Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thoughts about Faith in a Rabbit Hole

Im very grateful to Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Campbell and Alice in Wonderland for helping to clarify some thoughts about faith. Alice taught me that asking questions that don't need answers creates a new perspective. She took Joseph Campbell's advice and jumped, only to discover that her own curiosity provided a parachute like cushion. Sharon Salzberg put flesh on an idea that makes all the sense in the world. Faith comes in several different varieties; bright faith, verified faith and abiding (or unshakeable) faith.

Bright faith beams at the possibilities of life. It is pure optimism. Many children have bright faith. It is beyond their comprehension that life will not bend to their will. We get jaded and lose it at some point. Bright faith is appropriate for children. For adults, bright faith can come close to blind faith. Mature faith is never blind. The problem with blind faith is that even though faith can move mountains, you need to see which mountain needs to be moved.

Verified faith includes a memory of past survival and achievement. It is learned wisdom. Verified faith works closely with doubt. Doubt is not the opposite of faith. They are two sides of one coin. Doubt sharpens faith, and faith affirms doubt.

The Buddha told a story that showed the movement from bright faith to verified faith. He compared faith to a blind giant who meets up with a very sharp-eyed cripple, called wisdom. The blind giant, called faith, says to the sharp-eyed cripple, "I am very strong, but I can't see; you are very weak, but you have sharp eyes. Come and ride on my shoulders. Together we will go far."

Abiding faith is unwavering in the face of change. Abiding faith doesn’t expect life to remain stagnant. It is in tune with a purpose that doesn’t depend on circumstances. It is one with the flow of life. It manifests in whatever way is effective in the changing circumstance.

Read the whole sermon, and let me know your own story of unshakeable faith.


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