Monday, April 11, 2016

What do you put your faith in?

James Fowler writes in his book, Stages of Faith, “...we are concerned with how to put our lives together and with what will make life worth living. Moreover, we look for something to love that loves us, something to value that gives us value, something to honor and respect that has the power to sustain our being.” P.5

This faith that Fowler writes of is the basis for our identity in our ego world. Being a Buffalo Bills fan in Western New York can be a form of faith manifested in clothing, flags, tailgate rituals on game day etc. People get caught up in all kinds of ego dramas that seems to give their lives meaning, importance, camaraderie, and seems to sustain their being in the ego world. And yet, these identifications, pursuits, and preoccupations keep us from the awareness of Love’s presence in our lives.

It is written in Lesson 50 in the workbook of ACIM:

I am sustained by the Love of God.

Here is the answer to every problem that will confront you, today and tomorrow and throughout time. In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, "protective" clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the "right" people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers.
All these things are your replacements for the Love of God. All these things are cherished to ensure a body identification. They are songs of praise to the ego. Do not put your faith in the worthless. It will not sustain you.

As we consider these ideas it becomes apparent that we have become mislead by the ego into counterfeit sources of salvation. We have come to think that the ways of the world will save us, until they don’t, and we are rudely disappointed and bereft, and don’t know where to turn. Again, the Course helps us by telling us:

Put not your faith in illusions. They will fail you. Put all your faith in the Love of God within you; eternal, changeless and forever unfailing. This is the answer to whatever confronts you today. Through the Love of God within you, you can resolve all seeming difficulties without effort and in sure confidence. Tell yourself this often today. It is a declaration of release from the belief in idols. It is your acknowledgment of the truth about yourself.

Our Buffalo Bills fandom, all our trips to the mall, all our hours at work, even our family drama, and religious observance won’t and can’t save us in the end. The Course tells us that what will save us in the end is the “Love Of God within you.” Do you believe this? Do you have faith in this promise?

It is written in the introduction to A Course In Miracles:”The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.”

And my faith is that things will be all alright in the end. And if, right now, things are not alright, it is because we aren’t at the end yet. And that end is what the Course calls the Atonement which is when everybody loves everybody all the time. We have a way to go yet on our human journey towards the Atonement but we get glimpses of it here and there which is a little taste of what heaven is like.

In the 60s there was a phrase in common language on the streets, “Keep the faith!” And this week, I pass it along to you, encouraging you to “keep the faith.”

Monday, April 4, 2016

What is this concept called "faith?"

Happy April! This month our theme is ”faith,” which is a word like “truth,” “love,” and “beauty” which people project all kinds of meanings into.

Many people use the word “faith” as if it were synonymous with belief. On surveys, people are asked if they have a “faith” preference, or if they were raised in a “faith” tradition. This month we will not be using the word “faith” as if it were “belief.” We will be discussing something much deeper and more fundamental. The faith we will be talking about is something that is usually unconscious, yet motivates our whole being. The faith we are talking about is the faith that something in life will make me happy. Faith answers the question, “What is the good life, and how should I live it to be happy?”

The Dali Lama said that the purpose of life is happiness. All human beings want to be happy. The Dali Lama passes over the deeper question which is “What will make me happy?” It is that thing which you think will make you happy which is the “faith” that we will be talking about. That thing is what we invest our time, energy, heart and mind into because we think it will give us the happiness that we seek.

It says in lesson 91 in ACIM “ Faith goes to what you want, and you instruct your mind accordingly. Your will remains your teacher, and your will has all the strength to do what it desires.” So the basic question to be considered is “What do you want?”

Once we realize that the external world will not make us happy and we decide that we want to know the truth of life, we begin to realize as it says in Chapter 17, Section VI, paragraph 6, “The goal of truth requires faith. Faith is implicit in the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and this faith is all-inclusive. Where the goal of truth is set, there faith must be. The Holy Spirit sees the situation as a whole. The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. This seems to ask for faith beyond you, and beyond what you can give.”

Faith, in ACIM, is in the Atonement principle. Atonement, of course, is At-One-Ment which I describe as “when everybody loves everybody all the time.” We human beings have a long way to go to achieve this last day, but I do have faith that that time is coming. I think the modern artistic rendition of this kind of faith is John Lennon’s song, Imagine, and the Beatles song, Love is All There Is.

In Alcoholic Anonymous they have a slogan, “You do your best, and God will do the rest.” To say this slogan with any degree of sincerity requires a willingness to surrender to your Higher Power and this surrender makes us vulnerable and takes much faith.

Jesus never condemned anyone for sinning, but He often would say, “Oh ye of little faith. If you only knew how much your Father in heaven loves you!” This belief in God’s love for us unconditionally takes great faith, because we often don’t love ourselves or one another and so don’t believe it is possible. When we overcome the barriers and obstacles to our awareness of Love’s presence in our lives our faith has been validated and brings us peace and joy.