The Creation of Faith
Faith is one of the most intriguing words in the human language. What is it and why is it so important? We hear it described in many different religions and are told with it we can move mountains. What is it really? And how can we tell if our faith is real or delusion?
Is it merely a deep sense of confidence? They seem related. Confidence is key. Great athletes seem to know that in the most important moments that they will succeed. The most confident athletes seem much more motivated by the not wanting to lose rather than the desire to win. My students are more motivated by the fear of failure rather than the fruit of success. There is something for us to all learn from in this, as in my mind the great spiritual faith is often activated when we are at the low point of our lives rather than we seem to be at the peaks of achievement.
We develop confidence through repetition of success. Faith is stimulated when we find our edge, when we realize we are at the limit of our strength. At this point confidence is combined with some other worldly quality, the natural mystic when we know what will be.
However we find that we can create a facsimile of faith. It looks much the same, but like fools gold it is a poor copy. What we focus on long enough, what we study and are supported by in our environment, what we tell ourselves with intensity, we come to believe. This poor copy of faith is particularly stimulated by our own bias.
There is a basic litmus test in telling real faith. We may not realize it, but some of the elements we have the most faith in are elements that people do not question at all. It is beyond the faith in any particular deity or avatar, but in elements as simple as the sun rising. Everyone knows the sun will rise tomorrow. If a person cries out “The sun will not come up.” There may be pity for the misguided or the mentally ill, but no anger. If there are controversial statements about great world religious figures there is outrage and the potential of all of violence. To me this is fear masquerading as faith.So confidence, or it’s deeper expression, faith is absolutely essential in this world, but we must stimulate it’s real expression rather than it’s cheap counterpart. It must be created in much the same way we invite a breeze, by opening the window and waiting, not insisting. Patience is a counterpart to faith.