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The Mystic's Life Lesson #23
Faith is not essential to your quest. However, nothing is more helpful. Perhaps you are an inveterate doubter and will have to be shown the attributes of your higher consciousness before you will believe it exists. You will, nevertheless, succeed if you are sincere and open to the possibilities of higher consciousness. If you prejudge or have already decided that there is no such thing, then you will fail. But in being more like a scientist, with sincere curiosity and experiment, you can gain enough experience in the long run to overcome your lack of faith.
A sincere person will define the limits of his intellect within a day or two. He will also acknowledge there must be a phenomenally brilliant and potent consciousness which enables his body to function. There is genius at work in his heartbeat and in the communication system via the nerves throughout the body. A sincere seeker will readily humble himself before the facts of his own existence: at times he becomes mute or dances for joy as he contemplates the marvels of the external world and its galaxy-filled sky.
Faith is the remarkable human faculty of being able to believe in a reality beyond our comprehension. Even though you have not personally seen or experienced a particular, subtle reality you still can receive great benefit from attuning with it — as best you are able. Of course, faith has to be placed in a reality — it must truly exist.
You Are Convinced
Faith gives tremendous momentum and enthusiasm to those seekers who are willing to restrain their skepticism. True faith — faith that "works" — involves conviction. If you have faith you move through daily life convinced of the reality of a higher consciousness and you are confident you will experience that higher consciousness as soon as you are prepared. Further, you are confident you are rapidly being prepared through the efficacy of higher consciousness and its assistance in your development. You are convinced! Even though you feel you have not yet experienced higher consciousness, you are certain you will.
So, faith means complete trust, confidence, or reliance. Faith comes from Middle English and Old French terms as well as the Latin fides, which means confidence and belief, or fidere, to trust.
Often, beginning seekers assume that all other happy people on the path of higher consciousness are filled with faith while they (the beginners) find very little faith or conviction inside their own hearts and minds.
It's common to assume everyone else has the faith but you are going to have to "tough it" through. At the same time, the other people who are traveling with you on your journey of higher consciousness likely have the opposite opinion. They may feel, looking at your face brimming with joy, that you have extraordinary faith and they should be more like you. They may be trying to emulate your faith!
When you have faith you not only think higher consciousness might be a reality, you are so convinced you make every possible effort toward higher consciousness — short of any self-destructive strain or stress. Faith implies action with continuity. Once you have faith you won't stop now and then, feeling everything's in vain — as the more scientific or doubtful seekers tend to do through regular rest stops along the way. You will, because of your hopefully well-placed trust, have tremendous momentum. You will be able to deal with your doubts and quibbles while maintaining good speed in your quest toward greater consciousness.
Accept This Great Gift
Sympathize with those who do not have faith but don't stop! Keep going. If faith comes more easily to you, accept this great gift and forge onward. When you realize your higher consciousness, then you will be more able to help others. You can speak from definite experience rather than speculations.
You have progressed beyond the stage of a beginner when you have faith. No longer leading an on-again, off-again life, you don't drag your doubts wherever you go. Now you can order and direct your activities so that each part of your life harmoniously enables you to fulfill your faith in your unfolding experience of higher consciousness.
Faith allows you to concentrate on choosing the best directions toward your goals. You scrupulously guard yourself from a haphazard random life.
Through faith you live in the certainty that higher consciousness is available to you and you go forward confidently. You enthusiastically — enthusiasm now comes easily — put forth effort, clear thoughts, and inspiring feelings. Each of your days is built on a satisfying yesterday.
Faith enables you to be unstoppable. Already convinced of the value of what you are doing, you don't have to be "sold" on what you are doing any more. While it may have taken some time for your faith to develop, you can face every setback or worry. You are convinced you will always have whatever you need to overcome any obstacle and continue moving forward. In this trusting state, an inner power and insight routinely and observably come to your aid.
Many problems and worries fall away from you because of your faith. Your life becomes more streamlined. You know what you want to do with your life and you are busy doing it. You're tired of tiddlywinks and superficial investigations into the meaning of life. You've chosen your way and have put an end to shallowness. No longer living as if in a small rowboat, you sense the thrust and undeniability of your convictions. Like a mighty ship you seek your destination with confidence and strength.
How Do You Develop Faith?
The key to developing faith is companionship. In your fellowship with those who have discovered their higher consciousness, you will gain faith. Because of their experience, and their goodness, you will often be inspired. Their inspiration and blessings, along with your practice of higher consciousness techniques, will gradually develop your faith.
If you can't find the companionship of enlightened people, strive to be with fellow seekers who are more advanced on the path. Their friendship will not only give you more food for thought, but you'll be encouraged by their inspiration. Your faith will grow stronger. Be aware, though, that these senior seekers, not yet being enlightened, may often give you a blurred picture of higher consciousness and downright incorrect advice on how best to proceed.
Also, not yet having experienced higher consciousness in a consolidated and transforming manner, these veterans can — and now and then do — veer off their own path. You will have to be strong enough in your determination to love and help your senior friends get back on course, or when necessary, go on alone.
Many longtime unenlightened seekers are only dabblers resisting transformation. You may have the bittersweet experience of becoming the oldest veteran on your path as all your once-inspiring buddies turn away from the goals you share. You will be grateful to be steady and true to your quest but you'll miss your dear friends, whom you admired so much.
Bearing in mind the precautions about senior devotees, don't lose heart. Look for humble, kind men and women with universal hearts. They will strengthen you when you are weak or on a wild mood swing, give you smiles and helpful words when you feel alone or don't know what to do next. Their faith will give you hope. Their experiences help you to discern true from false, successful development from fantasy.
