Once again we find ourselves facing a subject that everyone knows, but when asked to explain it, they can't. I suppose I can begin by looking into the current views of what is faith and belief are, and how most think; of no fault of their own that the two are the same. First, belief. Belief, based on the Socratic view, is the realm of thought which lies in between what is real and what is unreal. It is the uncertainty, one does not know what he believes, but does not know it to be unknowable either. This is the view held by most of western culture. There are also those who think that belief is something used by people, who, when faced by the suffering of life, choose to believe in one thing or another, to cushion their souls from the harsh realities beset upon them. This is a particularly put-down view of belief, as it often implies weakness of the person who holds it. Contrastingly, the person who is 'anti-belief' considers himself one who is strong, and can beat down his own nature of wanting to believe in something by proclaiming that the only belief worth holding, is one in science. Now it is ironic when one sees this sort of person discussing this topic, because they fail to see that the fact they should like to put down belief in exchange for 'cold, hard science' is in of itself a belief. Then there is the belief of a higher power, in what is essentially a carpenter of the Universe; omnipotent and omniscient, nothing escapes its gaze and nothing is free of its judgment. This is the father figure upon which the monotheistic religions of the middles east are based upon. And indeed upon the image of pharaoh, king of kings, as the Christian and Islam idea of God is named, was also the title for the Neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus. The closest to the constitution of belief, is that of the Socratic view. That which one believes, is unknowable, and uncertain, for that is what allows it to be believed, and not known. Now, belief's effects on our culture, due to its nature have been bittersweet. The belief in science; that the Universe is nothing more than an arrangement of dumb and blind forces which collided in an inexplicably complex manner, has lead to huge leaps in technology and improvement of lifestyle for many people. It is what is allowing me to convey this train of thought to you right now. As well as driving the shift and evolution in language that we are witnessing in our day and age. It does not come without its hindrances though. This dogmatic belief has caused us to begin to destroy our environment, which is in disposable to our own existence. It is self destructive in its core, because the ideas behind the belief are those of the dissection and studying of the external world, rather than the appreciation and then study of it. The two are very different. The first sees only the atoms that make up the object, all the while failing to see the object, in the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The second sees the object and for a love of it, seeks to further nurture and grow it, to improve upon its nature.
The belief in a higher power, is quite similar. Preform the commandments set before you lest ye be judged in fire and brimstone, and should you complete them in life, you will join the universes' king in prayer forever. It is belief that all that is considered to be other than oneself is the creation of something far nobler and powerful than man. One who knows every last bit of the universe like the back of his hand. It could very well be so, if the observed nature of the world was not that of a growing and self replicating one, but of a constructed one. This belief, while giving those who follow it comfort that there is certainty in that which is uncertain, is also bittersweet. The view puts the believer in the position of that of the victim; being always pushed around by the universe, never in control of one's life. This extreme gave birth to the previously discussed belief, which in response to its victimhood beats nature into submission. So then what is belief? It is a cultural perception which is imposed upon the world, unlike perception that is clear, which has no belief to impose, but instead faith in what is seen. Belief is held in the fear that one must survive at all costs, it is something to hold on to, and under the guise of faith, allows those smart enough to take advantage of those who are held in belief. True faith, is letting go. The fear of not knowing, the fear of the potential of death and destruction, the potential nature of the universe is ever changing and unknowable. Fear and anxiety stem from the attempt to control what is in and around them. Many fear of looking inward, for seeing the abyss stare back at them, and realizing that all which they hate about themselves, is still them. No one likes to look upon themselves in truth, and so we seek to control the way we see the universe so that we might have some security. Yet it is the act of needing to control, which in itself sprouts fear. So faith, is letting go completely; it is allowing oneself to not know, to have no control, and potentially not survive. Though it is funny, the more one lets go of himself, the more one knows himself. Faith is an acceptance of what cannot be controlled and what cannot be known, and in doing so, one who has true faith, can in turn know all, and control all he needs.
So then, faith is to let go, and belief is to grasp and hold on to the uncertainties of the universe, and in turn, the uncertainties of oneself.