Monday, August 25, 2014

A perfect faith


...perfect faith is far more in a man than mere belief. In it we have true knowing.

—Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works, P. 510.

Perfect faith comes from a direction and an inner source that does not belong to me.

I have to understand that beliefs all belong to me. Because I am an egoist, I think that everything I believe is good and true; and I pit my beliefs and truths against those of others. It's like a cock fight: we put spurs on and hack at each other's beliefs and truths. Take a look around; see the violence and dissent in the world. This is where all of that begins: in me and my beliefs.

Eckhart makes it clear that I do not have true knowing within the context of my belief. He calls belief "mere" belief; belief is trivial and not a thing to be taken seriously. Yet this is exactly the problem; I do take myself and my beliefs seriously, very seriously indeed. I will do anything — even kill for them.

So what is this perfect faith? And how come I can't distinguish it from belief?

 I must bring a practical example from my own life; for no other example will do.

It is a Sunday morning; I am irritated and impatient, for reasons that don't matter much. Suffice it to say that I could see I was negative this morning, and understood where it would lead; things have come to pass exactly as I understood they would, because my negativity has habitual components that express themselves the same way every time. It's not catastrophic; but I am identified with and unhappy about a number of things, and preparing to go on a trip to China tomorrow. Not a good combination.

Things are quiet outside; it just stopped raining and the sky is beginning to clear. I go outside to sit on the front porch. I'm on a swing bench; it's a place I have sat many times in the past with pleasure, although less so of late. I sit down, and take some time to just stop for a moment.

Unexpectedly, a vibration takes place within the abdomen. I'm well familiar with these arrivals; every one of them signifies a particular Grace of the Lord, arriving in one part of the body or another, and always with more or less the same result.

A huge wave of relaxation passes through me as I surrender to it.  My own efforts of relaxation are orders of magnitude smaller than the force of this gentle storm which passes through me.

I drop my arms into my lap and recognize, incontrovertibly, that the power much higher than myself is in charge. I distinctly see the difference between myself and this higher level; and it suffuses me, reminds me of my insignificance.

For a moment, I let go of everything.

Not much later, I am at the kitchen sink, and am overcome with a sense of sorrow. This sorrow isn't any specific sorrow; it is sorrow from everything, about everything, and for everything. It's a ubiquitous presence, a substance that penetrates all of Being. It is, improbably, perfect; and it is this perfection, the perfection of sorrow, the perfection of understanding how temporary life and everything in it is, that constitutes a perfect faith.

This is a truth that transcends all the teachings, the forms, the formulas, and the prescriptions for life. It is a truth that is whole; it contains all of who I am and all of everything that is.

It won't last, I know; I am pulled through life by tides much larger than me, and it is merely privilege and grace that allows me to be touched for a moment by these sacred forces, reminding me that I am so often powerless.

I am outside in the garden now; and the wild senna is in bloom, yellow flowers attracting the bees.

There is a graceful dance here, and it isn't mine.

Inside, there is a similar dance that takes place: and perhaps, at times, I can sense that.

It never belongs to me; but at times I can be a participant.

Hosanna.

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