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What is the spiritual experience of Knowing and how does it differ from religious faith or belief? I will try to answer these questions based on my own spiritual experiences. It is an event that may be difficult to grasp through description, and for some difficult to believe without experiencing it themselves.
The spiritual type of knowing discussed here does not refer to factual knowledge, languages, or memory. Rather, as used here, it refers to an inexplicable revelation of spiritual truths of which one suddenly somehow knows with absolute certainty.
The Knowing may take place in a brief, spontaneous altered state of consciousness, or simply by an abrupt, strong flood of thought. Either mode is sure to get one’s attention and there will be no doubt that something extraordinary has occurred. The knowledge given in this manner may be previously unknown to the recipient, or it may involve something of which the recipient had prior knowledge, but which had not taken deep root in their spiritual awareness.
A characteristic aspect of this type of knowing is that it is unexpected, and sometimes powerful and overwhelming. It is a spiritual experience unlike anything you may have witnessed before. This is in contrast to faith and belief which are somewhat abstract, intentional commitments that one makes regarding religious and spiritual matters. That is not to say that spiritual experience cannot arise from foundations of faith, but rather faith and belief are not experiences in and of themselves.
For example, one may have faith and believe that there is a God, accepting His existence as a concept. Whereas, a Knowing would be to palpably experience His presence and qualities in an altered state of awareness.
In my book, I describe some of my spiritual experiences of Knowing. Each one was transformative and together they have changed the way I live, think, and view the world. They provided much of the impetus for this website.
The experience of Knowing is not something that one can willfully create. One must be spiritually ready to receive the knowledge it brings. A Knowing is a spontaneous event for which the factors or circumstances needed for its occurrence are largely unknown. It is my belief that if one has an open mind concerning spirituality, a genuine desire for spiritual truth, and strives for purity of heart that they may become fertile ground for the spiritual experience of Knowing.
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As I understand it, faith is the certainty in one’s belief in some thing or someone. Of course in the context of spirituality, faith usually refers to one’s certainty in the existence of a higher being, Universal Energy, or Creator.
When we say we have faith in a person, we are letting them know that we trust them or have trust in them—trust in their abilities, trust that they will not do anything to hurt us, trust that they will be there when we need their help or support.
It could be said that our faith in God has these same attributes and expectations. However, our faith in God is intuitive and comes from spiritual awareness, whereas our faith in a person is experiential and based on concrete knowledge of their past behaviors. Consequently, faith in a higher being is a leap that some are unwilling to take.
Another form of faith refers to trust in a religious doctrine and what are believed to be God’s promises and teachings found in religious scriptures. I believe that one should be cautious here and not let this type of faith to be blind. The scriptures and the clergy should not go unchallenged.
Scriptures from the various religions provide a lot of wonderful guidance concerning how to live a spiritual life of goodness. I think that most of us would independently agree on which passages provide such spiritual wisdom.
However, skepticism about other passages is healthy and may provide deeper insight. We would be remiss if we blindly accepted everything in the scriptures as the word of God. We were given the ability to reason and, if we apply it, we will be able to distinguish the word of God from those of men.
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.