Im gonna step a little closer to home here, just for a moment, and offer what could be considered a fictional account of life in experience. A word on faith.
“Where I am offended, I have faith.”
I have difficulty with a faith that must be worked for, as if some times I have faith and other times I do not. The fact is, if i have faith, it is because I doubt; I have faith in doubt. This may seem offensive or contradictory to some, but I cannot help but doubt. I cannot hold to some idea of hope. I cannot hold to an idea that seems to be working sometimes but other times does not; rather, I can only hold on so long. The idea of ‘working’ is very problematic to me; if faith only works dependent upon what work I do to get it, then I am doomed, because I will fail every time – because then what about the times, despite myself, i am not working for my faith? But not just that, if i am working for faith but it somehow does not seem to be working, I will take that to mean that I am doing something wrong, that I am not worthy. I thereby end up invalidating myself unto the world and validate myself in the world. I cannot but be justified and be human.
If I have faith and I am working for it, but things do not seem to be going my way and yet I still have faith that indeed I am still worthy, my faith is vindicated but I may not have been involved with what is true, but only what I have made true through my belief that working for something is noble. If I have faith but am not working for it and things seem to be not going my way but yet i still feel worthy, again i am vindicated but I may be avoiding what is true for the sake of what I have made so, like a mistaken type of zen master; what then is this faith? And, If i have a faith that i need not do anything for, why would I even call it faith? Either way, my faith seems then to not have anything to do with whether things are going my way or not, except that my faith concerns a justification of what i am doing. If i am completely removed from my relation with the world against which i have to justify myself, what need have I of faith? Even so, the world in which I behave without the necessity of justification, is sufficient for revealing the truth of the matter of faith. .
The pivotal issue has to do with one who has no faith and does nothing for it, that is, I am not working for my faith for I have no faith. Here then the issue of truth is presented in its fullest. One idea that truth needs no faith is basic to anyone who sees faith as having to do with religion or spirituality, where instead, one opts for a scientific, or perhaps, in a manner of speaking, a ‘practical’ approach to reality, one that needs no faith but is steeped in knowledge. This one works for knowledge. So what we have is a person who works for knowledge, but has no faith, but feels worthy despite whether or not such knowledge is working. In fact such knowledge is or contains or accounts for knowledge that works and knowledge that does not work. Here is one who is justified in his work despite the results of that work, and he thereby completes all of the possibilities of faith. Whether or not he calls his work a work of faith makes no difference except in that he would deny that his work is based in faith, for if it did not matter to him whether he was in faith or not, or working for it or not, then it would be equally valid to say that he indeed had or has faith. When he denies that he is working in faith, then he is exactly without faith but is working for something else, and in this a state of denial he is precisely having faith in the fact that he has no faith. He has not doubted, so his faith is in that he justifies himself in the terms of his doing, for if he was doing nothing he would have to justify it or he would not be worthy and his faith that is not faith would fail, since he had no faith by which to support his worth; his situation then is that he had no faith, was not working for it, and was not worthy. Hence, the truth that he was working for despite whether it worked or not would be found not true, but only true in so much as his working for it was allowing it to be so. This one would not see that indeed his effort is ironic, that in his not working, and so not being justified or worthy of the world, his effort was exactly one of faith.
To have faith in a goodness that permeates the bad spots of life, as if there is a transcendent good purpose, or proposer, of which I can only know a piece, an immanent piece, selects my person away from what may be true, into the world, which is to say, into reality; such a faith removes me from a relationship with the world where I am intimate with the truth, and leaves me in a relation of distance and denial, of fear and frustration, a potential that is grounded in hope. I become invested in a person that is mythological, one who misses the truth of the world for the glamour of heaven, which is exactly missing the adventure of existence for the beauty of fantasy. In this fantasy, the world and I are at odds of a natural course – this course, of course, needs an interlocutor, a fantastic redeemer, one who restores worth and relieves hope with the hoped-for.
I can come to this notion only through experience, not reality. If i see my experience is of, or gained from or through reality, then i can only hope that my experience is faithful. Through a faith that is based in hoping, because of my wanting to have faith, I inevitably find that my faith is actually a term I use to refer to a relation with my object of faith. I can say it is God, or a god, or spirit or daemon, the universe, or whatever, but I have some sort of interaction with the world where an element of faith is involved, where the goods and the bads are tempered with a certain kind of reflection, one that has me in reaction to things of the world. What have I done wrong? What have I done right? How can I go about things differently or what did I do so I can repeat it? What lesson have I learned? How can I apply what I have learned to present and future circumstances? As many of these questions are not answered satisfactorily, or such answers again yield still the same queries from oneself, i come to a crossroads and divide myself into experience: I thereby come upon transcendence and immanence localized in the meaning of an unrecognized world of doubt that appears as an object of faith.
So I begin to recede…
So it was, my faith was exactly not faith, but in that i had no faith i only had faith – yet i doubted this. A curious thing happened after a while of living life this way; I began to reflect upon my reflecting, for i could not have such considerations as to appraising the moment toward what i should do next unless there was some thing that aroused or caused such consideration, which is to say, the world, that is, unless i wanted to make the the world ‘happy’: In effect, i found myself, consciously, in a motion toward elements that were not me.
