Faith & Belief

Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown.

We must here make a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would “like” or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.

Alan Watts

So much of the meat of this project here at Horizons of Significance has to do with puzzling out a lexicon. Finding what words mean is a large part of figuring out where we might find meaning. This quote from Alan Watts clarifies a distinction that’s been lacking in my own use of these terms.

The introduction of a Theosphere; the way what I’ve been calling belief, but Watts points out is actually faith; is at the heart of establishing and maintaining a way of life.

It also seems a helpful distinction when illuminating the questions surrounding a new hygiene. At the heart of an approach to coherence and clarity itself is an openness that might best be described as faith. Whereas, the blockages and incoherent patterns of thought can be seen as the result of insisting on beliefs.

Such a simple point. But it is on such pivots that a whole weorld stands or falls.

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