Idea – Thought –Belief – Faith can be considered as steps, one leading to the other. But that’s not necessarily true. An idea basically is information. Ideas form thoughts in our heads, which may mean that the more ideas we have, the more aspects our thinking will have as well. When I think something it implies that I don’t know it. It implies that there is place for questions, for more ideas, more thoughts, other aspects. So there is more space for flexibility in thoughts, more room to play, less risk to fail. Thoughts don’t tend to fail.
A Belief is a set of thoughts that is placed into a system. It is a rather rigid perspective on the world that will select and outsource thoughts that don’t agree with the system. As such it is nonflexible and gives no space for experiments.
Things are so –and-so.
Then again, in life things are rarely so – and- so.
Things are diverse and different, and there is no currently defined prefabricated system where everyone and everything would fit into. There isn´t even a system in that one single person would fit into, during his whole life.
People change. Therefore beliefs change and belief-systems change too.
They collapse and they are built anew. There is a wide range of “fast-food” belief-systems to choose from, when we want to (or forced to) decide what to believe in. That means, that they don’t need you to additionally think about them, they are prepared and ready, all you need to do is to adapt them and close the doors. Moreover it is preferred to not think about them.
If you have questions, it means that your belief is weak.
And you don’t want to seem weak, do you?
Some believe in God, some believe in money, some believe in their own skills, some believe in matter, some believe in spirit. But these beliefs always are connected with a slight touch of hope, and therefore another slight touch of doubt. Belief is Limbo.
In my experience many people mix up Hope with Belief, and that weakens them. In fear of weakening, beliefs or belief-systems rarely allow new ideas to sparkle up.
Belief feeds from an illusionary and quite shaky image of safety.
For example if someone has plans and says “I have these plans and believe that God will help me to complete them”. So…. What if he doesn’t achieve to complete those plans? What will that do to his Belief?
He may see it as sign for that God isn’t watching over him. Or he can take it as a proof that God doesn´t exist. In such cases whole belief systems are shaken, and since they are rigid, some major shakes might break them and bury the person under it’s the collapsed structure.
And then, there is Faith. Unlike Belief, Faith has nothing to do with Hope.
Faith has to do with a sense of deeply Knowing. It is an all-embracing pool of ideas, thoughts and beliefs, and this pool is called Understanding. Faith has infinite flexibility and it’s a most fertile ground for new ideas and thoughts. It is not limiting as Belief is, because while a Belief is seeded into an unquestionable, untouchable, taboo ground, faith is always looking out for more and more Ideas to test and strengthen itself. In that aspect we can consider Belief as an excluding and Faith as an including system.
Faith is connected to great recognitions about the world as a whole. Our man with his plans from the example before, with Faith wont despair if his plans will not be completed as he wants them to, because he will recognize that he can’t force reality according to his own will. He might see a bigger picture with higher connections.
The other day I was planning some things and for several reasons that were clearly not in my control, none of the plans could be completed. I was with someone that is closed into a belief system, and he started to complain “Where is God now, why isn’t he helping us to complete what we want?”
and I asked him, “Where is your Faith? What makes you think that your plan was better than that of God? I am happy to know that God is watching over me and guides me when I’m lost, even if I think I’m not. Who am I to know better?”
He was defeated in his Belief; I was strengthened in my Faith.
And that’s the difference. He felt trapped because unquestionable questions arised in him. Those questions alone are considered as a sin.
I felt happy because I felt watched and cared for. It’s not that I hoped for it. I felt it. I knew it.
Faith in combination of flexibility and acceptance is an amazing well of inner strength.