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Losing Faith

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 21 February 2014 | Views [1468]

We are at a time when having no faith and turning against God is “cool”. Religion is something that crafts and defines our world. Why do people turn away from their religion? How does losing faith affect the approach and value of life?

So, I came to a conclusion that people who exhibit faith instil the following qualities:

-          Devotion

-          A belief in salvation

-          Aware of the interdependence and the unity of life

-          Spirituality

-          Eyes of compassion

-          Patience

-          Sense of belonging

-          Tune into the voice inside of them

-          Hope

-          An ability to embrace their purpose or destiny

 

This is not to say that those who do not ‘have faith’ do not have these qualities. It is more that I have found that those who believe in a God, or many Gods, seem to have a greater sense of hope and understanding of their purpose. They are driven in a direction with unwavering dedication and selflessness; trusting that their actions are a part of a greater picture. They are aware of the interdependence and unity of all living things: All is one. I am you, and you are me. They also believe in the idea of salvation such that we will be saved from all human suffering. And the list goes on..

Note that I am not applying this to a single religion but to all; truly religions are all different stories with the same contention. Different characters all searching for the same thing. Peace. Love. Unity. Now, if you define yourself as atheist, agnostic, ignostic or you think science has all the answers. Or, if you simply don’t care then, please try to. Try to think about what has made you turn away from your faith. Was it anger towards a parent or teacher who drove religion into your face without the freedom of choice? Was it how a priest spoke at mass, it didn’t quite connect with you? Was it a death or illness in the family that seems so unjust and you can’t understand why? Please, make an effort to find the roots of your resentment. For without faith we are merely robots moving unconsciously on this planet. Moving in a way that only feeds our senses and shallow desires. With little purpose.

Maybe it’s a particular religion that you cannot resonate with, for now. Please, do not give up! Discover the teachings of Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Islam or even Indigenous Traditional Religions. Or even just find a new church, or a new way of expressing your faith – take up dance, or chanting meditations, or begin prayer and scripture reading with your family or alone. In reality all religions are all pointing in the same direction. But this is your own personal discovery, find which teachings suit you best, or take what you can from all – without spreading yourself too thin. Let this be a wonderful exploration.  

Take the time to read the original spiritual texts and inspire yourself to find your purpose in life, because sometimes things can be lost in the translation. Look past any corruption you may see and let go of any resentment or anger that lingers on. Do not give up on faith purely to prove a point to the church or any religious systems. I do not advocate business-like people within the church however do not sell yourself short by cutting yourself off from faith. Turning away from God is only going to lessen the quality of your own life, do not deny yourself the opportunity to have hope and purpose. In the end, the most important thing is how having faith makes you feel. How it can define your life and lead you in directions that fulfil you so completely. You do not need to go to a church, temple or a synagogue to practice faith. Any act that brings you complete fulfilment and joy is an act of faith. It can be dancing, cooking, singing, meditating, drawing, walking, travelling – anything that stems from love. Most of the time these acts seem to have no end or apparent purpose: these are the acts of love.

I feel like our generation has almost lost all hope and in effect the value of life has lessened. Some people turn to illicit substances to find that exhilaration, to feed that curiosity or even to return to their youth. There is little awareness to the fact that religion can help fill this emptiness, without harming the body. Drinking and drugs ultimately evade conscious awareness, giving you a sense of freedom and liberation from your ‘real life’. Meditation, prayer and dance can offer such feelings, without the hangover. Life is about living, not about evading reality.

My faith, until recently, has been a little rollercoaster with peaks of joy and dips of doubt. I was born into a Catholic family and attended a Catholic primary and secondary school. My father is a very devoted Catholic, who taught me to see the world as no accident, and that the intricacies of Mother Nature can offer us lessons of life - if only we listen. He taught me to be grateful for all that I have, for the strength of love in our family. He opened my heart to sympathise for those who do not have such comforts. My mother has been more drawn to energy work and offered me a path to express my faith through meditation, Reiki, crystal healings and angel cards. She has taught me how to be positive against the odds, to tune into the voice inside me, to have hope and to embrace all who enter my life with compassion. It has been such a blessing to have many ways to express my faith – though, I don’t think I had really appreciated it, nor had I understood the true meaning of Faith until now. Even with all the doctrine and teachings, I had not felt alive and complete in my faith. Something was missing.

As a child I would attend mass with Dad, but in secondary school it felt like it had become a chore. I didn’t want to sit there for what felt like a decade, listening to a man speak some mumbo jumbo about this guy called Jesus. It didn’t appeal to me. However, in my last years of secondary school I felt drawn to the leadership role of “Faith and Social Justice” still with a resentment towards Catholicism, seeing it as something boring that only adults have the patience for. But still, I found so much enjoyment in tutoring Sudanese kids, helping to raise awareness to social injustices and promoting the use of the arts to raise money for those in need.

In 2013 I travelled to the Basque Country to visit relatives and found myself undertaking a pilgrimage that I had not planned for, El Camino de Santiago Compostela also known as The Way of St James. I took quite a risk travelling alone, 8 kilos on my back, map in hand, a pair of trekking boots and an open mind. Up until that moment, life had been about doing rather than being. I didn’t know where I’d end up, how far I’d get to, who I’d meet, what I’d get out of it – no expectations, no destination. But I wasn’t so concerned about that. I was more focused on my journey. Days fell into each other such that when I returned and tried to recall my journey I could not separate days from weeks. Everything was interlaced. Time was insignificant. The interrelatedness and unity of life was all that absorbed me.

El Camino was done in the country where my dad and his family were born, so this provided more depth and intention to my journey. There were moments when I felt my grandfather’s presence by a shiver down my spine or the warmth of a hands-touch on my shoulder – I had the chance to meet my grandfather after his death. It made me think about dying and, in contrast, about living. I began to ask myself, what is life really about? What do I want to be remembered for? What do I want to achieve in life? What is the most important thing to me? All answers I can now answer with: Love. Life is about love. I want to be remembered for spreading love. I want to achieve complete and infinite love. The most important thing to me is love. Faith strengthens my love. For myself, for others, for Mother Nature and for the peace that comes from giving love.

With my travels I had to go against my parents wishes. What they had given to me was ideal, but still I needed to embark on my own journey. It is through experience, especially when you take risks; that you can truly see the work of the Divine. There were people that I ‘bumped into’ more than once, some might say a mere coincidence – I say that they were guided to me, or I to them. They helped me along the way.

Even though my camera was stolen in a later trip to Barcelona, with all my footage from El Camino, it doesn’t matter. What matters are the memories that are embedded in my heart, the faith that grew that shaped me to be who I am today. And I love who I have become, and how my faith has grown, and so I am grateful for the steps I took to get me here. I just hope that the person who stole my camera watched the footage, and was maybe inspired to walk the pilgrimage too. Or maybe this is a little too hopeful? J

As a wonderful mentor reminded me – life is about being rather than doing.

Please, don’t give up on faith. We are all children of the universe, by having faith in a Divine existence we can see the signs more clearly and find greater purpose in our lives other than ‘sex, drugs, rock & roll’

 

Move beyond the ego and see the bigger picture.

Have faith!

 

I love you, always.

 

 

Recommended Texts:

‘Siddhartha’ by Hermann Hesse

‘Earth’s Echo’ by Robert. M Hamma

 

Tags: basque country, camino, faith, love, travel

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