…be of good comfort, your faith has made you whole.
New Testament / Matthew 9:22
Over a dozen years ago, while attending a Unity church in Atlanta, my wife and I took a class on meditation from Roy Eugene Davis. He is a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda and Director of the Center for Spiritual Awareness in Lakemont, GA. During that class he gave us a copy of a little book of spiritual practice with themes for daily meditation.
The reading for today is titled “Faith Makes the Difference.” Here is an excerpt:
It is easy to believe when we see the evidence of a circumstance before us. Faith, however, is believing in the reality of desired outcomes before any objective evidence is discernible. Faith is the very substance of the end result of our envisioning, for it manifests itself according to our assumption and belief.*
I had been thinking about faith after watching two movies last weekend, the new documentary Inequality for All featuring former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
Both, in the final analysis, are about faith – and hope.
The Salmon Fishing movie is about a Yemeni sheik who, because of his love of fishing and desire to give his people a better life, builds dams and other improvements to make it possible for him to enjoy salmon fishing in his country.
The UK government – looking for a good news story from the Middle East – forces a reluctant fishing expert, Dr. Alfred Jones (played by Ewan McGregor), to assist. He is more than skeptical.
He and the Sheik get into a discussion about faith. Jones says he doesn’t believe in faith, he’s a numbers and data person. The Sheik disagrees. He says that Jones loves to fish and to fish is to have faith that the time spent fishing will produce results, even if it takes many hours of no results to make a catch.
Ultimately, the Sheik’s vision, and faith in the outcome, make a believer out of Jones and they achieve the Sheik’s goal. Jones’ moment of faith comes late in the movie when he believes that farm-bred salmon will migrate upstream, even though they were born and raised in holding ponds. He had no reason to believe this, except his faith that the salmon would know what to do.
Inequality for All is a documentary highlighting the growing income disparity in our country. Professor Reich documents how the difference in income wasn’t always so skewed toward the rich. The peaks of inequality happened in 1928 and 2007, just before major market crashes. During the period in between, especially during the 50s and 60s, the lower and middle classes thrived and income inequality narrowed. Since the late 70s, changes in the rules, favoring the top 1% of wage earners, made income inequality grow until the crash in 2008. However, unlike after the Great Depression, this time, after a short pause, income inequality started rising again to record levels by 2011.
Reich has been fighting for 30 years to reverse this inequality. His ideas were behind Bill Clinton’s “Put People First” theme for his first presidential election. As Clinton’s Labor Secretary, Reich tried to help the lower and middle classes, especially unions, regain some of what they had lost. He tried to steer the budgets towards investing in education, child care and other needs for working people. By his own account, he was a pain in the rear to Clinton and the rest of his advisers. While they were focused on reducing the nation’s debt, Reich was pushing for investing in people and the country’s future.
So where does faith and hope fit in this equation? Reich teaches at UC Berkeley. He teaches a class on Wealth & Poverty to over 700 students – with the goal of getting his students to understand and think about these issues. Reich’s hope is that some of them will do things to change the system – the rules and other roadblocks to change.
He has a vision of what our country could look like if we valued people over profits. He knows that it existed before, and he has faith that it can happen again. That is why he writes books, speaks to audiences, teaches students and helped make this film – because he has faith in the outcome. He has faith in the American people to see his vision and make it theirs.
Unwavering faith produces results in exact proportion to its clarity and constancy. Real faith is not a vague idea of hoped-for possibilities accompanied by thoughts and feelings of doubt or inadequacy. Result-producing faith is definite, calm, steadfast, and grounded in soul awareness. *
Faith does make a difference.
* excerpts from With God – A Handbook of Spiritual Practice with Themes for Daily Meditation. Published by the Center for Spiritual Awareness. 1995 Edition