Today I want to talk about faith; perhaps one of the most misunderstood words in the dictionary. It seems to be an appropriate time of year for this discussion.

The actual meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. So let’s have a look at various kinds of faith.

Religious Faith

This is what most people mean when they talk about faith: “a strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof” (OED again). In other words, you believe in your god(s) and your religion because you feel they are right, rather than their having been proved right scientifically and/or empirically.

I have nothing against this kind of faith, as long as its believers don’t try to coerce me into believing as they do. If they’re prepared to discuss their beliefs and to listen to mine, while we both agree that the other has the right to believe as they do, everything’s fine. However, so many proselytise and preach, even go to war, in attempts to get others to believe as they do. I sometimes wonder if it’s because they themselves are, in their very hearts, not quite sure that they’re right; they need others to agree with them in order for them to feel justified. Look at history for the “religious” reasons behind so much warfare for examples.

Even worse are the religious hypocrites. The ones who preach sexual continence while they themselves are among the greatest philanderers of all. Those who preach that life is sacred and that every foetus has a right to life, while condoning war and abandoning the new-born to poverty and destitution. The ones who ask for money for charity, taking the last penny from the generous and poor, then live a life of luxury that few kings and emperors ever even dreamt of.Those who speak of peace while fostering religious, racial and social hatred. And the ones who speak out against homosexuality and other sexual variations while themselves indulging in the same. By their deeds, we know that the faith that they really believe and practice is not the faith that they speak; their actions speak louder than their words, and the discerning see them for what they truly are.

Be that as it may, religion has co-opted the concept of faith for itself, but the word means so much more.

Faith in Yourself

Having faith in yourself means believing in yourself. You believe that you can do something or be something without there being any verifiable proof. Without this faith in yourself, you’ll make no real progress in your life.

If you don’t believe that you’re good enough for promotion, you’ll likely not receive it, unless all the other candidates have even less faith in themselves (an unlikely prospect). If you can’t believe that you’re worthy of that particular girl or guy, you won’t ask them out, and they’ll overlook you. And so it goes in life.

This kind of faith is the basis of self-confidence and self-esteem. Believe you can and do, and you’ll achieve miracles.

Faith in Other People

Faith in other people has another name: trust.

I must admit that trust has often been a problem in my life.

I’ve trusted people when buying securities, which turned out to be extremely unlucky. For instance, I bought into an investment fund in February 2001, which lost nearly 50% of its value after 9/11. After spending years working its way back up to its original value, it was reduced in value by 45% again by the financial disasters of 2008 and after. When I finally cashed in during 2012, as I left Switzerland, it had sagged further in value, and I ended up with around 37% of my original investment (which the government then taxed!).

I’ve trusted women with my heart (i.e., I’ve fallen in love), only to have them misuse me and my emotions for their own amusement, or to follow their own agendas.

During the beginning of my training as a Reiki Master, I was the only man in a group of six students taking part in a particular course. Strangely enough, when we were asked what the theme of the training was for us, every one of us cited problems with trust. Either it was an odd coincidence, or we were all their because we needed to learn the same lesson. I certainly felt enough trust to let my emotions have a free run during those three days, proving that big boys certainly do cry!

Even after all my negative experiences, I would still rather trust others (what a friend of mine called being a “good-natured chump”), than be a cynic who trusts nobody and nothing.

Faith in the Universe

Faith in the Universe means believing that there is a reason for everything that happens, and that the Universe has our best interests at heart. So many times when things have gone wrong, it’s more likely that my negative beliefs and actions got in the way than that the Universe was acting malevolently. I am working on those beliefs, so that the Universe can give me what I want and need. It’s even possible that the negative experiences I had were there to teach me a lesson I couldn’t learn any other way. Who knows? Maybe I couldn’t see the carrot, so the stick became necessary.

The mechanism by which the Universe moderates what you receive is the Law of Attraction. What you think, and more importantly what you believe (have faith in), is reflected back to you from the Universe via this law. You only need to have faith that the universe is a good and abundant place. If you add in the gratitude you feel for what you already have and the gratitude for what you are about to receive, your life can become filled with wonder.

So I wish everybody a happy, faith-filled, abundant and successful New Year.

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