Faith and Spiritual Awareness

The Sixteen Prophets, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France. Copyright 2000 by Blair Atherton

The Sixteen Prophets, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France. Copyright 2000 by Blair Atherton

Are faith and spiritual awareness the same thing? This is an interesting question and no doubt there are many different views concerning the answer.

In thinking about this in the context of my own religious and spiritual experiences, I am of the belief that they are not the same. I see faith as a doorway or threshold through which most people must pass in order to begin a path to spiritual awareness. There are exceptions to this, but for most of us faith in a higher being is a necessary first step.

At the same time, simply believing in God is not sufficient for becoming spiritually aware. If we think about it, we realize that we know many people who participate in the rituals of organized religion but show no signs of spiritual awareness. When they walk out the door of their place of worship they leave God behind and return to their often self-centered and materialistic lifestyle. This can also apply to those who believe in God, but do not participate in organized religion.

In contrast, those with spiritual awareness see the world very differently. They see God in everything around them. They feel his presence every minute of every day. They constantly give Him thanks and praise, and they make a very conscious effort to live a life of goodness. They hold themselves accountable for their mistakes, wrong-doing, and transgressions, and they have genuine repentance.

Living a spiritually aware life may be a paradigm shift for many. Nevertheless, once having found the doorway to a spiritual life, do not be afraid to pass through. Keep an open mind and be prepared to make sacrifices and take on new responsibilities inherent in the knowledge you will receive.

4 comments on “Faith and Spiritual Awareness

  1. Alma says:

    I love this entry! Thank you, Blair! As is becoming expected of me, I shall comment.  Again, I’m only offering my own personal, subjective ideas to “process out loud” after having read a wonderfully thought provoking piece! I agree with you that “faith” and “spiritual awareness” are two different concepts. I liked your metaphor of faith being the doorway. I view it very similarly, too.

    In my own experience, I’ve conceived of faith as being the mechanism by which we journey through spiritual awareness. Faith is the “trust” that we place in the Universe/Process/God/Source/Light/Higher Power, etc. When you are exercising “faith,” you are placing trust, in that moment, in the process of Life. You are trusting your “obstacles” to be your “opportunities” for internal expansion. You are trusting that the Higher Power exists within you, and that you are never alone. You are trusting that whatever is part of your existence is for some benefit. You are going “all in” into the stage play of Life.

    That faith, that trust, IS the threshold of your journey! I couldn’t agree more! Once you’ve committed to your faith (not your BELIEFS, but your FAITH… I will expound shortly), you’ve committed mentally to your own paradigm shift concerning Life: the big questions – “Why are we here?” “What is all of this for?” “What is the meaning of existence?” “What is our purpose?” This paradigm shift that you mentioned is the catalyst for spiritual awareness. When you begin to trust in the circumstances of your Life, the journey becomes one of expansion instead of resistance.

    Spiritual awareness is a journey. It’s not something that ever ends. You don’t reach a state of enlightenment and say, “Well, I’m done now. I’m spiritually retired.” No. You are ever-evolving and enlightening and expanding. It is a journey. (Fibonacci suggested existence is much like a spiral, as opposed to a hierarchical linear configuration. This is what I visualize when conceiving of expansion.) Your faith is your commitment to your journey of spiritual awareness.

    I feel that those you mentioned who play the role of God-Believer one moment, and then not in another moment are inconsistent because their foundational concept of spirituality and/or religion is different than that outlined above. To those people, God is JUST a belief… like Santa Clause is a belief. You’ll believe in the FigureHead enough to entertain it, but you have not COMMITTED to the paradigm. You do not fully trust the system, and therefore, you have not fully developed your faith. When you trust some aspects of spirituality, but not all, then it makes sense that you would also apply yourself spiritually in a similarly inconsistent way.

    That being said, nobody is “spiritually aware” all of the time, in every moment. Even our most dedicated spiritual teachers, such as the Dalai Lama, experience “human” moments. This is because we are spiritual beings experiencing a human perspective. This is because “spiritual awareness” is an ever-expanding concept, with no finite “end state.” So, even those of us dedicated to the spiritual paradigm will have moments where our awareness is still developing. What makes us noticeably different from those who have NOT committed to the shift is that we are experiencing more serial aware moments than they are. Life is a series of moments. We choose each moment. We choose awareness or we don’t. The more moments we choose to live in awareness, the more the totality of our existence will be perceived as being “aware.” Having faith, or having that trust, makes it much easier to choose that awareness in the moment.


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