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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Faith?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Faith

Challenging Articles of Faith

I am not asking you to believe what I’m saying. You can take this teaching as a proposal or hypothesis to consider and test in your own experience. It requires a great deal of basic trust, a deep inner grounding in the goodness of reality, to even give it serious consideration. I really mean it—being open to learning is not a matter of taking anything I’m saying as an article of faith. I’m basically challenging all the articles of faith that we’ve had so far. So we don’t want to substitute one dictum with another one that says something different. We need to find out the truth from our direct experience. We each need to have the understanding, and the development of our capacity needed for such depth of understanding, and the true and satisfying realization of our heart. Learning what reality is by grappling with the immediacy of our experience brings a completeness to our engagement with the spiritual path.

Faith and Guidance

This brings in another consideration, which is that we not only need to be open to the Guidance, we also need to have faith in it. We need to have confidence in its efficacy and capacity; otherwise, it won't guide us. Or if it is already guiding us, we won't know that it is guiding us. We have faith in our guidance when we have the trust that it will take us to the places we need to go. Faith is the confidence and trust that the Guidance will send us in the right direction, that it won't deceive us, won't lie to us, and won't put us into situations that we can't handle. If we don't have this kind of faith, our openness to guidance is limited, which will limit the capacity of the Guidance to help us.

Faith Helps the Soul Go Deeper into Experience

Love, faith, and hope can develop and deepen because they are qualities of the transforming soul, and transformation is a dynamic process—not just an experience. Faith helps the soul to go deeper into experience, as the soul learns that it has a true, good, and intelligent nature or Essence, that its interiority is Essence. At the beginning of waking up, the soul can feel supported by the fact that there is true Essence within—that keeps you going. At deeper levels, as the soul develops and experiences deeper dimensions, especially the boundless dimensions of Being, we can no longer accurately speak of Essence as the soul’s inner nature. This is because, on the boundless level, we are experiencing the inner nature of everything, and all of reality is experienced as one thing. At this level, Essence, the nature of the soul, is superseded by Being, the nature of all of reality. Being is then experienced as the ground of the soul which makes it feel held and supported. This ground that gives rise to the soul is also seen as the ground of everything, the nature of everything. Faith, then, is the reflection of the certainty that there is a real ground for the soul to stand on and experience its reality and life. Our faith, of course, increases when we recognize Essence in its boundless dimensions, since we see that it is not just the nature of our soul, but the nature of everything, which enables us to have faith in all of nature, all of reality, all of existence.

Facets of Unity, pg. 249

Faith is Seen More on the Emotional Level than as Something that has to do with Knowledge

Yes, but usually you don’t say that you trust the fire is going to be warm. Because you know the fire is going to be warm. There is no doubt in your mind. That’s why faith is contrasted with doubt. If I have faith, it means I don’t have doubt. When I say the fire is hot, I do not mean I have faith that it will be hot—that is not the basic quality of my experience. The basic quality is that I know it. Faith is seen more on the emotional level than as something that has to do with knowledge. It has to do with devotion or trust. Most people who consider themselves to be religious depend on faith. This isn’t really any better than belief. Belief is mental faith, and faith is the emotional complement to belief. When you have knowledge instead of belief at the mental level, what will the corresponding state at the heart level be? That’s what is called “certainty.” The certainty comes from the direct presence of what you know. The heart perceives Essence. The Essence is there, and the heart is tasting it. Essentially that is what the heart’s function is in meditation. It has a tongue. Each person’s heart can taste Essence. I’m not saying that faith is not useful. It’s very useful. The closer the beliefs are to the actual reality, the more useful they are. If what you believe in happens to actually be true—although you don’t know it—then your belief can lead you to the truth. Faith can be used in a good way.

Holy Faith

The next Idea, that of Point Six, is Holy Faith or Holy Strength. It tells us that implicit in basic trust is the faith or confidence that reality or God will come through, will support us, is fundamentally there for us. Holy Faith is the closest Idea to basic trust itself; it is a differentiated perception of basic trust. As we said, basic trust is not differentiated enough to be a feeling or an idea; when it becomes explicit, we call it Holy Faith.

