As a spiritual teacher, people often ask me about my beliefs.
Do you believe in God? Do you believe in karma? Do you believe bad people can achieve enlightenment?
Regardless of the specific nature or flavour of the question, my answer is always the same: “I do not carry any beliefs.”
This reply constantly surprises my audience, as most people assume that spirituality goes hand in hand with beliefs and faith, and that the stronger the beliefs are, the deeper the spirituality.
On the contrary. On the spiritual path, the practice is to act from knowing and not from believing or having faith.
Two sources of ‘knowing’
The first source of knowing comes from information we gather externally. We may gather this information through our direct personal experiences.
For example, we singe our finger in the flame of a candle and learn that fire can burn us. We do not believe that fire can burn us; we know it. We may also learn from others’ experiences; our father teaches us how to drive as he has long been in the driver’s seat.
The other source of knowing comes from outside of our physical experience but manifests in subtle ways within our bodies. This source may be called the Higher Self: intuition, inner voice, inner guru or God.
This second type of knowledge may manifest as feelings: “I should not take this offer even though it sounds ideal, it just doesn’t feel right.”
It may manifest as an inner voice or inner guidance: “Something” in me is telling me not to go to the party tonight.
Or, it may manifest as actions without preliminary thought, when we flow from one moment to the next doing the “right thing” without hesitation or doubt. Without premeditated thought, you decide to take a different route to work one day, unknowingly avoiding the collapse of a bridge and this saves your life…
No matter what we call this state, within it, there is an absolute sense of knowing.
So when do we believe?
On the other hand, we believe when we do not know or are not sure: “I believe in life after death.”
We believe when there is no experience: “I believe in oneness.”
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines faith as a “firm belief without logical proof,” and belief as a “firm opinion or conviction.”
Because belief and faith aren’t based on a direct experience or inner or external knowing, they are very intangible.
Subconsciously, you know you can always lose it, (“he lost his faith”), so there is a constant effort to strengthen beliefs by reinforcing them. By trying to convince people around you to hold the same beliefs that you do, you create an artificial strength in numbers.
Throughout history, this has often if not always, resulted in one group of people imposing their beliefs on others, often planting these seeds of faith through the platforms of fear, brainwashing, and even violence.
Beliefs become our possessions. We “hold on” to our beliefs so we do not “lose” them.
Through the extreme fear of losing our beliefs, we become fanatic.
Do you need to reinforce the knowledge that water is necessary for your survival? Do you need to go to a Water Church once a week to be reminded of how important it is for you to drink water as you might otherwise stop doing it? Do you need to be convinced of the power of water? Do you believe that water is life, or do you know that it is?
If you believe in love, you do not love.
If you believe in peace, you do not know peace.
If you believe in God, you do not experience God.
When you know love, you experience inner peace and you become God.
By shakti mhi
This article was written by the request of CBC’s News Radio and News Series: “Where is God today?”.