14. Faith
Spiritual Web Chat
Session 1: Sat 7 Nov 1998

Ben< ALL: Tonight I'd like to explore what people mean by the word "faith". From what I hear and read, faith sounds like a very valuable commodity, something we all should have. But when I ask "What is it?" I receive a variety of answers. One of the most common answers is "If you had faith, you wouldn't ask that question."

Ben< ALL: Since these seminars are intended to provide a forum in which a variety of answers are legitimate, it seems like a good place to ask "What is faith?"

Koklee< A firm belief in what one does not fully understand.

isiscat24< I define faith as something you feel, but cannot prove through any of your senses.

Kami< Faith ???! Hmm, to me it means a deep understanding, not necessarily by reason (and mostly intuitive).

LadyV< Faith is letting go of the questions and accepting the answers that come in your life via prayer or others of like mind.

Suzanne< To me faith is something you have; because you are taught in a certain way you have a belief. Belief is what you are taught. But knowing is what you experience sometimes beyond all reason.

FRAML< A statement or belief in a being outside of myself, in whom I see my purpose in life and after death.

LEGS< I see Faith as a firm feeling that comforts me in the belief of anything that is not tangible, that is nevertheless a conviction of the truth that it is as I believe it.

Cassandra< Perfect trust is one aspect. Sometimes it is used as a Way of Life, as someone is of certain Faith.

Ben< QUESTION: If I said to you "Have faith in me" what would you think I meant? And how would you respond (inwardly and outwardly)? YOUR TURN

Joan< My inward response: saying "Have Faith in me" is like saying "Trust me" -- a red flag.

LadyV< Have faith in you? ... why? If you perform a service, I would hopefully trust that you will do as you say you will do. If you are a friend, I would believe that you had my best interests at heart. I would have to know the reason you would be telling me "Have faith in me".

Ben< Joan, LadyV: Yes, a red flag and a question concerning my purpose toward you. Good responses, in my opinion.

isiscat24< To me "Have faith in me" means that you would like us to trust you without having your trustworthiness proved first.

Ben< isiscat24: Yes. And what else?

Kami< isiscat24: But how easy would we find it to follow one that states "Have faith in me" ??

isiscat24< Kami: We would have a very hard time, thus faith is something you feel but cannot explain. If Ben said "Have faith in me" and for some reason I felt it was right, then that is true faith.

Kami< isiscat24: Thanks! I was just trying to say, as Joan did, that presently I have a very hard time trusting a person I've never seen, like Ben! Mostly because I'm probably so far from myself I can barely stop to feel if the vibes are good enough to go on! *S* Rough world! No time to be a spiritual human, just defend!

isiscat24< Kami: No problem ... Faith is hard to come by.

Yopo< Ben: If YOU said that? Hmm ... What the statement meant would depend upon the context. I suppose I would take it as your assertion that you are a generally trustworthy and well-intentioned character. I accept that you are. On the other hand, if a used-car salesman said such a thing ... *LOL*

Koklee< I would think that you meant to believe in you despite concerns/questions I may have. If I know you, my response is to give you a chance.

FRAML< To put my full trust in you. That you are going to help me, not harm me. As a leader, you are being true to your principles and are worthy of being followed.

Willow< To have faith in another is, to me, to trust that they are who they present themselves to be by their actions and words ... and that they will continue to be.

FRAML< Willow: And that those actions and words are good-purpose-filled, not bad or harmful.

Willow< FRAML: *s* I have had folks warn me away from them and say "Have faith in me" as in what they were telling me was true ... they would not be good for me. I don't necessarily think that having faith has to do with whether something is good or bad ... it is more believing that it is what it is or claims to be. Trust is another matter that relates to the intent to not harm.

Cassandra< If you, Ben, said to me "Have faith in me" I would, because you have proved it to me.

LEGS< Confidence that what you told me was true to the best of your knowledge and workable to the same extent and would not be harmful to me.

alremkin< Faith is belief in what one believes to be self-evident truths or truth we believe to be correct because it's verified by our interpretation of our experience. Sometimes I say faith can be called knowing, as in knowing God, but generally it's belief in something without definite proof.

Joan< Didn't Paul say that faith is evidence of things not seen, or something like that? Of course, I think he was referring to Faith in *God*.

rkangel< Faith is to believe in something that you cannot currently physically see or touch feel hear smell, etc.

greyman< Faith -- believing that hitting the reset button on your computer will always restart your computer, if it is functional and the power cord is plugged into a nominally functional power receptacle. *G*

Ben< ALL: Let's wait and look at the question "Faith in what or whom?" next time. Right now I'm still building toward the question "What IS faith?"

Ben< To me, the imperative statement "Have faith in me" implies that the one who said it WANTS me to believe whatever he or she may say and trust whatever he or she may do. It is a combination of two more familiar imperatives: "Believe me" and "Trust me." My inward and outward response is: "Why should I?"

Ben< COMMENT: Your faith in others is valuable to them. All sorts of people and spirits want you to believe what they say and trust what they do. This is a point at which those who have your best interests at heart and those who don't have your best interests at heart often say the same thing. Good parents and friends want you to believe them and trust them -- but so do all the snake-oil salesmen.

Yopo< Very true. But my ability to place faith in others is also important to ME ... World would seem awful cold, without an ability to trust.

[Ben< Yopo: Yes. A person with no ability to trust others would be suspicious of everyone all the time (paranoid). And there are situations in which our ability to place faith in others (belief and trust) is essential for our own survival. Among many other examples, I'm reminded of my experience in a "Hot Drop Zone".]

Bloodsong< Faith is to believe in something or someone, and not necessarily not here, either. It also includes physical presence to me. If a God or Goddess can't come to me and show themselves to me and say "Hey! See, I am real, and will you believe in me?" ... which my deer-headed God Jaren did and My Goddess Ren did ... then I won't believe in it.

Aqua< To have faith is not bluntly to accept any idea without questioning the facts of why or what instills it. To arrive at faith, someone has to understand the root-cause, then try to comprehend the facts, and then exercise this comprehension in practice. After several trials and errors, one might learn the truth contained within the case ... testing this further into reality, then one might believe that it is true what had been learned. Next step, this belief is tested further in several cases ... several outcomes which match with previous expectation will instill FAITH.

Bloodsong< Something has to prove to me first to trust it before I have faith in what it says or does, except when someone is talking about their beliefs. I then choose to believe and have faith that their beliefs are true for them, thus real for me too even if I may not agree or understand.

Suzanne< It is my experience that we tend to trust in our experience ... and in this experience we may have crossed into constructs from our past that cause problems. Religious or spiritual faith is much different than trusting faith. Our existence, the existence of God, is beyond our experience per se and goes to a place of knowing transcending all man-state equations.

Ben< ALL: Please leave the issue of religious faith for another session.

Bloodsong< SORRY... didn't realize that faith in this session didn't include our beliefs. My misunderstanding...

Ben< Bloodsong: We'll get to the contents (objects) of faith in another session.

Ben< QUESTION: If I said to you "I have faith in you" what would you think I meant? And how would you respond (inwardly and outwardly)? YOUR TURN

Yopo< "I have faith in you" can be either a confession of trust and friendship, or a way of placing a sense of obligation on a person.

FRAML< That you trusted me. I had proved myself worthy in your eyes. As a military leader that you are putting your life in my hands with the understanding that I will do my best to lead you to accomplish our mission and survive.

Koklee< I would think you meant that you have faith in my potential, as a human, for positive action. I would not consider it personal since you don't know me. Response would be to evaluate self.

Ben< Yopo, FRAML, Koklee: Interesting responses. Thank you.

Bloodsong< If you said to me that you had Faith in me, I would take it that you meant that you believed in me, and that would make me feel good, not that you necessarily would believe what I tell you, but that you believed in me as a person.

rkangel< I would think that you believed in me to do the right thing under almost any circumstance whether that "right thing" is the correct thing to do at the time.

Cassandra< I would think if you said you had faith in me that you meant you could depend on me to do what I said I would, to live up to my highest ideals, or that I had the ability to get the job done. Inwardly, I would feel very honored and pleased, and I would do the utmost to retain that faith you had in me.

LEGS< Faith is confidence, trust, reliance in, persuasion of choice, certainty of something unseen having absolute dominion over things seen when one places their confidence therein.

Ben< Bloodsong, rkangel, Cassandra, LEGS: Yes. A variety of interesting responses.

LadyV< I would examine my heart and hope that I had given you an honest answer. I consider one answers for that one day ... either here or there ... it does not matter. One answers in the end to the Almighty and the family of mankind.

alremkin< Inwardly, I find faith must reciprocate; i.e., if you have faith in me and I in you, we are bound by the Holy Spirit and can serve the purpose of God. Outwardly I would take it to mean that you trust my judgment and actions.

Joan< Ben: If you said "I have faith in you" when we first meet, I might respond "I have some fantastic snake oil here for sale." *G* But more often "I have faith in you" is said as a kind of encouragement, meaning "I believe you can do it!"

greyman< "I have faith in you" means: 1) My actions are predictable by you. 2) You have personal knowledge of myself based on many interactions (basis of your faith).

Ben< Joan, greyman: Your responses indicate awareness of the basis for my faith in you (or lack of such basis), and that is a good criterion for separating friends from snake-oil salesmen. Someone who says "I have faith in you" when they don't know you probably has some hidden agenda.

rkangel< How would I respond? Inwardly I would have that simple comment "I have faith in you" instilled in myself and would watch more closely the things that I was doing.

LEGS< It would put me on my mettle to be responsible that I should not disappoint or fail that faith/trust placed in me.

Yopo< LEGS: Yeah. Sometimes there's an interesting relationship between being an avowed object of someone's faith, and implied obligation, eh?

rkangel< Outwardly I might have a different "air" around you, but would still be myself, as myself is who or what you have faith in.

Ben< COMMENT: Others' faith in you is valuable to you. Another person's belief in what you say and trust in what you do gives you the power of persuasion. This can be humbling, and/or seen as a responsibility.

Aqua< Understand the problem; understand the cause and effect correctly (comprehend); put to practice this comprehension-belief. Exercise the belief in life aspects, to see if things happen according to expectation of what had been known. If one has faith WITHOUT understanding this process, one might be following faith which later is called FANATIC. Fanatic = blind faith or belief in something without understanding or not comprehending the logical cause and effect contained within certain cases.

Koklee< Aqua: To me, faith has been the belief that things can get better when previous expectations have received disappointment.

Aqua< Koklee: Disappointment will not be there if we know the truth. For example, we know that multiplication is adding the same number several times ... 2*3=6 is adding 2 three times. After several practices we will arrive that it is true that multiplication is adding the same number x times ... continuing we will arrive to have Faith in numbers multiplication.

Koklee< Aqua: Numbers are an accurate science ... I'm not sure that life is.

Ben< ALL: To me, the declarative statement "I have faith in you" means I will believe whatever you say without questioning your veracity, and I will trust whatever you do without questioning your motives. It doesn't mean that I will believe whatever you say without questioning whether it is true, or that I will trust whatever you do without questioning the outcome, because I also believe that you might be misinformed.

Kami< I get it ! That's the difference between the so famous "blind faith" Right ?

Willow< Nice distinction ... *s*

Kami< But Ben, what would make one to have such a state of faith in another? Don't you expect some return in order to follow someone?

[Ben< Kami: I may place my faith in another by choice based on experience, or by necessity in some situations. And yes, I do expect certain attitudes and behaviors in order to follow someone.]

Aqua< We are often disappointed in someone because our trust or faith is not on strong ground, because we in the first place were not understanding the person we trust. We had not checked this person's credibility/education/milieu properly. So, when we know more about the truth of that person or personality or way of thinking, etc., then the trust is more decent.

Bloodsong< I had faith that two people I met here were from where I was from, but when I met one of them on the phone I discovered that we weren't. That's a painful thing to discover when you put a lot of faith into believing that someone is the way you think they are and they end up not being what you believed them to be.

Aqua< Faith needs BRAIN OR MEMORY OF THE PAST ... how could we know or eventually trust something or someone if we had never heard and had no memory at all to recall something pertinent to that particular case?

Ben< QUESTION: Others' faith in you can mean they believe and trust everything you say and do, or it can mean that they believe you without doubting your veracity and trust you without suspecting your motives. Do you see this distinction as important, and if so, why? YOUR TURN

Joan< It is a distinction that I have not thought about, before this.

Cassandra< When you add "without suspecting your motives" it puts a different light on the matter. That sounds as if you are untrustworthy. So I must not be understanding the question.

[Ben< Cassandra: I'm using this question to point toward the difference between an absolute total faith and a reasonable degree of faith.]

LadyV< In the case of a child, I would make a distinction. I would caution a child not to be so quick to trust without testing the water first. In the case of a doctor, for instance, who is going to operate on you, I feel one had best trust or find another doctor ... my personal opinion here.

Yopo< Yeah. Seems like a VERY important distinction. I would hope friends would have faith in my character and intention. I sure as hell wouldn't want anyone to suspect me of infallibility. Hate disappointing people, ya know. *LOL* And I value the honest criticism of friends greatly. It's kept me out of trouble more than once. If a friend thinks I'm doing something wrong, I would hope they'd think enough of me to tell me.

Cassandra< I think that should be "I am not trustworthy" so I believe I see the distinction. *G*

Kami< So what's the point: veracity of statements vs best way of doing things ?

Yopo< Kami: Maybe the point is that we can have faith in a person's good intentions without trusting that they necessarily have all the answers. A friend can be wrong without betraying the trust of friendship.

rkangel< To have complete faith in any entity that is in the physical form is crazy, for any entity that is in the physical form, and many of the spiritual, has faults. To have faith in the abilities or actions of others would be to not have faith in oneself, having the same abilities, or doing the same action.

Cassandra< rkangel: Why would one feel they didn't have the same abilities or be able to do the same actions just because they had faith that their friend could do it? Am I misunderstanding again?

rkangel< Cassandra: To say "I have faith in you" is to believe that the person or entity you said it to can live up to your expectations. Even one that is an atheist "believes" in something, so they would have faith in that something.

alremkin< I see the distinction as important because one's motivation can change making one no longer faithful and worthy of trust.

LadyV< Perhaps I am not seeing the question. To my mind, to assume that I in good faith have the answers is an assumption. I would, as I said, advise a child to test it first ... a lesson in life. In the sense of the doctor as a professional, one would hope one could trust ... but then one tests the water there also. Ben, we are going to call you Socrates? (grinning)

Aqua< How could we know or eventually trust something or someone if we had never heard and no memory at all to recall something pertinent to that particular case? If we happened to trust based on inadequacy of data about the root-cause, then we must tolerate disappointment as the consequences! So, previous data concerning something or someone must be available before we put any trust or faith on others ... otherwise we can become FANATICS.

zaazaa< Hmmmmm, seems like having faith in someone is being confused with expectations about that person's actions.

Koklee< This distinction is very important. To have another "believe and trust" all of my words and actions would create a danger to this person, to be led astray by my mistakes and errors in judgment. This would place an expectation upon me to never make a mistake -- which is not something I can live up to yet, but I'm working on it. On the other hand, someone's faith in me to do the best I can is encouraging and motivating.

d-bar< When someone is not known to you, one can "have faith" in them only on a gut or spiritual level. But generally faith in everything they do comes after long or intense exposure. Sometimes faith carries over into spiritual dimensions.

Yopo< Quick, Watson! The game is afoot! *S*

zaazaa< Why would one not be trusting or putting faith in ONESELF first; then one would be able to KNOW whether to 'trust ' someone else, in that moment.

Kami< I'm getting confused ! ! ! !

Bloodsong< I think to have complete faith in anything that you don't know on a very deep level is a bad thing. You can end up getting hurt really bad and/or used if you don't really know, and I mean completely know, something or someone.

zaazaa< Don't you think trust requires consistent, non-changing performance = expectation?

Ben< zaazaa: Yes. Trust is (and in my opinion, should be) rather difficult to earn, and only retained by remaining trustworthy. Trust is easily destroyed.

Bloodsong< I need proof that someone is trustworthy and does what they say they will do. I have faith only so far with someone new until they prove me wrong by not showing up or betraying me or lying to me. I am the most honest, loyal person I know, and maybe I have too much faith that others will have it at the same level I do.

zaazaa< Bloodsong: That sounds more like expectation, holding on to outcome of others' actions. Perhaps bringing it down to each moment, and allowing each person to BE whomever they are in that moment, eliminates any need for trust.

