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August 19, 2008

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Does the word, "Faith" get misdirected when used in, "Faith based," such as a faith based organization. Do all faith based organizations practice an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. I have nothing against faith based organizations.

At what point though does an attitude of "OpenING yourself to the unknown, a.k.a. God, without a whit of proof, none at all, nada, nothing, about what, if anything, lies over the horizon of Mystery" become a useful transition or growth point?

Ok, I get the belief-faith semantics. But what value does it add in the medium to long term? Every scientist, business man, Olympic athlete, parent or child seeks to move from belief to knowing.

So then wouldnt it in turn be reasonable to desire and apply ones effort towards knowing?

But doing this with the understanding that a measure of belief or faith will be required at some point as we transition to knowing.

To drift in a state of supreme openness or unknowing is more theoretical than realistic Id imagine.

At some point, if growth or progression is desired we need to move forward into a more active state that moves through belief to ultimately knowing.

Whether the term is used correctly according to your definition, or if its used sloppily becomes irrelevant. Sure, intellectual readings and analysis of semantics is intriguing, but if real progress is desired then at some point the books need to be closed, and 'action' needs to be taken (most likely belief / faith-based) until experience leads us to improved understanding and ultimately knowing.

Its ok i think to have beliefs. They change as we grow. we believe so many things that we later either outgrow or synthesize with new experiences.

Either way I dont think it matters if its a belief or a faith .. as long as we sincerely search or practicing any system that venerates God in any form. As long as we dont hurt others who dont believe or practice what we do, as long as we dont push our belief systems onto others.

i wouldnt knock faith, real or not. In my mind it shows an active state of seeking to progress rather than a passive one, where 'anything goes' and direction changes as easily as a yacht does on the sea without a keel.

Brad, it's nice to see some increased openness and acceptance on your part. Now you're saying that venerating God in any form is fine, whereas before you said that there is only one way to know God.

I agree with you that even going through life with no expectations (or as few as possible) involves some activity. Taoism calls this wei wu wei, action without action. But it isn't at all an act of "veneration," so I'd suggest that your conception of how "god" might be known needs to be expanded a bit.

You seem to favor a dualistic view where God is separate from the seeker. This apparently is why you put so much emphasis on effort directed toward knowing God.

However, there is another more mystical approach that's founded on the hypothesis that unity is the essence of the cosmos rather than duality. In this view, we already are what we're seeking -- so an effort to be something other than what we are leads us in the wrong direction.

Alan Watts is very much in this camp, as is Taoism, Buddhism, Vedanta, and such. Western religions, and Sant Mat, tend toward dualism -- where God exists in a distant realm, separate from human consciousness, and it takes effort to bridge the gap (and/or intervention by a divine being).

Different strokes for different folks. We're all wandering in mystery, which is a good place to be.

No, jptxs is not my real name =] But it is a very steady pen name I've used for years...

The Wisdom of Insecurity had a profound effect on me when I first read it and echos in my thoughts until today. It's one of the things that started me asking questions like these in the first place.

You've framed the question here in it's more spiritual form. My question is epistemological, really. If a person has faith in the existence of god, why give the "flimsy reasons" you describe? Faith should mean there is no reasoning required, no?

I have just the slightest hint of faith in my life. Faith is like the vermouth in my grandfather's favorite Manhattan recipe - he would tell the bartender "just think about vermouth while you pour the whiskey". So I've always wondered about the nature of faith in both those who seem to have so much more of it and those who claim much more but clearly have so little.

Watts said: "…To discover the ultimate Reality of life – the Absolute, the eternal, God – you must cease to try to grasp it in the form of idols."

--Because grasping, worshiping God in the form of idols in whatever form they may take..gurus, holy books, religions, etc. is worshipping the teapot instead of drinking the tea.

Hi Brad,
I hope I will not upset you if I ask you some
questions? You state;
"So then wouldnt it in turn be reasonable to desire and apply ones effort towards knowing?"
1)Who is this one that is meant to make the effort?
2)What do you mean by "knowing?"
By the way have you read Sam Busa's book?
All the best
Obed

To any operating thought machine, the differences between belief and faith should be as marked and important as the differences between anger and jealousy. Yes, there are semantic differences, and there are categories to collect them both. In practice, your girl friend will want you to split that particular hair.

Watts points out that the thought behind "belief", is that I might like a thing to be such a way. Faith comes to us from the word "bide". I like this very much! This is a thing I can not seek, but must wait to know. I do not move toward it or improve myself to worthiness to understand. Like living in the energetics of a really powerful thunderstorm, I wait to know what the world is bringing.

"There are some things in the autumn air which I cannot seek out,
which must choose to fly down with sudden streaks of oak leaf
to pierce my chest and, quaking, wake me again and again."

Hi Brian

Im guessing that great masters you refer to who talk of action without action, have reached that state after much... action in some form.

You ask me to expand on my understanding of knowing God. Well, its probably as exact as the ants understanding of a jet flying in at altitude in the sky, let alone the mountainous toe before it.

