In my opinion – fear and faith are the direct opposite of each other. The funny thing about these two feelings is that sometimes we are taught by our religious leaders that G-d (Who will be referred to as “The Life Force of the Universe” hereafter) requires us to feel both in order to go to Heaven.
How can we have fear if we have faith? Faith means that The Life Force of the Universe is taking care of us and there is reason and purpose behind all occurrences in this world. We may not understand the reason or purpose, but faith allows us not to fear otherwise. If what I am saying is true then I can also say that without faith, there is lots of fear.
So how are we to reconcile this dichotomy? We cannot dismiss this contradiction and say that we just don’t understand as deeply as our ancient sages did. Dismissing our questions does not allow us to evolve. In fact, the only reason I can think of that would allow us to dismiss a very good, logical question is fear. Fear of being considered “blasphemous” or “heretical” by our peers within our religion. So on top of preventing us from acquiring true faith, fear can potentially prevent us from evolving spiritually, which is what we are here to do and what religions are trying to encourage us to do.
So what are we supposed to do when we are taught that in order to fulfill The Life Force of the Universe’s commandments we must fear It, but at the same time we are also told that we must love It and have faith in It?
I cannot speak about other religions as I was raised Jewish. In Judaism, this idea of fear vs. faith becomes very complicated. Din – or punishment – is taken very seriously in Judaism and we are taught that we have to be very careful with every move we make less we face severe punishment. Even more confusing is that punishment extends to all those who do not have faith in The Life Force of the Universe.
I have much respect for the Jewish religion and its laws, but I have to say that I am not so sure that the true essence of what The Life Force of the Universe is trying to give over to us through the Torah (Bible) is being related correctly by our leaders. This should be expected because if we think about it, we can say a very simple idea to another person and the other person may understand something different than what we intended for them to understand and consequently may pass over our information incorrectly to others. This happens frequently in life and I can therefore assume that it has happened within religions when it comes to passing over Biblical ideas to the general public.
Accordingly, if I can assume that information (which is extremely vague to begin with) was possibly being misunderstood or misinterpreted originally, yet repeatedly being taught to people over many generations, I can conclude that we may not have any idea at all what is required from us as far as the technical rules are concerned. It is very possible that everything we have learned within our religion, is not quite accurate and the only way to be sure is to learn it ourselves and interpret it ourselves based on our own intelligence as opposed to simply following our leaders blindly. Let’s not forget that we received the Torah (Old Testament) approximately 3500 years ago. The leaves a lot of room for the game of telephone to get a little out of hand….
With that being said, I try and follow my own intuition, as blasphemous as that may sound to some, and interpret religious concepts using faith as my foundation. Since I know that I cannot really know anything without the experience of it, I have only faith to rely on. As a result, I feel comfortable redefining certain aspects of Judaism that orthodox Jews insist are correct, but I cannot agree with based on logic.
Logic tells me that the fear that we are “commanded” to have for The Life of the Universe is not the same fear as the fear of punishment. In my opinion, the term that should be used instead should be awe. We are in awe of something when we do not understand it but curiosity keeps us motivated to find out more about it. Our lack of understanding about The Life Force of the Universe should instill awe in us that will cause us to fear the loss of It. In other words, our fear of The Life Force of the Universe should be fear that we don’t understand enough to stay connected. This fear will drive to us to keep learning about The Life Force of the Universe in order to maintain a life sustaining bond with It.
To summarize; Faith that The Life Force of the Universe wants to be close with us should guide our journey and fear will be eliminated from it. The only fear that we should hold on to is the fear of losing our connection and being, in a sense, lost in the wilderness with no one to guide us through the treacherous forest. As far as religion goes, I am not suggesting that the laws of religion be ignored. Absolutely not. That, in my opinion would be blasphemous….but if something doesn’t make sense, ask questions. Maybe you are meant to understand Biblical teachings in your own special way and you need to do the work yourself to find out. No one knows you better than The Life Force of the Universe. Have faith that the Life Force of the Universe will lead you in the right direction by allowing you to use your own wisdom as a guide.
Just one more thing….faith is not easy to come by. A nasty little monster called guilt prevents us from accepting the comfort of faith. In my next blog, I want to talk about guilt and how to truly rid ourselves of this very damaging feeling.
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