Bloodsong< Yes, zaazaa, but when no one ever stays and you put faith in what they promise you and they all fail in everything they have promised, then I begin to be cautious and untrustworthy. My faith in myself and my beliefs is absolute, but my faith in others is very shaky due to my life experiences.

Kami< I believe (have faith) that there is a deep level of knowing things, even without experiencing it; meeting and following people and self hints apply to this.

zaazaa< Kami: Yes, one can KNOW without experience, for all wisdom is available to us, through intuition and extra-sensory knowing.

Ben< QUESTION: When I turn the previous question over and look at the flip side, it suggests that you can have faith in others if you believe them without doubting their veracity and trust them without suspecting their motives -- but you don't have to believe everything they say or trust everything they do. Do you find this distinction important, or relevant to other kinds of faith? YOUR TURN

FRAML< I don't "have" to believe them, but I make the "choice" to believe them, or at least give them the benefit of doubt that they are not INTENTIONALLY abusing my trust in them.

alremkin< Relating this to religious faith, I'd say that if I doubt faith in God, I must look at my own motivation. Generally with people, times may require that someone have control to make decisions without council if the group has faith in the individual's judgment.

Yopo< Hmm ... Can I continue to have faith in the love of Creator, in spite of all the terrible things I see happening in creation?

[Ben< Yopo: Yes, you can, if you don't accept the man-made doctrine that Creator intentionally causes everything that happens. For example, I don't believe that God micro-manages tornadoes to destroy some people's homes and spare others.]

Aqua< Trusting someone or something in the first rendezvous without having adequate or proper information can happen if the person we met had certain Charisma about him/her. This Charisma will grow stronger if this charismatic person had done many alms, or also possibly by using mantras to strengthen his charisma ... so we all must be careful. *S

LadyV< If I were the second oxen on the lead team, then I would follow in step with the oxen next to me. Since I have a mind to think with and am not chained, I would again make a distinction. The blind cannot lead the blind.

zaazaa< Ben: Why should one even try to earn trust? That locks one up in expected behaviors. Being becomes observation and separation and judgment, not BEING in each now.

[Ben< zaazaa: One reason to try to earn trust is self-respect. I would rather be a trustworthy person than an untrustworthy person, so I observe and judge my own behavior in that regard. But you make a good point: other's trust in me is within their power to give or withhold, so I shouldn't be addicted to their opinions of me.]

Kami< There's a song here in Brazil, which says "Dreams are like Gods, when you don't have Faith in them, they are dead."

Bloodsong< And I guess too with my pain it is very hard for me to have faith in a higher power or a god. The ones I now believe in are working very hard to convince me of an all-power, but it is a fight. I have a problem giving up control by saying I have complete faith in you and will follow whatever you say.

zaazaa< Bloodsong: We create the realities around us. If we are creating betrayal, then it is OUR lesson, and we may thank the grand and glorious teacher we drew onto our stage for the mirror. We get to look at how we have betrayed ourselves. Have faith in SELF, not other. Trust self to know and to be able to change, and to have experiences; some will feel good, some won't. Just trust self. No need to trust other. It's only expectation. IMHO

Bloodsong< Actually, zaazaa, I don't create betrayal in others. In my belief, that is their choice. My mistake is in choosing the wrong people to call friend.

Ben< /topic Discussion of the meanings of "faith"

Aqua< Faith is not merely an emotional state; logic is also involved. Without data stored in our memory/brain, we are always "blank paper". *S* or garbage trash?

Frozen_Moon< Faith means trust, control, power, lust, devotion, attachment, and love all in one, IMHO.

zaazaa< For me, faith is simply KNOWING without proof ... proof will come later because I KNOW.

chrome< For those who believe, no proof is necessary ... for those who do not, no proof possible.

Joan< chrome: Very Good!

zaazaa< Exactamundo! Chrome! And hello.

[Ben< chrome: And for many of those who truly believe, no *disproof* is possible. This is why an article of faith can endure for centuries despite all evidence to the contrary.]

Cassandra< zaazaa: I wish I had known how to cook without experience. It sure would have kept a bunch of food from being thrown out.

zaazaa< Cassandra: On some level you did know how to cook, but for some reason that serves a greater purpose, you chose to create not trusting your cooking instincts ... for some greater reason. How did it serve you?

Cassandra< zaazaa: Knowing myself better than you do, and knowing many other people also, having experience with people who do not know how to pound nails in wood straight, I have to say *LOL* you are silly as I am. But I love you anyway.

zaazaa< Cassandra: Most definitely I bow to your knowing you better than I, and I like Silly Zaazaa; it has a kind of a ring to it: ding-a-ling perhaps??? *LOL*

Frozen_Moon< Good point, Cassandra! :-)

zaazaa< Cassandra: I still I feel that we "don't know things" because it serves us better, in some higher way, not to know those things; or better, not to access the wisdom or knowledge to know.

rkangel< zaazaa: Even with the wisdom and knowledge, where would you be without the understanding of said wisdom and knowledge? :)

zaazaa< rkangel: Good question, but for me, wisdom contains the understanding as part of its definition.

Koklee< rkangel: I like what you said re: understanding of wisdom & knowledge.

chrome< Wisdom and knowledge are impotent if not applied. *S*

Ben< ALL: Okay, for those who would like to stay and play for awhile, I'll post Webster's definition of faith and ask you to see how the questions and answers we saw in this session might apply to various senses of the word.

Ben< Webster's Dictionary defines faith as: (1) unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence. (2) unquestioning belief in God, religious tenets, etc. (3) a religion or system of religious beliefs. (4) anything believed. (5) complete trust, confidence, or reliance. (6) allegiance to some person or thing; loyalty.

Frozen_Moon< But faith can mean a lot more than that if you would sit down and analyze it further for what-all it's ever been used for. If we're exploring what "faith" is, why would we want to consult a dictionary?

Ben< Frozen Moon: *smile* I posted Webster as one set of answers to the question "What is faith?" -- but not the only answers. (And that's why I posted Webster last, rather than at the start of this session.)

Frozen_Moon< Ben: I LOVE that!! :-D Thank you! :-D

Willow< Ben: I like your definition better. *s*

LEGS< Ben: Thanks again for a good class. The answers made me think almost as much as the questions. *G* What about next week's subject? I plan to be in Akashic Records seminar that day, but should be recovered by class time. *G*

Yopo< Ben: This was an interesting session. I assume you're gonna take this topic further in weeks to come? "Faith" is a hard concept for me to pin down. Once upon a time, I thought of it as "belief held without good evidence". Very limited definition, I'm beginning to understand, as "evidence of things unseen" does not always take the form I had suspected.

Ben< LEGS, Yopo: Yes, I plan to stay in and around this topic for several more sessions. How many, I'm not sure. As you know, I tend to bite into very large subject areas. *S*

Cassandra< Ben: You do tend to make one think. And show us the different meanings words can have -- in a sentence and how they are used. I like that.

chrome< Faith is a nebulous word. It means different things to different people, like "love" ... and each person's perception of it is strong and unwavering and valid as to what they perceive it to be. Definition destroys, analysis is paralysis. You could ask one hundred different people their idea of what faith is to them and you would receive one hundred different answers ... all valid ... all perfectly succinct. Faith is subjective and extremely personal, unless it reaches a collective consciousness level ... but then it is the same in macrocosm as it is in microcosm.

Ben< Cassandra, chrome: I'm very interested in the various meanings of words, because words are not only tools for communication, they are also tools for our own thinking. If everyone had their own definition of a word, communication would be impossible. As it is, communication is merely very difficult. *smile*

Joan< Ben: Yes, our thinking is limited to our vocabulary, and we are not always aware that others have different definitions for words.

rkangel< Ben: Communication IS almost impossible, for every human does have their own definition of a word; for example, the translation of one language to another by various humans.

Joan< There was also the Tower of Babel.

Ben< Joan: Yep. I think of the Tower of Babel when I'm in a meeting where everyone talks and no one listens. Cub Scout meetings were like that.

chrome< Most words are very succinct, and as your vocabulary increases, it gets easier and easier to narrow things down and be completely understood; however, there are some words or concepts which are intangible or subjective; you can get close to defining it, but it vacillates according to each persons perception, which is good, for not everything is black and white, and it affords us something that is unique unto ourselves and "owned" ... and separates us from all humanity *S*

Frozen_Moon< Darn paradoxes ... gotta love 'em.

zaazaa< Well said, chrome!

rkangel< chrome: It is different to different humans, true. For if you say "I have faith in G-D" is that same faith to Allah or Hashem? :)

Yopo< Faith in Creator -- for me at least -- seems to involve some extrapolation at this point. It's like, I KNOW you're out there, 'cause I observe small significant indications here where I am.

chrome< rkangel: It depends on how narrow-minded or open the person is ... in a perfect world it would be, yes. Just as many tongues and individuals there are is how many "gods" exist ... and god does not mind being called different names ... as long as It is "called". *s*

Yopo< chrome: [re: definitions of words] That's why we've got poetry, music, art and such, I suppose. Words can sometimes only hint at a thing that cannot be verbalized. And we can sometimes only agree that the thing being described is even there. Other times words can create a clear understanding about things that don't even seem to exist.

chrome< Yopo: Exactly. Some things are indefinable ... and completely subjective and conceptual, if you will. Music and art are like love and faith ... probably finite at the core but perceived or felt by different people, different ways. Very astute observation. *S*

Yopo< chrome: Music sometimes seems to me like an alternate language. It seems to encode or describe something quite real at times. Maybe it is a sort of emotional language? I've heard mathematics referred to as a sort of language. Sometimes, too, I've wondered if perhaps the physical world itself is a sort of language, for encoding meaning. Does that make any kind of sense?

chrome< Yopo: Absolutely. Language is nothing more than communication. Musical notes, words, numbers, and even thought projection or "feelings" are put together in similar constructs. It is all rhythmical and symmetrical in one way or another and follows some semblance of structure. Those syntaxes are what allows other minds and souls to grasp what is being relayed by the way it is strung together, so to speak. And depending on how sensitive or aware or in tune the receptor is, more or less is communicated. *S*

Ben< chrome: Yes, there is a trade-off between standardizing the meanings of words [and other symbols] for the purpose of communication and keeping them flexible for the purpose of thinking.

d-bar< Brother Ben, 'twas interesting to sit in tonight. "Faith" is an interesting subject.

Ben< d-bar: I'm glad you enjoyed it. So did I. *smile*

Cassandra< I enjoyed the lesson. Perhaps because I have always been too trusting until the last few years. Now I am more selective. There are always going to be people who will use others for the love of the power it gives them or the love of the money they make from others, I guess maybe it is wiser to not just blindly believe that everyone means exactly what they say or what you think you heard them say.

Ben< ALL: I guess no one wanted to play with Webster's definitions. That's Okay -- but they do help to scope the subject area, and I like the lists of synonyms and antonyms: they help my thinking. And also, Webster's first definition "faith is unquestioning" shows that there is some merit in the answer I so often get: "If you had faith, you wouldn't ask that question."

Koklee< Ben: I can't find your last topic post. Are we discussing our definitions of faith (or different types of faith)? It's my first time in a chat room. Having a bit of difficulty keeping up and getting around.

FRAML< Koklee: Yes, we were working on how each of us defines the word faith (in a non-religious belief context).

Ben< Koklee: At the end of the hour, I posted Webster's definitions of "faith" and asked if anyone wanted to play with them for awhile.

Aqua< Ben: To have trust = Faith, or to have faith and then the Trust?

Ben< Aqua: To me, faith implies a combination of belief and trust. I think confidence should grow before faith is assumed, but a lot of people seem to go at it the other way around.

Aqua< Ben: Very true ... confidence build-up from several experiences shall boost the belief into trust, and the transfer of trust into operation/put to work is called FAITH?

Ben< Aqua: That's a nice line of reasoning and clear use of vocabulary. Makes sense to me.

chrome< Ben: If experience and confidence are needed before faith ensues, it belies the definition of believing without proof. Does rationalization enter into having faith? If you have experienced something and know it to be true, is it no longer faith but knowledge? And if you need proof or experience to believe anything, can you claim to have faith?

Ben< chrome: Faith can be built up from experience, or simply assumed, or taken from some authority. In any case, it applies to that which has not yet presented any evidence -- for example, the future actions, etc., of the object of faith.

Koklee< Faith is confidence in another (if we are talking about a person), but not the belief in another's infallibility.

Ben< Koklee: Yes. Your last post is in line with something I tried to point to with my questions: to have faith in a person doesn't necessarily mean belief in their infallibility.

Joan< Ben: You pointed out the difference between faith in a person and faith in their infallibility very well. Something to think about.

Koklee< Ben: You said earlier "confidence should grow before faith is assumed". Is faith possible without some level of confidence?

Ben< Koklee: Faith and confidence are actually the same word ("confidence" is from Latin: *con* with + *fides* faith). I have seen faith described as confidence = 100% no matter how that absolute level of confidence is arrived at.

chrome< Ben: Agreed. I think faith is one of those all-or-nothing concepts. You can't have a little faith. You cannot be non-committal ... as in "I would have faith if you would show it to be so beyond doubt". It is like being "almost pregnant" *lol*

Koklee< Ben: Then how can faith be blind?

chrome< Koklee: Does not a blind person have faith in their seeing-eye dog? *grin*

Aqua< chrome: I like it much ... very cool. Faith is trust put into work? *S*

Koklee< chrome: Depends on the dog! (grin right back at ya)

chrome< Koklee: Or the person ... *grin again*

Bethany< Koklee: Perhaps "blind faith" is better defined as "unthinking faith".

Aqua< Bethany: Nice! ... unthinking faith? or ungrounded trust? *S*

Koklee< Bethany: "I think I see," said the blind man. (*g*)

Ben< Koklee: In my vocabulary, blind faith is when one refuses to look at any evidence that might possibly contradict his or her faith. There is a lot of that kind of behavior.

gratitude< Faith is the opportunity to remember who we are and trust in that knowledge to choose who we want to be!

chrome< Faith is a word attributed to the belief in something which you cannot see or touch or smell or taste or hear. It is belief in a concept that has no grounds in physical reality, yet we know it to exist and be vibrant and real and alive.

Yopo< chrome: Perhaps it is to some extent based upon an inward perception? It doesn't seem to be a thing arrived at via logic ... easily lost sight of.

Aqua< EVERYONE: For example "Having chicken soup every morning will enhance your IQ." How many of us here will believe or trust or have Faith in that sentence? Someone might ask what is chicken soup, how to serve it, how about using turkey soup? Others might try it, etc. So everyone will have idea first, then search within his memory for what is chicken or chicken soup or even imagine the aroma already, then search further if he had some related topics about the chicken vitamin, poultry taste, etc. Then he will decide that "Ah ha! That is not right" or "Hmm ... maybe" ... etc. So, before placing his belief, he checked his memory ... but because this process is fast, in a matter of seconds, so many people "believe" that FAITH is directly aroused, not through our brain. *S*

Aqua< Ben: A computer without memory ROM or RAM is a piece of iron box. Can a person without memory have faith or not?

Ben< Aqua: Interesting question ... can a person have faith without memory? I should think it would be possible, if the person had axioms loaded in "RAM" and was more-or-less running on automatic like a robot or automaton.

Aqua< Ben: Isn't the RAM called random access MEMORY? So, the memory is present, thus data is available? Total non-availability of data can still encourage the faith to be existed?

Ben< Aqua: You're right about RAM. I don't see how a person without any operative memory at all can be said to have faith.

Aqua< Ben: How could someone claim that he has faith in such and such, if he had no previous data or info or experience to dig from his brain memory center? Shall we level that FAITH is not emotional merely but has to do with logical aspects such as proper reasoning in calculative brain before arriving at trust ?

Ben< Aqua: I see a lot of faith that was inherited from one's parents, culture, religion, etc., with no experiential or logical involvement at all.

Aqua< Inherited Faith? I live in an environment where many such beliefs are passed on to the younger generation by legend, frightening story, paranormal stories, etc. But to me, it remains logical that the elder generation told the story in such a way that their offspring fear the consequences if they break the belief or the story. Still they have this 'wrong' faith because they had no chance to evaluate or think logically about the cause/root of the problems/story. Similarly, if someone had never been introduced to what is religion (having no memory), the bibles, verses, etc. ... could this person develop his faith in a certain religion?

Ben< Aqua: Some who have no background in a particular religion may discover for themselves some of the truths that religion was based on, to the extent that it was based on truths.

Aqua< Ben: Could this be because this person already had a MEMORY DATA BASE within him from his previous life?

