Intention and Faith: An Invitation
This is a follow up to my previous articles, EFT and Spirituality and Prayer Versus God's Will. My own reflection and writings on this issue of the power of faith and intention in prayer, therapeutic applications (such as the "energy-therapies"), co-creating reality, and affecting the course of events have interestingly led to this haunting question for me: If faith/intention is so crucial and fundamental in these areas, then how can it be nurtured and empowered? This further led to an invitation to my readers, which I will save for the end, after these thoughts.
The strength of our faith and intention is a measure of our will, desire, thirst, and compelling belief in a focused outcome. Doubt, for me, is not the opposite of belief. Doubt is a state of mind reflecting emptiness, holes in our beliefs, and therefore cannot be overcome by belief or "positive thinking". There is tremendously more social, personal and spiritual power in one person's belief than in a hundred positive thinkers with an interest in the outcome. A visceral, faith-full belief is the incubation tank for a universe of creative energies that empower intention. The practice of clear, energized faith and intention creates strong personal will and powerfully affects whatever that will is focused upon.
Gary Zukav presents this thread: "Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality." (The Dancing Wu Li Masters, 1979.) The center of this "idea circle" is thought. The Book of Proverbs (23:7) points out, "As he thinks in his heart, so is he."
With all due respect to the wise sage, I would beg to disagree with Confucius' postulate that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." That journey and everything else that comes into being begins with the first thought. Considering Zukav's thread, it follows that if our thoughts entertain the notion that thought is not central to creating reality or influencing events, then certainly that thinking will become reality and thus have no power. I am not sure there is a such thing as "healthy" skepticism with regard to possibilities. Skeptical and doubtful thinking lose its power to affect change. The well-known quote by Richard Bach is pointing to the same thing: "Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they're yours." (Illusions.)
If thought is the fabric from which reality is made, then faith and intention become the mechanism by which we focus and project thought. Faith is the opposite of skepticism. Faith is empowering a belief that is not empirically proven. ("Faith is the assurance, confirmation of the things hoped for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality, faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed, fashioned for their intended purpose, by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible." Hebrews 11:1,3, Greek Amplified Version.) Our beliefs come from not so much scientifically supported studies, but from our experiences, education, thought patterns and thus vary from person to person. Delightfully, this gives hope. If our beliefs are not providing the results we want in our lives, then we can change them! Faith-charged beliefs create our realities. Our history and literature are filled with teachers, sages, "miracle-workers" who ventured straight into the face of skepticism with their beliefs and made real what was thought impossible and taught that we could do that too! Christ's disciples once approached Him with a question regarding their inability to do something. He responded, "That's because of the smallness of your faith, of your lack of firmly relying trust. For truly, if you have the faith of a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move" and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you." (Matthew 17:20, GAV). The faith of a mustard seed?! It seems that He is trivializing what is required but I relish the exquisite metaphor: A seed is non-actualized potential and within its dormancy lies everything needed to miraculously transform (transcend its form) into something very different, a plant with the enormous power of the gift to provide nutrition and create more "humble" seeds. We empower that faith by placing the seed into moist soil and walk away with the firm belief in what that seed can and will do.
Now if my seeds violate my belief by not sprouting for some reason, I am surprised and do some investigation. If they grow according to my belief, I feel content that things are as they are expected to be. Note the tremendous implication this generates. The day I ask for a mountain to be moved and would be surprised if it doesn't, is the day when it will move. (And you can ascribe your own metaphors and meanings to the "mountain".)
Prior to psychology and therapy, my academic training was in the sciences. Thus I am not "anti-science" or down on the exercise of the scientific methodologies. But I also know enough about the way science progresses to suggest that empirical studies and validations are an antecedent to discovery. Science, historically, made its quantum leaps of knowledge on the bold visions of courageous people like Galileo and Copernicus who came under savage attack and persecution for violating the beliefs of their time. Science advanced on the courageous faith of explorers like Columbus who also violated the beliefs of those in his world. The lore around Columbus has been under fire today. Of course he didn't "discover" America; of course this country was populated already and visited by foreign explorers before him. So what is the big deal of the term, "New World"? I maintain that the faith, intention and intuition of this one man who acted on his firm belief created an enormous paradigm shift in the prevailing European belief system. It was, indeed, no less than the realization that Europe and neighbors were not alone, that there was no less than a New World out there. This realization, once integrated into the belief structure of the "Old World", was so powerfully "earth-shaking" that, I maintain, it flipped Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance, into a literal explosion of discovery and creativity in every aspect of European life: science, art, culture, medicine and religion. Part of the point of the metaphor of the Hundredth Monkey is that it does not take a majority (and probably never has) to affect widespread change. Our progress in the sciences, arts, humanities and spirituality resulted from the intention, faith, and transcendent beliefs of individuals throughout our history. And we are heirs and recipients of their examples and teachings, too often colored by their blood and flavored by their sweat of their persecutions and personal sacrifices. How worthy and responsible have we been of the caretakership of this astounding legacy, of this sacred gift?
