Here's my image of a lone man facing the rising sun at Varanasi:
And here's how it appears in The Rough Guide to India (seventh edition):
(full page color between p. 1016 & 1017, photo credit line on page 1436)
The first line of text on the page reads:
"For most Indians, the presence of the divine is a daily fact of life."
Well, it is for me too. A daily fact of life. But, one's awareness of divine presence is a very personal thing, and far too precious to be defined by any guidebook, religion, and certainly not by me.
When asked, I tell others that I'm a very spiritual person, but I'm not religious. I leave it at that, and find they must question themselves before they will further question me. If you know me on facebook, then you already know my stated religion: "All of the Above." I think it's called tolerance.
Where do I go to church? When I am out in nature, smelling a mossy forest, star-gazing in the night skies, or surfing in the ocean, that's my church. That's where I am in the presence of the divine. Nature is divine. I respect and worship it...religiously.
And what of faith?
This December has proved to be quite a month - first, being published in National Geographic, and now, Rough Guides! Quite a finish to a year that began with a blind leap of faith. I was spending more than I was making, investing my time, money and heart into the wrong people for the wrong reasons. I was let down, I was burned, I was disappointed, and I was even beginning to doubt myself. Well, that didn't last longer than a split-second, but it's enough to know when it's time to let go and move on. And that's where faith jumps in and takes over. Faith. Faith in oneself, faith in the universe, faith in the divine, faith in God - call it what you will and direct it where you will, but if you've got faith, then consider yourself lucky because, sadly, not everyone does.
By the way, faith is not defined by religion. If you look it up in any dictionary and even on Wiki, you will find the first definition of faith has nothing to do with religious practice. Faith is not defined by science either, there is no concrete evidence of faith. That's the cool thing about faith - it cannot be defined by religion or science, yet neither would exist without it.
I had to look it up several times and in several places to be sure I wasn't just putting blind faith into my own perception of faith. I mean, who am I to define what religion and science cannot? Well, Wiki, Webster and a bunch of other dictionaries have done it for me, so, I'll take what fits and present my favorite definition here:
Faith - sincerity of intentions.
Wow. Read that again. Faith is the sincerity of intentions. I love it.
And I found three more words amongst the definitions that deserve honorable mention:
Trust. Confidence. Steadfastness.
Wow. Read those again. Don't you love it? Faith is awesome.
Faith, it's simply a daily fact of life.