Definition of Faith:
Faith is a bridge of acceptance to move past the unknown.
Faith is problematic for many people for a simple reason: it’s all about facing the unknown.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
The unknown by definition is undefinable. Facing and then defining one part of the unknown will always reveal another undefinable aspect of the universe. As a result, ultimately, faith is not absolutely definable either. You can see this in how people avoid trying to prove their faith in words and instead use actions in its defense. Every time a person nails one part of their faith down, something new comes along to test and change how you hold that faith.
As faith is about resolving the unknown, people try to make their faith absolute (this is when faith becomes belief). As history has shown, people will kill over their beliefs in an attempt to make them absolute.
Doubt and skepticism destroy formalized faith; doubt slips in the cracks to loosen a person’s acceptance of their baseline. Doubt shifts how you see the world. Before you know it, a little doubt can destroy entire belief system under the right conditions. This is the primary reason many organized religions go out of their way to either convert or remove doubters and to destroy skeptics.
For faith to be true, it cannot be validated from the outside; rather each person must have a true acceptance of their baseline. A one size fits all faith will always have some seeds of doubt or problems. This is due to the natural variation in humanity in how we perceive and live life.
Just because people fight over faith don’t think faith is bad. Faith holds a person together. Faith as acceptance is never the problem, but rather it’s an issue on how people hold, judge and fight over faith. Think about it for a minute: once you begin judging others, you are also destroying acceptance. Ironically defending faith can undercut the faith you were protecting.
Don’t confuse faith to only be about religion. Everyone has faith in something except seemingly skeptics. Ironically a skeptic has faith in the unknown and their process on how to reject the absolute.
Faith is important; I teach students how to discover a personal faith. This is the practice I call A Personal Tao. A Personal Tao is not about some master vision. Instead, it’s all about polishing up your internal faith. Take a moment to understand you control your own faith, and it isn’t something you have to prove to others. I also want to stress the point; you don’t need to be religious to have faith. For example, scientists have deep faith also, faith in a process based on facts and experimentation. Religion has stolen faith from the common person. In stealing faith away from us, religion then controls how people accept the world around them!
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Without faith, the unknown consumes and drives people to do crazy things. Buts it’s all towards resolving the unknown.
- People use facts like light to explore the darkness of the unknown, to push the boundaries of the unknown away.
- People use faith systems, like maps to feel comfortable in thinking they know what lies ahead.
- People get into conflict to prove “faith” since the fear of the unknown is so great so they try to force their faith to be true.
In the end, faith can be made very simple. Faith doesn’t require conflict; It doesn’t require any complicated “truths” or fancy, or elegant answers from some wise teacher.
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
In the end, faith just requires acceptance of who you are: living fully in your life. One step at a time, poking about the unknown with a smile, because we are unknown until we live out our life. Once you have yourself, you can dispel all doubts about your nature, since you live it.
Once we have lived our life, we cannot help but behold our selves in fullness, and in our life, we have our faith since we lived it.
Faith vs. Belief
It’s important to understand faith and belief are two separate ideas and concepts. The two concepts get confused with each other because interestingly faith can become belief and belief can become faith. Be aware most people confuse their belief to be faith. Not knowing the difference will cause a person to experience much conflict in their life.
Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.
D. Elton Trueblood
Regarding how I view the two
- Belief is wishing something to be so…
- Faith is accepting it as so…
It might seem to be a small distinction, but there is a vast difference in practice. Faith can bring our world together while belief can burn the world down within crusades.
Let’s take a closer look at belief. If a person’s belief is to wish for something outside their nature, then they run the risk of diminishing themselves.
In other words: If a person places their belief in something outside of their nature, they are by definition wishing to be something other than their nature.
As a healer, a problem I often see is when a person doesn’t believe in themselves but believes in others (or nothing). By placing one’s belief into another, it in effect gives one’s power to others. This works well if the outside person or belief system supports you, but this is very devastating when the person or object of belief goes away. Even worse is the situation when an object/system of belief turns around to abuse you for their gain.
The current sex scandals coming out of the Catholic church demonstrate aspects of this. Priests and Catholic church officials have been abusing their power on members of their parish who believe in them. The Catholic church often takes the stance of hiding their problems, since the Catholic church fears revealing the full truth will fundamentally destroy their system of belief. And yes these scandals do destroy the very tenets the Catholic church pushes forth for people to hold. Belief is powerful, but it’s also delicate as it requires people to wish for something. The abuses of the Catholic church show their actions don’t match the wish of a better spiritual life. People will (and do) walk away from the Catholic belief. This is one of the main reasons why over the centuries so many different churches have formed. The Catholic church officials have been responsible for spawning hundreds of new Christian churches for their abuse of power and the abuse of their belief system.
Taoism teaches the duality of life. Belief is very powerful. When belief is positive, it’s a powerful tool to reinforce your nature and stand against seemingly impossible odds. But it’s positive only when faith is used to shore one’s nature up, to reinforce oneself.
Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
-Norman Vincent Peale
The negative side of belief is when it is used to be something outside one’s nature. At this point, belief introduces a negative process that often winds up destroying the very object of belief you hold. This is why so many Catholic church officials fail; their own belief was not true and outside their nature! Think about this for a moment.