If this first reflection is exactly self-conscious, where my motivations and aspirations, strategies and tactics were geared toward establishing myself in the world, my second reflection is upon the elements by which I am developing such self-consciousness upon or towards; the reason I have such thoughts and behavior is exactly because I am a reflection of the world. The third reflection sees that the world is no longer a stage that I arrange and upon which I assert my play because I now am involved withthe world.
The second reflection emerged because I began to see that my conscious reflection really only occurred when things were not going the way I wanted them to. If things were good, I figured I was doing right, or rather, correctly, like they were supposed to, and my reflection only amounted to a “that was great” kind of feeling, if there was any thought upon it; my ideas concurred with a righteous presentation. I didn’t correct myself at these times, it seemed to come naturally. The only reflection i had upon such moments was that everything thing was ok, and from there I proceeded outward, away from reflection. What I had learned must be being put to good use; what I had learned was being put into practice; things were good. Only when things were not going good would I consider what I may not be doing right, and I would attempt to find out what was wrong. It could have been just being in the situation to begin with, or it could actually be something I did wrong; it could have been merely that ‘shit happens’. Basically, though, if it was good, I was good, but if it was bad, I tried to find out what it was so to reestablish it being good. Life was always toward everything being ok; i never tried to make things bad.
But the bad times would come again. The funny thing is, It never occurred to me that the position from which i drew my assessments might be incorrect, and it took a long time to see that regardless of what I was doing, despite all the mental and physical effort I made towards having a good life and being happy, bad times always came. The blind spot of my situation brought me to dwell in this situation such that i began to forebode of the good, to prepare for the bad to come and the manner by which I attempted to counter these grey times was at best a defensive attitude of indifference, tempered with a renewed fortitude. For a bit, the callus allowed me to have an identity.
Some would say “that’s just life”. Yet, still we endeavor for the good and this, in its most simplistic operation, is the basis of faith.
In so much as reflection is invested in life upon the good and the bad moments, I was in a relationship with life; for it seemed there was something else at work beyond my best efforts to harness it, something always fouled it up. This thing that fouled it up most of the time was the world, but still I was involved, and that made it personal. Here I was, doing my best. The feelings and thoughts around the times when everything seemed good and was going my way was exactly that I was correspondent with the world, which is to say, we were getting along. Whatever the particular aspects that I encountered of the world, these aspects agreed with me in the sense that I was being fulfilled. In so much as they didn’t agree with me, but yet my life was good, the effect was still that I was doing good, the world was ‘functioning’ for my benefit, on my behalf, so to speak, so i could ‘learn’. The relationship was good. Yet, I could not hang on to a faith that would disappear into hope when things were bad, for my faith did not thus disappear, i merely denied it. I would get angry and spiteful at the world and things in or of the world, but it remained; good or bad, the world remained intact for whatever it was doing. It was this realization, this rejection of pitiful insecurity disguised as strength, that the good and the bad was in fact based in a true and necessary relation, not a contingent relation, with the world that then allowed me to come to a knowledge of the situation I was in; this was the beginning of the third reflection.
When things went bad, I had to make an effort back towards life being ok and this effort had to do with my caring for the world, the world that gave me that with which i struggle. It could only be that the world and i were involved that i struggled. I could not longer deny in peace. The relationship did not end, now, in fact, i drew upon it, intuited from it what was off, what angles I could take, gleaned from it the overt and covert elements of the situation: i looked upon – indeed, engaged – the world for the information by which to bring a solution to the problem because it was though the world was working against with me despite myself. Never was there a time where I could dismiss myself from the world, in fact, so much as I may have had faith, I could not help but to consider the events of my life with respect to this other aspect of my experience that I could not control but nevertheless offered to me what i could control, which was really only that these things i could not control were informing me of what i could control because they were in fact things I could not control because they were presented to me as such, ‘those things I could control’. My faith waned as the truth began to assert itself as knowledge. The things I would do to correct the situations became acts of reconciliation or amends, instead of methods and coercements. Eventually I began to see the world not as an object upon which I reflect, but a reflection of the object I asserted when I reflected self-consciously upon the world. This second reflection came back to me, interacted with me, as a world not a stoic and inanimate void of substance concept, but as an emotional and conscious aspect of self, and this was the fourth reflection, where I come present.
The fiction above tells a story of the situation of reality. Reality occurs in the first reflection. The truth of existence begins, but is not always completed subsequently, through the second reflection. Reality occurs through the individual in denial of his relationship with the world. The first as it may move to the second has to do with separation, of an assertion of one upon the other, of control over impotence, of exception, of denial, of alienation, of identity: of the philosophy of the One true universe. The movement through and beyond the second has to do with acceptance, praxis and agency, as these are the beginnings to the motion that completes in the fourth reflection.
“Education is the practice of freedom”; where one ceases to doubt for the sake of individual identity, one has proclaimed his complicity in the game of oppression and staked the world against his faith.
‘Faith makes true’ is the operational maxim; for convention it is the basis of belief and the foundation of reality; for the ironic it is the process that leaves itself once the truth has become apparent. Instead of ‘making true’, faith becomes knowledge, such that what was faith then becomes a kind of willed ignorance, and the truth becomes that which accounts for it.
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