Just like that catchy old George Michael song, “I gotta have faith, faith, faith.” But what does that mean exactly? To have faith? Faith in what?
Study the lyrics of Michael’s song and he was likely referring to faith in a lover, which is something to believe in, sure. But there’s gotta be more, right?
Growing up with a little white bible – clutched in my little white gloves – and church on Sunday, I thought one should have faith in God. Having a realist (and devout atheist) for a father, faith in God had trouble solidifying. I mean, where was the proof? I couldn’t see him, touch him. Can he be real? (I was also heavily opposed to the threat of eternal punishment in hell because it was, well, scary as hell!) I had no problem believing in jolly ol’ Saint Nick, though. Toys as proof, I suppose. Lol.
Weirdly, could it be that simple? Look around. There’s stuff out there, to make toys from! There’s you, me, a world to sustain us (for now anyway), an immense unknowable Universe beyond! If that doesn’t make a case for God, a Higher Power – some omniscient being or “God particle” (Higgs boson) as proven by scientists in the 2012 experiment with the Hadron Collider – then I don’t know what does.
Ironically, religion makes faith tricky though, yes? Because there’s so many to choose from, each with differing notions of exactly what to believe? As Eckhart Tolle points out in A New Earth, “Many people are already aware of the difference between spirituality and religion. They realize that having a belief system – a set of thoughts that you regard as the absolute truth – does not make you spiritual no matter what the nature of those beliefs is.”
As Tolle says, a belief is a thought. Many of us are also open to the idea that thought is limited. But we can’t help ourselves because we’re just so darn passionate about what we believe in! Why doesn’t everyone else agree already? Hence this rule: never talk politics or religion.
“Unless you believe (think) exactly as they do,” Tolle writes, of the various religions people adhere to, “you are wrong in their eyes, and in the not-too-distant past, they would have felt justified in killing you for that. And some still do, even now.” The barbaric act of murder justified by belief (thought) in honouring an unknowable thing in a particular way. Bizarre, isn’t it?
Turns out though, my dad’s way – placing all your faith in material things which eventually fade away – is not such a good idea either. It seems this prompted him to look for something more at the bottom of uncountable bottles of alcohol. What did he find? Uncountable problems. No answers, that’s for sure. He used to joke, “That’s the answer, what’s the question?” In the end – his end – we got no answer. Why, Dad, why? There’s a question.
As real as reality seems, it’s not really real and it’s not really enough. Says Tolle, “Those unable to look beyond form become even more deeply entrenched in their beliefs, that is to say, in their mind.”
What Tolle finds refreshing – and I do too – is the openness now to the wisdom of ancient Eastern teachings, which followers of traditional religions can use to expand spirituality, increase depth, and ultimately transform their state of consciousness.
The reason for this discussion on faith? Well, I plucked this message from these beautiful The Universe Has Your Back cards by Gabrielle Bernstein which my daughter Jetanne gave me for my birthday: “My happiness is a direct reflection of my level of faith in the Universe.”
This made me question: Do I have faith in the Universe? I’m certainly disturbed by goings on out there: mass shootings in the US, Hurricane Dorian’s thrashing of the Bahamas, the horrific fire and loss of life on that dive boat in California. The burning of the Amazon, ramping up the major global threat of climate change. It’s overwhelming.
I guess, when I look at response to world tragedies, I find faith in goodness, in love. And in my little world? Do I have faith the Universe will give me what I need? Well, even though I’ve experienced loss of lives, it sure has, in terms of a loving family, friends, enough money to get by.
I want to be happy. I gotta have faith.