Faith is a Dirty Word


You can’t even bring up the word Faith without automatically putting yourself on the opposite side of the fence as logic. And the society we live in worships logic. Being a person of faith means that you believe in the illogical, the irrational, the mysterious, the flighty — the make-believe. If something is not touchable, seeable and provable, you are not allowed to talk about it, not in intelligent company. The only approach to matters of faith, most people believe, is through speculation and/or wishful thinking and is therefore useless, unless you’re dying, and then only as an opiate to soften the blow.

But in reality, what does all this mean? Whence the malice toward faith? Skipping over the part, for now, where millions of people use it as an excuse to slaughter each other, what do the rationalists really have against it? Oh, and we have to mention the other part about keeping the masses huddled in fear, the fear of going to hell if they disagree with the Holy Fathers, the mullahs, or whoever else claims to have a direct line to God. And this is where it really began (and where it continues today) – the turf war between rationalists and intuitives – the battle between those who think that truth is a done deal and those who want to explore the options.

What you are allowed to think
Nothing is more reprehensible than a dictator father-type who wants to run your life. Since conserving the status quo is his chief preoccupation, the dictator father-type sees intellectual curiosity or independent soul-searching as a direct threat to his authority. He may not even know the truth himself. He only needs to convince others that he does. And when someone else stands up and claims to have had a vision, the hammer comes down hard, because the “vision” has already been had — why do we need another one? In fact, “vision” has been replaced with a book — it has been written. The cruel irony is that the book can be a textbook as easily as holy scripture.

There are dictator father-types everywhere. Anyone can wear a white robe: popes, gurus, mullahs, doctors, scientists, university professors. It is easy to see that authority is less about knowing the truth than it is about being right.

Truth vs. fact
For the gnostic, truth is a beacon; for the realist, truth is a prop. The realist says, “This is all there is.” The gnostic says, “This is only the appearance of things.” The one affirms the ego; the other acknowledges something greater than itself.

Gnosis uses inner knowing and the mystical experience. Gnosis begins with truth, not the known truth but the unknown truth. Gnosis has had a face-to-face experience of God and yet cannot describe what it has seen. Life then becomes a search for that experience and the hope for its return. Gnosis has “felt the naked body of its dream” but cannot as yet realize its discovery.

The mystical experience is the substance and the evidence of our knowing. For the mystical experience is not so much in knowing as it is in being known. This is what we sense, this is what we have felt, this is what draws us.

Faith is real. It is based upon inner experience. How can we say that spiritual experience is subjective when so many have had the same one? The mind is as powerful a scientific instrument as any in the laboratory, even more so. We have to trust it, and at the same time admit that it is only a tool, not the author. We did not invent the truth. We can only open up to it. Therefore, it is not for anyone to say, “Lo, here is God. For all have known God, from the least to the greatest.”

We can own our knowing without imposing it on others.

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Michael Maciel
Michael Maciel is the author of the website The Mystical Christ ( and two books on contemporary Christian mysticism--The Five Vows and World Priest. Michael lives and writes in Redwood City, California. Contact Michael at [email protected].


  1. Thank you for the clear discussion on faith.
    In the past and perhaps in many streams of spiritual/religious work,faith has actually disarmed us in a not so great way.
    Disarmed of course could be a fabulous way of Living
    Ie open receptive not defensive,etc
    However too often elders teachers and authority figures have disarmed many in terms of the cultivation of our/
    their own knowing…or the lack thereof.
    It takes time to cultivate inner knowing and trust
    In one’s own intuition/knowing.
    All too often the naive aspirant looks outside for reinforcement,which depending on who and what is the outside force can takes years of undoing.
    Thank you


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