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Faith is a belief-system that tends not to change as conditions and variable shift. The term is most often associated with religion, as faith in the teachings. In addition other words like trust, hope, and wish, pick at the steadfast nature of faith. In the extreme one could say as long as one has faith everything will

work out. There is another quality to this view of faith mentioned often in Buddhism--merit. In some religions the belief is the more faith, the more merit one gains from the teachings of the faith, which is usually accumulated during one's life, and bestowed as reward after death. In Buddhism, this meritorious intent is not seen as true or heartfelt, but rather buying reward rather than experiencing intrinsic worth.

My childhood did not unfold in faith-based religious teachings until the age of 10-12 as my Mother attended a Pentecostal Holiness Church. This faith exults direct personal experience of God through baptism "in" the Holy Spirit/Ghost. This started my journey of exploring spirit. I knew that I didn't know the aftermath of death, but understood experiencing the ebb and flow of my actions. This interconnected aspect of spirit later took me to anthropology and sociology and religions of indigenous people throughout history.

My journey's path is somewhat more defined these days but still open to challenge and change. A directional aspect of this way is "Just Don't Know." Here are some of the other aspects of my belief-system: impermanence (change), interconnectivity (of the universe), dynamic fields of energy (spirit: for lack of a better word), reducing suffering in myself and others: and doubts dissolving--reluctantly. These beliefs shape my practice of Soto Zen Buddhism and what I teach.

Zen practitioners are not people of the book/verse/scripture, but people of the experience. Just as Pentecostalism is not about water nor knowing the scriptures as much as it is experiential--spiritual awareness. And, just as early inhabitants of North Americas were people of the whole--transcendent spirituality.

In The Light That Shines Through Infinity, Dainin Katagiri-roshi speaks of Zen and faith. He suggests that through practicing Zen Buddhism we unfold true day in and day out compassion. This being similar to the tenant that God is Love and by definition must be spiritual. (p 83 and 153) in unfolding awareness is a guide. A sense also expressed in the poem below:

Hsin Hsin Ming:

On Trust in the Heart

Attributed to Seng-ts'an

The third Patriarch of the Dhyana Sect

"...At the ultimate point, beyond which you can go no further,

You get to where there are no rules, no standards,

To where thought can accept Impartiality,

To where effect of action ceases,

Doubt is washed away, belief has no obstacle.

Nothing is left over..."

As Practitioners of The Way we engage in probing understanding of life through spiritual awakening we call Buddha (awakening) Nature. Awakening as is our ongoing nature, we then liken our perspective to bearing witness to a bolt of lighting illuminating the vast ocean--we are beholding boundlessness forever...

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