Faith has a bad connotation nowadays. For many people, faith implies a blind allegiance to spiritual assertions that are deemed irrational, or adherence to a belief system that is unsupported by facts, if not contradicted by them. Often it is equated with wishful thinking, or, more accurately, wishful believing. Most negatively, some people consider it the province of superstitious, gullible and weak-minded individuals.
These negative connotations are unfortunate for faith is a faculty critical to human development. Properly understood and practiced, faith is not a capricious or egocentrically chosen set of beliefs. It is not a doctrine, dogma or other ideology forced upon oneself against all reason. Neither is it wish-fulfillment. The mantra, hope and determination that you are going to win $5 million in the lottery is not faith. Faith is not something that can be manufactured by the ego.
Perhaps a good way to conceive of faith is as a spontaneous, organic product and perception of the soul. It is a form of inner knowing, a spiritual instinct and intuition. It is an inner confidence that utilizes knowledge but is not limited by it. Faith is not blind, but a form of vision that transcends (sees beyond) the truncated viewpoint of collective consciousness, or consensual reality.
Like all intuitive insights, faith is partly a gift, but one that is more frequently bestowed on those who pursue self-knowledge and deepened consciousness with sincerity. Some of the greatest discoveries in the fields of science, the works of Carl Jung or Albert Einstein for example, began first as intimations—gifts of intuitive vision regarding not only what can be, but, more importantly, what is destined to be.
From a spiritual perspective, faith is the attitude that there is a purpose behind things, something to be learned. It is not to blindly believe something counter to all data of outer reality, but rather the trust that reality will reveal a further truth. It is the inner sense that something good, helpful and worthwhile can be gleaned from all events, including evil ones, for even from darkness fragments of consciousness can be extracted. Without faith, we may not search further for knowledge. Thus, faith and knowledge go hand-in-hand.
We tend to view science as the antithesis of faith but the researches of scientists often have their origins in an implicit faith. Not religious faith necessarily, but the faith that there are deeper truths about life that can be discovered if one applies one’s heart, mind and intuition to a particular problem. As Jungian psychologist John Sanford observed, “The scientist does not begin with knowledge but with the faith that knowledge can be found.” And, “far from being an attitude that precludes the desire to know, [faith] is that which energizes and strengthens the desire to know. Faith yearns for knowledge and knowledge strengthens faith.”
It is said that “seeing is believing,” but sometimes there is no seeing without first believing. The “observer effect” in physics supports this idea for it documents the influence of the observer upon the behavior of that which it observes. Without faith in themselves a football team does not come back from a twenty-point fourth quarter deficit to win a game. Without faith in one’s potential, perceived through a sense of “calling,” an individual does not achieve the specific accomplishments intended for them in life. Without a faith that the information gathered regarding the universe must ultimately fit together in a meaningful, consistent and harmonious way, the physicist does not keep searching for evermore encompassing theories and understanding of its laws.
Perhaps your own life rests on a level of faith much greater than you ever realized.
Sanford, John A. Mystical Christianity: A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John, Crossroad Publishing Co., NY, 1994. (p. 130)
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
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