Faith is the beginning of all good things. ~ Buddha
“There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint-please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, “My son-please, please, please…buy a ticket.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat-Pray-Love
Many times when we pray we reflect on the things we need to have, the things we’d like to have, and where we would like to see ourselves. Perhaps we should place more focus on the innate power that has been divinely granted to us; the power that reassures our ownership of these wishes, places, and “things”. We need only to believe.
Cultivating faith begins in the mind. Prayer is a sacred relationship between us and the universe and developing faith through prayer requires open-mindedness, practice, oneness, order – and trust. This type of devotion is essential to our survival though many of us lose faith daily in ourselves, our abilities, our aspirations, and simply in the goodness of life. We proudly wear a shield of external dignity while internally expanding discontent and doubtfulness. How we feel at our core, view our intelligence, and trust in our own abilities all determine how we navigate through the challenges of life. In order for us to acquire the things we so strongly desire – we must first develop our faith to recognize that these things are positively within our reach.
Though we cannot see, touch, or smell this allegiance, it is a force that we can use to shelter us from the extreme cascades and unpredicted rainstorms of life. Without a sense of sureness, none of us really know what’s going on. Our hopes, fears, feelings and dreams collide to confuse our poor befuddled brains. So how are we supposed to be objective when our passions are so powerful and our preferences so intense? There are, of course, some folks who are above all of this. They have become so smart, so wise, and so incisive that they can clearly see through all pretenses, even their own. Should you believe them? No more than you should believe in yourself.
The parable of the mustard seed in the Bible reminds us of the amount of faith needed to secure our position and rise above. Considering that only a miniscule amount is required to be equipped for such immense challenges we encounter in this life, should further encourage us to adopt more of it. No matter what we encounter in life, faith enables us to try again, trust again, and love again. Exercising our faith helps us to flow and relate to our present moment…so that we can move forward.
“Belief clings; faith lets go”, says writer Alan Watts.
Many people have a frequent tendency to equate faith with doctrine while debating terminologies and concepts. But that can be spiritually debilitating and is a distraction from what faith is truly all about.
Meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg simply states, “Faith is not a commodity we either have or don’t have. It is an inner quality that unfolds as we learn to trust our own deepest experience.”
Faith is majestic in the light it expresses and the association it advocates. I know this to be true because I have connected its essence to many of my deepest experiences, beginning with the birth of my daughter. The etymology of birth names is very significant to our journeys. Everyone has a name but most people are unacquainted with the correlation between their name and the ambition it is to serve. Few give it any thought at all. When I gave birth to both of my children, I was fixed on bestowing them with names that would define their very existence and shape their destiny. I indulged the birth naming process as their universal “identification”; a deliberate act with a consequential objective in mind.
In many religions and cultures, great importance is placed on the issuance of birth names. This is often believed to represent the soul of a person and hence can influence ones’ entire life. I decisively named my daughter Nia Imani, Swahilian meaning for “purpose and faith” and are the fifth and seventh principles of the Kwanzaa Season. Similar to how our naming conventions teach us about ourselves, so can the essence of a single mustard seed. The mustard seed is so tiny that it is nearly hidden to the naked eye.
Like the strength and ability of the mustard seed, we too, can cultivate and strengthen our faith. Faith can diminish the most difficult problems, if we allow, and make way for the most incredible blessings to emerge. After all, if we didn’t have our weaknesses we would never discover our strengths. We would never become the architects of our own undoing nor would we learn to develop the much needed faith to appreciate the satisfaction of our own reconstruction.
As we gallop into the second half of 2014 (Chinese year of the horse), the month of July invites us “in” for an opportunity to be seated with a renewed perspective. Mindfulness is necessary to our overall spiritual and physical health. And while we contemplate that small mindedness is not the worst thing in the world, through varied and necessary experiences, we come to realize that small mindedness in faith – is the worst thing in the world.
What seat have you taken within the sanctuary of your soul? Are you sitting on the outside looking in or on the inside looking out? A small shift in your consciousness can make the greatest difference between what you receive and what you delay. The link between the optimism you are now learning to have – and the self-assurance you need to preserve – is not obvious. But the two are connected in a wonderful way. Allow your faith to carry you to make those necessary leaps and adjustments that will stretch you, strengthen you, support you and save you.
Believe in the invisible light. Keep the faith.
Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation. ~ Buddha
Love and Light for the Journey!
Happy Birthday today to the most extraordinary woman in my life: my daughter Nia.