When faith is central to your life and personal journey, what lessons and experiences can you expect along the way?
The first lesson of faith is having faith.
Economist and author, Stuart Chase, encapsulates it beautifully in one of my favourite quotes:
‘For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible.’
Like the addict who has to admit that he has a problem before he can receive help, you need to choose to have faith, to believe in order to see. The obvious exception is people who have experienced a miraculous event that has converted them to faith.
The second lesson of faith is blind faith: holding your faith once you’ve chosen to have it, even though you have not yet seen results or a miracle.
Anyone who has consciously been along the path of faith will tell you that you always eventually see results and miracles; often in fact, people are converted to faith by having exposure to a miracle. While that does happen fairly often, a lot of people also come to faith slowly and gradually over their lifetime, choosing faith before they’ve experienced proof.
For these people, they will experience the lesson of blind faith: placing faith and belief in something that you have no direct personal experience of yet. Many persons indoctrinated into religious ideologies from birth will experience this test of faith.
Faith with Miracles
The next level of growth in faith comes after you’ve experienced miracles, or perhaps a single miracle, and you now have to align yourself with making them a regular reality in your life and experience.
In Maslow’s four stages of learning model, he describes the degrees of taking on any new learning as following this sequence:
1. Unconscious Incompetence
I don’t know that I can’t do this because I haven’t been exposed to it yet
2. Conscious Incompetence
I’ve tried this before and now I know I can’t do it
3. Conscious Competence
I’ve been doing this for a while and I can do it if I focus and pay attention
4. Unconscious Competence
I’ve done this so much and so well that it’s become second nature, a habit that I don’t even have to think about
At the point of experiencing your first miracle you enter the stage of Conscious Incompetence – you’ve experienced this once, but you’re not actually sure how you did it, and you’re nowhere near replicating the experience yet.
As you progress along this level you will get more comfortable with miracles, and your ability to create miracles and hold faith, and you will enter the level of Conscious Competence, and eventually, if you’ve chosen a path that far-reaching, Unconscious Competence.
During this stage you will have many of the experiences of faith, although these really can appear anywhere along your path.
As you move along your path, you will experience miracles in different guises and come to understand the many ways that miracles manifest themselves:
- Physical healing of illness
- Hands-on healing
- Finding Inner Peace
- Aligning with your Purpose
As with any learning experience, the more times you experience something repetitively, the more effectively you understand and can replicate it – miracles are no different.
In A Course In Miracles we are told that we do not create miracles ourselves, we are merely the facilitators through which miracles are created.
Creating miracles then, is about holding the space of faith so that God/Source/The Universe can facilitate a miracle through the space, belief and trust you hold.
As you go along any path of faith, there will come times when you lose your direction and question what you know – and that’s normal.
In order to really grow, you have to stop and look at every aspect of your life, both good and bad, from every possible angle – you have to question it. You have to question everything.
Losing your faith is about experiencing a period of questioning. Once you have delved through the inconsistencies and begin resonating with new awareness, you often find that you regain your faith quite beautifully.
If there’s one upside to losing faith at times, it’s the homecoming experience of regaining your faith and regaining your connection.
When you’ve experienced the warmth of your spiritual home, the world can seem very cold and bare at times; no more so than when you feel completely disconnected from your Source.
Regaining your faith is a homecoming that allows you to feel complete, especially after the wilderness of losing your faith.
Nirvana or Revelation Experiences
At the end of many difficult periods, or when they are very aligned with their Source, many people experience the oneness of Nirvana or Revelation Experiences.
The only way to describe this is that you stand next to God and your soul can only sing thank you.
It is a beautiful, floaty, happy, perfect and sometimes totally impractical space to be in – it’s a bit difficult to get stuff properly done when you’re floating around on clouds of bliss and think every little speck of everything is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. That’s why we don’t get to keep it all the time ☺
A Dark Night of the Soul
The final huge lesson of faith can take many forms, but at its essence it’s a test of your faith. It’s known as a Dark Night of the Soul.
As you go along a path of faith you will experience many tests of your faith, and many of these will appear to be Dark Nights of the Soul. In the strictest sense of the term though, a Dark Night of the Soul is the really big spiritual test of your faith, where you emerge as a Mystic on the other side.
From that point of view, entering your Dark Night of the Soul is a massive compliment: you’ll only be offered a lesson this advanced if you’ve earned your spiritual stripes. On the other hand, this is going to strip you bare and break you down to the very foundations of who you are – this feels like spiritual hell at times.
This experience can last a number of years and is a period of time in which you will use all your normal tools and resources and find they have no effect; you’ll ask for help and hear no answers; you will feel completely abandoned and alone and all doors will be shut to you. They will watch, sometimes answer, but you will get little to no consolation – and it’s time bound: it will only end when it ends, and you have no control over that.
You will push and push and to try and get results – and all the doors will stay closed to you: you will receive no consolation.
There’s a point to this, and that is first to show you who you are when facing the worst. Second it shows you who you are when you are alone. Lastly, this test will strip you bare, so that you are reborn completely anew: new ways of thinking and being, new belief systems, a completely changed person.
Wherever you are on your path of faith, there are more lessons and challenges coming. As Richard Bach so beautifully puts it in Illusions:
'Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't.'
There’s more to come, more lessons, and you will grow and soar. Yes a test like this feels like literal hell to go through, with hell being the absence of God, but there is an upside and an end, and this will turn. Everything does.
Luckily knowledge and consciousness are among the things you can take with you ;)