From a Taoist perspective, belief is powerful and should be focused on “striving to be yourself” rather than “wishing to be like someone else”.
No person should judge another person’s belief for this reason also. To judge another belief is to automatically set up another person to be belittled, since, by default the judgment process questions how they wish to be. To do this sets up a conflict.
In helping others explore belief, we must take care not to question the belief. Rather we need to help a person understand their belief so they can focus on the faith underneath their belief.
Faith is what someone knows to be true, whether they believe it or not.
Problems in Belief
Belief is often a very negative process. The simple reason is that belief is often based upon denial. For many people, they may believe in Story A at the price of rejecting Story B; For example, you will often see this in how people will believe family and friends over facts. Racism is another example of a negative belief: that one race is better than another race. Belief based on rejection will always create conflict and problems. Faith-based on acceptance is often a positive force to bring people together.
Now, this can also seemingly happen in faith, but in actuality, every case I have seen when this happens, it wasn’t faith but belief. The two concepts are so close in practice that people often confuse belief to be faith. Why is this? Simple because many people accept their negativity as fact.
- When faith is inflexible, it transforms into belief.
Unfortunately, many people will use the term, “Faith-Based” to hide their belief behind. Don’t be fooled; if a person with faith cannot talk and reach out in acceptance of you, then they’re part of a belief system rejecting you.
Addiction to Belief
It’s possible to get addicted to a belief. Addiction is a process of rejecting something within oneself for something external. The addiction is a replacement for what you reject in your life. A person balances their life against their addiction. Since addictions are consumption-based, they also burn a person out over time.
We all have insecurities or problems in life. We teach in Taoism how to accept our flaws to grow. However, many people reject their flaws by replacing the flaw with a belief. This approach often becomes an addiction. Many born again religious practitioners fall into this trap. Even worse, many religions and cults use stories of belief to prey on people who have insecurities they cannot directly face. It’s very difficult to show a person addicted to a false belief to release it since they are using the belief to hide from their deeper fears and problems. Ironically acceptance and nonjudgment are often the best way to help a person to find release from negative belief structures. You can use this as a test. When a person rejects acceptance and nonjudgment and instead attack others, this is a sign of an addiction to a belief.
An interesting truth since faith is based on acceptance; you cannot get addicted to your faith. You can’t consume faith! If you see someone acting addicted over their faith, then that is a clue they are holding on to a belief rather than true faith.
Problems in Faith
When faith is inflexible, it leads to stagnation of faith. This might be a surprise, but faith requires evolution for it to adapt to changing conditions in life.
True faith isn’t heavy; it’s rather light and dynamic. When faith gets stagnant, it becomes heavy and burdensome. It’s possible for faith over time to transform from faith into belief. When this does happen, it’s possible that a person will miss this transformation!
Faith-based on a story isn’t faith, but rather that is belief. By the nature of stories: no story is ever perfect. Flaws within a story means you have to evolve the story over time to adapt to changing truths in life.
How does one find faith? Faith is a process of trust. Also, we use faith to help us find purpose in life.
The first step in finding faith is to play and experiment in life. We learn how to trust through our play in life.
Faith is building on what you know is here so you can reach what you know is there.
As we play, we then listen to our hearts. Look for connections that make us stronger.
A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.
James E. Faust
Start small and build up your trust and acceptance in what works over time!
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
People tend to over push and overthink things in life. Ironically, faith, being a bridge over the unknown, isn’t supported by what you think: it’s supported by trust, your heart, and acceptance. Not everything we accept has to be rooted in facts!
Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.
Find strength in your actions.
Faith is not only daring to believe, it is also daring to act.
Allow your faith to evolve. Don’t hold it as being inflexible; allow it to change so you can grow over time.
Many people seek faith after a breaking of trust has occurred in their life. You cannot repair trust since once broken, you have proven the faith was in error. So to repair trust is to create a new trust. Don’t try to embrace the old faith, seek a new faith based upon a new trust in life.
Faith in Taoism
What does faith look like in Taoism? I won’t speak for others, but this is a snapshot of my faith within Taoism.
- The Tao is unknowable; it is by living we embrace our answer to Tao
- The unknown is not to be feared but embraced as an edge of life to climb around.
- Our life is a story, and we are our own author.
- Reality is kaleidoscopic. Forcing it to be one thing only limits the experience.
- We are all connected and separate at the same moment.
- Consciousness is a dance, and there is no perfect single path. Each path is part of who we are in life.
- Acceptance of the three treasures: Using Kindness to guide our awareness, having modest steps to evolve against, and embracing nonjudgment to avoid limitation.
- Taoism is not limited to form, story, nor belief structure. It’s centered on the heart and grows from there over your life.
The lesson is this: faith is not limited to a single truth!!! We can accept many things at once.
I preach there are all kinds of truth, your truth and somebody else’s. But behind all of them there is only one truth and that is that there’s no truth.
– Flannery O’Connor
What does belief look like in Taoism? Again I will only speak for myself.
- Belief is a story in life. Stories come and go, but never let a single story trap you.
- Countless beliefs exist within historical Taoism, but that is all in the past, and we are moving ahead to our future now. So only hold to beliefs while they are useful and then release the belief as soon as it limits you.
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.“
-Alice in Wonderland