What Is Faith?

What Is Faith

“Faith to the religious is like sand to an ostrich.” I saw this quote recently on Facebook and it raised the question in my head, what is faith and is it always bad?

Even science is based on faith. Every scientist has certain beliefs that allow him to work in science. These include faith in the scientific process, belief that scientific laws are objective and they are uniform across the universe and are invariant with respect to time. But the faith that scientists have in science is different from religious and spiritual faith. Religious faith and spiritual faith are also different from one another but are usually mixed up. Religious faith is a somewhat “blind” faith. We believe because we are told so. “This is the way it is,” we are told. Religious belief in many ways does not brook questions or allow criticism. Spiritual faith is more experiential. It comes from within. It happens because of personal experience and is not something that is imposed from outside.

The difference between science and spirituality is that while science is objective, spirituality is subjective. The common notion is that the spiritual experience cannot be replicated through an objective process. The spiritual spark spontaneously ignites in some people and not in others. It is felt that there is no reliable process by which we can make it happen in a replicable manner to everybody. That is why spirituality is not considered as scientific.

So what is the role of religion? Religion provides a safe place for spirituality to flourish. Just like faith in science allows scientists to explore the world and make sense of it, faith in religious systems allows adherents to have spiritual experiences and explore the spiritual world. Sadly religious systems tend to become more about power and control and move away from their central mission. But that should not be reason for us to run away from our religion, rather it should be a reason for us to reform it.

This brings us to Yoga. This is a system that seeks to make spirituality scientific. It allows the subjective spiritual experience to be had in a replicable and objective manner. Just like science requires faith, even Yoga requires faith. But just like the scientific process is objective and replicable, so is the process in Yoga.

Yoga says, “If you follow these steps then you will have a spiritual experience.” You need not be a “blind believer” prior to starting the process, only committed to it and open to it. The spiritual experience will happen inside you and will be a subjective experience. You cannot show it to others but you can know the truth of it by your own direct experience.

Those who practice yoga as an exercise may be somewhat confused by these assertions but the exercise part of the Yoga system (known as hatha yoga) is only one part of the full system of Yoga. The full system of Yoga has eight different aspects that have to be practiced simultaneously. These are known as the “limbs” of the Yoga tree. Just like a scientist has to calibrate and tune his scientific instruments, in Yoga we have to view our mind-body as a scientific instrument. The system of Yoga shows us how to tune our mind-body and prepare it for the spiritual experience.

Faith then is something that holds our life together. It allows us to commit our life to act in some manner. Without faith we would not trust that we would wake up the next morning or safely cross the road. Without faith there can be no life nor any meaningful action:

“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.” – Alan Watts.

Related: Are You A Believer?

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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The Side Of Terrorism That Doesn’t Make Headlines‏

The common image we have of religious terrorist and fanatics is that they are in a war with people of other religions. What is missed in this is that the fanatics are more at war with people of their own faith. Karima Bennoune in this extraordinary TED talk provides an account of the war Muslim terrorists are having with the people of their own faith. She provides detailed stories on how strongly they are being opposed by their own communities.

This is a message that needs to be spread and retold. Every person who is opposing religious extremism, present in any religion, needs our support. Please like and share.

You may also like: There Are No Scrap Of Men

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Why Do We Have Two Hands?

Two Hands Why?

For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands,
- one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.

― Sam Levenson

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Five Things To Know About Making Hard Choices

Head Vs Heart

It is not uncommon to find ourselves in a situation where our heart tugs in one direction while our head pulls us in another. This becomes even more difficult when the risk and uncertainty is high. How do you make hard choices? Here are five things to know:

1. Clear mind is critical: The first prerequisite of decision-making is to have a clear mind. When emotions are running high it is time to step back and calm down first. Anger, fear, grief, greed, jealousy, hate, ambition, and other emotions prevent clear thinking. Do yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises for a few days or weeks to calm down and think through your options.

2. No decision is also a decision: Know that not deciding and procrastinating is also a decision. Sometimes we have to choose between unpleasant choices. Rather than taking an unpleasant decision we choose to do nothing, which could be the worst decision.

3. Know difference between risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity: Risk is the probability of something unpleasant happening. When the probability is high we say that risk his high. But if probability is unknown then we have uncertainty. Sometimes the situation is so murky that it is impossible to even determine possible outcomes, let alone figure out their probability. This is ambiguity. Before taking a decision know your situation clearly: Are the possible outcomes known? Do you know the rough probability of each outcome?

4. Talk it through: It is extremely important that you talk about your situation with friends, mentors, family, and colleagues. Do not be afraid to take people into confidence and discuss your situation. You may discover new options that you never knew existed. You may be overestimating the risks of some options. Some risks may have workarounds that you did not know about. Remember the other person sees the situation more clearly as they do not have the emotional involvement you do, and may have more experience.

5. Can you hedge your bet? Not every decision is an “either/or”. Sometimes you can go in two paths simultaneously. You may work on building passive streams of income full time while you work on your passion part time for example. Sometimes the best choice may be to begin work to open up new paths and choices.

If the decision is important, then you may want to write things down: What are the choices? What are the unknowns? How do you plan to mitigate risks for each choice? (Even the ones you are not gung-ho about) What are the timelines? In which direction is your heart pulling you? What happens if things don’t work out? What are the worst-case scenarios? Write things down, discuss things, revise your document and read and reread it till you understand all aspects of your situation. Sometimes the heart may be pulling you along in the right direction after all. It may be that the head may need a bit convincing and a bit of a nudge by mitigating some of the risks. Or sometimes the head may force you to think through your options and delay the call of your heart for now.

You may also like: The Third Leg Of Happiness

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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I Talk To Strangers!

How do you make new friends if you are reluctant to talk to strangers? Robbie Stokes took this compelling thought and turned it into a movement. He sold everything he had, packed his suitcases, and off he went to distant countries to put his idea into practice. Robbie’s life is considerably enriched by the new connections he has forged. All he asks is that we too do the same. Are you ready?

Related: I Talk To Strangers Web-site

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