Is faith always spiritual? Here Steve Nobel, author and founder of Conscious Media, explains what experience taught him about faith and why he believes that we inevitably develop faith in someone, something or a particular way of doing things.
Faith is a firm belief or trust in something. We may have little or no evidence to support that faith, so it becomes more a matter of blind faith. We believe because we have been told. Faith, in a traditional religious sense, is something that is often, but not always, conditioned from an early age. We may believe in Christianity, or some other religion, because we were brought up in that faith and members of our family are firm believers.
Faith can be a cultural thing; in Britain the main faith is Christianity and this is reinforced in a number of ways through our schooling. Of course we may come from an atheist family and be drawn towards a religious or spiritual path later in life. This was my experience. My parents expressed no interest in religion. On the other hand, they expressed no views on religion at all and I grew up with the impression that religion was not something very important. Despite this, I was drawn to Christianity in my early teens. But when I faced some challenges, no matter how hard I prayed nothing seemed to shift, so by my late teens I felt disillusioned. I was then drawn by Buddhism and despite reading many books, nothing seemed to shift in my life and I once again felt disillusioned. In my experience faith was a matter of trial and error and this is something that continues to operate in my life. I believe spirituality and faith are pragmatic matters, so if it doesn’t work I try something else and see if anything changes.
This approach has served me well in life. It seems to me highly foolish to put blind faith into a system, path or teacher where our experience is telling us that it is not working. For example some years ago I was once involved in a spiritual cult, in which there was a lot of interest in spiritual tools for healing. When I tried out a tool that was supposed to clear the electromagnetic interference from my mobile phone and it did not seem to make any difference, I mentioned this experience to someone influential in the cult and her response was that my faith was not strong enough. This was a wake-up call and one reason why I left the cult.
Despite these (rather expensive) energetic tools being sold on the basis of their alchemical properties, no one had ever mentioned that personal faith was a factor. At that point I realised that if faith was an important factor, I was probably better served by diverting my time, energy and money elsewhere.
We may not have faith in a Higher Power, but we inevitably have faith in someone, something or some particular way of doing things. For example, an atheist may not believe in God but may put his or her faith in a system, such as the National Health Service. Many people I know put great faith in conventional medicine and look upon complementary health with great distrust.
Spirituality may not overtly require faith but faith will always be an important factor. We may have faith in a spiritual path, philosophy or teacher. We may believe in Angelic Reiki, Pagan Gods and Goddesses, that we are guided from the higher spiritual realms, and so on. As any spiritual aspirant knows, the ‘negative’ ego can mislead and misinform us along the way. This is why, in my opinion, faith should not be separated from results. If faith leads to an upliftment, a greater feeling of connection, an allowance of more love and joy, then all is well and good. If not, then we may need to examine our ‘blind’ faith. One of my friends has been following an intense spiritual path for many years and has great faith in her teacher. But still after many years she feels very anxious and depressed. I did suggest that she might be better served by going dancing rather than continuing this intense introspective journey that does not seem to be making any real changes in her life. Unfortunately it is quite common that if we have invested lots of time and energy into something then the deeper we go, the less willing we are to let go of that investment. Another friend in the Hari Krishna movement was experiencing a breakdown some years ago. His teacher advised more chanting. I advised that he see a counsellor and he took my advice and came through this difficult period.
Personally I have a firm faith in a Higher Power. This faith is backed up by years of trying out many methodologies and by lots of trial and error. What works will be different for each person. Ultimately if your faith is working you will feel it in your blood, bones and gut. You will experience it reflected in your everyday reality in the small or big mercies, miracles and synchronicities.
Steve Ahnael Nobel is an author, coach and book mentor. He was the director of Alternatives for 13 years. He is the founder of Conscious Media and the creator of Soul Matrix healing. He is the author of The Enlightenment of Work. Visit www.stevenobel.com
The Enlightenment of Work
£10.99, Available from Watkins Publishing
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