In our western culture, many of us were raised in Abrahamic faiths like Christianity. But most of the teachers we meet had not experienced what they preached. They asked us to believe without evidence. Have faith. As readers of this blog know, I talk about letting go and surrender. This is indeed a form of faith, but it is much deeper than a conceptual belief. It is a willingness to let go of those notions of reality so we can step through the door into the next stage. I also strongly favour understanding what the process is and relating it to our experience. Then it is faith founded in experience.
And that point is the key here. Knowledge comes from Experience, Not from Belief. But belief is a powerful filter of experience. If we lean on conceptual belief alone, we will only go as far as the story can take us. But with correct understanding, we can step into deeper layers of reality and gain experiential verification.
What has replaced religion for many has been science, a belief system of its own. While it is largely based on evidence (experience), it has a tendency to hold a physical focus and reject anything non-physical. This means it can’t address the big questions of life. In fact it tends to reduce life itself to an accidental byproduct, contrary to physical laws. This approach also lacks a moral compass and tends to give us a rather jaded perspective on life; survival of the fittest, every man for himself, and all that.
The magic is found when we can bring the 2 world-views together. Science can help us understand who we are and how best we might live, beyond dogma. But science has to step out of its physical box to do that. Religion needs to go back to its roots and revive systematic means of direct experience. Then we can explore subjectivity objectively.
This is a more important idea than people realize. Often, when you have a discussion on metaphysical or spiritual topics, people will assume you’re arguing from a conceptual platform and will counter with their opinions & beliefs. They’ll even argue a position that is not their experience. Many forget the difference between an idea and an experience. But are concepts without experience any greater than dogmatic belief? More importantly, does growth happen through experience or belief?
It’s quite natural for the mind to develop stories about the world. It helps us understand and relate to it. The trouble is when our beliefs are based on false assumptions or are divorced from the reality of our life. Then our life is much more difficult. With direct experience of the nature of life, our stories become aligned with reality. And life becomes so much better.
The foundation of belief is experience. If you want to know something, find a way to experience it. Anything else is just a fantasy.