Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of January 9, 2012

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Faith

(Sacred Impulses: Facet 3 of 8)

Faith, our willingness to be related to the Divine Power, grows by degrees and comes in different types. Intellectual faith, also known as belief, arises from our need for understanding and meaning. It opens us to a coherent teaching about the Sacred and Its role in the universe. Beliefs bring understanding and order to our inner world, while answering our deeper questions like “Why are we here?” and “What is the purpose of this universe?” Intellectual faith begins in knowing about the Sacred and, if acted on in a practical, soul-developing way, ends in participating in the Sacred.

Emotional faith opens our heart to the One, to the Sacred Attractor, the Great Heart of the World. It arises from our need for belonging, for love, for completion. Our emotions may open to the Sacred under various conditions, including hearing religious or spiritual music, hearing stories from scripture, saints, and the effects of faith on ordinary people, seeing the transcendent quality in nature’s beauty, participating in sacred rituals such as formal worship services, and becoming disillusioned with what our material life can offer us. In all these ways and more, our heart may open to the Sacred. Emotional faith, experienced as heartfelt devotion, confidence and trust, begins in our attraction to Sacred and, if acted on in a practical, soul-developing way, ends in union with the Sacred.

Perceptual faith derives from and opens us to direct experiences of the Sacred. It is our response to our actual, perceived relationship with the Sacred. Perceptual faith begins with irregular, unpredictable, and rare episodes of deeper experiences, and, if acted on in a practical, soul-developing way, moves toward regular, at-will access to the higher worlds.

It is only half-true to say that Faith is not enough. Indeed our approach to and connection with the Sacred are enormously accelerated by the depth of our meditation and prayer practice. Practice and Faith intertwine in a positive feedback loop: the more Faith we have the more we practice, and the deeper our practice the stronger our Faith. But even at advanced levels of practice there still there remains a final chasm to cross, and for that Faith is essential. If we have yet to learn the way into the Sacred, then that way is unknown to us. With Faith we can move into the unknown realms within us. Faith gives us the confidence to explore beyond our current envelope of experience, beyond our mind, beyond our self.

Faith reallocates our values, so that we begin to give more importance to the invisible spirit. Without Faith, we have nothing but what we can see and touch and know. This leaves us vulnerable to the inevitable ups and downs of life in the material world. But as soon as we open even a little to Faith, we gain some perspective on life and we begin to value and to seek spiritual well-being as well as material well-being.

Though Faith is willingness to be related to the Sacred, it is only partially our own doing or choice. Faith comes to us as a gift, dependent on our willingness to receive it. It is given at a level beyond our mind and beyond our ordinary awareness of our ability to choose. So although we cannot just decide to have Faith, we can choose to feel and act in accord with it, as it grows in the depths of our soul. The awakening of Faith changes our priorities, diminishes our various identifications, relates us to the Divine, and enriches both our inner life and our approach to living in the world.

For this week, notice your own Faith.


     

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