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Gandhi

(Photo of Gandhi statue in New York’s Union Square)

Faith is defined in many ways but Gandhi put it this way:

“Faith is putting your foot on the first rung of a ladder when you don’t know where it leads.”

I think belief requires more evidence. It requires knowledge, whereas faith results from the sum of many things — emotion, experience, gut feel, desire, hope — adding up to a decision to put your foot on that rung of that particular ladder.

Belief is somewhere between knowledge and faith. Yet Abdul Baha (son of Baha’ullah, founder of the Baha’i faith) said that

“Faith is conscious knowledge.”

Knowledge to belief to Faith? Does it work that way? Or must faith be a leap?

I think we require all three to live a happy, useful life. Some people focus on one or another. Intellectuals want knowledge so they can formulate beliefs. Religious people tend to have faith — sometimes for reasons they can’t articulate. Many of us have weakly defined beliefs that may inform decisions such as who to vote for but often beliefs, by themselves don’t result in action.

If you believe in God do you act as if you had faith in God? Do you really trust in God? You know God — the creator of heaven and earth who we can’t see, never meet and who seems indifferent to human suffering. Or do you define God differently? Do you have knowledge of God if you believe in God? If so how have you achieved this?

(To help answer this question, I recommend Tolstoy’s book “The Kingdom of God is Within You.” It will test your understanding of belief and faith in God.)

The longer I live the more I have faith in people. Emerson wrote that God was an Over-Soul — near as I can tell this is a collective made up of the souls of all people. To me this is another way of saying that man created God, but not as a fiction.

I am starting to believe this but don’t yet have faith in it because I don’t have enough knowledge.

Know what I mean?

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Down Town Manhattan

(Downtown photograph copyright Frank Winters)

Could a small New England town grow to look like this? No? Then what will stop it?

Comments welcomed.

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