"When you come to the edge of all that you know and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly." ~~Anon
The journey of human life starts with a sense of inadequacy and helplessness. What is the origin of the baby’s sense of inadequacy and helplessness? Is it justified? Of course, it is justified. The baby identifies with its body and the body is not developed for the physical activity required to satisfy its needs that the baby is perfectly equipped to feel.
A human child is aware of its needs but totally incapable of fulfilling them. Responsible parents lovingly look after all the needs of the baby. The baby’s experience of the parental love develops into a sense of security.
The reason underlying the baby’s sense of security is its faith. The foundation of faith is direct experience of love.
Early needs of a baby are rather simple: need for food and a dry and comfortable place to rest. Soon the simple physical needs start to take an intellectual turn. The child wants to know; it has an inbuilt curiosity.
The child is inherently curious about its source as if it wants to understand itself with the knowledge of its source. Where do I come from is a typical early question? This question and the need to wean the child of its dependency upon the parents introduce God into the picture as a metaphor pointing to the source of all that exists. The child’s faith in God is based upon its faith in the parents. Being based upon their word, faith in God does not have the strength of the child’s faith in the parents which is based upon direct experience.
The parents cannot be there with the child at all times. The omnipresence and non-locality of God is an advantage over the local limitation of the parents. The child still has the deep seated body based sense of insecurity without any recourse in facing the uncertainties and mysteries of life other than the security of faith in God and self confidence. Additionally, there is a sense of security in the natural love and affection of the family combined with that of the familiar social, cultural and geographical environment and tradition.
Spiritual growth is defined as the ability to shed the inbuilt fear and anxiety of life based upon the deep seated body based sense of inadequacy and helplessness.
Families separate. People leave their original homes and migrate to new ones. How then can fear and anxiety be dealt with? The only answer lies in building the strength of the faith in the source and the self through knowledge and insight which is the closest replacement of direct experience. Understanding the self through understanding the source howsoever mysterious, and conversely understanding the source through understanding of the self are thus the only ways of deepening one’s faith in the source while strengthening one’s confidence in the self.
My friend Cherise Wyneken put it aptly when she said, “Faith trusts. Knowledge informs. This applies to whatever you have faith in -- the seen or the unseen. Knowledge gives us the information we need to decide if we want to put our faith in it.”
Understanding is the seed of faith that trusts. Knowledge builds understanding which deepens and strengthens lived faith.
Shallow understanding leads to shallow and doubtful faith, and deep understanding leads to deep and doubtless faith. That is why Spiritual Heritage Education Network Inc (SHEN) is working on its initiative of promoting, developing and delivering spiritual education.