We had and still have living with us esteemed teachers, masters, pointers-of-the-way. We have their writings, stories and living examples of how faith and belief work, incredible reminders of what our bodies, minds and spirits were divinely designed to do and all of them, including the Christ (another paradigm shift: BC to AD) assured us that we could do it too! To choose to diligently explore their ways and teachings is to honor their sacrifices and gifts. To dismiss them in skepticism is to dishonor and disempower (disembowel!) our potential and destiny.
Circling to the beginning of this article we again consider the belief that faith is the substance of energy and energy is the connecting fabric of body-mind, soul-Spirit. In Genesis, God breathes life into the physical elements and a transformation results. In many of the ancient languages, breath and energy are the same or similar words. Utilizing, manipulating, channeling, realigning energy results in transformations, in healing, in growth, in affecting the course of events. Intention drives and focuses energy. Intention, then, is crucial to creating our reality, actualizing our belief.
Dr. Herbert Benson, author of Beyond The Relaxation Response, coined the interesting term, "Faith Factor". He asserted, "If you truly believe in your personal philosophy or religious faith - if you are committed, mind and soul, to your world view - you may well be capable of achieving remarkable feats of mind and body that many only speculate about." What we believe and empower with our faith and intention really, profoundly and pervasively matters! Faith-empowered belief will advance the healing arts, our work and daily practice. Affecting energy distribution or blocks by tapping on the body or implementing other therapeutic techniques and ridding someone of chronic physical or emotional pain is valuable. But, in the context of what we collectively know is possible, it is child's play. So much more is at stake, for us as individuals and for us as a community! Michael Sky, a mentor of mine, eloquently wrote, "if you keep your actions in close alignment with your strongest intentions, do what you want and want what you do, and you feel inwardly united, your energies become focused and you are fully empowered to the very best of your capabilities. When your intention is simply clear, when you harbor no doubts about where you are going and what you are wanting, when your will is sharp, focused, and one-pointed, then you are acting at the upper limits of your potential. Indeed, if it can be done, you will do it." (Dancing with the Fire, 1989.)
Enough said for now. I hope I have persuaded the reader to remember one thought (and remember thoughts are central to emerging beliefs): Faith and intention are so fundamental to directing and actualizing our energies resulting in desired outcomes and thus merit our diligent study and cultivation. With that thought, I give you my invitation: What we hold in esteem and value we nurture and cultivate. The main motive for writing this essay is my intent to nurture and cultivate my faith and intention. It was not my intent to pontificate on this subject for I am just a learner. And we can teach one another. Collectively we know far more than we do individually. How have you or do you cultivate and strengthen your faith and intention?
As mentioned, one of my ways is to reflect on the teachings and examples of others through writing, interacting, studying. My experience has also shown me that whatever strengthens me physically and emotionally also strengthens my will and faith. Testing the perceived limits of my abilities through adventure activities and rituals, such as sky diving, fire walking, rock climbing, wilderness soloing and vision questing help me push the boundaries further away. Above all, central and essential to my practice and belief is my growth in the spiritual domain, which pervades and infuses all others. My Christian tradition, like those of others, explodes with expositions and instruction on cultivating the "Faith Factor". The "koans" of Christ both tease and challenge my thinking and actions (to paraphrase, "Lose your life if you want to have it"; "He who is last shall be first"; "He who is the greatest among you is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven"; "The meek shall inherit the earth"; "Your faith has made you whole!") The challenge is in living these apparent "double binds", which, as in the Zen tradition, induces shifts and leaps in consciousness. To ask "Do you believe in love?" or "Do you believe in freedom?" will result in different answers than asking, "What is your experience of love? Of freedom? Of God? Of faith and intention?" Intellectual beliefs are much different than lived beliefs. So I keep learning.
Again, how do you cultivate faith and intention? What works for you? I invite you to submit your thoughts and pointers to the "Contact Us" page of this web site (www.prayergear.com) or directly to our e-mail address: Counserv@aol.com. After we gathered enough submissions, we would appreciate publishing them (with or without your names) on this web site as an adjunct to this article.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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