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09 April 2009 @ 09:52 am
Tao of the Day  
We find ourselves with absolutely nothing to hold on to.
From our conventional standpoint, this is scary and dangerous.
However, one small shift of perspective will tell us that having nothing to hold on to is liberating.
We could have faith that we won't drown.
Holding on to nothing means we can relax with this fluid, dynamic world.
- Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You

I'm big on the water analogies when it comes to dealing with reality. But I'm also not a fan of faith. So when I sit down to read this, the first thing I think is, "Yeah, but, if there's a waterfall ahead, SWIM."

And then I think about it some more.

What if the waterfall is the only way forward? If I expend all of my energy swimming against the tide, holding on to sharp rocks, etc., I'm going to kill myself with exhaustion and get nowhere in the process. If, on the other hand, I relax completely - much like how the drunk driver due to relaxed muscles is almost always the least injured in an accident - I might still die on the sharp rocks or drown at the base of the waterfall, but, I might also still survive and make progress. So, while I can't invest in the "faith" that I won't drown when I in fact might, I can respect engaging in the activity with the notion that I will survive even while acknowledging the possibility that I will drown.

That's as close as I get to faith. Is that the underlying principle of faith, for those who come to it more easily than me? Planning for survival even if it's only one possibility among many?
Current Music: "The Book of Love" - The Magnetic Fields
Benito Galliano: obey oheyfascistfashion on April 9th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
I try to visualize a floppy baby rolling down a flight of stairs when I find myself tensing up in anticipation of some sort of physical collision. I once read that babies can handle falling quite a distance due to Floppy Baby Nature.

The concept of rolling with the punch makes so much sense to me that I fully expect the art of Floppy Baby Nature to save me from the impossible. Also, sharks.

Comment Summary: I dig it.
Vulture: sombrerovulture23 on April 10th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
I think that "faith", as a word, is kind of like "love", in that both words are used to represent an entire range of concepts that share a certain core quality but which otherwise may diverge significantly.

In your waterfall-forward example, the most reasonable thing to do would be to consider the possible ways that things could go wrong, account for them, do what you can in advance to reduce the odds of them happening... and then stop worrying about them and go about doing what you've decided is the best course of action -- once you've done all that you reasonably can do / know how to do, continuing to think about it is just a distraction. It is not entirely unreasonable to describe this last step as having faith that things will not go wrong (or having faith that your risk-reduction efforts will work). I think that this is (at least fairly close to) what Pema Chödrön means in the quote you gave. This is notably distinct from the belief that (to borrow an idiom) $DEITY will make everything OK, but both share the core quality that at some point, you just have to stop worrying and accept.