I am beginning to learn what “Faith” means to me.
Faith is about the ability to surrender.
From my limited awareness, it seems like many different spiritual paths all teach that surrendering is required for evolution, enlightenment, salvation, etc..
*What* we surrender to is what defines our Faith.
For me, when I am in my right mind- I surrender to what I would describe as the divine flow of the Universe.
The cosmic equation that maintains constant mass and energy.
The universal pattern that balances resources through micro and macro cycles.
The mind-blowing branches of evolutionary life.
Some would call this Tao. Or “The Force.” Or Love. Some might have modifications to this and dress it in a human form. Some could wrap this all up under the umbrella of “Science.”
Whatever it is called, and whatever personality it inhabits, I think developing a healthy awe of the Universe is critical.
And Faith, to me, is surrendering to this awe.
Faith is letting go of the belief that a lifetime of consciousness could ever gain the knowledge and experience required to forge the best course through the world.
How can we ever logically deduce what our purpose is based on our limited human experience? (Or ALL human experience, for that matter.)
Should we acquire wealth? Create Art? Help Children? Promote Islam? Exterminate Jews?
From the perspective of the Ego, we are always right and “They” are always idiots/heathens/infidels/terrorists.
Every atrocity is committed by someone who believes they are doing the righteous thing.
We say that we want to leave the world better, but how are we to ever know?
With the exception of “adding love to world,” what possible change to the world could you KNOW was positive?
We are far too affected by our socialization and culture to trust what our Ego minds define as important. We have no idea if we are being a help or horror. A human lifetime simply has no vantage point.
To charge through the world without understanding the Universe reminds me of the old joke, “I have no idea where we are headed, but we are making great time.”
But what if we let go of our Ego plan?
If we look at the rest of the awe-inspiring Universe, it would seem that some sort of harmony and balance would be the Universal model of “Success.”
Yet we tend to think that to “win” at the game of life we must rise above and differentiate ourselves. We must make an impact. We must leave the world different.
What kind of desire is this?
It comes from a place of weakness.
It is the same insecurity that drives a powerless youth to spray his name in graffiti on a concrete wall. “I was here.”
The same unhealthy impulse drives Trump to blazon his name across massive structures – and drives millions more to aspire to do the same. We want to leave our mark and “tag” the planet.
We want to be noticed and remembered. And in doing so, find ourselves at odds with harmony.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
-George Bernard Shaw
We want to be special. We want to stand out. We want to be exceptional.
But we have no reference point to judge what “exceptional” is.
You could argue that cancer cells are exceptional. They make their mark. They make a difference. They stand out from the existing natural systems.
“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.”
-Agent Smith, “The Matrix”
We think that making our mark will make us happy. Research shows that acquiring or accomplishing things does NOT, in fact increase our happiness. This success we’ve been sold is snake oil!
(And I won’t even get into the fact that – even if you decide to play the traditional Success Game – the deck is totally stacked against you. The game is rigged by the Halliburtons and Enrons of the world. )
So what then?
We’ve spent our whole life trying to have perfect bodies, the latest gadgets and the coolest car. Even if we say we don’t care about those things, we are probably trying to stockpile enough resources so as to reach a mythical state of “security.” What do we work towards if not those goals?
This is where it gets tough.
This is where the “real” rules of the game start to emerge – and they are far more difficult to understand than the ones we were raised with.
The challenge is that we have been trained to see life as a competitive playing field, and in reality it is much more like a dance floor.
When we play a game, we are trying to win.
What are we trying to achieve when we hit the dance floor? (Let’s assume this is not a singles bar and “getting laid” is not on the agenda.)
There is no “goal” to dancing except to enjoy the experience.
To view life like this seems so simple, but a shift in thinking can be massive and completely unsettling.
This shift is contrary to everything we’ve been taught and is very hard to surrender to.
Wealth acquisition is an easy math problem. More money = doing better.
It is as easy to understand as the numbers on the scoreboard.
But life is more like a Yoga practice than a baseball game. And there is no scorecard for Yoga. There isn’t even colored belts or fancy titles.
You simply practice.
Some days are better than others, but there is no finish line, no victory, and no losing. A yogi simply goes through the flow of postures without an end goal beyond the immediate experience. “Success” in Yoga is the practice, itself and the gradual deepening of physical and spiritual experience.
Just as the “Success” of the Universe is it’s “practice” of cycles and gradual evolution.
Faith, to me, is surrendering to this definition of Success.
I wish it was as easy as making a declaration. How wonderful to scream from a mountaintop , “I surrender to Harmony over Achievement!” and be done with it. Unfortunately, the awareness requires my daily practice. Many times a day, in fact, I need to remind myself of where my Faith is.
Do put my trust in my Ego?
Or do I put my trust in the Universe?
For now, at least, my Faith is tested moment by moment by moment.
feb 12, 2010