As I begin writing this article, I want to state that, the opinions that I bring forth in this piece, is my very humble personal opinion. I do not urge anyone whatsoever to agree with me, if they feel so. However I am inspired to write a few lines, based on very personal realizations. I wish to seek deep pardon, from the kind people who may feel singled out or people who may carry feelings of hurt after having read this article. I humbly ask forgiveness of everyone who feels implicated, after having read this article.
In the arena of spirituality two words are interchangeably used. They are “Faith” and “Belief”. Their usage in spirituality is so rampant that one is often used in place of the other. This piece, aims at taking a plumb into these two words. It may perhaps help the sincere seeker, to locate his own barometer, in his journey towards his core, through the process of differentiating between these words.
Spirituality is more or less associated with “isms” like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Judaism or “ities” which is just “Christianity”. It will be useful to understand that the great religious movements, can be more or less considered as political movements or crusades of some kind, where the spirit is said to be only losely used in the context of the movement. The spirit is just used as a cushion to spearhead biased purposeful motives. These movements have transformed themselves as the very pillars of world history. It is, if I may, has more to do with “survival” and “supremacy”, than anything to do with the spirit. This is my very personal opinion. I am also aware that, a whole lot of the population may disagree with me. Nevertheless, I have stated, what is in my heart. It is here that Spirituality stands antipodal to Religion. All religious movements thrive on “Belief Systems”. This is perhaps where the word belief finds its meaning. When edicts or statements issued by people of some authority are accepted as “laws” and are followed strictly, over time, a system emerges. This is the basis of a belief. When general observations take the form of an undeniable law, practiced by a huge section of the population , it is a belief system. Now this belief system may translate into a bigger form, it may become a book. It may become “Truth” and so on. But then, all this simply put, is “belief”.
A person who believes that, if a cat cuts across the road, in front of him, goes back seven steps, mutters some prayer and waits. Then he takes the next step. Many call this blind belief. This also, is just a “belief”. The strange aspect of belief is that it works for most people. Almost 80% of beliefs turn out to be physical reality; which means that beliefs are “real”. Having a strong belief system, subscribing to the “isms” and the “ities” can make one’s life manifest perfectly in line with the belief system one follows. Then why is it that the “Knowers of Truth”, dump all belief systems and instead align with something which is universal in nature? For example what tells me that something is a “belief” and something else is more fundamental to “belief”? It is also to be noted that almost all belief systems, although they manifest into reality in the domain of space and time, are maimed in many respects. They have dangerous blind-spots and hence cannot be relied upon perfectly. There shall be a time, either this lifetime or the next, where they shall let you down. Even if that happens, it is for the good. It is because, the time would have come, when nature points you to something more fundamental, something which is your very core. This is when faith is instilled. That aspect that connects you to your ultimate reality.
There can be a belief system, but faith cannot be restricted to a system. Faith is not subservient to any system. There are no pathways to faith. You may be cultivated to possess belief. When your ignorance is manipulated, a belief system can be developed, but not faith. Faith, you either have or you do not have. Faith develops all by itself. As you learn the lessons of Nature, during the course of life, faith develops on its own. It may appear that you are being influenced by some event which may pose itself as the reason for your faith. But that can never be true. Nature decides the course of faith. Grace decides it. Belief is blind and manipulated. Faith is deep, it is perfect and can never be doctored or manipulated. Faith, is the nature of our core. It is the secret passage that connects one to the eternal. A belief system is just skin deep. Beliefs can be shattered over time; but faith only deepens in infinite magnitude as time passes by. Faith is an aspect of spirituality while belief belongs to religion.
Belief is brutal. It appears impregnable, impenetrable, ruthless, powerful and yet it is shattered over time, since it is illusory by its very nature. On the other hand faith is humane. It is innocent. It is vulnerable, transparent, benevolent, humble and yet supremely powerful. Neither time nor lifetimes can alter faith. If it alters then know that it was belief not faith. Belief has the propensity to change the world, change society. It is meddlesome and obtrusive by its very nature. It also works it’s way to sell and convert. On the other hand faith is personal. It is deep, but shy. It is accommodating in its nature. It does not preach but practices. It does not change hearts but transforms them by its very presence. Transformation is always an aspect of silent faith.
In the final analysis, there is no comparison between belief and faith. There can never be. When intelligence is corroded and has no way to go, it picks up a suitable belief system. However the maturity of intelligence happens when faith starts to flower. It is faith alone that transforms intelligence into everlasting wisdom.