The key questions: What is faith?
A client of mine told me she had given up on love and intimacy, saying that after several bad relationships she no longer wanted anything to do with ‘emotional entanglements’, as she put it. She had completely lost faith in men. I thought about the problem for a while then asked her if she drove a car. She did. In that case, I suggested, she must have had the experience of driving down roads at speed with cars coming in the other direction, also at speed, sometimes at night, after rain. Yes, of course.
Why then did she have faith that those cars would not skid out of control, collide with her vehicle, killing her instantly, when the only thing ‘protecting’ her from that grisly fate was a thin white line down the centre of the road? How were the risks inherent in that situation perfectly normal and acceptable, whereas the relatively safe option of a romantic affair was not. (I assured her that, for me at least, a rocky relationship was less daunting a prospect than ending up the victim of a car crash).
We cannot have certainty in life. I believe that’s something we all know instinctively, in our bones. We know that no matter how hard we try to minimise risk, it is always there. But this knowledge doesn’t seem to prevent us from longing for an imaginary world where all future outcomes are safely and predictably structured to guarantee our personal happiness.
It doesn’t exist. Which means we have to have a little faith.
A few months back I found myself having a lot of insecurity as a result of a meeting I had scheduled. I won’t go into details but I was slowly but surely starting to dread the conversation I was about to have with this person, a conversation that in my mind I had decided ahead of time would be difficult, emotional, perhaps even confrontational. I wonder if you can imagine what it’s like to be on the one hand teaching the Three Principles to my clients, urging them to go beyond their rational, conceptual minds to where clarity and inner wisdom lies, and at the very same time sinking into an unhealthy state because of my own conceptualising, my own ‘fortune-telling’. Not a very nice feeling!
On the morning that the meeting was scheduled, I was preparing to leave the house, feeling pretty low in spirit. We had a regular cleaner at that time and I made some remark to my wife Anna about her, wondering if she was on her way. To my surprise Anna replied that she’d decided to let the cleaner go. The woman, a friend of ours by this time, had increased her price and Anna felt that it wasn’t really worth paying. Besides, she (Anna) was happy to spend a few extra hours in the week carrying out those same chores that we’d been paying out for all this time.
I felt a bit bad for the cleaner so gave her a quick call, expecting a frosty reception. My expectation was confounded when she came on the phone and was perfectly polite and respectful of our decision. The message was clear: no harm done. As I left the house to head off for my meeting my beautiful, insightful wife said the one thing that I needed to hear in that moment. She said:
“You should have a little faith.”
It hit me right between the eyes, as truth always does. I’d been running a movie in my head about what I was going to have to say in the meeting and what the ramifications might be, (all negative of course). In that moment all my thinking fell away and I mentally left the subject of the meeting behind me, trusting that Mind had my back, that there was in fact nothing I had to do or say, no obligation on me whatever. The meeting went ahead and sure enough, by showing up authentically, with nothing much on my mind, I found myself quickly getting into rapport with my colleague and before too long we had sorted out the problem to our mutual satisfaction, parting with a much better feeling than we had enjoyed for a while. And when I say that we sorted out the problem, I have to qualify that in hindsight: actually there had never been a problem, beyond our insecure thinking.
I knew all this. But I forgot. And I’ll no doubt forget again.
The lady I coached with the intimacy problem did in fact find a partner soon after and as far as I know is very happy about it. My message to you in this blog is a simple one: You don’t need to have your own back. Mind has that taken care of. Faith, whether we view it from a religious or a secular perspective, is nothing more than the willingness to let go of our conceptual minds, our thinking. It works. It really does.
And by the way, if a genie granted me that imaginary world where all future outcomes were known, I’d politely decline. The world as it is, with all its uncertainties, all its risks, all its potential dangers, is a beautiful world, and it’s fine by me.