Faith and Doubt

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From lecture 221, FAITH AND DOUBT IN TRUTH OR DISTORTION:

Doubt exists in the real and constructive sense, of course, for if you lived without doubt, you would indeed be gullible. That would fit into the category of the wrong and distorted version of faith. Also, gullibility, the lack of right doubt, contains many negative aspects. It contains wishful thinking, not wanting to accept and deal with any unpleasant aspects of the self or others, or life in general. This comes from laziness. The person who does not doubt in the right way wishes to avoid the responsibility of making decisions, choices, and of establishing autonomy.

The person who doubts in the right way moves toward faith and is in faith. But the person who doubts in the wrong way creates a tremendous split. The question here arises not only what you doubt, but also how you doubt and why you doubt. What are the real motives for doubting? For example, you doubt the existence of a supreme intelligence, of a creative universal spirit. With this attitude your claim is that you doubt, but you really mean that you “know” it does not exist — which of course is impossible, for you cannot know this. It is also dishonest because you take your very limited present perceptions as the final reality. Moreover, such a statement always contains a further dishonesty — and that is the hidden stake in such a belief. It is as personally tinged by wishful thinking as the wrong kind of faith is. There are numerous reasons for this personal stake, as for example the fear of having to face one day what the personality frantically avoids facing now. There is wishful thinking in believing that life ends, that nothing has any rhyme or reason, because then nothing matters anyway. So “faith” in a non-God exists in order to hope for no consequences.

When people deny the value of a spiritual path of self-confrontation, although possibly not the existence of God, this too harbors the hope that such confrontation can be avoided, is unnecessary. Doubt of this kind is seldom doubted. It is always justified with “this happens to be my belief, which is as good as yours,” and is presented as if this kind of assumption were arrived at truly honestly and deeply.

If you doubt something that you do not want to know — for whatever reason — then your doubt is dishonest. This wrong kind of doubt has a lot in common with the wrong kind of faith. Both are governed by wishful thinking. Very often those who are proud of their doubting because they do not wish to appear gullible in the eyes of others never doubt their doubts. So you must question your doubts. Do you have a stake in what you doubt? What are the honest reasons for your doubts? On what real considerations do you honestly base these doubts? If you doubt your doubts, if you question them, you will arrive at the truth that governs you in this respect and thus you approach faith.

If you doubt others — rather than your own motivations, distortions and opinions, your subjective judgments and negativities — you deny the truth in yourself. Only when you are in your truth can you lose the self-doubt that gnaws behind the suspicions and doubts you harbor about others. This projected self-doubt must not be confused with true intuition and perception, which feels very differently and leads to a very different expression and interchange. If you use pseudo-intelligence to substantiate your doubts, distrusts and suspicions, in order to avoid the discomfort of self-confrontation, you create a greater split between you and reality, and therefore between you and truth. Thus you manufacture suffering and discontent and a vague unease that you cannot pinpoint.

We have here a typical dualistic picture. We have apparently two opposites — faith and doubt. Religion will glibly say faith is “right” and doubt is “wrong.” Intellectually-minded people will say equally glibly that faith is “wrong” and doubt is “right.” The two factions quarrel. Each believes it is right; it has the truth. Yet a real and a false version exists on both sides. In the real version, faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive opposites. They complement each other. The real kind of doubt selects, weighs, differentiates, gropes for the truth — not shying away from the mental labor of dealing with reality. This leads to the various steps of faith. In each of these steps the right kind of doubt is necessary. For example, when you hesitate to leap, you must doubt your fear and your assumption that this fear may be the ultimate reality. When you tend toward the lazy kind of faith, doubt must awaken you into mental activity. When you tend to doubt in the destructive way, faith must protect you from being submerged in it and blotting out the moments of truth you have already experienced.

There is a key to how you can always find the unity, the right faith and right doubt, and thereby come out of ill-placed faith and ill-placed doubt. That key I have given you. It is your dedication to truth and love. Long before you experience and therefore believe in a divine spirit that governs and dwells in all that is, you can safely use truth and love as your guideposts, as your directives to govern your life, to surrender to, to let go of something untruthful and unloving into that which is truthful and loving. As you make truth and love the center of everything you do, you will experience the living God within, the strength, the health, and the know-how to solve all your problems and to get out of the negativities you seem locked into, unable to give up. That venture in faith is the movement that combines faith and doubt as one complementing whole in the service of truth and love.

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Thanks:

To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.

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