Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings even when the dawn is still dark – Rabindranath Tagore
What is Faith?
Belief is accepting something as true without questioning or experiencing it.
Faith is belief reinforced by understanding – Swami Chinmayananda
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you are Joe’s employer. Joe is hardworking, conscientious and always delivers excellent and timely work. Based on your experience and understanding of Joe’s personality and qualifications, you know that you can rely on him when you need him. You have faith that he will always deliver.
However, when you first hired Joe, you didn’t really know if he would work out for you. His resume, interview and referrals convinced your intellect and made you think that hiring him was a good idea. But only after getting to know the type of person he is and experiencing his work first hand, did your rational decision (head) get confirmed by your experience (heart). So now, you have faith in him and his abilities.
What is this higher power? It goes by many names such as God, Creator, Source, or the Universe.
Faith in the higher power begins with believing that it exists. There really is no other way. You have to start from somewhere.
The best way to start is similar to what I described in the example with Joe above. Try and convince your intellect first. Do some inspirational, spiritual or religious reading to become more familiar with the idea of a creator or source for this world.
If you are not inclined to do this, set out the intention to prove it to yourself that a higher power exists as you go about your everyday life. Don’t take anything for granted; observe the world around you as though you are seeing it for the first time.
You will find that you overlooked so much of the beauty in things around you – the plant sitting in on your work table, a ray of sunshine coming in from the window, the soft breeze on your face, the sounds of the birds in the trees, the sweet juice of a grape being crushed in your mouth…
Ask yourself: How does the plant know to take in nutrients from the soil? How can the sun that is millions of miles away, still be able to send a light beam into your room? What makes the air move? How do birds know how to sing? Where does the sweetness in the grape come from?
You can begin to believe in the existence in a cause for the world if you observe it with a sense of wonderment.
Faith grows from nurturing a relationship
Next, you can set up a relationship with Him/Her/It. (For simplicity in writing, I have used the masculine form for the rest of this article.)
It’s hard enough building a relationship with a person whom you can see, speak to, and interact with. How can you do it with God who is unseen?
You can do it by setting up any relationship you like. You can see God as your father, mother, sister, big brother, good friend, master or the Universe.
Having decided on the relationship, you would then talk to, and share common experiences and concerns with God. This is similar to talking with and sharing common experiences with a friend or a family member.
As you bring in the remembrance of God in your daily interactions and experiences and talk to Him often, He will become a trustworthy confidant in whom you will have full faith in over time.
Relationships are built from sharing common experiences over time.
Importance of spending time alone
The most powerful way to cultivate faith is to spend some time quiet time alone.
Why spend time alone?
There are two reasons –
1) This is where to find God and communicate with Him: His words and guidance are soft and loving. They cannot be heard amidst the noisy din of the outside world.
2) This is where you will be certain of His existence: This conviction is an inner experience and cannot be acquired from outside.
To learn how to slow down and spend time alone, read: To start meditating, learn how to stop
The Rewards of Faith
The more you can spend time alone with God, the more connected to Him you will feel. He speaks as your inner guidance or what we commonly call our conscience.
Taking the first steps with belief in your heart will gradually build up your faith in the existence of God and His benevolent, loving nature. You will feel more peaceful, supported and divinely guided in life.
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