“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
-Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea: How can we develop our spiritual faculties (i.e. faith) when it’s something that we’ve never really felt, but always wanted to feel? I recently had a long conversation with someone about philosophy and faith and the difficulty in ‘understanding’ faith. It was fairly productive and I learned a lot, but I still went away with a hint of disappointment. After all, it’s not something which you can expect to understand in an evening’s time.
But the intersection between philosophy and theology has lately been on my mind. My skepticism has long had its way with me, and I’ve been eager to go another route. I appreciate the good that it can do, in that it teaches the mind how to think, where to look for fallacy, how to remain self-consistent, etc. But it can only take you so far down the road before proclaiming that it has reached the end of the line, having exerted all of its energies too soon. You intuitively want to continue, but it’s unknown to you at this point if you’re walking alone or being guided by your God as you leave reason behind and venture into the cave of the supernatural.
My question, now, is how does one go about having faith? If it is beyond our words and attempts at making explanations of our experience, then it would seem like I can’t – physically or mentally – go anywhere to try and find it. I can’t expect it to be somewhere where it might be found. But then all I can really do is to live, knowing that my experience might take me somewhere I hadn’t even thought of, in such a way that I become naturally drawn to it. The problem is that I can relate to this idea on an intellectual level just fine, but isn’t there more to faith? Isn’t it about realizing a truth of some sort which can’t be reasoned out or put into words?
I think this quote above is the paradox that I see in faith. It’s a wonderful paradox, though, since I can see the value in what Wilde is saying, although I can’t rationally comprehend it. Maybe this is another feature of faith, just to enjoy even the mundane things or to find simplicity in all of our life’s sudden changes. I feel like there isn’t really any point to actively try to have faith, but rather to let your faith come to you. Reason gets in the way when I think too much, I realize, but I also believe that reason helps support faith along the way. It’s because if we somehow stumble upon our faith one day through some sort of empowering and life-changing experience, then this must necessarily be put into perspective, an experience which needs to be readily integrated into one’s own self. I’m not sure of how this all comes together, but as far as I can tell, being a fitting receptacle for faith is all that I’m asked to do. The rest is up to the Unknown.