According to Sharon Salzberg, a well-known meditation teacher who conducts retreats at her Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and around the world, faith doesn't require religious fervor or blind trust.
In her view, whether or not we believe in God, we can learn to think of faith as an activity of the heart. "Instead of thinking of it as a commodity, something we have or don't have, and maybe judging ourselves for not having enough or the right kind," she says, "if we reach for connections instead of staying isolated, and we recognize that everything is changing all the time, and that we can join that movement so we don't feel stuck where we are—all of that is the activity of faith."
Salzberg, who has been teaching meditation for nearly thirty years, believes that "the essence of faith is connection. Life can be very, very hard, and a lot of people are alone. We need to have faith in our own huge capacity to love. Even if you're dying, you don't know what the next moment is going to bring...in terms of relationships and healing and forgiveness," she says. "I'm awed by the capacity of the human heart. We're capable of so much."