All the great Sages tell us that the only authentic and genuine faith is one that we create. If this is the definition of authentic faith, why are there so many religions? What does authentic faith mean anyway?
To be authentic means being fresh, new, original, and genuine. It is not a copy of something else. Authenticity is something you can see and feel. Someone with a unique spiritual path doesn’t fit the cultural norm, and they don’t follow the crowd. They are freethinkers who reject the programming of the commercialized religion.
So, What is Authentic Faith?
But in the arena of spirituality, nothing is clear. The definition of authentic faith can mean different things depending on the system.
What is interesting is all the great sages tell us to walk a unique path. Jesus of the New Testament was an orthodox Jew who rejected the trap of organized religion. He taught that you could not find authenticity by memorizing philosophies, doctrine, and dogma. The same can be said of Mohammad. But, instead of leading people out of organized religion, their followers created more religions. Is genuine faith possible in our modern world?
“Truth is not to be found outside. No teacher, no scripture can give it to you. It is inside you and if you wish to attain it, seek your own company. Be with yourself.” ― Osho
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice, to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
What is authentic faith in today’s modern world? What is the pathway to authentic faith?
“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, we should base it on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description.” — Albert Einstein
So, we think a good definition of authentic faith is taking personal responsibility for the inner quest and avoiding becoming a follower. When you take this road, you learn to value tools and processes, not beliefs and religions. It’s an approach Joseph Campbell calls “the Hero’s Journey (1).” Many people hear the call for this inward quest. To follow it requires courage and common sense.
Buddhism is one such path, and it requires you to use both your intellect and spirit. The goal is to become a better person today than you were yesterday. You do this by doing what is best for everyone and everything. Other paths outside of organized religion achieve these goals. So, you don’t need to be a dedicated Buddist to follow this philosophy.
We are social animals, so many people shy away from leaving organized religion. But, although you may walk your path alone, you don’t need to be alone. You’ll soon find other like-minded freethinkers to walk with you. You will share your knowledge and gain knowledge from others.
Pathways to Authentic Faith
Spirituality in the form of consciousness research pre-dates organized religion. It’s also the root of today’s modern medicines. The exploration of consciousness was the focus of indigenous cultures. Of course, this was before organized religion came to power. These early pioneers are the first explorers of consciousness. They show us the various pathways by developing tools to explore consciousness.
Is Genuine Faith Found in Psychedelics?
“Psychedelics are not a substitute for faith. They are a door to authentic faith, born of encountering directly the sacred dimension of everyday experience. This is not the only gate to that discovery, but it is the most ancient and universal, and potentially the most accessible to the majority of the human race.” — Rick Doblin
We don’t advocate the use of psychotropics or psychedelics as they can have unpredictable results. The potency of these additives can vary. These are tools for the experienced spiritual exploration traveler under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Some people answer the question, what does authentic faith mean to me by taking psychotropic drugs. These substances immediately open doors of consciousness. But you have very little control.
You should only use additives if you can validate those who prepare and dispense the psychotropics. The problem is people think they are ready to begin because they are adventurous and courageous. These are good qualities, but they do not prepare you for the realm of the mystic.
“The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.”
― Joseph Campbell
The Shaman swims in the same water that the psychotic drowns because psychedelics are like diving into the pool’s deep end. You want to learn how to swim and float before doing this. They are tools for pathways to authentic faith and spiritual experience.
These substances come from cultures and traditions that have an extensive history of perfecting their use. These are typically the last tool in a series of other preparatory practices. They are not for beginners. You’ll need to be ready physically, mentally, and spiritually to use these substances.
In Shamanism, the definition of authentic faith is to do the things you need to do to heal and progress. It is similar to the philosophy of Buddhism.
First, you need to be grounded. You need to have a solid history of spiritual exploration without psychedelics. We don’t recommend the use of psychotropics if you have a history of mental illness. Never use these compounds without proper preparation and supervision.
