There are times in our lives when faith is hard to come by. When it seems completely implausible that things could improve. When hope seems like a pipe dream. I've been there, and I know many of you have to. However, I've been thinking a lot about faith and realized that the term itself has been conflated with something that doesn't represent the true concept, and that the idea of Faith requires some unpacking if we are to understand and work with it in the deeper spiritual sense.
I think most of us recognize the term faith in reference to a religious or spiritual ideology. However, faith moves far beyond the confines of belief into accessing ones intuition and higher trust, and is really, like any other spiritual practice, a constant act of surrender. A living meditation that, with each tragedy, disappointment, road block and suffering we must practice again and again.
A lack of faith implies the presence of fear. When we don't have faith that things (however bad) will work out we live in a state of resistance and struggle. We are kicking and screaming at the present moment. When we are faithless we surrender our peace of mind and exert our will over life. We think we knows what should happen because we don't have the faith to know that what is happening is exactly what should happen. When we are faithless we reel against life because we are afraid of loss.
Faithlessness breeds anxiety. Whereas Faith allows us to rest in presence and know that we are okay, have always been okay and will be okay in the future. How do we know that, because we're alive. Even if we are dying we're still okay. True Faith is not contingent on the external circumstances of our lives and does not waiver when things get rough. However, very few people (including myself) can maintain a high level of faith in the face of extreme adversity or unpleasantness. The survival mechanism we know as the ego kicks in to save us from what seems like unbearable suffering and we begin to bargain, fix or tinker with reality to produce our desired outcome. Suffering is designed to challenge our faith and force us into digging deeper to locate the still part of ourselves that trusts in the suchness of the universe. The part of us that is constant. Cultivating faith can be hard work sometimes, but the payoff is the cultivation of peace.
When faith is connected to a religious ideology it can sometimes help bolster a person's ability to hold onto their trust because they surrenders to something higher than themselves. However, when circumstances really become undesirable sometimes it can result in anger at God or the Universe for not resolving the problem our way. This is not necessarily faith but belief, which is easily swayed by evidence that proves the contrary. The belief cycle goes something like this: "God is good, good things will happen to me. Something bad happened. God's not good. God is a jerk and abandoned me." This isn't faith but the egos reaction to not getting what it wanted and a form of ideological or mental gymnastics.
Faith is fostered through continued remembrance of our relatively insignificant role in the cosmic plan. Consistent faith is a result of lived experience and the acquisition of wisdom. In this sense faith essential is learned through experience in life (or across lifetimes) although some people seem to have a more natural inclination toward strong faith muscles, usually those who have been around the block quite a few times and seen the divine play of life's ups and downs play out over and over again.
We have to be able to recognize that for better or worse, and whether our egos like it or not, events unfold for the greater good of everyone involved and that may sometimes mean that our immediate circumstances may be unfavorable in order to either unlock future benefit for ourselves, someone close to us, or those whom we may never be aware of. Sometimes what we think is terrible may be exactly what is needed for our (or someone else's) spiritual or emotional development. It's a paradox really, because while we are simultaneously infinitesimal in the cosmic plan we are also integral players to the unfoldment of that plan. Faith is the realization of a larger cosmic order.
When we fully give ourselves to faith we are in fact invoking one of the universes natural laws. We've talked before about other natural laws like the law of karma or the laws of attraction on the blog before. The Law of Faith function so that once you fully settle into trusting that the universe has worked itself out perfectly, calamity, strife, sorrow and pain tend to move through more quickly because you are no longer resisting the flow of the energetic pulse that is coming through. It doesn't mean we'll necessarily get our way, but it does mean that we can work toward making "our way" fall into alignment with what is. It sounds simple but it's one of the hardest things to do in the human experience.
When we're faithless we feel unsupported and lost, we feel like we're drifting in a dark and stormy sea with no life preserver. Faith, and its close counterpart hope, can serve as a life preserver when waves become too severe, but you have to trust that where it takes you cannot be wrong, and not struggle against the sea as it sometimes plunges you under only to drift you to safe harbor once it's over.
Everybody will have their faith tested and through remembering the Law of Faith with each test if we can return to trusting the suchness of things and strengthen our faith with each trial. That does not mean that it won't falter from time to time. We may shake our fists at the sky, throw massive tantrums when things don't go our way, or grow despondent that the sea is rocky again. We may feel nothing short of terror sometimes when things seem bleak. But that's okay. Those moments are there to challenge you to remember to trust the unfoldment. Somewhere before you came into this life you orchestrated this experience to challenge you to exercise your faith muscles, and struggle is your opportunity to get in a good work out.