Doubt

August 25, 2017

“Leading up to this life are a series of pitfalls, bumps in the road, obstacles to be overcome, chances for failure, and chances for grief. Birth is the last of these, the final, sad, strange circumstance preceding the form’s resting place in the here and now. We act as if we are only a few decades young but, in fact, we are older than mountains, older than the land itself, older than dirt, some of us, older than stone. And in that dreamy, almost-endless passage between where we began and where we find ourselves in this lifetime, there have been almost immeasurable opportunities for self-doubt, almost immeasurable circumstances in which our lacks and our failures succeeded in undermining whatever confidence, whatever belief we may have had in ourselves. We may have believed at some point that anything was possible, but then a hundred and then a thousand circumstances and events collided with that notion and brought us into doubt. We may have thought, anciently, long, long ago, that we were destined for something great, something beautiful, something grand, but almost uncountable circumstances since that moment have undermined that notion and replaced it with a kind of steadfast, a kind of resolute, doubt. We are convinced from long experience that failure is what we are made of, what we are destined for, that it must be inherent in our constitution for it to be so ubiquitous in our experience. It is a normal view, this one I am describing; doubt is the common and almost inevitable lens through which we see ourselves and our potential—so common, in fact, as to go almost completely unrecognized in its day-to-day guises, in its insistence, in its pervasiveness. Because who could imagine that all those lessons and all those circumstances—that, indeed, all those failures—are nothing more than misperceptions, mistakes made innocently but conclusively, a wrong view reasserted so often as to seem to be the only view at all? It simply does not seem possible that we were just wrong so many times, for so very long. But it is only in acknowledging the possibility of this vast and far-reaching mistake that we begin to see our doubt as something not founded in reality at all, but leaping out of illusion. And this, this confounding way that we were wrong every single time, is the fact of things; it turns out to be true—almost impossibly improbable, but true nonetheless. And the view that sees the mistake, the very lens of right perception itself, is faith. The very way we have been wrong is illuminated by, and rests in, that thing we know as faith. It is to see things as they are—that is faith. And when seen as they truly were, all those circumstances and all of those failures appear not as ways we have been diminished, ways we have not reached our potential, but rather as the unfolding of that very potential, a way that we have been and continue to be all things manifest in form, the great, holy mystery of variety itself made alive and concrete. It turns out that the perfection that we think we need was actually the place from where we began. Our beginning, then, has not been, ever, what we’re truly after, because who can call that progress, to stay exactly where you already were? We have progressed, to the extent that that word is real at all, through our great and many transformations, through our almost infinite variety, through our forms, our aspects, our stories, and our qualities; through all of the things that have made us doubt ourselves, we have been, truly, made as ourselves. You were never destined to be other than these things, never destined to live lives unriddled by the kind of tragedy and grief, the kind of shame and courage that transformation is made of. We are form transforming—that is our perfection. And the doubt, it turns out, is not a product of failure but a product of misperception, and all of you are here because somewhere inside you there is a seed of right perception, and that seed I call faith. If it is too much right now to see properly, at the very least I would say, loosen your commitment to seeing improperly, step back from the resolution you have made that doubt will be your stronghold.   Doubt your doubt, if you can do nothing else. We can be happily, contentedly flawed, and that is the deep, true gift of human life. Do not think that anything less is what you are destined for.”

