what is faith?


Alan Watts

On FAITH    Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.

This is exactly right. There is a common saying in some circles: “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” I’ve never believed that. Rather, when you get to the end of YOUR rope, just let go, for “underneath are the Everlasting Arms.”

Personal note:  my best beloved and I are about to “let go” from our quotidian responsibilities and do the unheard-of thing of going on vacation for ten days.   This exercise in faith promises to afford us the very sort of delight which by all accounts is most to be associated with genuine faith.

 Further addendum:  This idea of “letting go” as essential to faith is closely reflected in the Christian notion of forgiveness, which  in a literal reading of the Greek word at the root of the concept, also  has the essential meaning of letting go, of release.   To live a  forgiven and forgiving life, then, is to be released from the bondage of sin (another very traditional image) and also to release others, as in, not “hold” their offenses against them.  The reader is encouraged to chew over these concepts for a while.

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2 thoughts on “what is faith?

  1. So far so good. We’ve been doing quite a lot of nothing, and enjoying it rather overmuch. Tomorrow we spend a day at the Magic Kingdom. Seriously, I’ve wanted to go to disneyland since I was about five or six years old… only took me more than half a century to make good on that one.

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