The Value of Faith

(This is a guest post I wrote for Zazen Life.  I thought I might share it with my own readers, too.)

The Value of Faith

This is Abraham Hicks’ Daily Law of Attraction Affirmation from November 15, 2012:

It doesn’t really matter what religion anybody believes. If their life is working (and there are many different approaches to life that are working very well) then why not let them believe whatever they want to believe? It’s all working in the way that it is supposed to be. There are religions that you wouldn’t want anything to do with, that are perfect mechanisms for the people who are involved in them. And therefore, they are a very good thing.

— Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Asheville, NC on Sunday, April 25th, 2004 # 625

 Until fairly recently, I would have said these words are ridiculous.

Over the course of my life, I have held just a couple of staunch beliefs in a certain kind of Christianity, and equally staunch objections to others.  That shows me what I didn’t know.

I was raised in a moderate Christian environment, in the United Methodist Church.  I have attended services in several other denominations, running the gamut from ultra-ritualistic Catholicism to seat-of-the-pants Pentecostal.  I am not as well educated as I’d like in world religions, and until a while ago, I didn’t really care.

I spoke a good game, talking about universal, unconditional love, no judgment, and acceptance of the differences of others’ faith systems.  But inside, I harbored, though hopefully to a lesser degree, the same conceit common to most faiths around the world – that mine really was the right way, and anyone could see that if they paid the least bit of attention.

And then I fell out with my church, and stopped attending any services.  I felt quite superior to the poor fools who still thought Christianity had a point.  Big mistake.  I was transferring my resentment and anger onto otherwise uninvolved innocent people, rather than directing those emotions at their true causes.  I was convinced that I knew so much better than any church-going other, because I had outgrown the need for the Christian faith.  I didn’t know better, but I did make a choice.

The thing I couldn’t figure out was what value could be found in a system in which I no longer believed or practiced.  So I assumed that people of those different faiths were less intelligent than I, and less grounded in reality than I was.  I joined others I knew in sneering at the weak-headed fools who still required religion to make life work.

I was so wrong.

Not that I didn’t enjoy being the intellectual snob – I always have been.  That is a characteristic I’ve recognized in myself since I was quite young.  When I look at the structure of the Christian religion, I see how backward it seems, how misogynistic and male-centric, and how all of these ideas and practices originated in a society so different from this one, there is no comparison at all.  People who feel compelled to stick to rules and words written by men, so long ago, seemed to me to be ungrounded from reality.

On Election Day, I bumped into one of my former drivers from Coastal Transportation.  I remembered him saying he belonged to a church a friend of mine attended, a very fundamentalist, Bible-based church, wherein one would be likely to hear speaking in tongues, and to witness great healings.  I remember lying through my teeth, in our rides together, in order to seem to agree with him on all matters religious, while deep inside I was laughing my head off.

I remembered that, on Election Day, and then I took a close look at this guy.  He was neat, clean, appropriately dressed, polite, and genuinely interested in whether I had found a church community.  I began, in my mind, to scoff, once again, at this backward guy.  Then I stopped.  And thought.

What difference did it make to me what this man believed?  How would he hurt me by dancing in the church aisles and speaking in tongues?  If that was what he was called to do, he is only different from me in practice, not in philosophy.

But how could I accept this man, who was inviting me to a bible study about creationism, and the follies of evolution.  The thing was, I didn’t have to accept the man’s beliefs, to recognize him as a brother of the human race with his own priorities, spiritual and otherwise.  What Abraham is saying here is that, regardless of our opinions of other belief systems or faiths, we all seek happiness and fulfillment, and following whatever route takes us there is part of our nature.

There are dangers in the efforts of religious people to rule a country, or the world.  In the recent U.S. presidential election, one branch of believers of Christianity wanted to overtake the beliefs and decisions of the rest of the country, and impose on all of us their particular value system.  Obviously, regardless of how much money was thrown into the campaign for the Republican candidate, voters chose the path that would make them happy, and more of those people took the more loving and liberal attitude toward others.

Now, especially since this recent election campaign, the insistence by some Christians that all of us must live by their rules, and threats to dissolve basic human rights in this country, many people believe that this man is dangerous, and we would face a world of hurt, if one like him were elected.  But the distinction Abraham is pointing out is a little different.  Abraham says, not the human, but rather the beliefs are evil.  If this man finds happiness and fulfillment in an organization as unconnected to reality as his is, he still deserves the happiness he finds there, because happiness is birthright for all of us.

 Again, using the election campaign as an example, the conservative candidate demonstrated the way not to develop happiness in himself and those around him; he changed his focus, and his story, with every new audience he faced.  Living by the words we think others want us to say is a sure way to develop confusion and difficulty in our own affairs.  Only when we are true to the best of our beliefs, and share them and our lives in a giving manner, can we escape the trap of negativity, and move instead in the direction of goodness and joy.

This is the essence of Abraham’s Law of Attraction.  Like calls to like.  If I feel happiness, even the smallest amount, and focus solely on that happiness, I open myself for more joy, more contentment, and an end to confusion, sadness, and doubt.  And if I accomplish that by rubbing blue mud in my bellybutton, how is that harmful to another human being?

This argument applies to all of the various faith practices in the world, and to those who do not profess a religious faith – as long as a human is pursuing the best happiness possible in his life, through religion, more power to him.  But I have the same right and capability, as well, and I have no need for religious practices or rules to find happiness.  Especially, I don’t need any judges looking over my shoulder, and neither does anyone else.  And that is a happy-making thing.


13 responses to “The Value of Faith

      • I have a half-dozen different commenters who are writing inappropriate comments, and/or writing to other people in their comments to me, as happened once with you. If I have mistakenly included you in this group, I apologize, but every member of that group uses the Gravitar G, instead of a photo, and you all appeared around the same time.

      • I think perhaps you were caught in the middle of the mess others are making for me. If that is the case, I apologize. I am protective of my blogs, and of the people who follow me — I think I was wrong about you, but I know I’m not wrong about these 4 others who have called me Sophie, and other names that have nothing to do with me. Again, my apologies.

      • I have no idea. I really am sorry I overreacted in your case — I often react before thinking things all the way through. Thank you for your graciousness — you’ve done nothing wrong, and I have.

      • I am mortified to be somehow grouped with idiots – are they fundamentalists or what? Perhaps we should have an email conversation? I am so worried.

      • You have no reason to worry, and absolutely no reason to be mortified. The mistake was mine, not yours, and I am the one with the responsibility. I’d love to have an email conversation — j atwood 234 (at) gmail dot com.

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