Facets of Unity, pg. 64

Real Faith

Faith is a word I seldom use. I think the best way to understand faith is to contrast it with belief. Faith, in a sense, does what belief attempts to do. That is why many people take faith to be belief. For instance, when people go to church, they are told to have faith. Most people think that means they have to believe in God and Christ and the doctrines of the church. So in the beginning, faith is seen as belief. “I believe there is a God, so I have faith in God. I believe that Christ died to save humanity and reduce our suffering. I believe this because somebody I trust told me.” So faith, in its crudest form, is a belief or an outcome of a belief, a feeling you have because you believe something. This is not real faith. Real faith results not from belief but from real knowledge. When you really know because you have perceived directly, then you have real faith. So real faith means the direct knowing of that which you have faith in. When you have perceived God, then you have real faith. It’s unshakable because you have seen it, felt it. You may not be seeing it right now, but you have seen it at least once. So faith is belief in the existence of something that you have experienced or perceived directly. So you have the feeling or the emotion of faith.

The Realization of Holy Faith is a Transformation

The realization of Holy Faith is a transformation in the very experience of who you are. It is not based on a belief or a conviction; nor is it a memory. It is knowing that there is Essence and that it is one’s inner nature, taken for granted as a given. This faith is a tremendous help on the path because when things get difficult and you’re scared or unhappy, when you are not experiencing Essence and there is no one around to help you connect with it, what keeps you going besides faith? Without faith, it becomes very difficult to continue. The faith has to be real faith, because when you’re terrified, feeling disintegrated, or deeply hurt, a mental belief will not get you through. The true transformation that we call faith gives the soul courage which makes it persevere, because it has the unquestioned certainty that there is true reality and support even though it is not explicitly obvious at that moment. The Spanish Christian mystic, St. John of the Cross, discusses this faith in his writings about the “dark night of the soul.” When you don’t know what is happening and you don’t feel any support, only this faith will keep you going; trying to remember what your teacher said or what you experienced yesterday will not.

Facets of Unity, pg. 236

When a Deep Faith in Reality Can be Helpful

For true self-realization you have to jump. You have to take the risk of jumping when there is no support, when you have no idea of what’s going to happen. It feels like jumping into an abyss. You don’t know whether you are going to come out of it or not, or whether you’ll be better or worse, or whether you’ll come out of it the same kind of person or not. You don’t know whether it will work or not. You have no idea. That is why a deep faith in reality, a basic trust in truth, can be very helpful at this point. When the hole is experienced completely, true support will arise. Basically, true support is resisted by the attempt to hold on, which is why the true support of Essence cannot be faked. It is very difficult to really let go; you cannot be lazy about it. You can experience all kinds of states without doing much work, but not true support. Even certain self-realizations can happen without much work, but to experience true support your work has to be real.

When One's Faith is Only Mental Doubt Can Creep In

The recognition of Essence is not yet faith, but it is a necessary element for faith. Faith is an objective experience rather than a mental belief, as I have explained, and refers to a transformation of the soul. When faith is present, the consciousness is changed in a fundamental way, changed in its very substance. So it is not a mental belief based on an inner experience; it is not a matter of having an experience of Essence, and thereafter knowing in your mind that Essence does indeed exist. It is really a transformation that takes place in the soul, in which Essence as one’s nature becomes a certainty, a given, and not something that you need to remember or remind yourself of. This knowing has become integrated and has transformed your consciousness itself. As long as one’s faith is only mental, doubt can creep in, and since doubt itself is mental, something that is only a memory is an easy target for it. When real faith is present, a transformation has taken place and there is no going back. Things might arise that weaken or challenge your faith, but it is there, regardless of what happens.

Facets of Unity, pg. 234

When the Soul is in Complete Harmony with Reality the Experience is Beyond Faith

To talk about faith is to talk about an important development of the path, because it is the expression of a profound transformation in one’s soul. At the beginning of the Work, we can talk about the goal being the realization of the truth, understanding what reality really is. The path is the process by which the soul comes into harmony with that reality, and faith is a by-product of that harmonization. When the soul is in complete harmony with reality, the experience is beyond faith; it is then simply the direct experience of the strength of Essence, which we call Holy Strength. In Holy Faith, the heart is completely convinced and certain of Essence through direct contact with it. This particular opening of the heart is what we mean by faith representing a transformation in the soul. The soul transforms in response to many factors as it realizes its true nature, and part of this transformation is the development of what we call Holy Faith. The very substance of the soul becomes purified, developed, and matured, until its complete fruition, in which the soul is completely transparent to, and in harmony with, objective reality. Faith, then, becomes implicit. Unlike the faith that we can have in another person, in a situation, in a particular teaching, and so on, Holy Faith is enduring because it is based on the recognition of our self-existing and eternal nature.

Facets of Unity, pg. 237

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