On one of my Facebook friends' wall, the fellow church member (whom I defriended because of his violation of a core value of friendship) has been arguing with folks about "faith." He sees it as a bad thing and claims to only live life by "reason." If an idea lacks proof, he will reject it. He seems to think this makes him smarter than those who don't live by that very strict standard, but I think its only a reflection of what I already know about him: he has major obsessive-compulsive control issues. In the four years that I've known him and have had numerous dialogues with, he consistently comes across as egotistical and narcissistic. In fact, as I reflect upon all the people I've met in my life, this guy would be the most narcissistic person I've ever met. He claims to be all about freedom, and that taxes and the government it funds is a "violation" of his freedom. In my worldview, countries without a system of taxes are places that no one would want to live in by choice. I view taxes as "the price we pay to live in civilized society." He sees it as EVIL and a violation of his "human rights."
In the debates regarding faith, I find that a life without faith is not a very good one. What is faith, though? According to one dictionary definition, its a "belief in something without proof." To reject any idea or belief in which you cannot scientifically prove is "true" is the equivalent of self-mutilation and why would anyone want to do that? I know from personal experience that often times, we are "tested" and in our test we have a chance to expand beyond our comfort zone. For those who are bold, taking a "leap of faith" is often the step required in order to transcend our reality. We can't get to the next step in our personal / evolutionary development without taking that "leap of faith." To take away faith, then, is to live a life of safety, without risk, and therefore, ultimately boring and unsatisfying.
I've thought about why a person would reject faith in favour of a life strictly adhering to scientific proof / evidence. It could be that with all the competing ideas out there, his choice is "self-protection" from being deceived or conned. I've known a lot of people who have rejected religion because of this cynical need to protect oneself from being conned or deceived by those who "have faith." There are bad religions out there, of course (my brother has fell into such a group). But to reject all because of the bad ones is a poor excuse and intellectually lazy.
As I tried to explain to this guy, faith is Christopher Columbus deciding to sail west to find a new passage to India when the prevailing view of his day was that there was a point on the planet where his ship would fall off the edge of the world because they believed the world was flat like a table. Columbus had NO PROOF that the world was round, yet he made that voyage and several more, proving the naysayers wrong. That's what faith is! I also told this guy another example of faith. The founder of Facebook created a social networking website that he had no forehand knowledge or evidence that he would be successful. If he was like this church member atheist and waited until he had "evidence" or "proof" that his idea would guarantee success, he would've never gotten started on his idea and likely someone else would have created a similar concept and become Time's Person of 2010. Creating Facebook was a leap of faith.
In the final example I used to explain faith, imagine a young African American politician who was only elected to national office a few years earlier having the audacity to make a run for the presidency. That took an incredible leap of faith! If Barack Obama was like this church member atheist, he would've waited until he had "evidence" that a presidential campaign would be successful and we would all be living in President Hillary Rodham Clinton's America. It took an incredible leap of faith for a guy whose middle name happens to be the same as a brutal dictator's last name, and whose last name happens to rhyme with the first name of the most notorious terrorist in history. My point is that faith can move mountains and what is life without taking those kinds of risks? Living by a strict adherence to facts and evidence and proof is no way to live life.
I speak from personal experience. As a young man, in fact, at age 17, I suffered my first crisis of faith and declared myself an "atheist", having been inspired by my favourite teacher in high school who was the first atheist I had ever met. I went through my "atheist period" until I had the strangest coincidence of my life in the spring of 1993 (I had written about this before on my blog, so I won't repeat myself again. It was the incident of crossing paths with a former classmate from Logan Fontanelle Junior High School at the the U.S. Naval hospital in Naples, Italy eight years later). In fact, I had a number of interesting coincidences between 1991 and 1994, to the point where I could no longer deny the fact that we live in a spiritually-operated universe rather than a strict scientific materialism universe. I have to go by my personal experience, even when I can offer no proof that would satisfy scientists and skeptics. Then again, I don't have to prove to anyone but myself that my experiences are real.
When I described the strange phenomenon of how my current job matches everything I had requested of God / The Universe over the past four years, I was stunned when a former church member questioned if God was even real. Whether God is an anthropomorphic being or a creative energy field does not really matter in my opinion (I prefer the anthropomorphic being model, myself), but ever since my series of coincidences as a young man, I have never doubted that we live in a spiritually-directed universe (rather than an atheistic materialist universe). Since January 2007, I have experienced the ups and downs of the most intense and longest duration "dark night of the soul" periods of my life. In fact, my "faith" in God collapsed completely in December last year. I've had to completely rebuild my faith in God this year, but by year's end, I'm experiencing the high of finally achieving the goal I had set for myself at the start of 2007: to land a job in an organization where I can see career potential and where my experiences / interests / skills / work ethic is a perfect fit for the organization and job. Bingo! Mission accomplished.
I have no doubt whatsoever that I "manifested" this new job out of my desires of what an ideal job looks like for me. It fits me in a way no other job I've had before has ever been able to do. My supervisor has said a few things to me about the job that confirm for me that this is the right one for me at this time. I totally accept that I may outgrow this job in a couple years. Right now, though, I walked into a mess because my predecessors were sloppy and lazy, and it has cost songwriters/song publishers tens of thousands of dollars in royalty payments. Once the mess is cleaned up (I actually love cleaning up someone else's administrative messes because it allows me to learn much faster on the job when I can see what mistakes were made, where they were made, and why), I will set up a smoother-run system and if another job opportunity presents itself in the next year or two (either within the company or elsewhere), I want to leave behind an easy-to-comprehend system that anyone can pick up on day one and run with it.
I also consider this job a "good karma" job that fulfills the Buddhist Eightfold Path principle of "Right Livelihood." Based on my work ethic and highly competent, stickler for detail personality, songwriters / song publishers are going to get their royalty checks on time and for the correct amount. As an aspiring published novelist, I completely understand the importance of royalty checks!
Another aspect of this job that I really love is that I have my own cubicle. I don't have to share a personal workspace with another person for once. Now, I can fill my cubicle space with nothing but good energy vibrations that my soul emits through the course of the workday. I don't have to worry about a negative-minded person with control issues affecting my workspace with their toxic energy. If my last job taught me anything at all, its that one needs to be in a positive energy environment in order to manifest one's deepest desires into reality. That's why I could never attract a new job while I was working in that negative energy environment. So much of my day was spent protecting myself from the energy drains of the negative people I worked around. It took about two months for me to be rid of the negative energy of my last job. The reason why I know this is because October was the first month in over four years when I felt consistently happy each day for an entire month. Other boosts to my personal energy vibration was the Amtrak vacation and visiting a good college friend as well as enjoying the process of unemployment (or as I call it "FUNemployment"). By the end of two months, I no longer had nightmares about my prior place of employment. I felt "completely clear" (I didn't need a Scientologist to declare me "thetan-free" / "clear"). And with that, this company and I were finally able to find each other.
If I lived by a strict standard of reason, evidence, and proof, then I would naturally have been pessimistic about the job search. The facts, as I learned in various articles and job search workshops, are: December is the least likeliest month to find a job, the unemployment rate is still around 10% in Oregon, many companies prefer to hire those who are currently employed, you need to be pro-active in your job search, landing a job through Craigslist is virtually impossible, keeping your Facebook account on private settings will have employers wondering what you are hiding, and sending a Thank You card after your interview increases your chances of getting hired. All those are commonly held "facts" about the job search. And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM did not apply in my case regarding the job offer I accepted. To me, it is just one more set of circumstances that prove to me that facts / evidence don't fit with my personal experience. There was something else going on with this job opportunity that broke out of the box of conventional thinking. I love that every "rule" regarding a successful search for a job did not apply in my case. I will remember this forever, especially when naysayers claim that I have little chance of having my novels published. I believe that I will be a published novelist in the next decade. So naysayers can just keep their badly informed opinions to themselves, because I have faith and confidence in my writing talents and personal desires.
These are the reasons why I am a firm believer in the importance of faith. Faith involves risk. Even in my darkest moments of despair, when I prayed to a God I thought was ignoring my cries for help, I always had faith that the end to my nightmare would eventually arrive. Granted, I wish it had happened much sooner, but we aren't the controllers of timing. I have faith that everything happens according to its own schedule and the best I can do while being patient is to engage in soul work, which I've done for the past four years. Though I hated the place I worked at for the past four years and have little respect for the managers who run that place with their incompetence, immorality, and deceit, I can attest that I have been through hell and survived. I am a better person for having gone through the fires of hell and despair. Now I am ready for the next set of challenges.