How do you recognize true companions and fellow seekers? How do you know they will help you develop your faith rather than smash it in pieces?
Recognizing True Companions
By their fruit you will know them. While praying daily to the Lord of your heart for true fellowship, lovingly study the candidates who come your way. Appreciate and consider:
Study this list and apply it to yourself as well. For what you expect in a friend, you should demonstrate as well. Fellowship with such noble companions is high among the greatest privileges in the world. In their presence, in the loving, enthusiastic, and sometimes painfully honest fellowship of these good people, faith is sparked and blown into flame.
Remember, too, that in a subtle sense your thoughts and feelings are highly influential inner companions. In our chaotic world today it's often difficult to gain fellowship with enlightened people or advanced seekers. They tend to be hard to find unless you've done considerable preparation and can attract or find them. Nevertheless, the companionship you keep is crucial to your success so it becomes extremely important to educate your thoughts and your feelings to be good inner companions.
Study the scriptures which you hold most dear and perhaps some others you know less well. Don't just read them but take inspiring passages and memorize them. Think about them. Feel them deeply. And, in the quiet of your mind, have fellowship with them. These inner companions, based on your love and appreciation of truth, based on your sincere quest, will comfort your mind and heart. They will begin to inspire you and, in time, if you are particularly fortunate, they will convince you of the reality of higher consciousness. In being convinced and living like a convinced person, you will begin to have faith.
Chances are good that your periods of solitary study will give you the knowledge and insight which will enable you to go out into the world and gain the light of fellow seekers. Likely, in due course, your studies and mental companions will also help you find qualified teachers.
A man and woman of faith lives in faith. Convinced of the reality of the higher consciousness, they behave like it — both when they are conversing with other people and when they are alone, thinking.
There is a difference between faith and schizophrenia! When you have faith you seek to know reality itself. Faith gives you actual experiences and you have a more satisfying, integrated, and successful life. In faith you live with progressively more understanding of yourself and your world.
Mental illness involves splitting yourself from reality. Perhaps your daily life is too painful, or too boring, or too unappreciative of your individual talents and concerns. In advanced mental trauma you, or your reactions to life (or your chemical/genetic makeup, as some experts say), create a mental/emotional world that is very different — and cut off — from reality.
In the case of suffers of delusions who seek higher consciousness, elaborate fantasies and deep emotional problems are usually involved. While most everyone releases steam or imagines a better world through some healthy fantasizing, the deeply deluded usually have a need to be extremely important. Sometimes they have made huge mistakes, can't face them, and must be "proven right all along." They may crave the satisfaction of being known to themselves or others as clearly superior — perhaps even a guest from God or space, deigning to serve addled, slow humanity. On the path of higher consciousness where so many subjective feelings and thoughts can masquerade as spiritual, and where the fantasizing seeker can often find much love and respect from fellow seekers who don't know where he or she is coming from, a person can soar far into a near-permanent dream world.
These sufferers often enjoy the recognition and their power over others immensely. They say impressive words and are emotionally unfettered in many areas. One gentleman enjoyed hovering around potential disciples in restaurants. He would stare into their eyes and intone: "Do you know who I am? Look at me. Don't you recognize me? I am your spiritual master." Due to his other activities, police asked him to leave town.
Another sufferer was sure he was the reincarnated Jesus Christ and that people were trying to crucify him before he gave his message. He spent much of his time avoiding his "pursuers."
Unfortunately, mental illness can increase in the lives of those who have deep inner conflicts and who seek to escape reality on the path of higher consciousness rather than find themselves. Some people use the abstract vocabulary of higher consciousness to justify their own opinions and validate their inner images as spiritual truths.
What people with extensive inner conflicts think and see can be totally split from reality. In prayer, contemplation, or meditation, an imbalanced sufferer can, with the images of his subconscious mind — and contorted emotional nature — see whatever he wishes to see. Such an unfortunate individual may "hear" from within convincing but untrue prophecies or proclamations of his greatness, superiority, or world mission.
Because of the possibilities of self-delusion, it's very important to strive to have companionship with awakened teachers. Study with them. Heed their instructions and cautions attentively. Practice the techniques they suggest, exactly and with the right spirit. Value your teachers. As well, keep good mental/emotional companions inside. Nourish your well being with constructive success-directed thoughts and feelings. Higher consciousness is not a path of "Let's pretend." Faith is rooted in the certainty of a clearer and more perfect perception of reality.
In particular, avoid fantasies. When you're daydreaming about your romantic quest of higher consciousness, strive to recognize you are in fact fantasizing and that the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing may or may not be true. You might also ask yourself why you are having recurrent fantasies and, since fantasies are often a reflection of inner pressures, you might ask why your fantasies tend to have a particular quality or theme. Very often, too, a fantasy reveals a need or yearning within you which is not being faced and satisfied in real life.
Modesty and Humility
Instead of fantasizing, dear seeker, labor to be more conscious and balanced. Strive to have healthy friendships and inner companions of thought and feeling which curb rather than encourage imagination and self-exaltation. This is extremely important. Many of those who enter the spiritual path are actually looking for a license to validate their fantasies; they seek to fulfill, in their own pipe dreams, ambitions which they have done nothing whatever in reality to fulfill.
A genuine seeker cultivates modesty and humility. Mahatma Gandhi's daily prayer was to be lower than the dust on his feet. When you attain higher consciousness you will feel no inclination to exalt your ego. You simply don't have a desire to dominate others or exalt yourself.
However, without desiring it, people in higher consciousness often find they are, in spite of themselves, respected and esteemed by other people. Their lives of faith are beacons to seekers of light.
Next, learn how to turn on the power of faith.