When I was young the people connected with me tried to get me to follow their catholic belief system. It didn't work at all. I remember reading in third grade about Methusela living for some 900 years and thinking to myself "Does anyone really believe
this stuff?" When I was a little older, I came to read Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, etc) and acquired from that, among other things, a certain contempt for the idea of faith, (though in fairness to Rand, I may have misunderstood her. She may have meant it only in regards to religion, one of the first defintions that pops up in some dictionaries). (Between those two periods I steeped myself in lots of Seth, BTW). So, I came to think of faith as something that people did when they saw themselves as not being in control, like hope.
But then I was listening to a CD lecture by a music professor who spoke of the change in music going into the 18th century as driven in part by a new "Faith in Reason". And in my mind went two 'oops!' at once: Ultimately reason lost its highest throne as the unquestionable final interpreter and arbitrator of reality, and also the idea of 'faith' needed revisiting.
Later I read in one of Barbara Brennan's books that a certain misalignment in the human energy field could lead to a condition which she called "loss of faith in life itself".
This "faith" stuff was beginning to sound like Castenedian ideas of 'Power'.
Now I have come across a stunning selection from fiction, quoted below. For some context, the first person, now much older, is revisiting a section of a park in autumn, hoping to retaste the joys that he had had there when a boy. Jarred by the many changes, he goes on to say:
From Swann's Way, (the Scott-Mancrieff translation p. 324)
...And seeing all these new elements of the spectacle, I no longer had the faith, which, applied to them, would have given them consistency,unity, life; they passed in a scattered sequence before me, at random, without reality, containing in themselves no beauty that my eyes might have endeavored, as in the old days, to extract from them and compose a picture. They were just women, in whose elegance I had no belief, and whose clothes seemed to me unimportant. But when a belief vanishes, there survives it -more and more ardently so as to cloak to absence of the power, now lost to us, of imparting reality to new phenomena- an idolatrous attachment to the old things which our belief in them once did animate, as if it was in that belief and not ourselves that the divine spark resided, and as if our present incredulity had a contingent cause -the death of the gods.
(He then goes on to gently mock himself for his attachments. For those who wish see the text and develop the context more than has been done here, http://books.google.com/books?id=-OAIm8 ... nd&f=false
or just enter "I walked on as far as the pigeon-shooting ground" in your search browser).
(By the way, the entire novel is a great study not only de-beliefing, but also in in ego detacthment. Reading it is very much like a kind of meditation... you really have to focus your mind to pull it in at all.)
So this is my question for the group, (which happily has a wide spectrum of consciousness styles):
This 'faith' stuff.... what is it? It is different from 'the will to live'. The will to live involves tenacity, whereas this faith stuff seems to be closer to something that might be called "the drive to assemble and invest with sacredness or numinosity (after Jung's use of the word... a sort of mystical importance attached to something) complex perceptual fields". Yet it doesn't seem to be quite the same as Juan Matus' (Castenda's teacher) idea of 'power' either: else why wouldn't've Casteneda simply used the word 'faith'? Or might the substitution of a word investable with mysteriousness (power) help to bypass belief systems (like mine) which would have lead the reader away at the first sign of such a word (faith)? And more, Proust implies that a person has a certain capacity to have faith, that one might lose, which is a different thing from an act of faith itself.
In my older way of thinking, faith was something applied sort of mechanically to belief systems which were inherently beyond the reach of reason and science. But this Proustian concept has it as something closer to a pre-will drive to the assemblage of meaning, while Casteneda's power seems to be something related, but different.
You can see I am puzzled.