Monday, April 26, 2010

Faith is a Living Thing

"The answer is that faith is a living thing. Faith has to grow....Faith has to do with understanding and knowing."  Going Home by Thich Nhat Hanh

There is a body of faith. God is a person! God is not a person!  It's very normal to conceive of such a person in clear, human terms. We read that God created man in his own image. It may be just as true to say that God is created by mankind, that the God who created all the heavens and the earth is also all those things as well. Thus says Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, Going Home, "whether or not God is a person or not is just a waste of time. You are a person, but you are more than a person. This can be applied to the cosmos, to the Spirit and to God." 

With this faith, you are alive. Faith has an energy; you may also lose your faith.  When beliefs are engaged, faith is tested, but the tests applied may not have been based in this present, functioning world. It may have been something that when practiced, worked for a time and then no longer. Why? Hanh states that "faith is a living thing. Faith has to grow. If your faith is just a notion, it is not a living thing.

While faith can be seen as a living thing, like a body
of knowledge, it is susceptible to refinements, to improvements in understanding and therefore practice. Strong faith is dependent upon the degree of seeing and understanding. In the Buddhist mind, knowledge may become an impediment; it may block one from real, direct experiences. Life in the mind is secondary to experience. "In the Buddhist circle, people speak about letting go of your knowledge." Someday, sometime you have to let go to gain something new, something more whole and complete. So while knowledge has a strong bearing upon the life of faith, it is only a part. "... faith is a living thing and its food is understanding" says Hanh in his book, Going Home Jesus and Buddha As Brothers.  Real faith then also prepares us to let go, to see that sometimes, the end is the beginning. A Buddhist Master long ago said, "Be aware. If you meet the Buddha, kill him!" We have to grow. Otherwise desicate and die on the spiritual path.

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