Tuesday, February 18, 2020
After the dark night of the soul when we are consumed with our seeming loss of faith and being forsaken by that in which we have put our faith, we finally let go of our whole ego world and become One with that from which we separated ourself. We finally experience peace and bliss. It is in the emptying of our ego self that we are able to experience our transcendent Self which is One with everything..
Few people achieve this. Even Jesus says in Matthew 27:46 as He is being crucified, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus is talking about his bodily self. For after this cry of anguish, his spirit is resurrected when he says in Luke 23:46, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
And so, our ego self seems forsaken, but our Spirit is eternal and triumphs in Love. This is the bottom line in faith: do you believe things turn out alright in the end and are completed as they should or do you believe things will be destroyed and go to hell? The way of the ego frightens us with hell, and the Spirit promises us glory. The virtue of faith is exemplified by which path we choose.
Monday, February 17, 2020
After a period of relief when we have found what we have been looking for, there comes a period of disturbance. St. John of the Cross called it the dark night of the soul. We become depressed and despair that we have lost our faith.
What happened in the previous stage of relief in thinking we had found what we were looking for was merely recognizing what we did not want. We came to the dawning that there must be a better way and we began our search and thought that we had found what we were looking for but what we found was merely the absence of what we decided we didn’t want. In this emptiness, in this vacuum, a deep depression sets in and we learn again that our lives are unmanageable and that we really, deep down, don’t know what we want. We lose our faith.
The paradox is that in losing our faith we find it by letting go of our search, our desiring, our hope for security in latching on to something we can control and be assured will be there to meet our ego needs. It is in turning over this desire for security to a power greater than ourselves, that we come to know true faith. True faith is faith in the unseen and the unknown and that which is beyond ourself in the Oneness.
Friday, February 14, 2020
Faith is not something to brag about.
The danger in this period is thinking we have the answer and we are right while others are wrong. It is a danger to become cocky, full of oneself, and a “know it all” The tendency to proselytize can be very strong. This “teaching” can be an egotistical activity rather than a genuine nonjudgmental sharing.
We must be careful at this stage of faith development to seek for and ask for help in discerning how to pursue what matters to us and sustain our interest and efforts. Over confidence can be a danger sign while humility and reservation can be a strength. If we know, truly know, we no longer have a need to talk so much about what he have experienced and know. Those that know don’t have a need to talk about it, and those who don’t know talk about it incessantly.
Keep your own counsel unless asked or an appropriate opportunity arises to share. As Jesus said we should be careful not to throw pearls before swine for the swine will simply trample the pearls underfoot. We should take people where they are at not where we think they should be. As they say in Alcoholic Anonymous, "Take your own inventory; don't be taking everyone else's."
Thursday, February 13, 2020
If the development of the virtue of faith has to do with investigating and deciding on what really matters so as to decide in what to put one's faith, it also implies a choice between what really matters and what doesn't matter.
Giving up and eschewing what doesn't matter becomes an important part of faith development. Some people may experience this as deprivation and sacrifice, and others come to experience it as a liberation and freedom.
Faith development can be understood as freedome from nonsense and counterfeit things which society tells us and seduces us to perceive as desirable and worthy of acquisition and attainment.
When we put our faith in something, we are necessarily giving up putting our faith in other things. We can't do both. We can't have our cake and eat it too.
In Unitarian Univeralism we are very clear that we put our faith in our covenant with one another to affirm and promote our seven principles. Most people, even cultural UUs, don't understand the foundation of their faith nor is the faith consistently and coherently preached, unfortunately, from its pulpits. An uneducated, and uninformed congregation can never prosper and actualize its potential.
Jesus often brought the lack of faith to people's attention. He says four times in the New Testament, "oh ye of little faith." Jesus says in Matthew 6:30 "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
Do we worry about the wrong things? Do we strive after the wrong things? What are the right things after which we should strive? In what do you put your faith? In deciding to put your faith in some things, what are the things which you have relinquished?
Lent is coming. It is a time of relinquishment, a time of giving things up. But the giving up of things is not a sacrifice or a deprivation but a making of space and conserving time and energy for things we have considered more important. Lent is a time to consider, reconsider, what I want to put my faith in. And in making this choice, what will I be giving up, rising above, setting aside, no longer paying attention to?
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
We come to understand that it is not acquiring things that are external to us that will make us happy but rather developing our internal capacity to manage ourselves and our relationships in ways that have been called "virtues" or "positive character traits."
Knowing in what to use as our development goals becomes the key to our successful development. There is a period of sorting out what has value and what doesn't. Should one cheat and lie to get ahead and achieve one's goals? The world of ego tells us that this is often the way because everybody does it.
Perhaps we engage in cheating and lying behavior. We lie and cheat on our spouse, on our friends, on our taxes, in school and at work. After years of "cutting corners," "taking advantage," exploiting and using others", we realize we have lost our self respect and authenticity and don't even know who we are any more. Yes, we have the prizes, the trophies, the money, the pleasure, but deep down we realize we have sold our soul to the devil for short term gains which have turned sour and we now recognize as counterfeit.
And so we question what we have valued and the way we have lived our lives up to this point. We say to ourselves, there must be a better way. With this awareness, we start looking and slowly begin to value other things which have been held up to be better choices. One such better way are the principles of Unitarian Univeralism as well as many other philosophical and moral prinicples.
We begin to take more responsibility for our decision making power and we become more discriminating in that which we choose to value. We are more purposeful and deliberate in what to put our faith.
To be continued
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
In what does one put their faith? Is it in the path of the ego or the path of the spirit? Does one put their faith in the things of this ego world or in the things of the spirit in other places? Does a person believe in wisdom and love or in the idols of the world: money, power, sex, sensual pleasure to bring one happiness?
We have been conditioned and socialized by the world of the ego to believe that the things of the ego will bring one happiness. However, to anyone with eyes to see, and ears to hear, and hands to touch, we come to realize that the things of the ego are illusory in being able to provide us with true joy and bliss. It is in this dawning that the things of the ego will not make us happy that we begin to search for something deeper, more substantive, more fulfilling and this search takes faith in searching for the things of the spirit, for things unseen.
This search takes courage, and resolve, and what is called “a leap of faith.” This first step in developing the virtue of faith takes a letting go of the things of the world. We withdraw our attention and start looking elsewhere. This step of letting go often involves finding a guide whether a person or a teaching to assist in the undoing of our conditioning and socialization. This often begins with questioning and growing skepticism that what we have been told by the representatives and marketers of the things of the ego aren’t true. We come to realize that the things we have been told by society are what Holden Caufield, in the Catcher In The Rye, called “the Big Lie.”
This first stage of virtue development of faith sometimes sparks a feeling of “dis-ease.” There is a period of skepticism and anxiety. We aren’t sure how to proceed or where to look and we come to realize that we need help. Who are the helpers and where are they to be found?
Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote the responsible search for truth and meaning. In this covenant to affirm and promote this principle is the support for faith to be found.
To be continued