In order to make God necessary, there is a journey from belief to faith and from faith to knowledge. One lesson from my medical practice, reinforced by science in general, is that subjectivity isn’t good enough. There must be objective conclusions and, still better, practical solutions. Looking upon the seemingly superhuman calm with which Socrates faced death, Nietzsche thought he was glad to be cured of the disease of life. As rebellious as that sounds, the Buddha would have agreed, in a different way, that life’s inevitable baggage of pain and suffering must be approached with radical surgery—the necessary treatment was ego death, the end of personal attachment to the cycle of pleasure and pain.
So in the stage of faith, you must shift your allegiance to what you actually experience, which leads to a new, more authentic story about who you are and where you are headed. Much of the panic among professional religionists today can be traced to the collapse of traditional stories, stories of saints, miracle workers, the humbly devout, trials of faith, and rewards and punishments from God. Nietzsche notoriously thought that religious stories were power plays, methods by which a priest caste controlled believers. I’m willing to shrug off such accusations, because in reality, to live by an secondhand story keeps us from true knowledge. To accept conventional wisdom is the surest way to remain unwise.
Once you’ve given significance to your inner experience, more experiences start to arrive. It’s only sensible to ask if such knowing, being impossible to talk about, is actually real. This has been a vexing dilemma that gave rise to two huge topics in philosophy: ontology (the study of being) and epistemology (the study of how we know things). Both topics are gnarly and entangled, and Indian philosophy isn’t immune from that. But we can cut the Gordian knot with another expression from the ancient seers: This isn’t knowledge you acquire. It is knowledge you become. God, like the universe and reality itself, is participatory. There is no other choice, since existence is always on the move, which is why I’m fond of saying that God is a verb, not a noun.
how many layers of knowing are we actually using?
inquiry for today~ how does faith show up in your life?
Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God.