Belief and Faith


Wed, 23 Oct, 1996

(excerpt:) …everybody is a Buddha, and everybody’s different, so i’m not saying that anyone shd follow the (historical) Buddha’s path. That’s the problem with most religions– they think that so-&-so particular historical figure was THE holy one; no one else. Taoism and mystical religions realize that we are all manifestations of the divine. Alan Watts had this great saying: “we are how God is aware of himself;” meaning that God is everything, everywhere, and humans, being conscious– yea, self-conscious– are here so that this everything can be appreciated, reflected upon, experienced. The ultimate reality is beyond all duality of what is & what isn’t. It must be felt, experienced directly, from the inside… So that how you feel, what your self is, is what God feels, is.

I was raised Baptist, & one thing that still works for me from that upbringing is that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. That’s because we usually identify ourselves with our egos, and i liken the ego to the thin film of a soap bubble– God, then, is the vast emptiness inside the bubble. We call it the “subconscious,” and it’s scary, mysterious, dark, impenetrable. It’s hard to grasp, to define (see “surface tension swirls” from my multimedia piece logos, eros, cosmos). Thus, we feel separate from it, not jumping headlong into it. And to traditional religions, God is separate from individual humans. Mystical religions embrace the unknown, since they know that ultimate reality is beyond any limited kind of knowledge, beyond andy definitions or words or ideas, since any THING of this universe must necessarily be a subset of ALL-THAT-IS-AND-IS-NOT.

This also brings up a distinction Watts makes between “belief” and “faith.” Belief, he says, is grasping, trying to hold on to, something, whereas faith is letting go of something– “jumping headlong into it.” Thus, if one has “faith in God,” then she is sincerely willing to do whatever needs doing without fretting about it. Belief here is more like the traditional meaning of “blind faith,” as applied to religion, in that you’ve got your dogma and you’re not gonna let go of it no matter what. You can see that a Taoist, then, literally “goes on faith,” i.e., “goes with the flow.”

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