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What is faith? It is similar to hope, belief, confidence, and trust. But there are differences.

  1. Hope.
    • Degree of certainty. Hope is usually just wishful thinking; in contrast, faith implies more certainty that we will have a particular result.
    • Amount of emotion. Hope is emotional; faith can exist without emotion.
    • Passivity. Hope is passive; we wait for something good to come to us. In contrast, faith is generally a part of an active system; "we move in faith."
  2. Belief.
    • Focus. A belief is focused on one idea; for example, "I believe that there is a god." In contrast, faith is a general attitude regarding the nature of something, and so it encompasses many individual ideas; for example, "I have faith that god is benevolent" (and, thus, the god is kind, helpful, forgiving, etc. -- and therefore likely to help me in a particular manner in this particular situation).
    • Amount of intellectual content. A belief can be articulated as a concept (and we might be able to explain our reasons for having the belief); in contrast, we can have faith without being able to express it as a concept other than to say, "I have faith in that." Indeed, we can have faith in something which contradicts our logical reasoning.
  3. Confidence.
    • Basis. We are confident in something because it has proven that it has particular abilities by which it can accomplish tasks. In contrast, we can have faith in something which has not yet proven itself; our history with that thing might even include many "unanswered prayers."
    • Placement of evaluation. Confidence is generally based upon an evaluation of our own aptitude. In contrast, faith is based on evaluation of something else's aptitude; for example, we have faith in a deity. (We generally do not have faith in ourselves, simply because we are very aware of our own fallibility.)
  4. Trust.
    • Basis. Trust is generally based on a history with something; it has "earned our trust."
    • Equality. We have trust among equals (e.g., other people); in contrast, we have faith in something which is greater than we are.

The productive and destructive aspects of faith.  

  1. The productive aspects of faith.
    • Faith can help us to make a "leap" into a consideration of new possibilities when we have created illusory limitations through our misinterpretation of input from the intellect, feelings, or intuition. And faith can help us to disregard other types of faulty input, e.g., public opinion (when the public is incorrect).
    • Faith helps to diminish mental and emotional distractions, e.g., doubt, fear, anxiety, etc. Therefore, we can focus our attention on our task.
    • Faith facilitates our basic ability to function. We would be paralyzed into inaction if we did not have faith that the sun would rise tomorrow, and that our sensory perceptions are accurate, and that our mind is processing data reliably, and that a restaurant's food is not poisoned, and that the people who are walking past us are not going to kill us, etc. We are continually exposed to uncertainties; it is our faith in the possible goodness of life which allows us to proceed. If we lived in a state of total doubt regarding everything, we would hardly be able to interact with life at all.
    • Faith might invoke the assistance of a supernatural force. Some religions say that our faith in a deity is an essential part of the relationship with that deity, and that the faith enhances the deity's willingness and ability to assist us.
  2. The destructive aspects of faith.
    • Some religions say that faith is an ultimate state in itself. However, because faith is a state which exists in the absence of experience or knowledge, a glorification of faith is a glorification of inexperience and ignorance; we are "blessed" for "not knowing." And so we are discouraged from learning and questioning and exploring (and using our intellect, intuition, and personal power); instead, we rely on "blind faith" in outer authorities (and their sometimes-inaccurate dogma). Instead, we can view faith as an intermediate state between not-knowing and knowing. Carl Jung said (in his autobiography): "The arch sin of faith, it seemed to me, was that it forestalled experience ... and confirmed my conviction that in religious matters only experience counted."
    • Faith can be mis-placed. Faith is always partially unreliable; either we place our faith in something which is fundamentally unworthy of it, or we place our faith in something which might be perfect (e.g., a deity) and then we rely on our fallible ability to interpret the information and guidance from that perfect thing. People are fundamentally unworthy of faith; when we have faith in people, we are unfairly projecting onto them the godly qualities of constancy, inerrancy, etc. People change; people have a "shadow" which contains the opposite of whatever trait we have faith in; people are ultimately pursuing the satisfaction of own needs (and so their needs will occasionally conflict with ours).  

Techniques for managing faith.  

  1. Archetypal field-work.
    • Self-talk. "I test the things in which I invest my faith." "I allow myself to have faith in things which have proven themselves to me."
    • Directed imagination. We can visualize ourselves acting in ways which express our faith in something.
    • Energy toning. We can generate the energy tones of confidence, certainty, etc.
    • The "as if" principle. We can act as if we have faith.
  2. Intuition. Intuition can tell us whether something is worthy of faith. And intuition can warn us when something is going to betray our faith.
  3. We can develop courage. Faith requires courage, because we are venturing into new areas -- perhaps in contradiction to our reasoning and our experience.
  4. We can recognize faith as an intermediate stage in our education in life. Faith helps us to consider new ideas; then, as we learn and test those new ideas, the faith is replaced by knowledge and experience. However, we can never know or experience everything; therefore, we are always using faith to take us into new areas.
  5. We can increase our faith gradually. Because we recognize that faith is necessary in order for us to interact with things, we develop our ability to have faith. We start with low-risk issues, to test something's worthiness of faith. At each step, we can risk more. (As we increase the risk, we might increase our protection against the occasionally lapses; for example, we might enhance our attentiveness to the thing's activities, or we might buy more insurance.)
  6. We can accept our doubts. We always have doubts in our shadow; to deny them is to deny simple reality. If we do not acknowledge our doubts, we become fanatics who are intolerant of other people's contrary ideas, and we repress our awareness of the occasions when our faith fails us. (The failure might be due to the unworthiness of the object of our faith, or our misinterpretation of the actions of a worthy object of faith.)  
  7. We can be willing to accept changes in our faith. The faith changes as we learn more about the object of faith; for example, as we learn about a deity, we are essentially having faith in a different thing. (The thing is essentially the same, but our perception of it changes, and so our experience of it changes.) Sometimes, we must cease to have faith in something, if that thing has proven itself to be fundamentally unworthy of our faith.
  8. We can protect ourselves. When we have faith in people and material circumstances, we will be betrayed occasionally; therefore, we need to follow the guideline: "have faith, but buckle your seat-belt anyway." Some people are more faith-worthy than others; we can discern their worthiness through our intuition, our experiences with them, and other people's experiences with them. Even if we have faith in "an infallible deity," we can be injured, because we will occasionally misinterpret the deity's doctrines and personal guidance (and we might be incorrect in our faith that this deity exists at all).


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