The second condition is that the person administering them must be qualified. They need a verifiable track record of success using these substances. They must have a way to verify the origin and preparation of the plants you ingest. They should monitor you throughout the process. Otherwise, taking any psychedelic compound or substance is risky. It is potentially dangerous rather than helpful. Do your research.
Several factors can affect the potency and effectiveness of these compounds. Quality control is difficult. That’s because the same plant can contain different levels of active ingredients. Preparing plants requires experience and expertise.
Is Genuine Faith The Shamanic Journey?
There are other pathways to authentic faith. As Mr. Doblin points out, ingesting psychotropic elements isn’t the only gateway. Another method is the Shamanic Journey. Some indigenous cultures use psychotropic ingredients. But these aren’t necessary to enter the shamanic state of awareness. The sound of drums is all one needs to achieve the Shamanic State of Consciousness.
The Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC), or the fifth state of consciousness, is coined by Michael Harner (2). He is an anthropologist, writer, and Shaman. In this state, the brainwaves are also in the theta-wave area. Besides being self-aware, you project yourself into a “visionary state” of consciousness. You are both the director and participant within a landscape of non-ordinary reality.
People rename and rebrand this process to make it more acceptable and more marketable. Some call it guided meditation or creative visualization. The Shamanic State of Consciousness is significant for several characteristics. The person in SSC controls when, where, and how long they travel. By setting the goal of their journey, they provide a level of freedom and control.
The Best Definition of Authentic Faith in Religion?
Let’s reconsider our discussion on the topic of organized religion. When you hear the word “faith,” you probably think of religion. But religion and authenticity are different things. Faith and religion are also different things.
Not all religions or “faiths” are authentic paths. Some do encourage spiritual freedom. For example, Buddhism, Taoism, and Paganism have the fewest constraints over freethinking. With these systems, you are free to explore and develop your path any way you wish.
In contrast, the Abrahamic religions (3) have the most significant number of boundaries. These are the regions of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These religions aren’t new; they result from the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions.
Many people don’t regard these mythologies as being an authentic or genuine path. They are based on doctrines that are contradictory and justify religious bias, discrimination, and violence. Moreover, they are absent from any real transformative techniques, processes, or methods. So, the best definition of authentic faith in the Abrahamic religions is adherence to doctrine to gain God’s favor and avoid punishment.
“Authentic faith leads us to treat others with unconditional seriousness and to a loving reverence for the mystery of the human personality. Authentic Christianity should lead to maturity, personality, and reality. It should fashion whole men and women living lives of love and communion. False, manhandled religion produces the opposite effect. Whenever religion shows contempt or disregards the rights of persons, even under the noblest pretexts, it draws us away from reality and God.” ― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
Western theology’s foremost concern is to create a cost-effective income generation pipeline. All Christianity did was rebrand what was already in place. This rebranding focused on cash flow rather than spiritual development. It used the mythologies that were already in place. Using the myth as a way of siphoning funds reduced the cost of keeping an army in place.
Religion is self-policing using peer pressure to maintain the cash flow. Here the focus was on selling the afterlife, a commodity with no unsatisfied customers. It provides massive streams of wealth, making organized religion war-proof. It’s an intentional misrepresentation of mythology as fact.
What Does Authentic Faith Mean?
What is genuine faith to you? Does it involve following one of the Western organized religions? Or, is it creating a spiritual path of your “own” design makes more sense? More and more people find that the most fruitful approach is beyond the confines of any religion. It’s a revelation people have known before the creation of Western theology.
We like to pose questions at the beginning of our meetings on spiritual exploration to make sure we are ready. The first question is, if what you believe is wrong, can you change your beliefs? The second question is, what does authentic faith mean to me?
These two questions provide the foundation for open-minded, spiritual exploration. You are ready to change your beliefs based on new information and are willing to walk with authenticity and courage.
In the end, we recommend you create your own definition for authentic faith. Then look to see if it really is genuine faith or a facsimile.
Thank you for reading this article. We hope it provides some food for thought. You can find more mind-opening topics on our blog.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
(2) Michael Harner, Wikipedia
(3) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia