February 20, 2018
A number of my secular friends have asked me what my faith is, and I was trolled on Twitter with a very similar question, “So what is it you actually believe in?”
This question has often troubled me as I have found it very difficult to answer succinctly without lots of coffee, plenty of spare time, and a willingness to drift off the subject. Faith seems to have many facets, and not all non-secular.
In a recent interaction with someone, I was asked, “What do you have faith in?” This question was very well-timed, as I had found myself asking the same question recently, and indeed I have asked myself a lot of questions like this for some time. There are a number of ways I could have answered this question.
I could take the approach where I try and express a concept, idea or theory in as clear and concise way as possible. Trying to formulate a justifiable position, one that grounds me solidly on one side or the other. I could, however, also try to read what the person in front of me may want to hear. To try to manage the expectation and give an answer that is comforting to the person opposite.
One other approach could be to play the I don’t know card. The one that is the get out of jail free card for all questions that you can’t or don’t want to answer. However, in this instance, I took a different approach.
I played the “In all honesty, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I ‘believe’ and ‘feel’ that there is more to life than simply cold hard biology and physics. There is an experience that I ‘feel’ and one that I know to be true, but the causes and the reasoning are not necessarily needed to make it worthwhile. All I know is that it feels good or bad, and I want to know more about it” card.
A long explanation, but one that came from an honest perspective.
What was liberating was that I was able to be honest in my ignorance and also honest in my openness about what I was feeling. I wasn’t satisfying their need for an answer and I wasn’t trapped in a need to provide a response that perhaps I felt they wanted to hear.
All I was doing was being true to what I felt was right in that moment, and while it leaned towards the don’t know side of the equation, it also offered a seeker’s perspective that meant that the answer wasn’t close-ended and was part of a much longer journey.
Faith, therefore, for me, is an intention to learn, to grow, and to investigate what life holds for me. To take a step into the unknown with an openness and a sense of trust in what I am doing is meant for me, that I am on the right path. To take a step without knowing what it may hold.
Faith holds within its tool bag of investigation a deity, gods, or indeed just God. It holds science on one side and spirituality on the other. It may, for some, not have any of the above, and if it does contain one or more, it could get lost from time to time, only to be found again further along the way.
Faith is really just a journey into the unknown future that will undoubtedly have twists and turns, blind summits, and dead ends. However, what I know is that faith enables me to develop a logical, yet intuitive and instinctual, compass that resonates deep in my heart.
Perhaps I can’t explain it in terms that makes sense, and to some I may sound a little esoteric, but my framework is mine and mine alone, and I know that this, for now, will guide me. That is all I need to know, and it makes me happy. The focal point of my faith may change, but faith as a process will stay constant, be my North Star.
Faith leads me towards liberation of the head and heart, away from the traps that societal expectations and structures place upon me. Are you an A, B or C? No, I am Me. The heart is important to all of this as it gives you a balance to the overly logical nature of the head, but the head is also essential as it develops a counterpoint to the overly intuitive nature of the heart and draws it back from rash decisions.
Balance in everything — equanimity — helps our own true natures to come forth, and through having a pure faith in not knowing, but being open to the possibility of everything, there is a greater chance of finding true liberation and happiness as an individual and as a collective.
So to answer the question “What is it you actually believe in?”, I believe in the fact that nothing is closed to me, and that staying open to everything is an important developmental step for not only me but for the world.
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