I know for many faith is a loaded word. It conjures up whatever beliefs you hold about religion, spirituality and the universe. It’s a big word, but I have not found any better way to describe this part of our website. I use the word as a way of connecting our discussion of lifestyle, travel and daily photos to the larger fabric of life.
I first embraced the idea of a broader meaning of faith after reading the Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning by James Fowler. In his seminal book, he universally defines faith as a way of moving into the force field of life. I love that!
As a family we desire to live fully, experience the treasures of the world, learn from our challenges, and discover the essential truth behind our existence. This truth has been written about since the dawn of man, in so many forms. But one of the best brief summaries comes from the contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber, who writes:
The mystics ask you to take nothing on mere belief. Rather, they give you a set of experiments to test in your own awareness and experience. The laboratory is your own mind, the experiment is meditation. You yourself try it, and compare your test results with others who have also performed the experiment. Out of this consensually validated pool of experiential knowledge, you arrive at certain laws of the spirit – at certain profound truths, if you will. And the first is: God is The stunning message of the mystics is that in the very core of your being, you are God.
Grace and Grit
It’s quite a statement, but then again, not so much when you consider that it’s just a nice summary of the The Perennial Philosophy. What’s that you ask? It’s the idea that all spiritual and religious paths share a single universal truth, again, that at the core of our being we are God. And the word God is really just a placeholder for whatever word you want to use to describe this thing that is beyond self, beyond our earthly world, beyond time and space, and really beyond words!
In his book, Religions of the World, Douglas Harding restates the Perennial Philosophy this way:
There is a Reality which is Indivisible, One, Alone, the Source and Being of all; not a thing, nor even a mind, but pure Spirit or clear Consciousness; and we are That and nothing but That, for That is our true Nature;and the only way to find it is to look steadily within, where are to be found utmost peace, unfading joy, and eternal life itself.
Life, and all of the experiences that we pack between birth and death, ultimately is about waking up to the truth of who we are. Yet our self-absorbed lifestyles, egos, and constant distractions make it very challenging to discover this truth without effort. Given that many of us are just doing our best to survive our daily existence, it’s no wonder why so many go through life never discovering who they really are.
As a family we share in the struggle of balancing time spent just managing our daily routines, with contemplative time so necessary to discovering and embracing our truth. Through our photos, stories about life, travels, and challenges, it’s faith – our quest for meaning and truth – that ties it all together.
TOWARD A LIFE OF WHOLENESS AND COMPLETION
What is the evidence that our life is ultimately about awakening to our true nature? Beyond our own contemplative experience for which there really is no substitute, there are four things that sway us in the direction that life is about far more than we think!
1) THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY: UNIVERSAL TRUTH IN ALL FAITHS
All the world’s religions, spiritual paths, and mystics can’t be wrong! Taken together, the Perennial Philosophy is a roadmap to life meaning and purpose. It helps us understand that life is about more than our egos. We are here for a purpose; to awaken to the truth of our being which is made very challenging by our crazy human lives. You want further proof, it can only be found by doing your own contemplative work.
If you are not ready, then perhaps reading the following books might urge you on.
- The Perennial Philosophy: An Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West
by Aldous Huxley
- The World’s Great Wisdom: Timeless Teachings from Religions and Philosophies
by Roger Walsh
2) INTERCONNECTEDNESS: ONENESS IN ALL THINGS
The idea we are all connected to each other, to nature, animals, and the source of all things, is not a new idea by any means. But what is the evidence that this is true? First, you have to openly look for it! Once you begin, you will find more examples than you can possibly imagine.
Here are some of our favorite reads that awakened us to the realization that we are all connected.
- One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness
by Larry Dossey
- Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality
by Dean Radin
- The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild
by Lawrence Anthony
- The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature
by David Suzuki
3) REINCARNATION: MULTIPLE LIVES NEEDED
We will admit, this one is a bit out there, or so we thought. One day we were at the library and stumbled upon the book Old Souls: Compelling Evidence from Children Who Remember Past Lives. The book introduced us to the work of Dr. Ian Stephenson, a Canadian American psychiatrist that for over 40 years traveled the world investigating over 3,000 cases of children who claimed to remember past lives. The details of these cases and his meticulous attempt to scientifically study reincarnation can be found in over 300 journal articles and 14 books.
After reading about many of them, the evidence is overwhelming that some people reincarnate. Once you embrace the idea, it’s hard not to see life in a new light. Also, child prodigies, the range of human sexual expression, and karma really make a whole lot more sense. Still not buying it?
Here are few books that may change your mind.
- Children Who Remember Previous Lives by Ian Stephenson
- Life Before Life: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker
- Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives by Jim B. Tucker
4) NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES: TO THE AFTERLIFE AND BACK
While being human means we all will die, not everyone embraces their own mortality. Death is among the greatest fears of many, which is perhaps why there is an entire genre of books dedicated to easing our worry. Most of these books explore near-death experiences (NDEs) and offer hope that our souls do in fact go somewhere after we die.
Unfortunately, many writers have capitalized on the fear of death and produced works that largely amount to what the late Carl Sagan would call pseudoscience. At the same time, a few have gone the route of Ian Stephenson and attempted to investigate NDEs as best as possible through the lens of science.
Here are two favorites:
- Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience by Kenneth Ring
- Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon–Survival of Bodily Death by Raymond Moody
Alone, each of the above cases may not convince you that life is ultimately about awakening to our true nature. However, taken together, the evidence is overwhelming that there is far more to life than we can possibly imagine!
We have found incredible peace in knowing that despite how challenging life is at times, we are not alone in our suffering. In fact, it’s by embracing and working through our suffering that we get closer to discovering the essence of our being.
TOP 10 BOOKS ON FAITH
There are so many wonderful books written about faith beyond those listed above, which make it hard to narrow down the list to just a few. But we have purposely kept it short in hopes that you take the time to check them out.
If you have other book suggestions, please let us know!