I started this discussion in the cover letter for the August newsletter. Just about every religious tradition in the world, whether they call themselves a denomination or a movement, has something one is to believe if one is to be a part of that tradition. It may be a part of their principles, creeds, sacred writing, or even spoken about as a “what we believe” statement. Each is clear on what it is they believe. A belief is the acceptance that a statement or body of writing is true or that something exists. It does not necessarily mean that you know it is true or that something exists, rather that you are choosing to accept that it is true.
Beliefs are ideas. They give us a sense of reality, with which others can choose to agree or disagree. We can put our beliefs into words and share with others. However, as much as some would like to believe, they are not absolute truths. They may be our truths now about something, but they are not absolute truths, as they may not be true for everyone. Your truth is yours and my truth is mine. Even this blog is an attempt to express what I believe
Faith is not about relative truths, but absolute truths; truths that exist across time. Faith is not just of the mind, but also of the heart. It is about what is true, even when we have moments when we do not believe it in our minds. Faith is the ultimate act of trust because we intentionally choose to know something to be true without any doubt of its truth. People tend to think of truth in two ways. One way is to have faith in that which we cannot see. We blend our choice to say yes to the meditations of our heart with the beliefs of our minds. This kind of faith occurs when our mind and our heart works as one, believing in the invisible and that which we believe to be true even when there is no evidence to support our beliefs.
There is another way of thinking about faith, which is based not just on our heart and mind, but our very existence. It is what we know to be true, not because we have accepted in our minds that something is true, or felt in our heart that it is true, but because we have experienced something so deeply to know it with such a high degree of certainty that it influence our lives. It is what we know to be true with every cell of our being. If you have experienced the Light of the Ultimate, then you know it to be true. It is not just because someone told you or that you want it to be true. You know it to be true. At the same time, unlike beliefs, it is sometimes hard to express in words what you know to be true in your heart. Often we do not have the language to express what we know. We can do the best we can, but sometimes the language does not exist.
Yet isn’t it this space of deep knowing that many strive for in their spiritual journeys, the ability to transcend belief into that space of deep knowing. You know what you know with every core of your being that there is no denying what you know.
Some of us struggle to acknowledge what we know because we have not been taught to sense the presence of the Infinite in everyday life. One of the exercises I often do with new clients is to have them write a poem to begin to awaken their senses. All you have to do is fill in the blanks
God looks like __________
God sounds like _________
God tastes like __________
God smells like __________
God feels like ___________
God is _________________
The presence of the Ultimate is everywhere, but if we do not believe we are worthy of experiencing this level of understanding, we may not recognize it as such. Some have a sense of what they have experienced, but are afraid to share it in fear of what others may think. Once we acknowledge what we know, our lives change because it changes who we are at the deepest level. It is a form of purification, it is as some Christians discuss as baptism by fire, a purification that comes through an experience with the Divine. This experience moves us beyond all doubt to a place of certainty. It moves us to a place where we know what we know what we know; a space of such deep knowing that transcends the beliefs of our minds and the meditations of our hearts. So this week, take time to reflect on what you know.