The topic tonight was Belief and Doubt or Faith and Fear. The lady introducing the topic altered the way I look at these two things. She discussed how she heard a speaker once talk about how these two things were inextricably linked. Which is totally contradictory to how it has always been presented to me which is the classic, “fear and faith can’t co-exist.” Thinking of it in this manner though is very black and white, which as I am learning, few things in life really are. It is a much more compassionate way of thinking of faith. The black and white thoughts caused me in the past, to feel like there was something wrong in what I was doing, because my faith at that time was lacking. If faith is on a spectrum though, then it is OK, in fact, only possible to have at any given moment a certain percentage of faith. It is vary rare that anything is an absolute.
Eastern philosophy talks a lot about this concept with the yin and yang. “..energy, which is in a state of constant flux, is composed of two elements that have opposing characteristics but are yet unified.” Supporting that you in fact couldn’t have faith without fear, if it indeed is something that is in constant flux, then it is not something to be fretted if at any point in time you have a moment of fear or doubt, because you will know, that it will pass, it will at some point flux in the opposite direction toward faith.
Someone else mentioned that it was like Netwon’s law of physics, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That not only can you not have one without the other, but you would be incapable of appreciating one without the other. Which how true is that! It sort of reminded me of what Wayne Dyer used to talk about with silence and space. That you couldn’t have a vase without space. Without space it would just be a lump of clay. That it is the space that makes it a vase. Same with music, that it is the silence between the notes that makes music.
You don’t really appreciate breathing until you can’t due to either a head cold or having the wind knocked out of you. No one is able to fully appreciate something unless they’ve experienced the absence of it. Someone else discussed that this is why we in recovery appreciate peace and serenity so much, because for so long we experienced chaos and fear.
This flux, this ebb and flow, is also why Buddhism stresses to not get attached to anything, because nothing will last. It is this attachment to a thing that brings pain. If we get attached to peace and serenity, without the concept that it is not something that is a constant, when it goes, we become very distraught. For myself, when I revert to old thinking, I am so hard on myself. This new perception allows room for more compassion.
This provides a new way of looking at Steps 6 and 7 in recovery and our “character defects”. When I worked this step, my sponsor had me pull out my defects from my 4th step, then I had to list the opposite of those defects. For example, if my defect was selfishness, the opposite is selflessness. My goal then was to strive toward the opposite of my defect. To pray to have my “defects removed”. In that example, to have my higher power remove my selfishness. If we will never fully be rid of our defects (because you can’t have one without the other) it allows for more compassion when I still exhibit some of these “defects”. This thinking is not to provide permission to be a dick. I think it is just to understand as any other energy on earth, we cannot have one without the other, we cannot have good without evil. We would not even know what selflessness is without selfishness.
This same person who mentioned Netwon’s law also talked about when devastating things happen, like cancer, or what happened in the Bahamas, it causes many to question their faith. She mentioned Mr. Rogers, whom she paraphrased what he said, which was that in those situations to look for the helpers. To quote him, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Tying this into the previous discussion, without the disaster we’d not be able to see the helpers. We are able to see and appreciate the good because of the bad.
Fear and Doubt allows me to understand and appreciate Faith and Belief. What a beautiful compassionate thing that is. If I am in fear or doubt today, I don’t need to worry, this too shall pass. Faith is on the other end of that fear. Nothing is permanent. Nothing. Not even Faith.