I am a man of faith but not in the commonly accepted sense!
When I think about the word faith, in my mind at least, it conjures up a sense of intellectually arriving at an unsurpassable mental point or construct. Having faith effectively hardens the mind against further enquiring beyond the object of that faith. Belief on the other hand offers up the continuing opportunity for thoughtful investigation and the updating of held ideas.
I have faith we say, more commonly in a god figure. With that we have arrived at a ‘thought moment’ that effectively inhibits our onward journey through an alternative discovery process. The mind becomes inflexible to other opinions on a particular subject and we actively place ‘thought obstacles’ in the way of further discovery. This sadly seems to be an all too common thread that weaves its way through most of the main world religions. Minds are frozen in the moment of thought discovery and further alternative thought journeys are effectively stopped dead in their tracks. The mind is numbed to the alternatives which is unfortunate
But am I man of faith? When I give it more than a fleeting thought I can see many examples of where I do exhibit much faith, some of which is unfounded.
For one, like most of humankind, I’m an economic minion to the monetary system. In a practical sense I outwardly accept that the Queens currency will indeed pay the barer the face value printed on the various bank notes in my pocket. I take that on trust and I consequently show faith in the means of economic exchange. But then this is like black swans in a sense as occasionally there are exceptions to the rule and these tend to bring life tumbling back down to reality.
To elaborate, Banks are only obliged by the law of the land to hold cash reserves or an amount on deposit at a central bank to a rather minuscule amount. From 1971 to 1980, here in the UK, the reserve ratio was a mere 0.15%. Then from 1981 to 2009 the reserve system changed and commercial banks agreed a voluntary contract with the Bank of England and effectively set their own reserve target with no minimum reserve requirement. Then the economic downturn reared its ugly head and from 2009 with the introduction of quantitative easing the commercial banks were no longer required to set out a target. So on further investigation the means to pay the barer, as emblazoned on each bank note, is financially unsustainable and impractical. So should I have faith?
Then there is the mortgage system where I have faith that one day I will eventually become the proud owner of my own home. I remember getting my first mortgage way back and thought that I would have it paid off by the time I was forty. But then the urge to better ones-self kicks in and there’s a strong life marketing push to up size and better your life position. We were encouraged to take out endowment mortgages, insurances and pensions in order to ensure our future material wealth and prosperity. These it turns out were financial devices, offered by very psychologically astute financial institutions designed to cash in on human fear and greed. There seems to be a direct correlation between the more a person has materially and the extent to which the road is travelled to keep that wealth. In the West anyway we seem to over insure ourselves.
On final analysis I do still have outward faith in the pound sterling in my pocket. I have to because if I didn’t hold that universal delusion then my very way of life and that of my family would be under threat. So I elect to follow the crowd lemming like in the interests of self-preservation and outwardly pretend that all makes economic sense and all is rosy in the economic garden. But inwardly it feels more like a pyramid selling system to me that has been underpinned by legal, societal and economic state authority.
But there are some faith interests that I can subscribe to more fully. For example ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’ as elucidated by Isaac Newton. In other words when I stand on the floor in my kitchen, all things being structurally sound, the floor is going to push back and effectively hold my weight. So macro science seems to offer through direct observation and experience something that I can hold a high level of faith in. I can accept and move on.
In most aspects of life I seem to have less faith and more belief in the world around me. To me belief is more open ended and does require constant validation against changing facts, direct observation and received wisdom.
In contrast to faith, I believe that I will be economically fruitfully rewarded for my efforts and the world will keep spinning on its axis. I’m by nature optimistically confident…
In the final analysis recent events and experiences have lead me to place more stock in belief than in faith. I find that these days I continually adjust my belief in this or that as I quite rightly seek more information and understanding. This is good and it is also the Buddhist way to seek an understanding through your own direct experience and to not let past events and future projected anxieties overly cloud your judgement of the here and now. This moment, although fleeting, is all that counts and all that you are actually directly experiencing. There will be another moment and there will be a mix of faith and belief, you may even be able to predict the outcome to a certain extent, but ultimately it’s just an as yet unseen ‘moment’. So seek to hold a mix of faith and belief….
Life certainly has a way of not turning out as your many projected thoughts planned it would, so live where practical in the moment and experience life now.
Show your partner and family how much you love them today and don’t wait for another moment.