WHAT IS FAITH?

 “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see

the whole staircase.”

         ~~~ Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

When we think of the word ‘faith’, the images that flash across our eyes are of people at prayer or worshipping at a shrine, temple, church or holy places. Or it is of devotees sitting before a preacher, monk or guru. We think that faith is somehow inextricably woven around religion.

In reality faith is a much wider and more life encompassing concept. The dictionary gives us two meanings for the word. First, it is a complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Second, it is a strong belief in the doctrines of a religion based on spiritual convictions rather than proof.

Faith comes in many human experiences and in many ways of thinking. And it does not have to be connected in any way to religion. It is faith in ourselves that gives us that final push to succeed. We are all like an athlete crouching at the starting line of a race track. We will win or lose not just because of our talent but also our faith in ourselves. To succeed, we have to do our best and then add a touch of faith.

It is faith that helps us cope with the sorrows and challenges of life. It can be our faith in god, a teacher or even someone we love that helps us to move on. The terrible, at times unfair tragedies of life – the sickness of a child or a devastating loss can make us feel like giving up. At that point being able to pray for guidance often helps and so does reaching out to people who have faith is us.

For many people faith is about acceptance; not asking questions and not demanding proof and many logical people find that hard to understand. The faithful often carry an image of god as a Supreme Being living somewhere in the sky and watching over us. A Christian believes in the Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. A Hindu believes in re-incarnation – the endless cycle of life and death. With all these beliefs, there is no proof. There is only faith.

For the faithful the daily rituals of prayers, pujas, visits to temples, churches, gurudwaras and mosques create a rhythm of life that brings peace. We become part of a community of believers and they help us face life with serenity. Many others find their support system in friends and family and do not feel the need for faith. It is all a matter of choice that we all have.

What is tragic is the way we are dividing people by their faith so that something that brought us peace is now a source of hatred. That is not faith, it is intolerance and against all that humanity stands for. The best faith is the one we have in people and human values of kindness, generosity, compassion and tolerance.

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