Click on the very amazing chart if you want to see it in an actual readable size.
Faith is a word that haunts me. My desire to have faith in a power higher than myself is something I wrestle with on a daily basis.
I look out from the window of my hotel room here in San Francisco and watch the morning fog swirl around the Ferry terminal, which has a bright red neon sign spelling out San Francisco for the benefit of all those arriving from Oakland who might not know where they are.
The ferries roil the waters of the bay, I listen to the birds cry and the fog horns moan; I am struck most by the boats as they disappear into the fog - becoming faint shadows, then just running lights, and then gone. The captains all have faith, have knowledge actually, that there is another side to the bay; they won't just fall off a cliff, that the world is in fact round.
And this seems to be the essence of faith: an assurance, a belief, that god is round. That there is no falling off. Just as there is no falling off this earth. Hurricanes, foolish men in power, love and death, the world keeps spinning, the world stays round. This is perhaps how god is. She holds us to her. Her love or at least her attention is like gravity. And no matter what, we are anchored to her, just like I am anchored when I walk down the street.
I want to believe unconditionally that god is there as I go into the fog, and he waits on the other side at the end of the pier, peering into the fog, holding his lantern high.
But then I wonder why she sent me to the other side of the bay in the first place and then that makes all the questions hard again. I sometimes find it tough to believe in god as clearly as I know gravity. I feel her pull sometimes but always in the most remote of places. High in the mountains, looking out of planes, or watching amazing waterfalls.
The gal said "eureka" - and we call it the Big Bang. There are big picture guys and then there is the Big Bang and gee whiz I know I wouldn't have thought of that. I am utterly and completely humbled by the concept of god. Creator of the Universe. If you catch even a glimmer of the immensity of that statment, you have to lie down and take a nap.
Religion and philosophy all seek to make sense out of the zillion stars that revolve above us every night, the infinity that humbles us, and the fear of dissolution, and loss of self. I gave up being a philosophy major when I figured out that all those philosophies were just really really long complex ways of not appearing to say, "I ... don't know." And I was only 19, and I'm still sure I made the right choice on that. I made damn few good choices at that age, but not getting a degree in philosophy was sheer genius.
The beauty of zen is of course that "don't know" has been elevated to a religion. Now that's honesty.
The earth is round; when people didn't know that, or understand that, or even care about that, It Was. The earth spun and swung around the Sun and there was all kinds of physics, gravity, relativity and Newton and stuff that we didn't know about, and we stuck to the planet anyway.
I don't have to understand gravity to fall down. Perhaps I don't have to understand god to be held to him either. If there is a god, I don't think he put me here to screw up and fall off somehow.
Maybe the Zen Buddhists have at least some of it right. We can only really say with any knowledge that we don't fly away into the sky when we let go of the handrail, the car door, or the cliff.
Faith is in the letting go.
Maybe it's enough to know the world is round.
And to have faith that god is too.