Growing up in religion, I was told that leaving the “flock” was certain death, often compared to a sheep leaving the sheepfold and putting itself as easy prey of the heathen “wolfs.” Leaving religion was a dreadful thought. Life outside church was short of unimaginable.
Even after overcoming my first three years outside religion, I still struggle to verbalize what life and faith outside religion feels like. So, I’ve been thinking about this lately.
In essence, I have not abandoned my faith. In fact, my faith is more real and stronger than it used to be, maybe because it is based on a more tangible reality that the abstract constructs of my former religion. But religion may not acknowledge what I now consider faith. Let me explain.
Within religion, my faith referred to trust in a divine Being sitting in heaven or otherwise a trust I built based on the sacred writings attributed to God. I exercised this faith by praying or calling on the God of heaven, by believing or repeating sacred verses, by claiming scripture promises, while expecting scriptural principles, promises or God himself to move or become “active” on my behalf.
Moreover, I ensured this “right” of having God “active” and backing me by keeping a moral code, a prayerful and God-devoting, praising, worshiping life. Failing on these spiritual disciplines would not only have those around me question my membership legitimacy, but could certainly mean I would neither be favored by God, nor he be active on my behalf in my times of need.
In essence, my religious faith was based on strict adherence to practical and theological principles of scriptural interpretation and application, or otherwise following the tenets of my religion’s faith.
However, contrary to religion’s belief, faith outside religion can be real, fulfilling and satisfying, as it is a very different kind of faith. This faith is not based on any of the above religious principles. So, let me give a you little background.
Although I initially tapped into this faith by following tacit understandings revealed through sacred scripture, these understandings neither led me to unyielding trust and adherence or idolizing devotion to the scriptures themselves, nor to a historical figure, namely Jesus, nor a heavenly Being called God, nor to a particular view of scripture interpretation, nor to following adherence to theological principles or scriptural disciplines. It actually led me to the source of life itself. It brought a sense of tangible reality in the presence of abundant God-like life as something available and reachable. It led to the reality of a kingdom or domain present within myself.
In that place, I discovered, lays the source of this power we call eternal life, the source of God’s own essence, power, or energy that gives humanity its life, purpose and meaning. This life neither originates in a sacred book, nor in an outside source or a person, but it’s latently present within the dimension of the human heart. The source of this energy is already present in every human being, and only lack of this awareness keeps us from living out of its power, and abundance, leaving us stuck on the mere reasoning faculties of the human intellect.
I can illustrate this as being in a deep sleep that keeps us from experiencing the awaken world. We must be awake to enjoy it. We must be aware of its presence to live in it.
Jim Palmer’s illustration unveils this idea further: “The only thing required for knowing the sunrise is being awake to experience it. The same applies to knowing Truth. You are asleep and lost in a dream. You have to wake up to see things as they really are.” Notes from (Over) the Edge
What kind of faith is my newfound faith? Faith in life! This faith is an unyielding trust in the possession of this power, essence or energy called life, which in its most organic form, emanates from the Creator. It’s the realization of the acquired possession of God’s own life-essence, which the writer of the Genesis called, “in God’s own image and likeness.”
Faith in life is believing in that original life as given to the first created humans. Is trust in the restoration of that divine order and our God-given ability to live directly from its source emanating from our human heart. It’s living out of the essence and life-energy of God, in order to rule and reign in life.
Faith in life is different from faith in the principles of a religious system in that religion promotes rules and regulations to move about and be supplied from, which evidently have failed to deliver heaven on earth, as it awaits for another world in which to manifest. A kingdom that is neither coming or we will reach out in the sky because it is already latently abiding and awaiting in us within the dimension of our hearts. It’s us and no one else who have to open our eyes and awaken to it to live out of its abundance.
Faith in life assures us that heaven is not a place out of this world, but a spiritual dimension within ourselves; a part of humanity from which God’s wellspring of life emanates from, right from our own guts. A kingdom we need to live from, spread and establish until it replaces our current limited paradigm.
While religion’s faith awaits for an external being to deliver goods to the needy, faith in life encourage us to look and dig within ourselves in that place where we are one with God. It compels us to trust in our divine natures where the resources to all life needs abound. That place within every human being where God, his life, power, energy and provision rests in such abundance that it overflows. You can call it as Jesus did, “rivers of living water that spring forth from our belly.”
In essence, faith in life is believing that every human was born with a trustworthy compass within the inner self that guides us and steer us in the way we should go. This is what Jesus referred to as the kingdom of heaven. A place “at hands reach” or “within”; a treasure from were all issues of life spring.
Dr. David Hawkins in his book, “The Eye of The I, From Which Nothing is Hidden,” suggests that awakening to the reality of the life of God latent within our hearts may indeed be Christ’s second coming: “Mankind now stands at the great threshold of real awakening, which may be the actual nature of the Second Coming of Christ as foretold in scripture.” This is not a popular idea, especially within religion, yet it does not take me by surprise and I am beginning to think there’s a lot of truth to it.
In conclusion, religious faith exercises trust in an outside being or source to come to our rescue in our time of need, while faith in life trusts the God-in-us abundant ability to overcome ever life challenge.
Religion’s faith begs the God of heaven to show up on earth and intervene in our human affairs, while faith in life trusts he already has and God-in-us IS indeed heaven on earth!
~ José Arroyo ~