Ben< Aqua: Yes, karmic memories might help. However, I was speaking of the tendency of those who seek truth to rediscover for themselves bits of truth that other have discovered before them. This doesn't require karmic memory.

Yopo< Ben: I'm finding faith a fragile thing at times. Seems like a thing that must be sort of "protected" in the stage where I am. And also a thing that must be acquired to some extent by conscious "effort" ... "effort" being an act of will whereby I "keep my eyes open".

Ben< Yopo: Good point. Faith can be fragile -- easily broken or destroyed. Some say that is a weak faith, but I'm not so sure. It may be a wise faith.

Yopo< Maybe religion is sort of a cage in which to catch faith? I don't know. I've always had problems with highly structured religions. Yet it is hard to hold onto anything without giving it form, and giving form to it imposes limitations on it.

Ben< Yopo: Yep ... and religions tend to stress form (and formalities) more and more until they lose substance.

chrome< Yopo: It depends on your definition. It is apparent to me that some feel that logic enters into it. Perhaps that is the integration of mind, spirit, and body that we all so want. However, some things actually defy logic. And faith, IMHO, cannot be based on logic alone, or you miss out on so much. Einstein was conceptual before logical, and he arrived at things conventional logic discounted. "Live by the sword, die by the sword" ... live by logic alone and die with logic alone ... and perhaps miss out on the "magic" that is spirit and all that is indefinable.

Yopo< chrome: Logic itself a faulty cage? *LOL* If I ever catch the durn critter, it'll be not only invisible, but uncontainable. But I know what you're getting at. Until fairly recently, I was blinded by logic. Now I can make a distinction between the irrational and the non-rational. Progress, I think ...

Ben< chrome: Good observation about faith and logic. I plan to focus a series of questions precisely on that relationship. (hint: there are two major types of logic, and they require two different types or placements of faith.)

chrome< Ben: I look forward to that session. Good night all, it has been a pleasure to be involved in a discourse with like minds. I have FAITH I will see you again (although I can't be certain). *S* ... peace ...

Ben< chrome: *tsk tsk* As you said, if you can't be certain, it isn't faith. *grin*

chrome< Ben: I have faith that I can't be certain. *grin back*

Ben< chrome: Well said! And I thoroughly agree with that statement. I also have faith that I can't be certain. I believe in my own ignorance. And I cherish my right to be wrong. *grin*

Koklee< Faith is something I feel deep within me. It is not a logical process right now, but maybe it was in the years that I spent questioning.

Yopo< Maybe, too, faith can be a sort of attitude or spiritual posture, a state one is in, rather than a collection of beliefs and expectations? That wouldn't necessarily require memory of past events.

Ben< Yopo: Good point. Faith can mean a predisposition to believe and trust, just as skepticism is a predisposition to disbelieve and cynicism is a predisposition to distrust.

Yopo< Hmmm ... Makes me think back on old history lessons. Age of Faith ... Age of Enlightenment. Wonder how best to describe the intellectual posture of our own time? Maybe the Age of Cynicism would be apt.

Ben< Yopo: Ages are better seen and described in retrospect. I'm not sure whether this age will be seen as cynical or gullible.

Yopo< Maybe "The Age of Gullible Cynics" ... *S*

Ben< Yopo: I shudder to think of "The Age of Gullible Cynics" ...

Aqua< Ben: Sorry, I am not trying to "charge" ... but will there be smoke without fire? having a faith without memory / previous data / experiences / confidences?

Yopo< Aqua: Haven't there been cases of folks suddenly finding faith through unexpected revelation? Getting knocked off one's donkey by a blinding light, so to speak?

Aqua< Yopo: Are there any coincidences in this world? If the revelation was first time, and the person had no idea of what is revelation, spirit, or memory of pertinent issue to religion's aspects, then will this person have faith in that revelation?

Ben< Yopo: Hah! Yes, sometimes a truth slaps one upside the head when one is least expecting it.

Aqua< Ben, Yopo: What I am trying to share is that FAITH is not without "source". It must have something before it, like experience or confidence or belief or comprehend / understand / listen / eye contact / brain / etc. ... something very original to cause Faith as final product?

Ben< Aqua: Yes, I agree that faith doesn't exist in a vacuum. It is a result. Faith implies an object of faith and a source of faith in that object.

Yopo< Aqua: I don't know. It's an interesting question. Our understanding of the world and ourselves is built up a bit and a piece at a time, granted. We lack coherent memory of our earliest childhood because then all was a jumble of sensory input without meaning or form. Still, sometimes something comes along that profoundly affects us, that has no earlier precedent. Something that bumps us up a level without being fully understood. It's events of that sort that form the foundations of my own personal faith in a higher order of meaning.

Ben< ALL: Good night. I enjoyed your company and your thoughts. Peace and blessings. *poof*

Yopo< Aqua: So far as the necessity that "something before" exist as a source for faith to take root, maybe that something doesn't have to be part of our own personal life-experience. The source might be Creator. Faith might come to us like a program suddenly being downloaded into our lives ... to continue your earlier computer metaphor. *S*

Aqua< Yopo: Coincidence then is not understood phenomenon to that person? While the same event might be already expected by another person? Maybe he had certain info referring to that event beforehand.

Yopo< Hmm ... I'm not quite following what you just said about coincidences. *S* Must be I'm getting tired.

Aqua< Yopo: Maybe you are right about downloaded software, but some have more software and good mainframes, while God is FAIR. How do you justify that? ... because faith will follow to that explanation. *S*

Yopo< Aqua: I'm not able to justify much that I see in the world. Fairness seems to be absent. I guess it is a tenet of my own personal faith that there IS purpose, fairness, and order, but on a level that I am not able to see. For me, believing that is the only alternative to a chaotic, meaningless universe ... and THAT is a thing I refuse to accept. My deepest intuition tells me otherwise. Of course, that might simply be the way I am programmed.

14. Faith
Session 2: Sat 14 Nov 1998

Ben< ALL: Last time, we looked at faith as unquestioning belief in something, or unquestioning trust in someone. This time, I'd like to look at some relationships between faith and reason. Then I'll post some examples of faith for discussion.

Ben< ALL: There are two types of reason or ways of reasoning -- deduction and induction. Deduction is the act or process of reasoning from general principles to specific conclusions. Induction is the act or process of reasoning from specific cases to general conclusions. Let's take a brief look at each of them.

Ben< QUESTION: Suppose you are walking alone at night and hear someone walking behind you. When you glance over your shoulder, you see three teen-age boys about twenty feet away, looking at you. What do you think? How do you feel? YOUR TURN

Katherina< Sometimes I feel afraid; I think it depends on my instinct.

FRAML< Who are they? What are they planning to do? Something? Nothing?

Ben< Katherina, FRAML: Okay. Others?

Slider/Abyss< Ben: Sorry, but it seems kind of vague. It would depend where you are walking and what time it was. Also, whether you are male or female. Maybe you are just coming home from the range and you're still packing your six-gun.

spring< I would feel fear initially, like by instinct; then I would remain calm and assess the situation.

LadyV< A woman alone ... fear.

gardengirl< I feel immediate compassion for them. They're humans with souls. I also feel a little (or more than a little) fear, so I surround myself with white light, then I surround them with white light, too... and I ask that their intentions be only in the best interests of everyone.

Lor< Do you recognize them? Are they friendly?

greyman< Depends ... If I'm in Southeast DC, I get the heck outta there.

Cassandra< I feel afraid because I can't fight and I can't run.

Aqua< If the place was a public safe place, then nothing to worry, but if we knew that the area was reported to have several crimes there before, then we should be more cautious if the crimes were reported to be committed by youngsters. Otherwise always be sure it is a safe place to walk even in the darkest hour.

Azriel< How you feel will be influenced by your experience, which creates a major part of your perception of the situation.

Ben< Okay, more interesting responses. Thanks. Others?

5foot2< Fear initially; remind myself to breathe and continue on unchanged... at least outwardly ... inwardly my hearing increases and pulse races.

Tracey< I would probably just say "How ya doin'?" and keep on going. There was a time when I would have felt fear, and depending on what I saw in their eyes, I may feel it again, but usually now I can just accept that they are people looking for a reaction. If you respond in fear, they may respond in power. If you are not affected, many times that is the end of it. I just don't worry about those things as I did once.

Lor< I think I kinda agree with Tracey -- I'd possibly say "Hi" and go from there.

Starwish< If I know them (students I teach), no problem! If I know their reputation to be less than good, some concern. If I am in an unknown area, alone and do not know them, I begin to become concerned!

rkangel< It would entirely depend on the situation. For example, midnight in NYC compared to 9 pm in Farmsville, two blocks from the movie theater.

Indigo< For where I live and what life is like here, I would be very cautious; a little fearful.

spring< "Women alone at night must be wise and vigilant, for even though the world is full of goodness, there are also those who do not practice goodness."

Ben< ALL: Reactions are *logical* (deductive) conclusions, based on something that we consciously or subconsciously believe. Can you state as a premise what you apparently believed, in order to react as you did? For example: "Teen-age boys are ____" YOUR TURN

gardengirl< ... unpredictable

5foot2< ... teen-age boys are an unknown variable.

Starwish< I agree with "unknown variable" if the location is also unknown.

LadyV< strong

Azriel< ... idiots ...?

FRAML< Potential threats.

rkangel< ... experimental in their actions ...

Jo< Teenage boys are normal people. (I didn't write a reaction to them)

Slider/Abyss< Teenage boys are basically good in most parts of the country, and will goof around, but usually cause no trouble. If you happen to be in a part of the country were they do not act as basic teenage boys, then you probably shouldn't be walking around there at all.

LordofFries< I've had a few similar run-ins with teenagers late at night in my neighborhood, and being from a rougher area than I now live, I expected a lot more from them, and was quite surprised to find them polite, apologetic and submissive.

Tracey< Teenage boys usually want to impress you one way or another... kinda up to you how it goes. *S* Actually you can be friends pretty easily if you are really open to them. Even in the gangs... been there.

rkangel< Then you have to take in the factors of whether they have a home life of love and understanding or a home life of alcohol and abuse, for then they would seek acceptance from others to make up for their lack of love and understanding.

Indigo< What we believe comes also comes from experiences. Hence, even though they may be nice boys, experiencing so much violence (negativity), one would assume this to be the case.

Ben< ALL: Okay! I expect some of you are wondering where I'm going with this, given the topic of this seminar, so I'll quickly post a couple of illustrations.

Ben< Here is a logical (deductive) syllogism. Major premise: Teen-age boys are likely to mug people they find alone. Minor premise (1): These are teen-age boys. Minor premise (2): I am alone. Conclusion: Therefore, they are likely to mug me.

greyman< Ben: Unless they are carrying chess sets. *G*

Azriel< greyman: Or wearing GreenPeace buttons! VBS

Ben< Here is another logical (deductive) syllogism. Major premise: People are likely to repay in kind whatever we do to them. Minor premise: Teen-age boys are people. Conclusion: Therefore, if I smile and wave at them, they are likely to smile and wave at me.

Jo< Ben: I like #2 syllogism. *S*

Starwish< They may not always smile and wave back! They did not with my teen!

Ben< COMMENT: Our minds almost automatically take whatever we believe as a premise and reason deductively from it without questioning its validity. But we don't all believe the same things, and different beliefs cause different reactions to the same set of circumstances. Conversely, by studying our own reactions, we can see more clearly what we actually (and perhaps subconsciously) believe.

spring< Right, what you believe about an event leads you to how you feel. Many people give up their power and think that events "make" them feel a certain way.

LordofFries< Our own insecurities also dictate the outcome of every situation we are faced with. If we fear the dreaded teenagers, no matter what happens, we will likely consider ourselves to have been victimized to some degree or another.

Ben< -- Okay, changing gears...

Ben< ALL: Now suppose you are walking in the woods and see a furry little animal that you don't recognize. It looks sort of cute, so you reach out to pet it, but it bites your finger and runs away. Some time later, while walking in the woods with a friend, you see the same sort of furry little animal. What do you think? How do you feel? And what do you say to your friend? YOUR TURN

gardengirl< I'd say: "What is that? Do you know?"

Jo< "Don't pet it!"

Azriel< Experience would argue for caution in this encounter.

Slider/Abyss< I hope there isn't a rabies epidemic going on around here.

5foot2< Once bitten, twice shy. I'd warn my friend of my experience: "Yeah, they are cute... but they bite!"

Indigo< Be cautious. This little animal is cute and furry, but afraid of us, too.

Yopo< I would assume the furry little critters may have a premise about ME. *LOL* Would not extend further fingers without an invitation.

greyman< {1} Start rabies shots, ouch! {2} Inform friend to stay away.

FRAML< Don't touch him, he may bite. (Is it hunting season?)

LordofFries< I say if you offer your finger to a small furry creature in the woods, you should be taking a closer look at yourself rather than the poor critter who got a piece of you.

rkangel< This time around I wouldn't make an aggressive move towards it, and would observe it. I would caution my friend and kick back under a tree a watch the furry little creature. :)

Tracey< I would approach with more caution than the first time, and tell my friend the last time I did this I got bit ... but maybe he was just in a mood. *S*

Lor< I once did pick up a strange little animal -- since figured out to be a Civet Cat. Somehow I did not get sprayed! My mom said it was probably ill or I would have learned to never do that again. Apparently they are far worse than mere skunks! I guess my rationale was too trusting, don't you think?

Yopo< Lor: Gotta watch those particular critters. One might have a faulty premise about which end is the business end. *LOL*

Lor< I forgot to mention that it was afraid and tried to bite me, but I picked it up by the fur on the back of it's neck so it could not really bite me.

Tracey< ((Lor)) I think we went to the same school! LOL

Ben< Okay. Another interesting variety of responses.

spring< I don't know where you are going with this. Some believe we totally create our own experience by the power of our faith. I think we are active participants influencing our experiences, but I think there are forces beyond our "faith".

Jo< spring: I think he's going to inductive reasoning. *S*

Ben< COMMENT: Our minds automatically take what we experience and reason *inductively* from it without questioning its validity or whether we have enough data to support a general conclusion. In the case of the furry little animal, we really don't know whether all such animals bite, but we are very likely to over-generalize from insufficient data by assuming they do.

Azriel< But we can no longer assume that they won't bite, either!! *S*

LordofFries< You can't really compare wild life to teenagers, or any age humans. Wildlife exists solely by their defensive abilities, where we exist by our wits, intelligence, as well as defensive skills.

Lor< LordofFries: Some animals are quite intelligent, clever even, per my observations. I cannot agree that they are entirely defensive -- some are clearly offensive.

LordofFries< Lor: But why are they offensive? To be mean? Take your wallet? Or to eat?

Jo< LordofFries: Who says you can't compare wildlife to teenagers??? LOL!

Tracey< ((Jo)) I'm with you on that one. *S*

LordofFries< Jo: Well, in some aspects you can, like mating habits and lairs.

Ben< COMMENT: The major premises in the two syllogisms I posted for illustrations of deduction are both over-generalized. It is more appropriate to say "*Some* teenagers mug people" and "*Some* people repay in kind whatever we do to them." See? A lot of our difficulties come from over-generalizations.

Jo< Ben: Yes. If *one* teenage boy mugged me, I'd probably have a big attitude change toward teenage boys.

spring< I disagree. If we know that some teenagers mug people, then to proceed with caution is not an over-generalization.

Ben< spring: I didn't mean to imply that caution is an over-generalization. Only that both of the premises I posted are possible, but neither of them is universal.

LordofFries< I can relate to over-generalization. My mother once tasked me to catch all the grasshoppers in the garden I could. Several hundred later, one bit me, and that was it. To this day I am a bit reluctant to catch grasshoppers.

Yopo< Ben: I suppose that sort of reasoning had (has) survival value, so it is hardwired in.

Ben< Yopo: I don't know if that sort of reasoning is hardwired into our brains, but is does tend to be automatic (habitual) unless we take conscious control of our own thinking processes.

Yopo< Ben: Whichever, I see how it gets us in lots of trouble... maybe more than it saves us, in the long run. Gonna keep your observations in mind for a while.

LordofFries< Yopo: It is a double edged sword. If a teenager today said he was going to shoot his girlfriend, he would be taken much more seriously than he would have been a couple years ago, unfortunately. In some of the most recent school shootings, the kids did make some kind of comment like that and they were not taken seriously. (No over-generalization here, huh?)

Aqua< Ben: There is instinct/sense/feel involved here? *S*

GreyHE< Over-generalization (or prejudices) stem from our natural survival instinct. Our minds used to have to decide whether to run or stay where we were on a glance, and that just followed through the ages.

FRAML< GreyHE: Good point.

LadyV< GreyHE: I agree with you. Only reason or deduction causes us to ease into a situation... that takes generally about 30 seconds for the average adult to access the situation... to run or stay.

Azriel< It's difficult to separate the physiological response that conditioning can cause from 'over generalized' reasoning.

[Ben< Azriel: Good point. When looked at in terms of inductive logic, a conditioned response is an over-generalization.]

Tracey< In both situations, I was saying that I hope I would not be blinded by fear not to experience that which was there before me. Reaching out is a form of love and "faith". Each situation would need to be evaluated by "instinct" and not just a bunch of used up experiences.

[Ben< Tracey: Instincts vary. One child will instinctively reach out to a strange little furry animal, as if it were a toy. Another child will instinctively draw back.]

Slider/Abyss< Ben: I think a logical conclusion of probable events would depend on the circumstances which are present at the time of any instance that would create a threat or opportunity to observe. This would be getting back to one of your first seminars on discernment.

miss_tree< When we generalize and project stereotypes onto people, we lose our ability to see people for what they really are, and therefore put ourselves at a disadvantage because we cannot view the situation as it is.

Aqua< Ben : The animal may bite again or not at that moment, also due to the Karma of the person passing by? *S*

[Ben< Aqua: Perhaps. Some people certainly have a way with animals that others do not. On the other hand, some animals are more likely to bite than others.]

5foot2< Ben: Isn't the ability to say "some" colored by our past experiences in similar situations, or rather what we choose to take away from those situations?

[Ben< 5foot2: Yes, the ability to say "some" is colored by the breadth and variety of our experiences, by the way we tend to look at things (black-or-white, or various shades of gray), and by the way we choose to interpret a particular experience.]

Lor< We once had a dog that noticed our young daughter in the back yard was trying to climb the fence. The dog barked to get our attention (we were inside the house), and when we did not come out, my wife noticed through the window that she reached up and gently bit into our daughter's jacket and tried to pull her back. I do not consider that type of activity defensive from the animal's perspective, but rather protective of her master's child. Such experiences tend to help me have a more balanced attitude toward what to expect from animals. Perhaps this is what Ben is getting at -- our expectations seem to be based on our prior experiences.

Aqua< Ben: I think Faith has many ways to show its influences, but it is not arisen just like that ?

[Ben< Aqua: Faith (unquestioning belief) that all of these furry little animals bite can and often does arise "just like that" from one experience of being bitten.]

rkangel< OK, to generalize is to reason by induction; where are you going with this?

Ben< ALL: Okay, where am I going with this? What does it have to do with faith? My summary is the next post. *smile*

Ben< SUMMARY: Any collection of organized information can be described as a cone with the point up. Generalities are higher in this cone; specifics are lower. The bottom the data-base. Inductive logic reasons upward from specific data to general theories. Deductive logic reasons downward from general premises to specific conclusions.

Ben< Both types of reasoning operate on faith (unquestioning belief) in something, but they require two different placements of faith. Inductive logic requires faith in specific data. Deductive logic requires faith in general premises.

Ben< Deductive logic simply assumes that premises are true, whether they are or not. That is why deductive conclusions can be logically consistent even if premises are abstract symbols or nonsense statements. Inductive logic assumes that the available data-base is sufficient to form a general conclusion, whether it is or not. That is why inductive conclusions are almost always less than completely certain.

Ben< Deduction is rational (even though premises are actually theories taken on faith). Induction is empirical (which means "based on observations, experiences, or experiments"). Thus, the same general statement may be taken on faith as a premise for deduction, or taken without faith as a theory to be tested empirically.

Yopo< Whew!

rkangel< So, deduction requires faith in induction?

Ben< rkangel: Very perceptive. *smile* Yes, deduction does require faith in the inductive base of the general statements it uses as premises. But most folks ignore that and simply assume that a premise is true.

[Ben< To be fair, I think most folks have never heard of inductive reasoning, and they call it "non-rational" because the word "empirical" isn't in their vocabulary.]

LadyV< rkangel: You are playing with my head. (laughing) How do you figure that?

rkangel< LadyV: I'm not playing with your head; I just have a different way to observe things and what someone is saying.

LadyV< rkangel: I was teasing. I am sorry. I did not understand your words; they were above my head. It is true that your reasoning and your perception is different from mine.

Ben< REPRISE: If you were walking in the forest, and your friend said "These furry little animals bite!" Would you take that statement on faith and use it as a premise, or take it without faith and test it empirically? YOUR TURN

Tracey< Ben: Are you kidding? *S* I would test it... after all, it is a furry little animal. *S* But perhaps that is not a fair question to me; I have never been bitten, and I've handled hundreds of animals. *S*

spring< I find it interesting that we believe we can empirically test something in an attempt to "prove" our theory. There are so many unknown intervening variables, that we can deduce A + B = C, but we don't know all the unseen events, elements, forces that contributed to C.

[Ben< spring: Some theories can be empirically proved or disproved by one piece of evidence. As LordofFries pointed out, the theory "Some grasshoppers bite" can be proved, and "Grasshoppers don't bite" can be disproved, by one grasshopper bite. On the other hand, most theories can only be proved or disproved to some level of confidence, and some cannot be proved or disproved at all.]

greyman< I guess we should look at the problem from a different angle. If life experiences are drawn from to make inductive or deductive conclusions, what do you do when you have absolutely no knowledge or experience for a given situation, and need to react? I'm afraid that I would tend to study it. Or bomb it back to Stonehenge. *G*

[Ben< greyman: Instinctive guidelines for unknown situations: (1) freeze and take in all the data possible; (2) flight if a threat is perceived; and (3) fight if cornered. These guidelines work pretty well for a lot of critters. *smile*]

LordofFries< I myself am a fool and would most likely offer my finger to the furry little creature just to see if they do bite. Of course if the furry were a grizzly, I may take my friend's word for it.

Ben< LordofFries: Hah! Good point. Nice distinction by the relative danger of the animal's bite.

gardengirl< I don't believe much of what anybody says as being automatically the truth for me. I like to find things out for myself.

Yopo< Hmm... I don't think I would take it on faith that all such critters bite, but I'd probably perform the experiment wearing gloves. *S*

Slider/Abyss< I would be cautious of the possibility of my action or inaction that these little furry animals would bite. At the same time I would have to refer back to Lor's post that to really have faith in that person's knowledge of this animal, he or she would have to show me where it bit him.

FRAML< From a friend, I'd take it on faith. Just like I trusted my NCO's when they said "Lieutenant, you might not want to try that." *G*

LordofFries< hmmm ... must have been one of the smart Lieutenants.

GreyHE< In that situation, I would take his word for it until I could study it for myself (from the safe library).

LordofFries< I guess it is a matter of weight... how much does the person telling you this bear upon you, and whether or not you have heard similar results from other sources.

5foot2< I take my friend's word, especially if he had a band-aid on his finger. *g*

LadyV< I may feel that I had sense enough not to be told... but if I were a child with a parent... good idea.

Ragnar< Sorry if I step over someone. I haven't been listening to the Seminar, but I would just like to add this: "Understanding comes through Faith, not the other way around." I don't know who said it, but I'm saying it again. *S*

Lor< Ragnar: I submit that understanding gained from experience can generate belief and faith in what that experience taught you.

twyxt< What if you don't have any faith?

rkangel< twyxt: I stated this last weekend. Even an agnostic believes in something, so henceforth they have faith (with belief comes faith).

twyxt< rkangel: Believe in what? What if I don't believe in anything anymore, because the faith was betrayed?

rkangel< twyxt: Do you believe yourself to be typing the English language and communicating with others? Or do you believe that the screen in front of you is magic, and that the little people inside are talking to you? Do you believe that the sun will arise tomorrow? Or do you believe that the sun will not rise unless you have a human sacrifice to make it rise? I am sorry that one has hurt you so; there still is belief though, and with that belief, faith.

twyxt< rkangel: I was just given the parameters of the seminar participation, and have nothing further to discuss. Think what you want.

bidhati< If the experience is a stored memory of pain or whatever from past, then when you see the furry animal again, you react with fear, no matter what the explanation of that fear is. Observing the feeling of the fear and asking that this fear be removed can create a miracle, and once you see that you survived, you have created a miracle instead of recreating past, and you will never experience that furry animal again. It is the power of faith to Know in the moment of fear that God is your deliverance.

Yopo< Ben: But... does it require faith in the general events themselves, or in the fact that collectively they will reveal a pattern? I got lost there...

[Ben< Yopo: Deductive logic requires faith in the general statements themselves. Inductive logic requires faith in observations or experiences and the *possibility* that they will collectively reveal a general pattern.]

Slider/Abyss< Ben: What about when most of us where kids and our parents or elders would try to keep us inside after dark because of the boogie man? At what point do you feel one would start deduction of faith in their life?

[Ben< Slider/Abyss: Deduction would take it on faith ("the boogie-man'll getcha") and keep us afraid of the dark. Induction would take it as "the boogie-man theory" and test it against evidence and experience. Little kids need to take most of what they are taught on faith -- or they wouldn't survive -- and teenagers typically start testing what they were taught.]

Tracey< Ben: With a fear-based perception, you stay in the past experiences; with faith in love or goodness, you learn to test the boundaries.

GreyHE< Problem is that we react to such things differently, depending on how they would react on us; i.e., will cause physical harm, challenge what we believe, contradict what someone else has said, etc.

Ben< ALL: Okay! Interesting responses. The main thought I was trying to point to is this: faith and reason aren't necessarily opposites or mutually exclusive. They are related, and we use them together.

spring< My point remains, much of what we call reason is really faith in our power to reason. Often we "see through a glass darkly" but believe we see enough to reach a reasonable conclusion. So we stand on our "reason" and it is just a piece of the puzzle.

LordofFries< ummm, I don't quite get it. I think I do, but I'm probably just lying to myself.

greyman< Reason refines faith.

LordofFries< Oh, if that's it, then I guess I did get it... too simple.

Lor< Good point, greyman.

spring< And can it be said that faith refines reason?

Lor< spring: I suspect that sometimes one's faith can limit a proper interpretation or reasoning regarding an experience, don't you?

spring< Lor: Yes, but I also believe that faith in reasoning as the only paradigm to view the world also limits a proper interpretation.

Lor< spring: I sense that may be why experience proves to be so helpful to us -- it expands/refines both our understanding and our faith.

FRAML< Lor: Well said.

Jo< Lor: Yes, I think faith can limit interpretation: What you believe is what you'll see.

FRAML< Jo: Conversely, at what point will faith over-rule observation? From a military standpoint, that causes you to interpret a deception as truth.

Jo< FRAML: I guess that was my point. If faith is very strong and erroneous, one will interpret deception as truth. I've done it; e.g. "I believe everyone wants to get along and help each other."

FRAML< Jo: Yes, it is the difference between faith as hope versus faith as reality (or caution) when an unknown is involved.

Jo< FRAML: Good point -- Faith as hope versus faith as reality!

Ben< -- Now I'd like to shift gears again.

Yopo< Hope you're gonna downshift. *LOL*

Ben< ALL: Here is a parable about faith in one's own abilities, but not in others' testimony. It is from a dream-journal I kept in the 1960's. After I've posted it, please feel free to comment on its implications.

Ben< THREE PROPHETS. Three men stood at the seashore. The mystic said "A large wave will soon strike this shore; let's go to higher ground." But the others laughed at him, so he went alone. Some time later, the sighted man said "Behold, a big wave is approaching; let's go to higher ground." But the blind man laughed at him, so he went alone. Still later, the blind man heard a rushing sound and fled to higher ground. When he reached the others, he said "Surely you are prophets! You know the future and foretell that which will come to pass." The sighted man turned to the mystic, saying "I merely saw the wave as it came; but you, sir, are truly a prophet." The mystic smiled as he said "I notice that your shoes are also dry."

Tracey< Ben: LOL! However you get the message... the important part is that you "listen"... and keep your shoes dry. *S*

LordofFries< Of course he could have taken his shoes off and held them above his head as he ran up the hill.

FRAML< Ben: How much was observed and what action was taken based upon that observation? Also the action would be based upon knowledge of what usually happened when the effect was observed in the past.

Aqua< Ben: Very nice... so three of them did not go to beaches after all ? *S*

Yopo< Hmm... Puzzled.

greyman< TSUNAMI come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar it's tomorrow. Don't you know, TSUNAMI, TSUNAMI, I want my mommy, it's only a splash away! {Sung to the tune of: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow}

Lor< greyman: I fail to understand your post relative to the topic.


Ben< greyman: In my dream-vision, it wasn't a tsunami, but just an unusually big wave. However, the message would have been the same: a difference between having faith in one's own abilities (ESP, sight, hearing) versus having faith in someone else's abilities and their statements.

5foot2< Ben: Individual abilities to perceive are just that individual. Some put faith in something, or our own eyes because we see it, our ears because we hear it, and we are "surprised" by those who perceived it and responded differently.

Ragnar< I got a story. "A young man ... oh let's see, let's call him ... Augustine. Yes, Augustine was walking on the beach. He was trying to process all of the information that was going through his head. He always read lots and lots of books, but he seemed not to learn anything from them. He was still wise, though. Then when he was walking he came upon a little boy running back and forth from the ocean to a little hole which the boy had dug. Augustine was very confused with what the boy was trying to accomplish, so he asked the boy "Little Boy what are you doing?" and the little boy answered: "I am taking this spoon and I am going to put all the water in the ocean into my hole." When Augustine heard this he replied to boy; "Well little boy that is impossible what you are trying to do!" Then he continued with his walk, turned around, and the boy was gone..."

Ragnar< Well anyway, the way my story relates to the topic is, there is so much information that we must digest, that it is virtually impossible! So we must have a little faith in order to stay sane.

[Ben< Ragnar: Point well taken. Thank you.]

Ben< ALL: Okay, the hour is over. I'd like to post a couple of things for you to play with...

Ben< ALL: Faith doesn't have to be a vague, abstract, philosophical concept. There are situations in which we live by faith -- and there are situations in which others live by their faith in us. Here are two examples from my journals:

ONE OF OUR AIRCREWS HAS CRASHED IN ALASKA. Three men crouch over a sputtering fire, their backs to the flesh-eating wind... Frost on their shoulders, ice on their boots, their bodies and minds growing numb... One prayer on their lips, one faith in their hearts: that somehow, their kindred will come...

TRUST. "A little left," the fireman said "A little left, now ... steady ..." to keep the blind boy's trembling feet upon the plank above the street, from burning roof to safety. "A little left," the controller said "A little left, now ... steady ..." his voice, my eyes, as through the rain and blinding fog I glide my plane toward unseen runway safety. "A little right, now ... steady ..."

Frodo< Ben: This last parable and the one before that are excellent!

Ben< ALL: Do either of those stories remind you of an example of *operative* faith, your own or someone else's, here and now, in this world? YOUR TURN

Tracey< Every day, dear ... in many ways. *S* Very nice!

FRAML< Yes, multiple times in the military. And with friends/family in life.

Ben< By the way, my response to the announcement that one of our aircrews was down in Alaska -- and my instant empathy with their situation -- was the thought "We have to keep the faith! -- their faith in us." At that time, aircrews were gathering and preparing for a search-and-rescue mission into the Arctic night...

Slider/Abyss< Ben: I have had numerous unexplained helpful messages during my life, and because of my faith, I have been able to read and understand them, and a number of times these messages have saved my life, call it intuition, a sixth sense, or faith in an unseen force. I believe faith has carried me through many situations in life, where if I didn't have that faith the consequences would have been less than desirable. I learned to have faith and to trust faith through my own faith in something greater.

Jo< Slider/Abyss: Nicely said.

Tracey< ((Slider)) Yes, a spirit-given tool... to be used wisely and appreciated. I have shared these ways as well. *S*

Ben< Slider/Abyss: Yes. And others have benefited from their faith in your faithfulness. [Semper Fidelis] *smile*

Aqua< Ben: We humans, when children, were pre-programmed either by parents, school teacher or friends, that humans are after all nice people! So the faith which seems that we trust someone in the first instance was "real FAITH". I believe that a "blank memory" (having no memory in his brain) person will not have the faith you mentioned ... which means no faith without prior info/memory availability in someone ?

Ben< Aqua: Yes, as I said last time, I agree that faith does not exist in a vacuum.

Frodo< Ben: If our mind is the looking glass, or the magnifying glass, then the light which pours through the glass is our faith. The kind or color or quality of glass (mind) filters the light (faith). Right?

{Ben< Frodo: I'm not looking at faith that comes from an external source tonight, as the light which is reflected from or pours through glass comes from a source of light external to the glass. But, yes, some have a radiant faith, and some do not.]

Frodo< Ben: I conceive of faith as coming from the heart and soul. Perhaps its light is the result of the sparks of friction between Reality/God/Life and our experience of our efforts to be faithful to ourselves/soul/spirit. What do you think?

Ben< Frodo: I think faith is a very large subject that also includes faithfulness.

Frodo< Ben: I think "faithfulness" or faithful living, is the fruit of our "faith" don't you? If I am faithful in being honest with you tonight, it is because I perceive through the light of my faith that honest self-disclosure to you is the way of Life.

[Ben<Frodo: Yes, I appreciate your faith that honest self-disclosure is the way of Life, but that particular faith is by no means universally held, as you know.]

Slider/Abyss< Frodo: It seems to be an interesting conclusion that to have a faith, or faith in anything or anyone, you must have the same faith in yourself, believe in yourself, and you can help others believe in themselves.

Frodo< Slider/Abyss: Yes, I think I agree with you. But I think faith is a kind of spiritual perceptive quality of the soul that recognizes the truth or goodness in others, in self, in Life.

Slider/Abyss< Frodo: I don't always find that true, because I've faithfully trusted too many people that have let me down. Perhaps I put too much faith in some people, but I have tried to give them the benefit of the doubt -- but I have never lost my faith in the higher source of goodness and light.

Lor< Good point, Slider.

Frodo< Slider/Abyss, I don't believe "my faith" directs me to "believe in" or "trust" everyone. It does compel me, if I am honestly responsive to my faith, to see beyond or within the fear or dishonesty in the other person, to where I can recognize God within them. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said she loved the sickly and dying because she recognized the face of Christ in each person. Her faith provided the light to see with the heart of every person.

Slider/Abyss< Frodo: I also believed in Mother Teresa's work, but here in the USA it's usually not the sick and the dying that we deal with in everyday life, and most everyone seems to have a materialistic motive. *S*

Frodo< Slider/Abyss: My point is that Mother Teresa is an example of a person who lives by the light of faith purified by Love. Sorry, if I'm not making myself very clear.

Slider/Abyss< Frodo: Yes, I understand your message. I guess I was generalizing ... and truly blessed are the meek.

Frodo< Slider/Abyss: You make some good points.

Ben< /topic Discussion of Faith

LadyV< Ben: Thank you. An interesting discussion.

twyxt< You can believe in another person for the sake of that person believing in themselves and still not believe in yourself.

Tracey< twyxt: Honey... you need to have faith in you before you can truly pass it on to another... that you are safe in your own heart and soul no matter who lets you down. (((((HUGS)))))

twyxt< Okay, Tracey, then forget what I said.

Tracey< twyxt: Hon... I only said that because I was there. I put my faith in others and it did not work. I was not trying to "show you" anything, dear heart, only to let you know that putting your faith in yourself is much more necessary than seeing yourself through another's perspective. ((HUGS)) Please do not be offended ... that post was given to you out of love and past pain, hon.

twyxt< Tracey: That's okay, never mind. Faith in myself has been beaten and torn out of me, so it really doesn't matter what my self perspective is. Just forget it.

Lor< Ben: I sense faith does involve trust; however, I'm not sure it is necessarily limited as you indicated at the beginning of this seminar. I tend to agree with Frodo that it is closely related to one's heart and/or soul, as well.

Yopo< Yeah, I'm not entirely sure that my own faith is logic-dependent. Probably that wasn't even the point here. But for a long time, my logic seemed to stand in the way of faith. Events that were meaningful in my journey toward achieving some small faith could be taken apart with logical analysis and rendered meaningless, except within a materialistic logical sense. Attainment of faith for me has been a non-rational process...

Awenydd< Yopo: I think that is what this was all about, learning when to use and when to disregard logic with faith.

Slider/Abyss< Yopo: Materialistically, on this earth ultimately nothing matters, only our choices and how we decide to deal with them.

Yopo< Maybe it has been a non-logical acquisition of certain premises, as a foundation...

Ben< Yopo: Last week you said "Faith in Creator -- for me at least -- seems to involve some extrapolation at this point. It's like, I KNOW you're out there, 'cause I observe small significant indications here where I am." To me, that describes an empirical (inductive) process of reasoning from little indications to a more general (but necessarily somewhat vague) conclusion. *smile*

Yopo< Hmm. My own durn words as a response. *LOL* Point taken. I remember, too, a talk we had way back about intuition... Me thinking of it as non-rational... You suggesting it might be a sort of higher-level reasoning.

Ben< ALL: Please pardon me for not replying to all of your posts to me. This keeps me pretty busy, and I type slowly. As usual, I'll insert some responses when I edit the transcript.

Frodo< Ben: You are doing just fine. Great discussion here. I'm sorry that I didn't enter it until a short time ago. I was working up until then. Thanks for providing the forum for such an excellent topic!

Ben< Frodo: Thank you.

LEGS< Ben: Thanks for the good class...

Ben< LEGS: You're welcome, as always. *smile*

Tracey< (((ALL))) LOVE AND PEACE to you ... angels on your path holding their candles in your darkest hour. Goodnight! (((((BEN)))) Thanks hon! As usual... made us think. *S*

Ben< Tracey: Good night, friend. I noted that you didn't over-generalize in your response to the scenario about the furry little critter.

Tracey< ((Ben)) You know me... furry little critter... gotta love it! *S* night, hon.

Frodo< Ben: Good night! I wish I had entered this discussion here earlier. "Faith" is a reality near and dear to my heart. It is a fundamental concept and experience for me, and I think, for many others. Thank you very much!

Yopo< Ben: I've been thinking some more about the mystic, the sighted man, the blind man, and the wave. So... all three were men of logic. But each had a different capability for acquiring "raw data"...

Ben< Yopo: Yes, exactly. They each trusted their own ability to acquire data, and acted on it. [The sighted man and the blind man placed faith in self but no one else (which some say we all should do), so they didn't benefit from the mystic's ability.]

LordofFries< hehe, now Yopo is going to be digesting the three men for the next 40 years.

Slider/Abyss< Ben: I've been thinking of the three men and the wave also, and wondering if it was the incoming tide in Nova Scotia. *S*

Ben< Slider/Abyss: If they were standing near a beach on the Bay of Fundy, they should have had their heads examined!

Yopo< Ben: Guess my problem is that I am from Missouri (figuratively speaking, of course), and I've always had a firm seat on my donkey. *LOL* But I'm getting there, a little bit at a time.

LordofFries< hmmm, interesting. I'm in Missouri now, but I was in Arizona a few weeks ago and hit a donkey in my rental car. Wonder if there is a connection.

Yopo< LordofFries: *LOL* Not exactly the sort of collision I had in mind, bro...

Slider/Abyss< Yopo: I hear Missouri is the 'show me' state ... Is that true?

Yopo< Slider/Abyss: Guess so. Actually I'm from the Hoosier state. We never can come up with a relevant state motto, as our license plates suggest.

LordofFries< Ben: That blind guy must have been a pretty fast runner.

Ben< LordofFries: I don't know whether the blind man was a fast runner, but he sure needed to know which way was up hill. In my dream, he used his cane to "see" which way the ground was higher. He wasn't real fast, but he was definitely motivated.

LordofFries< LOL May be a clue in the cane if we look close enough... like maybe it wasn't just a cane, but a depth gauge.

Ben< LordofFries: I was kind of amazed at the blind man, while watching him in that dream. He was really good with that cane -- tap, tap, tap, all around until he knew which way was up -- and then he scattered some sand in his haste to get there, tap, tap, tapping all the way.

LordofFries< haha You'll have me laughing in my sleep again! My wife hates that! Says I'll sit bolt upright laughing then fall back down asleep. Scares the hell out her...

Ben< LordofFries: My sincerest apologies to your wife!

Slider/Abyss< Night all // {{{BEN}}} Thanks for another good discussion. It is a pleasure to sit in on these seminars and exchange thoughts. Blessings and peaceful dreams to all, 'till next time...

Ben< Okay, it is time for bed. Good night. Peace and blessings, always. *poof*

14. Faith
Session 3: Sat 05 Dec 1998

Ben< ALL: We are still looking at faith as unquestioning belief in something or unquestioning trust in someone. Tonight the topic is scientific faith. As usual, I'll post four questions, each pointing to a different way of looking at this topic.

Ben< QUESTION 1. Suppose you want to move a large refrigerator so you can paint the wall behind it. You're all by yourself, the durn thing is too heavy to lift, and it doesn't slide easily. All you have to work with is a few empty cardboard boxes, some old bricks, and a couple of 2x6 planks. What do you do? YOUR TURN

Awenydd< Easy enough -- use the bricks and planks to make a lever to lift the fridge up and slide the cardboard boxes under so it will slide easier.

FRAML< I'd lever the refrigerator onto the cardboard and then lever it from point A to point B.

Ben< Awenydd, FRAML: Yep. That's an easy one. Suppose you put the bricks two feet from the refrigerator, and it's still too heavy to lift. Then what?

greyman< Some problems can be solved using classical physics. This is one such problem. *G*

Koklee< I'd tip each side by using the 2x6 and slip a cardboard underneath, hoping it would slide.

Yopo< Hmm ... Maybe ask myself why I should move it, since nobody will see the wall behind anyhow. *S* Uh, suppose you could use bricks as a fulcrum, lever up the edge of the fridge with planks, and slip the cardboard under to slide it on.

Awenydd< Oooh, I would have to admit I would most likely take Yopo's side on that one. Why paint behind something that wouldn't be seen anyway? *G*

greyman< *G*

LEGS< *s* Ben: I'm waiting for a question that doesn't require so much muscle. (((hugs)))

Lani< There is a 'spiritual/energy' way to do it, too. Ask the fridge to help you -- by being 'lighter' (I know it sounds nuts but it works, too).

Awenydd< Wow, lets get real critical here. Why not just ask the blasted thing to move out of our way! (Sorry, Ben, that wasn't in response to you.)

Lani< Awenydd: Yup ... I once moved a 550 pound entertainment center by myself by asking it to 'help' by being 'lighter' (it was on a carpeted floor).

Awenydd< Lani: Ouch, you must be a real Hercules!

5foot2< Put the fridge on the cardboard using bricks and planks as a lever.

LadyV< The tools are limiting ...

Awenydd< Well, in my Army days, when we had to paint in our house, we would buy a keg of beer and invite a few buddies over, and voila, the job was completed in no time, though the quality was lacking at times. *G*

Joan< I'm with Awenydd. Call some friends. *S*

Awenydd< I have faith in my friends -- buy the beer and they will come!

FRAML< Yopo & Awenydd: Cheers!

FRAML< Ben: In reply to your question "Suppose you put the bricks two feet from the refrigerator, and it's still too heavy to lift. Then what?" Empty the refrigerator of it's contents and try again; if same result, reposition the bricks.

Yopo< FRAML: Yeah. We could drink all the beer inside to lighten the load.

Ben< FRAML: Yes, put the bricks closer to the refrigerator. That increases the mechanical advantage of the lever.

vivienne< Ben: Don't most refrigerators have wheels these days? Why would you even need all that stuff? You could just roll it. What kind of surface are we on?

LadyV< I would find a "dolly" to lever it ... and save my back.

Walt< Jack up the side of the house and the fridge will move by itself.

Ben< COMMENT: The scientific principles of the lever and fulcrum were defined by Archimedes about 200 BC. We don't need to test those principles anymore, because we know they work.

greyman< Ben: Eureka!

LEGS< Ben: I spoke to LAGONE on the phone. She says give her a lever and a fulcrum and she can move the world. *G*

Ben< COMMENT: Applied science operates on faith in the known (unquestioning belief that present knowledge is sufficient for the case at hand). This type of scientific faith is how humans use what we (collectively) have learned. Accepting proven principles on faith allows us to receive as a gift the accumulated knowledge that our ancestors have purchased with lifetimes.

Ben< QUESTION 2: Suppose you inherit a farm. The fields near the house are fertile and planted with various crops, but the back part of the farm is a swamp that hasn't been used or explored for generations. Would you spend time and effort to explore the swamp? If so, why -- and how? If not, why not? YOUR TURN

vivienne< Of course! Swamps are beautiful. Coming from Florida, I know! You gotta be careful not to stomp on someone else's home, though; walk with respect.

LEGS< Now, that I've done, in the Big Thicket area ... and turned the little spring area in the depths of a 'hidden valley' into a wonderful retreat. By the way, lots of poke salet grew there.

Awenydd< I would explore the swamp simply for my wandering spirit, and because it was there. Besides, I'm no farmer, and would prefer getting lost in a swamp to doing real work.

LEGS< (((Awenydd))) *s*

LadyV< I would explore the swamp. I agree with vivienne: best to tread carefully. Do not think I would drain it. I would leave it as it was.

FRAML< I'd expend some time just to survey my property. Also there might be a way to easily drain it and put it into production. Where I grew up was reclaimed swamp land.

vivienne< FRAML: When people "reclaim" land that was never theirs to claim in the first place, the wetlands disappear! There are other beings besides humans whose homes are sacred.

Joan< YES -- explore the swamp. How: carefully, with hip boots. Why: just for curiosity, to find out what's there. There could be a buried treasure chest.

greyman< Maybe explore once the farm chores are done. Maybe bring a .22 just in case a nasty "swamp monster" appears. *G*.

Yopo< Yep. I'd feel compelled to know what's in there. Maybe tramp in with waders, or put a boat in. You don't know what you have until you take a look.

Koklee< I would want to explore the swamp to see what kind of wildlife it contained. How? Not sure ... that would depend on what was available (rocks and fallen trees to stand on).

5foot2< Yes, I'd explore. My curiosity/appreciation would motivate me. How? on top of the water as opposed to in it ... if possible. (Please note: no alligators in my neighborhood.) *grin*

Ben< ALL: If you ask the neighbors, they tell you nobody knows what's in that swamp, but it probably isn't worth exploring. Do you explore it yourself? If so, what have you taken on faith, and what have you not taken on faith? YOUR TURN

vivienne< Of course, of course. I have taken on faith that whatever is out there is what is my future, and why not? I have not taken on faith that others are right.

Lani< I'd find out what was there for myself (and not drain nor disturb it).

LEGS< You trust yourself to make the right decisions as the situation changes, in the swamp or the office.

Yopo< Never mind the neighbors. Maybe they don't know what's worth what to me.

LadyV< Yopo: I agree with you.

LEGS< The Faith in my heart says that I will be led to the right decision if I trust.

Koklee< Neighbors may not appreciate the same things as me, so I'd want to explore anyway.

Awenydd< I would still explore it. And, vivienne, if we never impeded on someone else's turf, we wouldn't have any ourselves. We should maintain a balance, however.

vivienne< Awenydd: I disagree.

greyman< I don't know -- "Blue Book" got a lot of mileage out of marsh gas as an explanation of UFO's. Could not resist at least the "once over" for the ol' swamp.

FRAML< I'm interested in what is on my land. If others aren't curious about what they own, that is their business. My land is mine. I'm using a measuring rod of trusting in my interest in the unknown over theirs. If they have no reason other than "everyone knows", then that is not a reason to me, since no one has bothered to do the research themselves and don't know of any specific research to prove the point.

Walt< Pump the swamp water onto your fertile land and neighbors land. When dry, plant celery there.

Lefty< I like beans.

Katherina< Maybe the field is yielding high crops because of the swamp.

Koklee< Not sure how exploring would have to do with taking something on faith.

FRAML< Ben: And didn't old Jed Clampet shoot at a possum and "up came the bubblin' crude, Texas T. -- Oil". *G*

Ben< ALL: Suppose you walk out into the edge of the swamp, just looking around, and find an ancient gold coin lying on the ground. Do you continue to explore the swamp? If so, what have you taken on faith? YOUR TURN

LadyV< A coin ... I still would not drain the swamp ... may go swimming real fast, but would leave the swamp alone.

Willow< *s* I would thank the swamp for such a grand welcome ... and explore it tenderly for the treasure it holds on other levels.

LadyV< Willow: Bravo!! And you would, too ... (smiling)

LEGS< Ben: What a lovely bonus to find a gold coin. I would likely inquire of someone more knowledgeable, if metal detectors work on gold, then find one and scan the area.

Yopo< Hmm. I certainly WOULDN'T tell the neighbors about THAT ... unless maybe I'd made it up. *LOL* But a gold coin ... I'd be in the swamp a lot.

JUNE< Ben: Perhaps you take it on faith that the pirate who lost that coin had a bigger hole in his pocket. *S* Hello. I am playing catch up here.

5foot2< I'd have explored the swamp regardless of the coin ... but that "little voice" would be saying "there could be more" ... *grin*

Ben< 5foot2: I think the little voice that says "There could be more" is important.

Joan< Gold coin! Texas oil! Explore! There might be more interesting things -- but I don't see how that is 'faith'.

Ben< Joan: I'll get to how this scenario is an example of faith. *smile*

FRAML< I'd ask more questions as to the location of this land, to figure out the history of it. Is it near a port or trading route? What is the age of the coin, and is it indigenous to the area? etc. (But then, I'm a historian.)

Walt< Coin was dropped by neighbor coveting your land. Wants you to spend your time and money looking for fool's treasure on your land ... and neglect your biz.

greyman< I would ask my neighbors if they lost anything. If no one is missing anything, maybe a long-forgotten treasure is lurking in the swamp! But I bet that old snooty Mrs. Perkins follows me back into the swamp. Do you think I can get the neighbors to think she is that old swamp monster? *S*

Awenydd< Kinda sounds like "The legend of Wooley Swamp" to me.

Ben< COMMENT: Basic research operates on faith in the unknown (that is, unquestioning belief that there are more bits of truth to be discovered), and faith in human ignorance (unquestioning belief that we don't know everything now), and faith in our ability to seek and find more bits of truth (unquestioning belief that we can learn). This (usually subconscious) type of scientific faith is characteristic of great scientists -- and little children.

Willow< ... beautiful ... *s*

Joan< Ben: You sure answered my question!!!

LadyV< I was thinking about when we put a man on the moon ... on faith. All new adventures are on faith. Has to be it's scary ...

greyman< LadyV: Sometimes the spirit of adventure is stronger than the spirit of fear. *G*

LadyV< greyman: You want to be lead horse? (laughing) I will follow ...

[Ben< LadyV, greyman: Good inputs. Fear of the unknown inhibits exploration. And also, an exclusive or absolute faith in our present knowledge inhibits basic research by making it seem unnecessary and thus foolish.]

Koklee< Ben: I had trouble connecting a truth to a gold coin. Was thinking more along the lines of the Oak Island mystery.

Yopo< Koklee: I think maybe Ben is drawing us a little map here. *S*

Koklee< Thanks, Yopo. I feel like I'm missing the boat on this one.

Ben< Koklee: It didn't have to be a gold coin. It could have been anything valuable waiting to be discovered in the swamp. Like wild blackberry bushes, for example.

Awenydd< A Map! Where is it Ben?!?!? We can make blackberry pie!

LEGS< Ben: Mom would consider the bushes loaded with berries a greater treasure ... that Missouri instinct. *G*

Ben< QUESTION 3. Do you believe there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy? If so, why do you believe it? If not, why don't you believe it? YOUR TURN

FRAML< I don't know if one exists, and I don't really care about it. I consider that "fact" as outside my realm of interest.

Ben< FRAML: Okay. That's a valid response to a lot of assertions, in my opinion.

FRAML< Ben: I guess we have curiosity in finding the unknown only in those things that we care about, or acknowledge as being important to us.

Joan< I neither believe that there is a black hole at center of galaxy, nor don't believe it. I don't know. Perhaps if an astronomer I trusted said there was, I would believe it. Mostly -- I don't care.

greyman< Ben: I haven't been there recently, but strong x-ray and infrared emissions from our galactic center reveal it as a strong possibility.

bluestar< I think there is a black hole at the center of everything: the center of the earth, the center of the sun, the center of the galaxy, the center of each nucleus.

Yopo< I don't have enough data to know. Only recently heard about that theory. I would maybe be inclined to doubt, based upon what I DO know. I had thought our galaxy was an expanding spiral. But maybe it might turn out to be like bathtub water circling the drain. *S*

LEGS< Yopo: Does that leave us as the ring on the tub??? *G*

bluestar< Yopo: Actually, the spiral and the bathtub drain analogies are not mutually exclusive.

LadyV< I have read about the Black Hole. I am not informed enough on quarks or atoms to know. I would imagine it is there.

greyman< Halkins, Halkins where for art thou?

LadyV< Come to think of it, new things are being discovered in the heavens.

SWIFT< Space is full of little black holes. The big boys are only seen due to their affect on neighboring stellar bodies.

SolSoul< Well, a black hole isn't really black. It emits small negative charged particles that blink in and out of what some say is existence. IF it's all an illusion, then all beliefs and faith is one singular thread of life. Whether or not there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy is not important. The search and the means by which we find out is important. What we do with that knowledge at heart is also meaningful.

Ben< ALL: Okay. Interesting responses. Perhaps I should have used a different example; however, what I was trying to point toward will be in my next comment, and you may wish to expand on it from your own observations.

Ben< COMMENT: In addition to several types of scientific faith, there is also faith in science. Today, the word "scientific" implies "tested and therefore trustworthy" even if this implication isn't true. Many people believe many things on faith in the so-called "leading scientists". (Did you ever hear of a "following scientist"?) This is faith in authority rather than faith in evidence or experience.

Joan< Oh, yes, Ben. And if it's published, the author becomes an "authority" even if it's junk.

FRAML< Thus we can have blind faith in what a scientist says from authority, or we can ask if he did the research properly. Did he design the experiment so as to discover the outcome, or to prove the outcome he believed in?

LadyV< Well, OK, lets put it another way ... a scientist that discovered something that benefited mankind. If the facts were reliable, yes, I would agree. I would be more comfortable with facts.

SWIFT< The observer influences what is observed.

bluestar< There is altogether too much faith in authority (imho) and not enough in science. Science, like everything else in this world, is full of political socio-economic, even religious biases.

Yopo< A good distinction. Big difference between faith in the scientific process, and faith in Science. Like with this "debate" about global warming. Some present observed facts, and try to draw conclusions. Others, who don't like the way the facts seem to add up, trot out "authorities" in an effort to sway public opinion.

bluestar< Good example, Yopo. :-)

SolSoul< Yes, Ben, I agree. When Michael Jordan offers to show me how it is played, I listen. His experiences have made him a so-called "expert" in his field. Based on trust, honesty and integrity, I can learn from his experiences (a passing down of experience through voice or action), and add it to my own. I indirectly experienced it, and now I can use this knowledge to increase my game, so to speak. And based on the definition that was generally agreed upon, I can grow. If I am misinformed I will find out sooner or later through the search.

Ben< ALL: What other examples do you have of "faith in science"?

5foot2< "4 out of 5 doctors surveyed ..."

Ben< 5foot2: Hah! That reminds me of advertisements for Preparation H.

LEGS< Ben: Like the pharmacological medications that are anti-psychotic drugs that make more people who have suffered from psychosis capable of functioning in today's world (which conversely, today's world makes more people psychotic).

greyman< Ben: Speed of light in a vacuum is 186,282 MPH. If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.

Yopo< greyman: Or one falls over from the effort. *S*

LadyV< I like the Russian proverb, "Walk with the Devil until you cross the bridge." If the scientist is not entirely insane, one may consider.

bluestar< What I meant by my last statement was: science is, I think, a good thing ... scientists, however, are subject to the same realities we all are, and some are up to the challenge and some are not.

LadyV< bluestar: That is fair.

Joan< bluestar: Yes, I was thinking of anti-psychotics, too. But the faith of physicians in the drugs seems to blind them to the terrible side-effects, and the fact that they don't always work well.

Ben< bluestar: Well said. Some scientists have scientific faith and some have faith in science. Many refuse to question the axioms of their own academic discipline.

greyman< Ben: And some of the best ones are senile. *G*.

LadyV< Ben: In war that is also true. (Not on the subject. Sorry, but I do feel that way.)

SWIFT< Science is at a loss, it's admitted, due to Werner Heisenberg's quantum uncertainty principle.

greyman< Goot shot, SWIFTY!

bluestar< SWIFT: Exactly my point ... scientists can only describe the known. Quantum physics has opened up a new dimension of reality to us, and we haven't figured it out yet. Many of the old paradigm rules do not apply, and conclusions drawn from known facts turn out to be rather fuzzy at best. If scientists wouldn't be so sure of their conclusions, they wouldn't be so surprised when they turn out to be wrong ... like the current dilemma they have surrounding the fact that natural orbiting bodies such as planets seem to generate heat that does not appear to be from the sun. Well, if they knew that in the center of the planet is a black hole that is causing its spin (rotation) in the first place, maybe they wouldn't be so surprised.

FRAML< bluestar: Good point.

Yopo< We never get out of our boxes without climbing into a new one. A bigger box maybe, with room for new stuff, but still, a box. *sigh*

LadyV< Yopo: Wisely put.

5foot2< Yopo: I read somewhere that we are in a bubble, no beginning or end, yet we feel the need to set limits. So, to understand/feel comfortable, we will draw a line around the inside of a bubble creating a beginning and end to something that apparently has neither. We apply limits to the limitless. (I thought it interesting)

Yopo< 5foot2: True. We see, not reality, but the model we have fashioned of it. Scientific advancement is a way of refining and enlarging our model, hopefully in such a way that it will better correspond to that UNSEEN underlying reality. What chiefly interests me are those moments when we seem to catch a momentary glimpse BEYOND the model.

bluestar< Neat comment and reply, 5foot2 and Yopo. :-)

Ben< COMMENT: Rather than post a fourth question pointing toward this comment, I'll simply state it: The explosion of discoveries seen in the history of science during the past 200 years is mainly due to *faith in the scientific method*. I recommend reading the brief "history of science" section of any encyclopedia, with the question in mind: "Where was faith placed in each of these cases?"

Ben< /topic Discussion of scientific faith

bluestar< I think an important thing to remember about science is, it can only describe what we know, not what we don't know. Faith is usually associated with the unknown. Or perhaps, Ben, you are referring to the fact that some people have faith that science will provide eventually a solution to all problems ... such as, "don't worry" science will figure out what to do with nuclear waste ... or science will figure out how to clean up all the environmental toxins in the planet, or ...

Joan< Hmmm. Scientists are trying to 'conquer' cancer and 'defeat' AIDS, etc. We have faith that they will succeed. But essentially they're trying to end death. They mustn't have faith in survival after death.

LadyV< Joan: Interesting point. To me, I feel they are working to end suffering ... what a horrid way to die. Better that life is more natural and we just rust out. There are worst things than dying, and suffering is one of them.

greyman< Faith in observation, faith in the ability to repeat an experiment, faith in cause and effect, faith in funding dollars. *G*

FRAML< Faith in how big of a scare we can put in the population to create a "demand" for tax dollars to find a solution.

Joan< Ha ha! From what I've seen, faith was placed in NIH or NIMH or another federal agency for funding, so the scientists could keep their jobs. *G*

greyman< Joan: Shhhhush, that is supposed to be a secret! *G*

SWIFT< Faith in science, as far as trusting it, like bluestar pointed out, is worth thinking about. Science is a beast that needs control, ethics and morals. Also, the blind faith that science makes a better future, so lets pollute now and trust the boffins to come up with a solution to their own homemade problems in the future is not on. That is where science needs control. It's like a primitive with an advanced toy, a deadly one (nuclear weapons). I suppose it's natural that science eventually uncovers these mysteries, but in some respects science is used by immoral barbarians (Hitler/SS). Is science premature? Do we need to evolve to control it? Or is this evolution through natural selection; i.e. whoever wipes themselves out with nuclear weapons (in the advent of science) don't make it; their worlds die out and so do they, deemed unworthy. Meanwhile in this world or dimension things are different, at least for the time being, so in time only the worthy, those with restraint and control of the beast (science) will survive into the future. Who should we have faith in? We are lucky for the good that came from it, but there is a need for a balance.

bluestar< SWIFT: Interesting analogy ... in an esoteric sense, science is the beast ... that which perceives only through the senses ... but like the beast, it is amoral, and personally I think it is the nature of science to be so. It is for humanity to decide how and what to do with the information obtained as well as to decide how the information should be obtained. I think the greatest threat science makes to our world is that, by defining reality, it confines (like the bubble). That is what makes quantum physics such an interesting scientific exploration; it shows us that rather than one bubble for all of us, each of us is living in our own bubble and somehow we all manage to mingle (for better or worse).

SWIFT< Science applies to the same laws of Darwinian evolution. I can give other examples: the evolution of genetic based love, or the evolution that insures that people survive within poverty. All that live now are here due to a chain of events. Where people survive means children can be raised relatively safely; if they weren't, then there would be no life there, nothing to see.

Ben< COMMENT: The natural sciences are based on faith in the consistency of nature, which is seen as faith that repeating the same experiment will produce the same results time after time. However, humans aren't very consistent, which is why the natural sciences are further developed than the social sciences.

LEGS< Thanks for the seminar, Ben. What is the subject next week??

Ben< LEGS: My intended topic for next week is "religious faith" -- which may prove interesting.

Yopo< UH oh ... *S* Don't want to miss THAT one.

LadyV< I was thinking that tonight we have not touched on religion at all, and the name of the Almighty I do not think has been mentioned at all. That is not generally the case ... unless I missed a message somewhere ... that is rare for us.

Ben< ALL: Are you interested in playing a little Q&A game related to this subject?

Yopo< Ben: Ah! A game!

Koklee< Ben: I'm not scientifically schooled, but would like to try.

LadyV< Koklee I am with you ... I know little of Science.

Koklee< LadyV: The only science I practice is day to day life. (S)

LadyV< Koklee: Yes ... (smiling)

Ben< Yopo, Koklee, LadyV: Okay, I'll go with the game, and see where it leads.

Ben< ALL: Suppose you said to a seven-year-old girl (as I once did) "I know it doesn't look like it from here, but this world we walk on isn't flat; it is actually round, like a ball." She said "That's the silliest thing I ever heard." What would you say (or do) next? YOUR TURN

falcon< I would say: Often the most remarkable things appear at first to be the silliest of things.

LadyV< I would take her to the ocean and show her the horizon.

Ben< LadyV: Good idea. And how the ships disappear from the bottom up as they sail away.

bluestar< Sorry, I am a bit late for the game. LadyV came up with the same answer I had. :-)

Koklee< Ben: Show her a globe and pictures of the earth from outer space.

Joan< Yes, a globe -- and we are tiny little specks right *there*.

Ben< ALL: When I showed her a globe and pointed out where we were on it, she asked "Have you been all the way around?" I showed her where I had been (almost all the way around, but not quite). And I showed her some pictures of the earth taken from spacecraft.

LadyV< That probably impressed her. (smiling)

Joan< So, did she believe you then?

Ben< ALL: Then she was quiet and looked very thoughtful. I said "Now you'll be wondering why the people on the other side don't fall off." She said "Yes! Why don't they?" YOUR TURN

Koklee< I'd read up on gravitational pull, so it could be explained properly. And mention that, to them, *we* are the other side of the world.

LadyV< You said the kid was how old? (laughing) Oh, me ... then you have to get into looking dumb ... I would on that one ... have to think a minute.

bluestar< You could explain how what we call black holes tend to pull things inward. ;-)

LadyV< I was considering the gravity thing in relation to the moon, but that would get complicated. I would tell her to look at her feet: she is held firm to the earth ... out there or over there is firm also. I don't know if she would buy it, but that would be my answer, most likely.

bluestar< I was thinking of some cake mix in a blender (something not too watery). The spin tends to pull the matter downward (but unfortunately it then tends to move outward and upward on the sides (which would probably defeat the purpose of the demonstration. :-(

LadyV< I am stumped. You would have to get into the gravity pull with the moon and then she would want to see it ... being a kid.

Ben< ALL: I said they didn't fall off because the earth drew them to it, something like the way a magnet draws metal objects to it. She promptly jumped up, went and got the magnet she had been playing with earlier, and put it against her arm. It fell off. She looked at me. YOUR TURN

Yopo< Uh, I suppose I'd point out that "down" really means "toward the middle". *LOL* You might tell her the magnet fell off 'cause of gravity ... and 'cause she's not made outta metal, like the Tin Man.

LadyV< Yopo : Right on!! That would work; she would buy that.

Koklee< I would say that she's not made of metal, and that the magnet was only an analogy.

