Is your faith borrowed or truly yours?
What do we seek from religion and why are people so sensitive about it?
There are multiple religions in the world with a plethora of options that offer one heightened awareness, inner peace and ultimately nirvana or some form thereof. But when years of religious practice often result in public conflict rather than bearing the fruits of peace and purity, I find myself wondering why.
Am I doing something wrong?
Why are my everyday rituals and hours of meditation not helping me find inner peace, happiness and love? Is everything based on karma or my good deeds are just for nothing? Is my faith in God really real or there is another omnipresent superpower I need to be worshipping? Are my worshipping tactics not proper?
Faith v/s Blind Faith
I suppose these grand questions hinge on the concept of “faith”, although one could argue the very idea of faith, or blind faith is in itself questionable. Faith and blind faith – are different yet similar. Both faith and blind faith share several common attributes and converge on trust, acceptance and belief. At their core, faith, whether true or blind, allows a person to aspire to a more altruistic version of the self. However, there is a fundamental difference. With blind faith, I find a person accepts something without giving any thought to it, whereas “pure” faith is more a result of personal reflection–i.e. an individual choice.
Family and Faith
Born in a Jain family, I used to believe and follow its customs and rituals. However, I did not have any connection with the philosophy behind the practices, the intent behind the commands of the Enlightened Ones–rather it used to be pure blind faith.
While blind faith serves a purpose in that it can help a person tag onto altruistic belief without exploring the underlying complexities of belief, I find after a certain age it does not necessarily deliver full spiritual benefit. Thoughtful practising of religion should help bring the multifaceted concept of life into your consciousness, thereby enabling a type the “right kind” of faith that means something to the individual. This role of “right faith” in the practice of religion is most definitely a critical element for success in one’s personal spiritual journey.
Religion is an acceptance by choice and cannot be borrowed. How can religion, a philosophy or a belief that is not by your choice awaken your being or leave an impression that is strong enough to accompany you to the next birth? If you are a vegetarian just because you are born in a vegetarian family and not out of one’s conviction then your adherence to it may not last beyond this lifetime. Whatever culture one will get in the next birth, one will blindly just accept that.
Inherited or Intrinsic Faith
Blind faith is akin to inheriting the beliefs of an outsider at face value and is not necessarily the same as personal faith. While a person can benefit initially from guidance, a lack of inner belief can often result in an internal and external conflict. For this reason, I find as most of my generation come of age they generally oppose blind beliefs, often portrayed by cypric gurus.
I find it thus imperative that one must develop independent thoughts and personal discretion. The choice of religion, principles of life, and values deserve dedicated thought. Faith, if not developed and accepted internally, will not be effective spiritually. Consider we are in a state of perpetual decision making in life. We are always making choices, whether on food, clothes, way of life etc. It is just as important to pause and reflect on thoughts that provide courage and conviction to the essence of faith, which can enable higher states of being, perception, and compassion.
Being Honest with Yourself
This introspection often makes me pause and question: is this faith arising from my personal inner revolution or is it borrowed from others? In all honesty, I do not necessarily have a straightforward answer here. I do believe however that if one remains steadfast to his or her convictions and perception of truth, then that faith is likely genuine. If however, one chooses to remain oblivious and devoid of independent reflection without any spiritual essence, then that faith is likely borrowed. Once we accept and make peace with our personal notions of faith, then I believe we can be fair and honest with ourselves and with the society around us.