The Difference Between Faith and Belief (And Why It’s Important)

For a while, the word ‘faith’ sent uncomfortable chills down my spine. For someone that saw themselves as ‘spiritual’, religious words like ‘faith’ could make me want to scream into a pillow, that is until I read this quote:

“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.”-Elizabeth Gilbert; Eat, Pray, Love

This quote made me rethink my conception of faith. Maybe faith wasn’t what I thought it was. Maybe I got it confused with something else; belief.

A belief is a construct. An idea or collection of thoughts you created in your head that satisfies some image you may have of God, life or anything really. Faith, on the other hand, is letting go of the constructs, of falling into the flow and grace of life and this where I was wrong about faith; it is in fact about courage and not cowardice.

You see, growing up Catholic, I eventually developed a distaste for the church; something that I have since reconciled ( at least for the most part) although I highly doubt I will find myself praying amongst the pews anytime soon. This distaste led me to become a reactionary atheist; ragingly discontent with any religious “slur” that unfortunately for it, came across my path. I, as Nietzche claims one does, became the monster I was fighting. I came up with a blanket theory of religion and generalized all those who were slightly religious as fundamentalist and cowardly bigots. After what I can only explain as a spiritually enlightening experience that blew these tight constructs of my mind open, I relaxed on the whole atheist-materialist-religious-people-are-all-cray-cray vibe. I began walking the weird and wonderful path of spirituality and yet, certain words like ‘faith’ still rubbed me the wrong way as I associated them with ignorance, arrogance, and cowardice but, once I understood that faith is the opposite, that it is about diving into the dark, I began to see this concept as well as my previously atheistic self differently.

You see, for all the finger pointing at religion, my atheism, as I see in many individuals, just served as another place for my scared ego to wrap itself up. Facts, hard logic and world-is-all-there-is thinking made the world less unknown. What I thought was a courageous act was simply a jump towards another belief system.

Now, of course, science is a bit more than a belief system. In fact, there is nothing really to believe in. It’s all there, laid out, logical and easy to comprehend but, although it may all be empirically validated, it still creates a comfort zone for those to scared to venture outside of their minds; to go to a place beyond thought.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately in some respects, this is not something I can explain intellectually. That is the point it goes beyond intellect. It is a leap of faith. It is a jump into the heart space. It is an invitation to go beyond this dream, and what I believe, real faith is about. What would be the point of faith if the intellect could explain it or empirically justify it? It would then just contradict itself.

Constructs, ideas, opinions, and science are all incredibly important and they do serve a purpose but just because something does not require imagination, does not mean it can not be turned into some type of all-seeing God that blocks individuals from seeing beyond their theories and ideas.

At the end of the day, I will not lie to you. This is not an opinion. This is rather an invitation, to, as Adyashanti says,

“Jump now into the space
between thoughts
and exit this dream
before I burn the damn place down.”

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s