Monday, December 30, 2013

"Fanatics do not have faith - they have belief. With faith you let go. You trust. Whereas with belief you cling."-- Yann Martel

This sounds true to me.
Belief seems such a brittle thing.  Kids "believe" in Santa Claus, and there is an expectation that he will put presents under the tree.  Belief in Santa diminishes with disappointment (wrong toys) and age.
Having faith in something is a bit more flexible.  We have faith that there is something outside of ourselves because it mirrors that intangible thing within us that feels true.  Therefore our faith grows as we do and does not diminished or become a disappointment, for that would be akin to losing faith in ourselves.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith."-- Paul Tillich

Real faith is not blind.  Real faith takes in doubt and weaves it into the patterns of thought that define it. There is a certain harmony of design that becomes clearer when the darkness of doubt mingles with the vibrancy of faith.  Both are necessary in this tapestry of life, because both become clearer when in concert with each other--but only one feels true.  Without doubt, faith is empty indeed.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Faith is a passionate intuition."--William Wordsworth

Have you ever had the feeling that you "just knew" something.  There was no way you could know, but you had such a visceral experience of "knowing" that it felt like guidance--a voice in your head (God or your higher self, however you chose to refer to it) spoke to you so strongly that you couldn't help following that "passionate intuition" with the clear knowledge that you were doing the right thing for yourself.
That, my friend, is an act of faith.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand."-- Thomas Aquinas

Yes! Thomas nails this one.
Faith also accepts what is, knowing that all paths lead to where you need to go, hope is the desire for change combined with the devout wish that the path will be short and easy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"I think the greatest taboos in America are faith and failure."-- Michael Malone

Call me slow, but I've got to puzzle this one out.  Taboos are the "thou shalt not's", so faith and failure are the two things that Americans feel are "sins" (for lack of a better word)?
Failure, yes, I completely agree that in contemporary American culture,  failure is a sin.  Why else do we worship money and power--but faith?
I guess Michael never watched Fox News, where faith in the Christian god is a prerequisite for being an upstanding citizen, as is having money and power.
"Sinners", according to fox pundits, are not those that have both, but those that have neither.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"I hold that religion and faith are two different things."-- Pat Buckley

Me too, Pat.
As we saw in yesterday's quote, faith can be secular.  No God need be attached.
Trusting yourself, trusting life; those are forms of faith built on a solid foundation of direct experience.
Believing in yourself, like believing in a higher power, is slightly different than having faith in yourself.
I'm reminded of the little engine that could.
The cry of the believer is "I think I can, I think I can."
The cry of the those with faith? "I know I can, I know I can."
See the difference?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"That bedrock faith that I could write was what blinded me to attempts to discourage me."--Lynn Abbey

We so often think of "faith" as a belief in a higher power.  How refreshing that Lynn acknowledges the most dynamic aspect of faith: faith in oneself.
Why dynamic? Because faith in oneself compels action. It's often what inspires us to give our gifts--the works of art, novels, dances, music--in short, any and all kinds of out-of-the-box thinking or inventive ways of being that shed light and bring excitement to our lives.
Lack of faith can stifle motivation, disabling the talented and wise from giving their own unique gift to the world, and the world is the poorer for it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

"As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit."-- Emmanuel Teney

This quote is all about trusting oneself and trusting life.
It's a big sigh of relief to those of us who want to stop rowing upstream.  How exquisite it would be to put down the oars, relax into living and go with the flow.
We will never know what's around the next bend in the river, yet so many of us are so afraid of the future that we work strenuously to get away from what's next.  We turn our backs and row against the current, longing to either return to "simpler times" or just stay where we are.
It takes a lot of work to resist change, so imagine the relief of just letting go and letting life take us where we need to be.
All that takes is faith.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Faith is reason grown courageous."-- Sherwood Eddy

Reason is like the string holding a kite.  Faith is the kite.  Reason keeps faith anchored to the earth. Faith lifts reason to new heights, allowing new perspectives, vision and expansion.  Without the kite of faith, the string of reason is the prisoner of gravity.

