I wanted to share my view on faith, which was partly summed up so well in a series of Alan Watts quotes.
“And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on.”
“But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.”
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
“In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all.”
Living in a predominantly Christian society, it seems most folks equate faith to simply believing in Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I ultimately consider myself a Christian. However, I think this view has a tendency to forget that Jesus also taught inner transformation and self-knowing, as all religions do. Also, it is a mutually exclusive view, which seems sort of hard to reconcile these days, since fields like comparative mythology and psychology have shown that all religions are saying the same thing. It’s also very hard to reconcile with what comes out of the Near Death Experience and the Mystical Experience, as they are reported out of all cultures and religions around the world with the same consistent, universal and inclusive themes and messages.
I view faith as a stepping stone to experience, meaning we’re not talking about a “blind faith” here. Faith is an opening of the mind to a deeper reality that one can eventually come to directly experience, here and now. I know this might sound strange, as most of us aren’t familiar with the idea, or the possibility, of a direct experience of God, or the ground of all being, while still alive. But, this is what ultimately comes out of the teachings of religions worldwide. In reference to all the literature and scripture discussing the nature of this transcendent, yet immanent, experience, Aldus Huxley called it the “perennial philosophy” and Alan Watts called it “a single philosophical consensus of universal extent”. One can also simply call it a spiritual awakening, which typically requires first being open to the possibility of having a spiritual awakening.
In the Gospel of St Thomas we hear, “The Kingdom of Heaven is spread out upon the Earth, but men do not see it”. The good news, which is the meaning of “gospel”, is that we can learn how. It all starts with faith!
If you would like to read more on my views on God, religion, and the nature of reality, you may also want to check out:
If you’re interested in more Alan watts, here’s a lecture by him on Christianity I really enjoyed.