Faith

March 16, 2017

“The gladness in your heart won’t catch you when you fall. It makes for an inspiring day, a beautiful day, but it sleeps at night and in the dark you must find something else to rely upon. The gladness in your heart is made of sunshine; it is made of things easy and free, made of all the small gladnesses the world offers you, made of the sunniness and the brightness of life, made in the day. And it is not that that joy has fled you when night comes and the pain sets in, it’s not that it is gone; but it is resting awhile, latent, in its potential, withdrawn into the quiet recesses of your open heart. That kind of gladness is not a crutch, not an aid able to see you through your difficult moments; it is not meant to be wisdom, it is not meant to buoy you through the pain. And so, when you are in pain, when it is dark all around you, do not ask, “Where has my joy gone? Why am I without my gladness?” Ask instead, “What is here now? What will see me through this place? What is it that visits me when I am so low and the world so bleak?” Certainly your inner guidance is there, its voice like all the patience you can’t muster for yourself, its kindness the kindness of things already understood. But you have, too, your own resources, those firm places inside yourself that cradle you when you cannot stand on your own. And these are not places of wisdom, or understanding, for, in that pain, in that darkness, confusion is your natural state. And they are not places of soothing reassurance, some way you might tell yourself that all is well, because it is very clear to you that it is not. And so, what gives firmness to your own self-support? What enables you to hold your own hand through the dark night? It is courage, sometimes, that special aspect of will that enables us to persevere because we are braver than we think we are. But I would say that the ground, the very foundation of your own ability to cradle yourself in such dark and painful times is faith, that it is faith that gives resolve to your own self-support, faith that carries you and that loves you as yourself in a way that only that can. Faith is the way you say to yourself that things are not all right and that they do not need to be, that pain is here and it is consuming you and you do not need to be preserved. Faith holds so firm to the notion of universal harmlessness that there is no chaos, no confusion, no catastrophe and no pain which can ever really hurt you, ever damage you in any meaningful way at all. And, in faith, you can be held in this notion yourself, cradled in this very understanding, alive on the exquisite edge of this vulnerability and open to all the possibilities that vulnerability brings. Faith is the firmness in your own mind which makes you sane when you want to be otherwise, and it is the sweet depth of certainty where everything else has none at all. And it is yours if you will have it. It is not the responsibility of your guidance to lend it to you, not the prerogative of your teachers or guides to inspire it in you; it is yours and yours alone—your choice and your blessing. Go forth in faith, and whether or not you have gladness, you are held aloft, you are cradled, you are well. Go forth in faith and there is nothing you cannot bear. Nothing that has been and nothing that will ever be can disturb or destroy you. Have faith and you have your sanity back, you have your touchstone, you have your ground. Have faith and you have everything you need.”

Faith

December 3, 2016

“Abandon your reason; let faith take over. Just for now, just for a moment, let go of what you know and why, let go of what you understand and how, let go of logic and of perception, let go of contemplating and cognating. Let go of the thinking process altogether; faith does not reside there. Let go into blindness, into an abstraction which seems groundless. Float there. Let go into unknowing, into transience, into fathomlessness. Let go of the grasp you have on all things solid and sensical, the footing you have in surety and meaning. Let go of your orientation, of your perspective, of your knowing. Let go and fall through empty space, through uncertainty, in darkness, unanchored. Let go until you land, and when you do, it will be in faith. When there is nothing else to hold onto, the net of faith stretches itself under your falling form and catches you. It does so because, beyond all concepts, beyond reason and logic, beyond knowing, there is a greater and a deeper anchor and orientation. That orientation we call faith. It does not mean that you choose an alternate concept and believe in that instead. In true faith, there is nothing in particular which is believed in; rather there is the sense, found but not formulated, that what is here is of a nature so vastly different from anything you have ever perceived that there is no reason to fear falling, or to fear anything at all. It is the abolishing of all ideas for the sake of a kind of seeing, a seeing which is so immediate, so instantaneous, so clear, that it is without any reference whatsoever to the mind. To have faith is to see without eyes and to know without ideas; it is to perceive the truth not as a concept, not as a belief, but as an inescapable and all-permeating reality. Faith is the other side of knowing, where radical absolute uncertainty leads to the most permanent kind of ground. Faith takes what is unknown and makes it apparent, and takes what is known and turns it into illusion. Faith promises nothing; there is nothing to gain by it, nothing to learn, no achievements or progress it will lead you to. But to live in faith, beyond reason, even for a moment, is its own reward. Once without the mind, even for only a moment, it is impossible to desire that mind the same in the future. Faith takes us from the certainty which causes our suffering through the uncertainty which mends it and into the place where suffering can be forever forgotten. It is worth a moment of your time. It is worth this moment. Faith lives here already alongside logic and concepts, but ever deeper than either. Faith is already yours. Let go and find it.”

Faith

July 21, 2015

I recorded this short teaching on faith over 12 years ago, but it still says so much to me.

“When there is light enough to fill even the doubts you do not yet concede, then your faith will be enough. It hesitates now, like a small bird learning how to fly. You are sure of nothing, but least of all are you sure that your own wings have the strength to lift you higher than you can stand. You look up at the sky like it’s a dream, like it’s hope, like it is some mother you can’t return to, but the sky is your proper home, and these wings the most essential part of your form. And the faith you need is like the wind that will put you back in that home. It is your deliverance into the arms of that mother; it is the way to be folded back into that breast. It is the only true mission of this body and this aching. You live in the longing for this, and it will feel like a burning until you are airborne. And only when you know that you are complete, and you will never land—only then will you know that your faith is enough.”