Two Poems on the Energy of Faith
"Articles of Faith" and "Boarding the S.S. Daijō"
Greetings Good Travelers and Wayfarers,
Recently, I had a couple of conversations with people wherein the concept (and experience) of faith* was discussed. In one of these dialogues, the topic was a newfound sense of faith that the other person had come to know on their path. They had cultivated it, worked hard for it, and the result was a quality of luminosity.
In the other conversation, the subject was about a period of deep pain and upheaval in the person’s life. It was a stretch of the road in which they experienced a total loss of faith. We also discussed the subsequent process of their identifying the need to work on restoring a sense of faith in their life. “I felt like I’d already died but was still among the living. I realized I owed it to myself to actively seek my own rebirth,” they shared.
Both conversations stirred a series of contemplations for me, including about the relationship of the word faith to confidence.
When we have faith, we have confidence. But, of course, confidence and faith can sometimes be a spectrum of experience, and often includes the highly-necessary phases of doubt and questioning of faith. We all know the sensation of having confidence and not having confidence; of losing confidence and gaining confidence.
One way of thinking about confidence is to look at the root meanings of the components that make up the word. Confidence (con: with; fide, from the Latin: faith). In essence, we could say that confidence is the state of being authentically aligned with faith — faith in ourselves, faith in existence, faith in goodness, and faith in the unfolding process. When we lose faith or confidence, the ‘with’ part of that equation is inseparable from a sense of alignment.
To restore faith or confidence, we have to address the alignment/misalignment by asking QUEST-I-ON questions like:
“When and how did I become misaligned?”
“What do I really need to come back into alignment so that I am ‘with’ ‘faith’?”
“What can I do to express to myself that I have faith in myself?”
“What steps can I take to manifest a high-fidelity life?”
When we experience a renewal of faith or a deepening of faith, it is undeniable. In some traditions, this even leads to spoken ‘professions of faith’ or expressing one’s articles of faith. The whole gamut of this topic is what led to the poems below.
*Note: Faith here is not about ‘blind faith’ (which begets a false sense of certainty) or extreme faith (which is usually steeped in intolerance for others’ experience of faith and/or intolerance for the unknowns and ambiguities of life).
Frank Inzan Owen (Hidden Mountain)
“Articles of Faith”
I have faith in Sentient Earth.
I have faith in this magical place
despite the presence of so much destruction.
I have faith that life teaches us what we most need to learn.
I have faith that there are many worlds within this one world —
“pure lands” and “hells” and places in between;
some known for their heaviness and hate,
others for their frequencies of love, upliftedness, serenity
I have faith that all of this is being held up, supported,
by a great power we cannot fully comprehend.
I have faith that we can (not only) survive but thrive,
but that we can’t save ourselves, or the world,
unless and until we roll the stone away
from the Tomb of Forgetfulness.
I have faith.
I have faith
that if a teaching
doesn’t embody love,
it is a flawed teaching.
The path and the commitment are the same. They work best if you stay with them. But, with enough time, I think you’ll find you are never not on the path. Every detour, every distraction, every decade lived in a foggy-minded trance, eventually brings you back to the trailhead of the Way. Even if you’re hard-headed and take the road of tough lessons, you’re never not on the path.
Darion Kuma Gracen
"Boarding the S.S. Daijō*"
They said the instructions were simple.
Stick with it.
Work at getting your sea legs.
The water can be rough.
Trust in the practice.
Allow the practice to carry you.
There is a reason the practice is called a vehicle.
The vehicle is like a boat
but you need to ‘stay in the boat’.
If you go overboard, stay close to the boat;
if you don’t, in rough waters, you could drown.
If you want to be in the flow,
you have to stay in the boat.
The boat is the vehicle.
The vehicle is the practice.
The practice is the Way
and the way-through.
If you get the feeling like you need to “bail”,
bail the contents of your mind;
bail it like dark water,
but don’t bail on yourself.
If you get the feeling like you might bail,
remember why you’re really here: Everyone else.
*Daijō is the Japanese word for Mahayana, the second major branch of Buddhism, which stresses an altruistic spiritual practice aimed at serving others, lessening suffering to self and other, and utilizing one’s personal life-force for the betterment and upliftment of the overall situation. The focal point of Mahayana tradition is the archetype, image, and path of the bodhisattva-warrior — the embodiment of cultivated bravery, wisdom, compassion, awake heart-mind, and forthright, thoroughgoing discipline.
SOUNDWORLD FOR POST
Ancestral Resonance / Byron Metcalf and Shane Morris