is a process.

My need for proof of faith’s existence then became palpable for its existence is now definable everywhere. The things we take on faith become faith itself. No one needs to tell his or her body how to digest food. Breathing is automatic. The miraculous ability for life to happen in the present moment is proof of faith’s presence.

What we term “bad” or “negative” things aren’t bad or negative at all. Those definitions are only defined when we turn our heads away from faith and ignore the evidence to the contrary. We are constantly being supported by the universe through the process of faith itself. Nature, unimpeded, is always seeking growth, balance and fulfillment, so trusting in that process means that nothing is ever wrong unless we take faith out of the equation.

Faith in this case becomes an understanding of the way the world works. As a growth medium, it is not only life giving but also life sustaining to every bit of consciousness on the planet. Faith helps us understand the support available to us and assists us with reframing unwanted or undesired circumstances. It allows us to perceive the magic of consciousness where every act leads us gently toward a greater understanding of ourselves.  Accepting this definition means we either accept faith on its terms or fight against it. Honoring Your Spirit means going along for the ride, assuring that faith will allow life to unfold perfectly.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of semantics, for now I’ve started having “trust” in “faith.” It’s a trust in the process of life including my own unique stamp on the world. It’s a trust in my own thoughts, impulses and beliefs and knowing that faith will coalesce those actions into objective reality. This new reality of faith allows me to see I’m never without it, only sometimes temporarily disconnected from it. And rediscovering that connection gives me direct experience with the divine.

Advertisements

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hamiltonal
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 02:46:14

    Brilliantly put, Chris. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. Pedro
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 14:32:30

    Excellent! Great topic!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: