Faith, or complete spiritual trust, has its youth, middle age, and flowered wisdom. It begins as a seed of consolation, sprouts into acceptance, and flowers ultimately as grace. Faith is not hope or optimism, for those persuasions of self imply a lack of trust or certainty. Hope and optimism also imply a grasping after certain forms and manifestations of the world, a sort of desire to create and control. Faith, rather, is an unveiling and a pruning-back that refuses grasping and desire. A blossom of faith is a spilling-out of light from eternity into time, blurring the lines of forms.
When first we uncover faith, it is a belief in an other so strong that it remedies all ailments and refuses all defeat. The seed of faith hears the mutterings and distress of the lower self and speaks back to it. It says things such as “you will triumph in your desires if they or you are good enough.” The seed of faith talks about proposed destinations like heaven, the world reborn, and release from circular existence. The lower self projects a perceived world, and the seed of faith projects a world over that.
But then, the seed becomes undone and a sprout emerges from the cracked shell. The sprout of faith no longer remedies all ailments, for it knows that ailments are seasons and that all seasons are holy. It no longer refuses defeat for the same reason. The sprout of faith hears the complaints of the ego self, that bundle of identities we imagine, and speaks back to it too. It says things such as “your death is a triumph equal to your birth.” The sprout of faith talks about the Beloved being with us here and now, still an other, but an intimate and inalienable other. Where the seed sees the Kingdom to come, the sprout sees the Kingdom in the midst of us.
But the sprout, too, is eclipsed by its blossom. Gone are ailments and defeat, for they no longer happen to the one who perceives but rather to only to one’s vehicles. Though the body and mind are ill, they are not the Witness. What does it matter if the goals of the ego-self did not manifest in the world of a moment? All things are new, continuously born again. The blossom of faith lies somehow behind both the seed and sprout, which yet continue. Since the blossom is more out of time than in, the blossom was somehow there before the seed. The blossom speaks volumed light of the Kingdom in phrases such as “the lovely little birds are hopping about the mud puddles this morning.” Where the sprout sees the Kingdom in the midst of us, the blossom is itself of the Kingdom – a flower in the holy garden.
Every blossom is the lotus of all the worlds. The blossom is the Witness consciousness, the Christ consciousness. A monk who lights a candle and practices mindfulness of breath is a river. Another monk who lights a candle and recites a mantra is a different river. A third monk who lights a candle and sends his prayer skyward is yet another river. The blossom begins to open when the rivers empty themselves, when it is known that all rivers empty into the same gleaming sea of light.
The blossom is unfurled when the flow reverses, when the rivers emanate from the sea like rays of light from a sun. Singing psalms in our flowered fields, the rivers and sea are one and the same, like points and thorns on a crown.