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. With Christmas just having passes, the question of faith is thrust upon is once more with the Christmas narrative and the story of Jesus’ birth.
Christmas is a time of family, community, giving and of the nativity story. Although this seems to have, in the increasingly secular society we live in, become less prominent in the collective consciousness. We are now surrounded by red clad Santa’s, with elves and reindeer bringing joy and happiness in the form of presents and endless renditions of “Merry Xmas Everybody”, the commerciality of Christmas has become the norm. Faith, therefore 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 ask 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 and one that grounds me solidly on one side or the other. I could however also try and read what the person in front of me may want to hear. To try and ‘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 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 honestly 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 is not necessarily needed to make it worthwhile. All I know is that it feels good (or indeed 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 seekers perspective that meant that the answer wasn’t close ended an was part of a much longer journey.
Faith therefore, for me, is an intention to learn, to grow and to investigate what Life has to hold 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 its left hand 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 an 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 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 and from the traps that societal expectations and structures place upon me. Are you and ‘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 Nature’s to come forth and through having a pure faith in not ‘knowing’, but being open to the possibility of everything, then 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 to be open to everything is an important developmental step for not only me but for the world.