Yopo< Koklee: Then she'd say "What's an analogy?" Try explaining THAT to a seven-year-old. *S*

LadyV< Koklee: Then you would have to explain analogy.

Yopo< LadyV: Yeah. "An analogy is like ... uh ... " *S*

Koklee< Yopo: I could be in trouble. (grin)

SWIFT< Knowing Quantum physics at the moment, the boffins will be telling us the world is flat again, perception makes it round.

Yopo< Perception makes it.

LadyV< I think that one thing leads to another in questioning what is, or why it is, or how does it work.

Ben< ALL: I said, well, it's like a magnet but not exactly the same as a magnet. It's called "gravity" and it draws everything, like a magnet draws metal. She said "Oh ... how does it do that?" YOUR TURN

Koklee< I would tell her to jump up and see what happens.

bluestar< Ben: If you answer that last question, I think that you would be a good candidate for the Nobel prize. I mean, has anyone really answered the question "How does gravity work?" I think about this time, I would be trying to think about how I might define mystery.

LadyV< It is like a magnet and gravity draws everything as a magnet. How? I think ... tell her to watch how the hair on her arms stand up when you rub your hands over her forearm ... that's gravity. Well, I can't help it if I got the mind of a kid. (laughing) Got to get down to their level to understand them ... that's about where I am ... Nuts ...

Yopo< Ben: So, you're practicing for when your new grandchild starts to ask questions? *S* "Some things just ARE. It's sorta like you need certain rules to play a game, or you couldn't HAVE the game. Gravity is one of the rules."

Ben< Yopo: The little girl in this story is my oldest granddaughter. She is now going on 16 and eagerly looking forward to her driver's license.

LadyV< Ben: If that's your Granddaughter, be sure you have the placement for Yale now!!!!

bluestar< To my knowledge, we can describe what gravity is and what it does, but how it works? I was under the impression that is still in the theoretical stage ... and one of the bigger obstacles in coming up with a unified force theory.

SWIFT< Think of a journey around the globe: you circumnavigate, returning to your original point of origin, but at a quantum level there was two origin points, both appear as you left them, also two of you, one arrives at the other point, saying "This is how I left things, no change" but that point is not really the original. Say there were four, or eight, or limitless infinity of such points, still perception says things are normal. You could think the same for an orbiting satellite's view on the world: perception makes it round. There are many dimensions, each leading on to more dimensions, splitting, multiplying. In a way, the world is flat, or better, a continuous coil that goes to make a larger coil, ad infinitum.

bluestar< Of course, I think gravity works due to the balance maintained between our universe and the ONE on the other side of the black hole. But I don't think I would want to explain that to my grandchild or she might run into some serious trouble in school ... and I might run into some serious trouble with her parents.

LadyV< bluestar: Or plant a seed for a lifetime of searching for what is truth ...

Yopo< bluestar: I haven't got a clue about gravity. Curved space is hardly an explanation. Could it be that it IS just one of the Rules of the Game? We seem to take stuff apart into smaller and smaller bits, then finally get down to where what you're left with isn't even stuff. Just concepts and mathematical formula. It's like trying to take apart a dream.

Ben< ALL: I said "That's a very good question. I don't know how gravity works. And so far as I know, nobody does. But there are people called 'scientists' who study such questions. Maybe they will find out how gravity works during your lifetime." She said "Oh, good! I'd like that." And we went on to other subjects.

Ben< ALL: I presented this Q&A game as an example of a little girl's truly scientific mind at work. And as an example of honestly distinguishing between what we do and do not know. And as an example of my own faith in the scientific method.

LadyV< Ben: You are asking also that we listen to what you have said ... in an exact manner. Good point.

Yopo< Ben: I have faith in it, too. But also in things that will forever evade it.

Ben< Yopo: Perhaps some things will forever evade the scientific method ... but forever is a long time, and many things once thought unfathomable mysteries have been explored and understood, better and better, in the past 100-200 years. So, my faith in the scientific method is based on and projected from that history.

Koklee< Ben: The scientific method allows for mistakes. *s*

LadyV< The thing is that perception is not exact; nor is science, I would imagine.

SWIFT< Ben: In order to truly explain to this seven year old girl, you would have to give her the BIG TOE; you with such knowledge would be a GOD; so would she, once she knew it.

Ben< SWIFT: No, I'm not omniscient. And I don't pretend to be. I simply would not deceive her.

LadyV< That was wise ... none of us are. She has benefited from that value system, I am sure.

SWIFT< Everything connects within this Universe/Multiverse, so a proper explanation requires knowledge of all, thus you become all there is. What affects gravity? What relation does light have with gravity? etc. What caused the foot print in the sand? What is the cause made of? What is the sand made of? All is relevant, science is at a loss, until mankind becomes GOD.

[Ben< SWIFT: We don't have to know everything in order to know something.]

bluestar< Yopo: Back to the bubble and quantum physics ... and yes! I agree. I think gravity is just part of the rules of the game. It is part of the rules of existence of the universe we share. Gravity keeps matter from floating away or dispersing into a huge homogenic cloud of matter. Without gravity as we experience it, I think we would be manifesting in something which looks rather like a cloud of the kind of particles that make up the solar wind. Of course, who's to say that isn't reality for some of us?

Yopo< SWIFT: I figure the ground of reality is Consciousness. All else, only the patterns that sweep through it. We are in a place where gravity and light are how the patterns appear, but ultimately, all is like a dream. Very different patterns might come and go. Different rules of the game. But all there really is, is Consciousness.

bluestar< Well put, Yopo.

SWIFT< What is within that atom? What is within the within? And what is within that? -- since I cannot know gravity until I know that.

bluestar< Good job, Ben. Your granddaughter is fortunate to have you for her grandfather. :-)

Ben< bluestar: Thank you. And I am blessed to share my life with such people as I have found in my own family.

LadyV< Thanks again, Ben, really enjoyed the session.

SWIFT< What if there was only gravity within another Universe, a different chain of events leading from the big bang, different laws set down at the earliest epoch? Then there is but gravity, no seven year old girl to explain it to. Then it is easy to explain it -- it's algorithmically compressed and simple -- but you're not there to explain it. So gravity is tied to everything else.

Yopo< SWIFT: Ah, but everybody's gotta be SOMEPLACE. *S* And if nobody is there, there is no place at all. I guess I don't hold with the idea of dead matter, blank energy, games with no one to observe. And wherever we find ourselves, however odd that place might be by our current standards, it's gonna seem like home.

Ben< /topic OPEN

SWIFT< Thanks, Ben, you gave me something to think about.

Ben< SWIFT: You're welcome. And I appreciate all the inputs from those who come to these seminars. A good bunch of people.

SWIFT< Hey, gravity is there to inject reality into itself, as GOD.

Yopo< Ben: So, how many grandchildren have you?

Ben< Yopo: Four -- one of my sons has two daughters (almost 16 and just past 11); the other has a son (3 1/2) and a baby daughter (born 24 Nov).

Yopo< Ben: Lucky fellow! I have no children. Two brothers, but only one has a daughter, age six. Needless to say, she is in the catbird seat, come Christmas. LOL

Ben< Yopo: I bet she is! LOL

SWIFT< Yopo: I was just being metaphoric to make a point clear. I am well familiar with the observer creating the observed, the injection of reality, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, like I stressed earlier. In fact, if anyone cares to listen, I give a good account of such things in simple to understand terms. Stone the dreamer asleep, we awake as conscious entities, sacrificial thought becoming matter. Also a scientifically sound understanding of how an individual affects the world at large through injection of reality.

Yopo< SWIFT: I figured as much. *S* My own approach to the world is probably more mystical than scientific, but these days it is sometimes hard to tell which is which. And your approach is somewhat poetic. *S*

SWIFT< I understand what you mean, Yopo.

Yopo< Ben: Your granddaughter at seven reminds me a bit of my niece. Endless questions. She analyzes answers. A never-ending source of surprises. Gets it from her parents, I suppose. Both are anthropologists. I like to occasionally tell her something that ISN'T true, just to test. More often than not, she figures out I'm kidding.

Ben< Yopo: I've known several little children like that -- self-propelled learning -- with really good minds. They remind me of the teaching "Unless you return and become like little children ... "

SWIFT< Children, how? how? how? why? why? why?

Yopo< Ben: I recall, when she was about four, we were walking alongside a river on a fall day. I casually asked her how she thought the leaves would get back on the trees come spring. She looked at me carefully, then got this expression that told me she suspected her Uncle was a complete idiot. Then she launched into an explanation. She explained that the trees would grow NEW leaves. The old ones would disappear. It was her manner of explaining it that seemed so bright. A little lecture about nature from a four year old. *S*

Ben< Yopo: Apparently, she understood about trees -- and uncles! LOL

Yopo< Ben: Thanks for a most enjoyable evening!

Ben< Yopo: Thank you. And now it is time to rest. Good night.

14. Faith
Session 4: Sat 12 Dec 1998

Ben< ALL: We are still looking at faith as unquestioning belief in something or unquestioning trust in someone. Tonight the topic is religious faith. However, as a subject for discussion, the *contents* (tenets, or specific beliefs) of all the various religions would be terribly complex and lead to endless arguments, so I'd like to look at religious faith in general.

Ben< The simplest meaning of "religious" comes from Latin and refers to Greek and Roman polytheism: "having or showing reverence for the gods and for sacred things." Secular means "of an age or generation" and implies "not religious".

Ben< Sacred means "separated, set apart" and implies "dedicated, consecrated, or devoted to (a god or gods)." The opposite of sacred is profane, which means "showing disrespect or contempt for sacred things."

Ben< The word "god" means 1. any of various beings conceived of as supernatural, immortal, and having special powers over the lives and affairs of people and the course of nature; 2. an object of worship; 3. a deified person or thing.

Ben< QUESTION 1. Suppose you are helping a team of archeologists excavate an ancient heap of rubble on one of the Greek islands. Someone finds one corner of a large block of marble, and everyone helps uncover the rest of it. There is an inscription on it which translated reads *Sacred to Apollo*. What do you think about that? And about this place? Do you stop digging because this is a sacred site? YOUR TURN

Slider/Abyss< Well, I guess I would try to find out why this site is scared to Apollo. And keep on digging in order to discern to myself how sacred Apollo was and to whom.

Koklee< I think this place would be of importance to someone or something that I don't understand and would leave it alone.

Yopo< I would think this would be a place worthy of more than a passing respect. If it were my choice, I would continue the excavation, but that specialness would remain in my mind

Ben< Slider/Abyss, Koklee, Yopo: Thoughtful responses. Thank you. Others?

bluestar< That's a difficult question, Ben. I think I would try to find out first what the locals think/feel about me digging in the area. Is the site sacred to the people who live there? If so, and they wished me not to dig, I probably would not.

5foot2< As an archeologist, I would be aware of the possibility of the area being sacred to someone ... here, I'd know to whom. It would effect how I continued. I think more respect (mentally) might be given out of courtesy to those who worship this place/God.

Ben< bluestar, 5foot2: You would focus on the people to whom this site may be sacred, with respect for them. Okay.

Valkyrie< I think it would be appropriate to bring an offering out of respect. I've seen archeologists do that in the Inca digs. They do a ceremony with the locals.

QUAD< Cheetah says all the earth is sacred, even banana trees.

Koklee< QUAD: That's one smart Cheetah.

MoniMed< lol QUAD ... but it is true.

Caelum< How do you know what is sacred? Could be the air around you, but you go on breathing it.

MoniMed< That's a difficult question, Ben. I agree with Caelum, but I don't think I would keep digging.

Slider/Abyss< Ben: Just a statement related to your question ... if it were not for archeologists digging into sacred sites, I feel any religion today would only be legend with no proof to back them.

Ben< Slider/Abyss: Good point.

Valkyrie< I wouldn't stop digging. It's important to see what the ancestors did and get at the truth, instead of hearing baseless conjecture.

Koklee< Ben: I understand it more as a person leaving behind a will. I guess it is important to the one writing it, but when he has passed, it may not matter to him. (Or maybe it does?)

Ben< COMMENT: I believe the word "sacred" should suggest the question "Sacred to whom?" and the answer should refer to human beings, because people create, invent or designate the symbols, objects, places, organizations, offices, rituals, animals, substances, vestments, etc., which are sacred to them but to no one else. This is why a person can truthfully say to another "Yes, I believe it is sacred to you, but it isn't sacred to me." And likewise, if it is true, a person can truthfully say "Apollo isn't my god."

MoniMed< Yeah ... you're right, Ben.

Slider/Abyss< Ben: Very good description.

Ben< QUESTION 2: This is a statement of religious faith: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Does this statement assume or imply that God will enforce those rights? What do you think? YOUR TURN

Valkyrie< Actually, that is almost a direct quote from John Locke's writing, and in that time, G-d was supposed to guarantee their right to do whatever they wanted to.

bluestar< I don't think they imply that God is or is expected to be the enforcer of these rights, but rather they simply mean that these rights are everyone's birthright; i.e., one does not have to earn them, inherit them, or be granted them by any "other" beings.

Yopo< I think no implication is made that Creator will enforce those rights. A statement like that is made more to indicate that WE are elevating the ideas contained therein to the level of sacredness. It is sort of an assertion that we consider them as fundamental truths.

MoniMed< Yes, it does imply that God, through the people, will enforce these rights. America's government is based very highly on Christianity even though they stress freedom of any religion.

5foot2< Ben: I believe the writer assumes that to be true, with no implication of enforcement, rather matter of fact.

Slider/Abyss< Ben: The description you give implies what man feels is God's will toward man. If we happen to be associated with the country or religion that allows this, we take it for granted, because the courts in this country uphold these truths for all its people. As a spiritual being one must come to terms between themselves and their God to hold these truths as what God has given us. I believe our free will (or free won't) dictates much of the outcome of how these truths come to be.

Caelum< That statement doesn't assume or imply that those rights will be enforced by God.

MoniMed< Well ... I'm not so sure ... because my brother just brought up a good point: they are stating that as a fact in this country, but it doesn't have any affect on some other societies that don't have the same beliefs.

Caelum< Them's fight'n words.

Yopo< Caelum: Alas, sometimes they are.

Koklee< I don't know if or how God could or does enforce these rights, but I believe we are all equal and inherently have life, liberty, and the option to pursue happiness, no matter where we live or what we may at the time be experiencing.

Ben< Very good comments. Thank you. (As you know, I try to stimulate thinking, and enjoy a variety of thoughtful responses.)

MoniMed< You're doing a very good job, Ben. Why don't you share some of your ideas?

Ben< COMMENT: Religious faith isn't necessarily belief in a god or gods, because there are non-theistic religions such as Buddhism. And it doesn't necessarily imply trust in a god or gods. Those who wrote the Declaration of Independence were mainly Deists -- which means they did not believe that God intervenes in human affairs. The next part of the Declaration shows this clearly, because they did not rely on God to accomplish anything; they called on human beings instead.

MoniMed< If America's forefathers believed in God enforcing this, then there would be no need to write it in the Declaration of Independence.

Ben< COMMENT: However, religious faith often does involve belief and trust in a god or gods, and that is what I would like to look at next.

Ben< QUESTION 3: If you believe in a god or gods, where did you get that belief? If you don't, where did you get that disbelief? In other words, what is the origin of your religious faith? Did you inherit it from previous generations or choose it from among the various alternatives available now or invent it yourself? YOUR TURN

Blinder< Simple answer: personal experience.

5foot2< My faith is based on personal experience "gut-feelings". If asked before getting net access, I would have said it was self-invented; however, exploration here has shown me that my faith is a combination of many different faiths.

Ben< Blinder, 5foot2: You are one question ahead of me. *smile*

LEGS< I was reared a Protestant ... Baptist beliefs by devout mother and father and grandparents. We thought everyone was beloved of the God who knew the number of hairs on our individual heads and blessed our individual prayers, and to a great extent, that is still my hope ... but not necessarily my current faith, which is ameliorated by reality and disappointments.

MoniMed< Most people get their faith from previous generations, and whether or not it is the same religion, they have the same basic ideas of life. However, there are some individuals who come to their own conclusions and develop their own beliefs ... although most of the time there is at least some outside influence.

Koklee< I had religious faith forced on me as a child, and it never worked for me. I did believe in God, though. Seems like there are similarities in many different religions, beliefs, cultures. How can it belong to a single clique?

Blinder< Koklee: You may have had religion forced on you, but I don't think it is possible to force faith on someone. Faith is a gift, I would think, gratefully accepted.

