I think people need to search for something. Our profound need for meaning might only be fulfilled this way.
We look for meaning in our work, in our relationships, in our beliefs. If we find it we look for more of the same. Then comes a day when we lose our job or our loved one or maybe our most solid belief gets shattered by a random event. Then what?
I was never sure what this non-attachment principle, that Buddhists talk about, meant until I looked at it this way: it’s O.K. to be attached to my loved ones, to my work, to my convictions as long as I keep in mind that none of them is the ultimate meaning of my life. They are, all, part of it.
Could the act of searching, alone, bring us the meaning we are looking for? Keep searching and your work will never be done, your life will always have meaning regardless of what happens around you. Even if it’s only good for your mental health, it’s worth pursuing.
Searching for the “truth” (whatever that means) has been the path chosen by many, trough science, art or religion.
These ways work well for a few chosen people who go in all the way: the knowledge pursuing scientist, the true artist, the mystic.
For the rest of us, less gifted people searching for meaning in our lives, religious faith could be the complement we need.
Having faith is easier on the mind than rational thinking. Or so it seems before you try it.
In some special moments of our lives we get a glimpse that there is more to life than what we perceive with our senses. Our questions cannot be answered by what we know, despite all our efforts to learn what others have discovered.
Hard as we try to figure it out, there comes a moment in our learning journey when we realize we can’t know everything. The final truth eludes us.
In many mundane situations we rely on an educated guess, on a gut feeling. Sometimes we know without knowing and for some reason we tend to trust that knowledge. We have a good feeling about someone and decide to trust them.
Sometimes our belief that we can do something is so strong that we do it against all odds.
This is as close as it gets to faith.
For fatalists, having faith means not being attached to the outcome. What needs to happen will happen and everything will be OK in the end. Or not.
Do all paths lead to the top of the mountain? Should we make a u-turn if we realize early enough that we are on the wrong path? Can it be too late, too far along the wrong path?
When we go back to the original path we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and their collective wisdom. It is hard for someone who was exposed to religious teachings to ignore them completely. For me it would be easier to embrace them critically.
Deciding to go back is the result of assessing rationally if we are on the right track which takes faith out of the equation. What if we were only steps from the top? There were no signs that we were on the right path? What about that gut feeling, does that count? But true faith doesn’t need signs, doesn’t need confirmation, does it?
“Faith: not wanting to know what is true” says Nietzsche.
How about if we want to know the truth but we can’t access it just by our rational mind? Maybe faith can open that closed-door.
I believe we all need some validation and certainty about our worldview, whatever that might be. Only faith can do that.