Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The Problems With Blind Faith
Buddha Knows Faith
I think this is a great quote from which to approach authentic faith:
"But, whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it." -- The Buddha
Blind faith is part of an old form of learning in the Western Society. Charles Dickens once expounded in Hard Times that students would come to schools and be treated like empty vessels to be filled up with knowledge by the teachers. This type of approach has been used in many religious traditions for years. You go to a place of worship and the priest or spiritual teacher is supposed to fill you up with faith and spiritual juju--I mean what do you think spirituality is? A gas station? Hey, please fill me up with premium spirituality and get me a corndog while you're at it. Sheesh.
Anyone on the spiritual path or who has moved into the intensity of awakening has probably come across the truth that you have to relearn how to live. So many things are out of alignment with reality that it's made things a huge mess. You can watch the nightly news or listen to the arguments in your family if you don't believe this. You have to relearn how to engage with the world and find real truth--not just what someone else wants or needs you to believe. Faith is no different. Blind faith will have you following around a pastor, priestess, or teacher with no ownership of your spiritual path or your own will. You will give up your power, possibly even money, to get that spiritual juju from them, forgetting that you already have all the spiritual awareness you will ever need.
Additionally, you may have a blind faith where you simply think God is going to do it all for you. You may believe so blindly that everything will work out fine, and you do no work to get there. And even if you are getting all of God's help, you probably don't even know what that looks like because you haven't engaged your mind enough to interpret what that help is. You are more likely to turn your nose up at a kind stranger offering you something you need because you think God will take care of you. And how is that kind stranger not a part of God's overall plan?
Powerlessness and Manipulation
It gets worse. Blind faith will lead you down difficult paths. It leads you into problems simply so that you have to open your eyes. It's like refusing to look at a map while boldly telling everyone that you know where you're going. Once you're hopelessly lost, maybe then you'll get out that map and its accompanying compass. In the mean time, you are extremely easy to manipulate. You are blindly shepherded around because you put all your faith in someone who supposedly speaks in the name of God, but you don't maintain your own awareness and faith in yourself to discern truth from fiction from hidden agenda. Pretty soon you're giving up your life savings to a spiritual con artist--this isn't just provocative writing; we've seen this before.
The Mind Performing Its True Purpose
I've been delving into issues of the mind in past blogs, but one place where it can be the champion is in bringing reason to faith. The two need to be in balance as you move into spiritual awakening. The awakening process can be so tumultuous and muddied at times as you clean out soul-gunk that your perspective can get really skewed. It's a temporary situation, and having a clear line of balanced faith helps to guide you through. A discerning, rational mind helps you to hold faith in yourself as well as the divine. It teaches you to discern what spiritual teachers and communities to trust and be around. You don't have to make snap decisions on this path, but when situations arise, it will be clearer what you need to do.
Blind faith will simply get you and others in your life hurt. It's a way of trying to get out of your responsibility to engage and analyze your life. While there are parts of life that we over-analyze, a little bit of this logic is a good thing, and a balanced sense of faith instead of blind faith will help you through your hurdles in life and on the spiritual path.
Next blog: Over-Thinking and Over-Analyzing: Healing the Frenetic Mind
For more thoughts on this topic, here's a YouTube video that I recorded about faith:
The photo comes from my friend and reader, Becky Stiller. You can check out her beautiful work on her flickr link.