What is faith and why is it so important?

The faithful sunrise

For as long as history can recall, people have always been somewhat anxious about that which is unknown to us. Not knowing what’s about to happen, or what the outcome of activities will be, creates a tension in the mind that can be rather unsettling. It’s a psychological fact that the brain needs to create a story to be able to feel at ease with its surroundings and any future scenarios that may arise.

It all ultimately boils down to us wanting to have a sense of control with regards to what we are going through and what may potentially happen. We know change is inevitable, and most of us generally strive to keep things the same the best we can through managing the things we can control. But for factors that are out of our control, we tend to resort to adopting a certain belief system that will take care of them. Religions are good examples of such systems that people adopt on a large scale. However, some people also create and adopt personal systems to manage their feelings about things that are out of their control.

Thinking about systems to help us manage life matters that we feel are out of our control, will also help us realise that there is no right or wrong system. They all work if the right people adopt them at the right time. Going back to the example of religions, these are again good examples of systems that work for a variety of audiences, backed up by the fact that they are being created all the time around the world, each one with its unique features.

Faith is often used as a tool to fill the gap between the present and a future outcome. We “proceed with faith” after taking certain actions in the hope of reaching an ideal outcome. In some cases, this happens, but I can confidently say that it’s rare. In other cases, we don’t get the ideal outcome, but a variation of it, and we explain the differences between our ideal outcome and what materialised through “having faith that the outcome is right for us”. So we may find that we play games with faith, using it as a tool to drive the quality of the outcome, but also as an explanation to describe why things didn’t work out the way we intended.

Faith is a misused word, especially within the context of religion, where people often refer to joining a particular religion as “finding faith” or “being part of a faith” or “to have a faith”. This is unhelpful in the sense that we lose the true meaning of what faith is. Faith isn’t something you become a member of or a way of doing things. Faith is a feeling. Yes, you read that right, it’s something you physically feel, and most people don’t realise that they experience the feeling of 100% (absolute) faith every single day without knowing it.

The best way to describe the feeling of 100% faith is by helping you to understand what it feels like to have 0% doubt (being the opposite of faith). And here is the scenario I would like you to consider.

Depending on where you live in the world and what season you’re in (the UK being a good example) before you rest your head at night, you’re likely to have doubtful thoughts about what the weather is going to be like the following day. We question if it’s going to hail, rain, snow, thunder and whatever else we can think of. But never once do we question two things: Whether or not the sun is going to rise or the wind is going to blow.

If the sun never rose again, life would perish quickly. Life on Earth is only comfortable with the absence of light between the hours of sunset and sunrise. If the air in the Earth’s atmosphere vanished, even in the presence of sunlight, life would perish even quicker. We never doubt these two important things every evening, and that complete absence of doubt is what it feels like to have absolute faith.

The reason why we don’t doubt these two things is because the sun still has a remaining life span of about 5 billion years, and it’s due to the Earth’s gravitational pull that the air doesn’t vanish out into space. Science has allowed us to verify these facts, to help us not lose sleep over them. What’s great about this example is that science has provided us with the platform to know what 100% of faith feels like every single day for the rest of our lives. 

Science is as good a belief system as any other, and just as incomplete with the many answers it has yet to deliver. But it has always delivered. We have utilised its evolving rules to understand the natural world around us and to develop our man-made environments. We only add rules to the system of science when we know they reflect the absolute truth. Doing so without this certainty could be potentially catastrophic for all.

So, this neatly moves us on to the following three questions:

  • Why is it so important for us to know what absolute faith is?

So that we can realise and understand that it is an emotion, like any other, that you have control over.

  • Why is it important to have faith in someone or something?

The presence of absolute faith brings peace to the human mind. Doubt creates anxiety and stress, which can adversely impact one’s internal well-being and biological balance. It also empowers and brings peace to others, and helps them grow and progress.

  • How do we cultivate absolute faith?

Be a seeker of the truth. Seek it, because it will find you anyway.

When you know the truth, your mind experiences a sense of peace, and that forms a platform for the feeling of absolute faith. So, whether we are considering cultivating faith in a belief system, person, or any other thing, seek the truth behind it. When focussing on a belief system in particular, resolve any contradictions between it and that which has already been verified through the system of science.

Eventually, you will find that it’s the pillars of truth and peace that support absolute faith.

Written by Prashant Jadav. For further help, please get in touch here.