FAITH, FEAR AND THE FAITHFUL
Salvation and damnation, in a form or another, have represented the extreme hopes and fears of believers until contemporary agnosticism erased the memories of such prospects or anguishes. Indeed Europe and the USA experimented with peace, prosperity and hedonism since WW Two. This much-appreciated boon led people believe that faith is unnecessary.
But this period of prosperity is coming to an end and fears surreptitiously return. The greatest fear of a child is to be abandoned by his mother. In the same way, the greatest fear of the faithful over the ages was to be discarded by God, to be left out, to be left behind. No one quite knew how to go about this and so, to avoid being lost, to feel secure, the masses sought conformity with ritual behaviors and obedience to authority.
Churches, caliphates or monasteries played mightily with this fear, asserting the might of the faith through centuries of dominion over the crowds of the faithful. Blind faith travels in the boots of fear. From this fear they extracted advantages, temporal power jobs and wealth for their human, all too human institutions. The “external” faith was well, alive and kicking.
Some disagreed, like Siddharta Gautama, Ibn Arabi, Martin Luther or many others.
They proposed to the faithful that the external religion is a fraud and that fear can only be dispelled by the inner “faith”, the acknowledgement that God is love. This line is carried in history by mystical movements, ( Gnostics, Sufis, etc.. ) who believed that true faith (shraddha in sanskrit) is the fruit of an inward experience.
The guardians of the external faith mostly persecuted the Gnostics (meaning literally, “those who know”) because it was endangering their lucrative position as the gatekeepers of Salvation Lane. After all, they are those who build the biggest palaces, the larges temples, the tallest mosques and cathedrals. They are much better at capturing political power. They are resilient. If the initiators of a living faith manage to create a social movement, they start growing on it like a fungus. After all, the great religions were living at their beginning.
The external blind faith is of fear and beliefs; the internal living faith is of experience and knowledge. Both survive today. In some places the gatekeepers of the external faith lost their job, elsewhere they maintained it or try to get the jobs back. At the same time the practitioners of the inner faith are still on their path of discovery; they increasingly focus on the psychosomatic underpinnings of the realization of the Self. Which one of these two faiths will claim the third millennium AD?