You say that I 'seem to favor a dualistic view where God is separate from the seeker'. I think its all a matter of perspective. A top-down view (or those communicated to us by Masters)would see the unity in and through all the creations. It would be like a painting being enjoyed from a few meters away, as opposed to a bottom-up perspective equivalent to being a blurry few centimeters away from the same painting.

A bottom-up view for most of us unrealised souls is influenced heavily by the dualistic nature of the creation we find ourselves in, and the tendencies and habits we have fortified over many many lifetimes.

So, until my consciousness is raised (a lot), I see (not know) myself as separate from my creator. And simultaneously a divine part of me (of which I am shamefully and blissfully unaware) is fully conscious of my true state and the unity of all.

So, for now I do emphasis 'effort directed toward knowing God'. Eventually it will become effortless. That I have faith in.

I agree with the 'mystical approach that's founded on the hypothesis that unity is the essence of the cosmos rather than duality'.

But I still endorse the 'Different strokes for different folks' approach', and love the description of yours - 'We're all wandering in mystery'.

We are sharing a dream. Most dont know it, and yet knowing it doesnt help much either. Knowing the reality above the dream though - thats an ideal worth some effort.

Hi Obed

You asked 2 questions relative to something I said "So then wouldnt it in turn be reasonable to desire and apply ones effort towards knowing?"
---
1)Who is this one that is meant to make the effort?
2)What do you mean by "knowing?"
By the way have you read Sam Busa's book?
---
My response to Q1
In the grand scheme of things, all effort and impulses only come from the father, however at this granular level I dont see the harm in assuming some responsibility for initial effort. we need to provoke the fathers grace by turning our cup upward to catch it. the rest is all his 'effort' or impulse, and the cup will without effort catch his ever present grace that is pouring 'downward'.

My response to Q2
What do I mean by knowing? I would say its simply the opposite of believing or acting with faith. it would be for me - understanding through experience.

Which book of Sams are you referring to? he lives down the road from me, so I will ask him about it.

I like this 'tenth man' story:

There were ten monks travelling together from one master to another in search of enightenment they had failed to obtain. Crossing a river in a flood they were separated by the swift current, and when they reached the other shore they reassembled and one monk counted the others to make sure that all were safely across. To his dismay he was only able to count nine brothers.

Each in turn counted the others, and each could only count nine. As they were crying and wailing about their drowned brother a passing traveller on his way to a nearby town asked what their trouble was. After counting them he assured the monks that all ten were present. But each counted again only nine and the traveller, being unable to persuade them, shrugged his shoulders and went on his way.

Then one monk went to the river-side in order to wash his tear-stained face. As he leaned over a rock above a clear, deep pool he was startled and ran back to his brothers to announce that he had found their drowned companion. So, each in turn went over to the rock and looked into the depths of the pool.

When all had seen their drowned brother, who, due to the depth of the pool they could not reach, they celebrated a funeral in his memory.

The passing traveller, returning from the town, asked them what they were doing and when told, he pointed out and assured them that since each had celebrated his own decease and since all had celebrated the decease of each, they were one and all truly dead. On learning this each monk was instantly awakened, and ten fully enlightened monks returned to their monastery to the great delight of their grandmotherly old master.

Each monk had discovered the open secret..

The Tenth Man is the only man: there is no other.

Brad has stated (in quotes):

"Im guessing that great masters you refer to who talk of action without action, have reached that state after much... action"

-- Your "guessing" is merely a vague assumption based in duality, and not factual knowledge. The action of effort never achieves the effortless. The effortless state is a state of realization, which is not brought about through any action.


"You ask me to expand on my understanding of knowing God. Well, its probably as exact as the ants understanding of a jet flying"

-- That sounds like a rather evasive cop-out, and moreover, quite bereft of any direct experience or self-knowledge.


"You say that I 'seem to favor a dualistic view where God is separate from the seeker'."

-- The fact of the matter is that the views and beliefs that you have espoused here so far, have been steeped in duality as well as dogmatic presumption.


"A top-down view (or those communicated to us by Masters) (...) as opposed to a bottom-up perspective"

-- This kind of stuff is a clear indication and example of dualism and pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo.


"A bottom-up view for most of us unrealised souls is influenced heavily by the dualistic nature of the creation we find ourselves in..."

-- You mean the "dualistic nature of the creation" that YOU find YOURSELF in. Also Brad, your assumption of "most of us unrealised souls", is indicative of your own duality and ignorant notion, and and not of anyone else. The reality is that there is no such thing as "unrealised souls", or vice-versa.


"...and the tendencies and habits we have fortified over many many lifetimes."

-- This assumes (again) that there actually are "many lifetimes". But there is no conclusive evidence of "many lifteimes". It is merely an idea and a belief clug to by those who are under the illusion (and hope)of their own separate existence and continuity.


"until my consciousness is raised (a lot), I see (not know) myself as separate from my creator."

-- Here we see the crux of the matter with Brad. Here we see his core presumption of duality. And here we see the false notion that "consciousness" needs to be "raised".


"And simultaneously a divine part of me (of which I am shamefully and blissfully unaware) is fully conscious of my true state and the unity of all."

