A Question of Faith

May 03, 2006

Last night as a result of the suicide survivor's group I'm attending, I came to a new understanding about faith. Or perhaps I should say the beliefs that sustain or hinder a person's faith. For much of my life I have struggled with what I now call dogmatic religious beliefs. I've never been one to accept things merely at face value, especially if there was no supporting argument except for, "you just have to believe.'

Several years ago I ran across a quote from Reverend William Sloane Coffin that states, "Faith is not belief without proof, faith is trust with out reservation." This simple statement has given me a entirely new outlook on matters of belief and faith. Perhaps it is only a semantic game, but I can easily trust without reservation things I couldn't begin to believe without proof.

One of the key things I trust is that we all have multiple lives, that we are destined to instantiate on this physical plane again and again, learning lessons while traveling along a path towards achieving a state of complete grace and love. I have believed this to be true since the first time I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull at age fourteen. Other books, Illusions among them, and discussions with Michele and others, have given me a sense of peace about why I am here and where I am going.

Believing, as I do, that this current lifetime is but one step on a path stretching far into the distance, makes it easier to accept Michele's death. I still feel pain and sorrow, and not a day goes by that I don't want her back her with me. But I know in my heart, and in my soul, that she is okay. Moreover, I know I will rejoin her between the end of my current lifetime and the start of my next one. Perhaps she will even play a role in my next lifetime.

Where the group experience really hit me last night was seeing just how damaging to a person a dogmatic belief system can be, particularly if it is accepted with out question. At least two of my fellow survivors are really struggling to move past the mere idea of suicide, let alone the suicide of a loved one. My thought is that having been conditioned to accept things without question by their faith, they are ill-equipped to face a world filled with events that acceptance along cannot reconcile. More sobering than this thought is the question I am now asking myself: where in my own life am I as blindly accepting of beliefs or ideas detrimental to me, as they are of a religious foundation that is hindering them rather than helping them?

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.