Friday, December 13, 2013

"In the affairs of this world, men are saved not by faith, but by the want of it."--Benjamin Franklin

As children, our desire for presents required us to not get on Santa's naughty list.  We behaved, because we had faith--that Santa existed, that he knew "if you've been bad or good" so we were "good, for goodness sake."  Presto: Presents!
Like children, when we long for a desired result but can't reach our goal, we might look for help outside of ourselves, perhaps thinking there is something more powerful "out there" that might work in our behalf.  We decide to have faith, changing our behavior for the sake of that powerful being, maybe becoming better people as a result, hoping for help in reaching our goal.
Maybe we reach the goal that prompted our behavior change. Maybe not, but perhaps the end result-becoming better people ("saved" according to Ben)--is enough.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"The faith that stands on authority is not faith."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph's got a point. If you've got to point to something to justify your beliefs, you have none.  No beliefs, that is, and also no faith.  Faith stands alone.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light."-- Helen Keller9

Helen Keller is the master of strength in the face of a shattered world.  Look at what she did despite her disadvantages! She had such faith in herself that she moved quite literally from being trapped in the dark to emerging into the light of inter-communication.
She discovered a powerful way of interacting with the world, and that's all about faith.  She knew, she had faith, that despite her blindness and deafness there was a world out there worth exploring.
That's true for us all.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"To me faith means not worrying."-- John Dewey

I love this quote.
If that's all that faith does for you, it's enough in my opinion.
Sure, it smacks of Pollyanna, but what's wrong with that?
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is more than just a song or the words of Meher Baba.  It's genuine a spiritual principle.  Adhered to, it makes life a rich, full experience instead of the endurance contest that most "realists" believe it is.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into."-- Mahatma Gandhi

We have faith when we're children in that we have a connection to the magic of life.  Often with maturity comes disillusionment and we grow out of faith.
As adults, we know that fairies and Santa Claus aren't real, but we also know in our bones that there's something out there that beckons us, a feeling that life is richer than we know.
The emptiness of adulthood when compared to our childhood is a great motivator, and we spend a lot of time trying to fill that hole with bad habits and religion.
Reconnecting to the great mystery of the world is, as Gandhi implies, an evolutionary process.  We can't really "get" it by joining a church or dropping acid, but we can slowly, slowly feel our back to the wonder of faith by tapping into the magnificence of who we truly are.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."-- Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine recognized the power of our minds to bring to us what we expect.
We prove our worldview to ourselves over and over again, every day. It starts when we wake up in the morning.  If we feel great, we expect a great day, and usually have a great day.
When we wake up feeling crummy, well, the crumminess continues. It takes a leap of faith to decide that, despite the strength of our negative emotions, changing how we feel can change the tenure of our day.
Take the leap and see what happens.
It's up to us to change the world we see, and we can do that by simply changing our minds.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."-- Friedrich Nietzsche

This is one of those glib quotes that so often passes as wisdom when you hear it from someone you respect, but only if you're at a dinner party and have had one or two too many glasses of wine.
In the cold sober morning and coming from Friedrich, here, it's a real surprise.
What is the logic from which this gem springs? What does "Faith" have to do with lunatic asylums?  Does Friedrich assume that if we "really believed" or if religious faith actually "worked" that lunatic asylums wouldn't exist?
The strength of this quote probably lies in his definition of "faith", but even if we knew the context this little quote is still a weak and paltry verbal snack tossed off because it sounds good and, like party food, it's loaded with flavor but has very little meat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. "--Martin Luther King Jr.

The month of December seems the perfect time to look into this thing called "Faith".  Is it blind, does it help us, does it hinder, does it bind us to the past or launch us into the future?  These are the questions that I hope will be answered by this inquiry.
MLK gets us off to a good start as he very simply describes what faith does: it keeps us going even if we're not sure where we're heading.