-- here is another assumption of Brad's that self somehow has separate 'parts', and that awareness is somehow unaware... and that there is a "true state" as opposed to a not-true state. All of these notions are dualistic, and they reveal an absence of clarity, understanding, and realization.


"for now I do emphasis 'effort directed toward knowing God'."

-- At least this one appears to be honest. But the question begs to be asked: WHO is doing this effort? and just WHO is going to be "knowing God"?


"Eventually it will become..."

-- "Eventually" is entirely predicated upon the illusion, the ignorance that reality is somehow yet to be attained.


"That I have faith in."

-- Faith is nothing more than mere blind belief. It is not founded in knowledge, nor in mystery, nor in surrender. It is the domain of religion... not science, not direct experience, and not reality.


"I agree with the 'mystical approach that's founded on the hypothesis that unity is the essence of the cosmos rather than duality'."

-- A hypothesis is worthless in terms of direct experience. You can hypothesize "unity" all you like, but your fundamental orientation is entirely dualistic and faith/belief oriented.


"We are sharing a dream. Most dont know it, and yet knowing it doesnt help much either."

-- Who is "sharing a dream"? Who is "We"? You can only speak for yourself Brad. It is your "dream" that you speak of. And forget "knowing it". What exactly DO you know???


"Knowing the reality above the dream though - thats an ideal worth some effort."

-- There is no dream, but in your own mind. There is only reality. And it is not an "ideal", nor does it require "effort".


Brad also said (to Obed):


"all effort and impulses only come from the father"

-- What exactly is this "the father" that you speak of? These are merely words - "the father". They are nothing more than an idea, and a seeming quasi-religious belief or fantasy that you have... that you hold and cling to about "God"? You (like other satsangi parrots) use and santimoniously flaunt this particular little phrase as if it has some sort of ultimate meaning or significant reality. But it is only just words.


"at this granular level I dont see the harm in assuming some responsibility for initial effort."

-- You can make whatever "effort" you like, but effort is based upon a presumption that effort is needed.. but the question really is: WHO is making the effort?


"we need to provoke the fathers grace by turning our cup upward to catch it."

-- Here we go again with that "father" rhetoric. And "grace" is INNATE... so it does not come from elsewhere, and it need not be caught... and there is NO ONE for to "catch it".


"the cup will without effort catch his ever present grace that is pouring 'downward'."

-- Again, there is no above nor "downward", and there is no "his". This is simply just more examples of ignorance born of duality.


"What do I mean by knowing? I would say its simply the opposite of believing or acting with faith. it would be for me - understanding through experience."

-- OK... So what actually DO you understand through experience? Please kindly share that "understanding" gained from "experience" with us.

Brian,

Now you're talkin. I quite like this rather significant point that you (and Alan Watts) have made.

You said:

"So, hey, if you want to embrace faith, why not go all the way? Open yourself to the unknown, a.k.a. God, without a whit of proof, none at all, nada, nothing, about what, if anything, lies over the horizon of Mystery."

-- That's right on.

And Watts also says:

"Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be."

"Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception."

"…To discover the ultimate Reality of life – the Absolute, the eternal, God – you must cease to try to grasp it in the form of idols."

"They are our beliefs, our cherished preconceptions of the truth, which block the unreserved opening of mind and heart to reality."

"...the vision of God is found in giving up any belief in the idea of God."

"If we cling to belief ... we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go."

-- So right on. This is the essential thing... the thing which all the pundits of dogma and belief fail to comprehend.


Hi Brad,
Thank you for your reply to my questions.I understand
better the meaning of what you originally wrote.
Sam wrote a book about his experiences with
Master Charan Singh.The book was banned by the
present Master and only a few copies were printed
by Sam and given to a few people.I came across a copy
at a satsangi friends house and borrowed it and read it.It is a truly remarkable story and was partially
instrumental in changing my perceptions of Sant Mat.
There may be a copy of the book in the Jo'burg
sangat library.
Try and get a copy to read particularly Sam's
visit to Sri Vivekananda's ashran and see the
the chant that Sri Vivekanada finished all his
talks with.
Best
regards
Obed

Thanks Obed. I'll try get hold of it. Best wishes, Brad

Hi All
I found this blog.

http://www.freewillastrology.com/beauty/beauty.main151.shtml

Maybe Brian you would like to make a link to it.You may know it
Here is a sample.

I’ve tried a wide variety of meditative practices from many traditions. I’ve calmed myself through rhythmic breathing; watched with amusement as the nonstop procession of images paraded across my mind; visualized images of deities; cultivated unconditional love; chanted mantras; and taken rigorous inventories to determine whether the integrity of my actions matches my high ideals.

But in my years of study, I’ve never heard of a form of meditation that would ask me to go to a public place, take my attention off myself, and observe other people with compassionate objectivity. That’s why I was forced to invent it. Hereafter known as Sacred Eavesdropping, this meditation builds one’s ability to pray in the manner described by poet W. H. Auden: “The definition of prayer is paying careful and concentrated attention to something other than your own constructions.”

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