“Nonaligned” faith and practice?
In a brief piece I wrote for Friends Journal in 2014, I wrote:
I have come to understand that Quakerism is neither a theology nor a political philosophy, but rather a spiritual discipline. It is grounded in the Christian tradition yet doesn’t require Christian confession. It aspires to ever greater objectivity about the intersection of the spiritual and the material in human consciousness and action.
I have never understood the drive of many to compel others to “right belief.” To me, belief points to the implicit, irreducible core of how one survives interaction with the present moment.
Belief represents what I tell myself are my deepest motives and goals for all my choices, conscious or reflexive.
The less my declared belief coincides with my actual motives and goals—those which lie beneath or beyond consciousness—the less I am able to act with integrity, effectiveness and compassion.
My perspective is that all religious or ideological statements, all sacred stories and creeds and rituals, are descriptions of how we human beings experience our interrelationship with the Real, not descriptions of the Real itself or of its “will” for us.
As the Zen admonition says, they are fingers pointing at the moon.
The discipline which I am assigning myself on this empty path is to consider with respect those pointing fingers, yet always to seek truer knowledge of the moon.
And so it is.
Michael Austin Shell
9 comments On About
Beautiful, Michael. Reminds me of the Tao Te Ching 🙂
A wonderful quote from Alan Watts:
“Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.”
Hi there, I’m trying to get in touch with you but I can’t find your e-mail! If you have a moment could you get in touch? Thanks!
Great blog by the way!
Very beautiful. Thank you…
Thank you, Diana.
i found your blog, thanks to louise, so glad 🙂
Happy to have found you!
Pingback: More on “The Question” « The Empty Path ()
I have just found you site via a google search for James Carse. I look forward to reading further and would like to express my gratitude for the time you have taken to ‘point’ your finger.