Koklee< Blinder: That's beautiful, thanks.

Yopo< For me at least, the idea of a god was given me by my parents and was also part of the culture I was born into. But it was just an idea, like Santa Claus. I had to find belief as an older adult, after having rejected it as I grew up. Direct experiences with SOMETHING came along, so I sorta hung them on the old conceptual coat hooks I'd learned to call "god" when they did.

MoniMed< A theory: all religions are created simply to establish a code of conduct and explain the unexplainable. For many, god is simply something to believe in when there is no one else. Trying to force others into a religion usually pushes them farther away.

Aqua< Religion is a teaching of how to live and life as human being in human society. *S*

Ben< Aqua: Religion and religious faith aren't necessarily the same thing.

Aqua< Ben: If a person does not believe in any God/Gods/Goddess, but he live and Life in human community and the Society where he lives considers this man as polite, high morals, and of good ethics ... can we consider this person as having Religious Faith ?

Ben< Aqua: No, high morals and good ethics do not necessarily imply religious faith. Secular humanism also advocates high morals and ethics.

Slider/Abyss< I have to honestly say that, while growing up in a Christian atmosphere, I took religion for face value. It was there because someone told me it was. As I grew older and learned to call on the unseen force of spiritual beings, I came to believe other conclusions than what I was taught in my younger years. After feeling the presence and goodness of a higher force and seeing the goodwill that these higher forces can give toward mankind if one is open toward these higher communications, I have come to my own conclusions on religion that don't necessarily fall in line with what I learned earlier in life.

bluestar< My parents. Strong believers. People who walked their talk. I went agnostic until I was able to separate religion from a belief in the existence of God. I mean, when I reached an older age, I became disenchanted with my religion and was agnostic for a short time until I was able to separate my belief in God from the religion which I was no longer had a great deal of respect for.

MoniMed< It seems that many people reconsider their religious beliefs as they get older. The childhood stories and faith stressed to them doesn't hold up anymore as believable.

Caelum< My faith comes from within, nowhere else.

MoniMed< That's good, Caelum. You must have very strong faith. I don't have any religion ... but I do have a strong belief in a higher being.

Ben< COMMENT: Anyone can have a religious faith without participating in any organized religion. And conversely, anyone can participate in any organized religion without having a religious faith. However, the organized religions and religious traditions have preserved various forms of religious faith and passed them down from generation to generation. For this, I am grateful.

Koklee< Ben: Me, too. I took some of the most important things I have with me now from organized religion (or a few good teachers).

Ben< QUESTION 4: Have you had personal experiences similar to those reported and preserved by any of the religious scriptures or traditions? YOUR TURN

Yopo< You're asking here about sort of a "generic" spiritual experience? Without recognized brand names? *S* All of my encounters with what I consider sacred would fall into that category. Momentary openings up, where things seem to shine with Presence.

Blinder< Yes, on two occasions. One in which I encountered a Master whose eyes radiated an intense blue light that engulfed me in ecstasy; one in which I took off from a courtyard to merge with a great spirit overhead that was like the sun but a thousand times larger.

MoniMed< No, Ben ... I don't think I ever have.

Aqua< Ben: Religious Faith = Faith in one particular Religion? If the Religion is a kind of teaching in human society of how to conduct in his community or society in general that has a Holy Bible and Prophets as the messenger? Then what was in the Religion, if not to have high morals, good ethics, respect towards each other? If so then a person with good characteristics as described before could be regarded as having religious faith although not bound in any particular religion. (I am referring the final acts of good conduct). I was informed by a Pastor that having faith in Jesus is nothing if you don't do alms, good conduct toward other brothers and sisters! He said, Because in any charity works/act of compassion and love, there is the Presence of Jesus as Whole? What is your opinion ?

[Ben< Aqua: This is an ancient argument among Christians. It can be traced back to about 50 AD. The Apostle Paul said we are saved by faith, not works. James of Jerusalem said faith without works is dead. I believe Paul was right, because souls can be saved by faith alone (sometimes on their death-bed), and souls cannot be saved by good works alone (hypocrites do good works for the sake of appearances). However, James was also right, in this way: those who place their faith in the loving God for their own salvation should do the will of the loving God toward others, because if they don't, their faith is barren, it produces no fruit, and they will be ashamed.]

Caelum< I grew up reading the Bible. I had heard the term "Lamb of God" with regard to Jesus, over and over. Holding on to the childish idea of a lamb being a pet; God's pet. At about age 25 it hit me that a lamb of God was a sacrifice. I saw everything differently. God reveled that truth as the Bible says God can and does. Powerful experience.

Yopo< I've always sort of thought of religions as the setting, and such experiences as the jewel.

Koklee< I've always had a vivid imagination. Not sure what my reality is right now, so -- I don't know.

Ben< I have had such experiences. For example, communication with angels, ghosts, and demons, and OBE trips to the lower edge of the realm of Light, many places in the mid-astral twilight, and into the upper edge of the outer darkness.

5foot2< Ben: Yes, communication with ? (an energy source), OBE, precognition, very quick glimpses out of the corner of my "eye" at the big picture, development of a relationship with nature (my place in it), "surprise" assistance's when needed -- my friends call it a horseshoe up my butt, but I'd know if it was that. *grin*

Yopo< Ben: I'm thankful that what I have had has been occasional only, and well timed. The sort of things you've experienced would likely have overwhelmed me earlier on. Not sure I could have sorted out what was what.

Koklee< Ben: How do you know for certain that what you experience is real?

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: I call it faith! *S*

Koklee< Slider/Abyss: How do you know that you're not making it up (on some level)?

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: That's why I call it faith! I also have some precognition as to what is reality and what is dreams. After all, it is your wildest dream which comes to pass that usually makes you believe something has happened.

Koklee< Slider/Abyss: I've always had funny (strange) things happen, like knowing what someone is thinking, or sometimes something that's about to occur, and have considered them 'normal'. When you say "wildest dreams", I'm interpreting it as "Something I'm wishing for" -- which I'm not.

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: Sorry about the misinterpretation. Dreams can be looks into the future or thoughts of what one wants to happen. When you start to listen to them or remember things you have wished for, and such comes into reality, it gives you a look into something you have less control of than some would desire.

Blinder< Koklee: I know you didn't address that to me, but what does your heart tell you? That's the yardstick I use ... and there's no doubt in my mind it's real.

Ben< Koklee: I do a lot of spiritual reality testing. Shall I show you my scars? *S*

Koklee< Ben: I'm sorry you have scars. I don't want to see them -- just not sure how to organize things for myself.

MoniMed< I understand what your saying, Koklee. I'm usually in your position, but for some reason I am in the mood to deal with a mass of confusion tonight.

Ben< COMMENT: Religious faith can be based on personal experience and then extended or extrapolated from the known to the unknown. It is from such experiences that we can recognize some of what our ancestors have passed down to us. And this is how we can say "There is something substantive in religion: it isn't all myths and superstitions."

Ben< COMMENT: Religious faith causes endless arguments (and sometimes wars) because religious tenets are so often untestable assertions -- and anyone can make such assertions. New religions or would-be religions are being invented all the time: most of them perish when their founder dies; some last for a couple of generations and wither away; only a few have endured for millennia. The bottom line is: any religious faith is a personal faith, a choice, regardless of where it came from or what it is based on. Nevertheless, there are spiritual realities -- and consequences -- which one may either believe by taking someone else's word for it (on faith) or discover for oneself (by experience).

Yopo< Ben: Perhaps, for some, structured religious beliefs serve to impose an order on spiritual experiences?

Yopo< Ben: *S* You sorta answered my question before I got it posted.

Ben< /topic Discussion of religious faith

5foot2< Ben: Comment: some work so hard at establishing the differences between religions, if equal energy was spent on the similarities, that could make things quite different. *wistful smile*

MoniMed< So, do we also recognize the parts of our religions that determine what is evil, and that much of it is passed down by our ancestors? My brother wanted to add that comment.

Yopo< MoniMed: That's an interesting question. Though I have mostly rejected the religious structure of my childhood, the moral tenets I have kept. They still make sense to me.

MoniMed< That's the same basic idea I have, Yopo. I have started to adapt a few other ideas recently ... however they may change quickly ... my basic morals have stayed with me.

Ben< MoniMed: Yes ... I think we should distinguish between the *parts* of our religions that describe something that is truly evil (detrimental, dangerous, damaging), versus the *parts* that falsely say something or someone is evil.

MoniMed< That is very true, Ben, but it brings up the question: Is there really any such thing as religion? It is all just personal beliefs ... so why persecute anyone for their beliefs?

Caelum< Religion is a group activity that functions to preserve the group ... in a nutshell, really.

Ben< Caelum: Yes, that is the original meaning of the word "religion" (Latin, *re* again + *ligare* to bind). The purpose of a religion is to bind people together, and in most religions, to bind them to a god or gods. To accept a religion means to bind oneself to the tenets of that religion. But as I said earlier, religion and religious faith are not necessarily the same thing.

MoniMed< Yes, Caelum, but many times a group has many different religions, or beliefs, and this leads to many conflicts.

Caelum< MoniMed: I was talking with regards to specific religions. Sorry if I got fuzzy.

MoniMed< It's OK, Caelum ... I just misunderstood a little. :)

Ben< ALL: Any other comments, questions, or discussion -- or are you ready to hang it up for tonight?

Slider/Abyss< Ben: Stay a minute ...

MoniMed< I'm up for another, if you have the topic, Ben, but if not, thanks for the conversation. I enjoyed it.

Ben< MoniMed: I lead for the first hour, and then basically follow and respond after that.

MoniMed< Yes, Ben ... that's fair.

Caelum< I love to hear people talk about NDE. You either been there or not; there is no in between, but so many talk like experts. Kinda cute.

Koklee< Slider/Abyss: What about things you don't wish for?

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: You have to expand on that a little more.

Koklee< Slider/Abyss: I'm sending an example, might be a minute.

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: Okay, no hurry.

Caelum< Thanks, Ben, I enjoyed being here tonight. I actually was here all the way through! I would love to hear more about the last comment you made about your travels.

Yopo< Ben: Just wondering ... Do you think it is important for a person to be within SOME religion, or can one successfully "go it alone"? I've occasionally been accused by friends of traditional beliefs of trying to "make up my own religion" -- the implication being that there is something invalid about doing so.

MoniMed< I believe that you can go it alone, Yopo. Religious faith doesn't have to be within a group.

Yopo< MoniMed: That is my thinking, too. But I sometimes distrust -- or at least tend to often reevaluate -- my own conclusions. Presently, I associate with folks who sort of go it alone together. *S* Some might think us a ship of fools, I suppose.

Slider/Abyss< Yopo: We are still afloat. *S*

MoniMed< Well, Yopo ... some might ... but many may not. I am the same way. I go it alone, and do sometimes associate with others like this.

Ben< Yopo: I think one can go it alone, but is very likely to re-invent the wheel (so to speak), and to relearn everything the hard way.

Yopo< Ben: Yep. Church of the Re-Invented Wheel. *LOL*

Caelum< Yopo: I want to be in the choir!

Yopo< Caelum: We tried to start a choir, but it didn't work out. We couldn't agree what key to sing in. *LOL*

Caelum< Yopo: Don't sweat the small stuff, I can't sing in key anyway!

Yopo< Caelum: I suppose that's why we decided finally on drums. No key issues.

Caelum< Oh, Yopo, I love drum circles! I have little bells that I wear around my ankles for dancing! Definitely the way to go ... you are soooooooo Pagan!

Ben< Yopo: In regard to the Church of the Re-Invented Wheel -- I've reached a point at which I find eight-sided wheels run smoother than six-sided, but some of my compatriots insist that all wheels ought to be square. *S*

Yopo< HA!

Slider/Abyss< Ben: When you started talking about religion and faith tonight, I think the idea of faith somehow fell by the wayside and the old topic of religion came up. I'd like to suggest, if we get on this topic again in a seminar, we bring out the faith that some put into evil religions as well as good religions, just some way to exemplify just how powerful faith is, whether it is for a good cause or a bad cause. Any suggestions?

Ben< Slider/Abyss: Yes, I expected it would be difficult to distinguish between religion and religious faith. And I do not believe that all religions are equal in terms of their effects on their believers -- but I am not about to condemn the believers for that.

MoniMed< My brother says religion is only something for comfort.

Ben< MoniMed: Those who believe religion is only for comfort haven't studied Judaism or Christianity or Islam very well.

MoniMed< I agree, Ben ... my brother has not studied extensively. He is young. I'm not saying he doesn't know anything, but everyone's views change as they mature. My views are still uncertain.

Caelum< Wasn't the original topic tonight Religious Faith?

Ben< Caelum: Yes, the topic was (and is) religious faith. Why?

Caelum< I'm confused ... how can you discuss religious faith without discussing religion? Can you?

Ben< Caelum: A lot of people have a religious faith without practicing a religion. and a lot of people practice a religion without having a religious faith. For example, people practice all sorts of piety and rituals with no real faith.

Caelum< Yopo: One day you will look into a mirror and see the Pagan that has been there all along! That's not a joke; it's a very moving experience. The words I hear you say tell me this will happen. I believe this.

Yopo< Caelum: *S* Yopo is quite the pagan fellow already ... but in the dictionary sense. I'm not of a Pagan religion, ya see ...

Caelum< Yopo: Pagan religion is an oxymoron.

Yopo< Caelum: Oxymoron? Well, have a look at Green Egg. Lots of pagan folks seem to be evolving or rediscovering various pagan religions. Worshipping old gods, and such. There have even been disturbing stirrings of what I think of as pagan fundamentalism.

MoniMed< Cool, Caelum and Yopo. I started to think there were mostly non-pagans in here.

Yopo< I attribute to that much of the anti-Christian sentiment some such folk profess. IMHO, such people have simply climbed out of one confining box into another.

MoniMed< Yes, Yopo: It's nice that it's like that.

Yopo< MoniMed: I think maybe that sequence of comments reads other than I intended. *S* I wasn't putting the neo-pagan movement down. I sorta AM one. A pantheist, I suppose. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna worship Pan. *LOL*

MoniMed< Don't worry ... I understood it, Yopo. : )

Caelum< I don't worship Pan, either.

MoniMed< I know. I didn't assume that either of you did. I don't either. Some of my beliefs are more pagan.

Koklee< Slider/Abyss: When I was a child I had a terrible recurring nightmare (except I wasn't asleep, just tired). All of a sudden some force would glue me to my bed -- couldn't move. Then in my mind I would go into a house and the stairs would go down and I felt like I was being sucked into the ground. In my mind I am screaming, but I can't scream out loud. Then I'm walking around in the basement of this house and there are people I know who they are, but they're not the same; they're evil and they want to harm me. They start to throw things at me (not with their hands -- with their minds). These things come flying at me and I don't know what to do. Then something makes me say the Lord's Prayer -- and everything flies past me. And then I'm back and can move again. (Didn't want to be there, though) Sorry if this is long.

Ben< Koklee: Thank you. That is the sort of experience I was looking for. That one wasn't pleasant, but spirituality isn't all fun and games.

Caelum< Koklee: What you said was very moving. I can't imagine a dream like that.

Koklee< Caelum: It sucked. (g)

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: That's about as good an example of faith as you can get. It seems that even as a child your faith in the God of light pulled you from the dark side by just reciting the Lords' Prayer. It is my opinion that, unless you want to experience everything in that basement whenever such an experience overwhelms you, do what you did then, which was calling on the God of light by reciting the Lords' Prayer. If dreams or lucid dreams such as this persist in your life and you want to work through them, ask the highest source of good and light to go with you until you understand the entire experience.

Koklee< Slider/Abyss: As the nightmares continued on a very regular basis, I could eventually control the praying myself, and the fear kind of dissipated. This recurring nightmare ended and a different one took it's place.

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: It seems you've learned to deal with this type of experience, and I feel you may experience more of them, but don't lose your faith, as you have learned that the angels and God of light will stand with you and help you through these experiences.

Koklee< Slider/Abyss: No nightmares for a long time, just weird stuff that has on occasion crossed over in 'reality' and been tested. That's where my confusion lies. I don't know if dreams are 'just dreams'.

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: I have had many similar experiences myself. At some point, I began to question my sanity, until I started understanding that the probabilities exist that we can experience the conscious 3-d life that we live along with the subconscious and spiritual life we simultaneously live. After all, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings in a spiritual experience.

Koklee< Slider/Abyss. I agree with your last comment, but for me the experience is still difficult to understand. And I don't understand who I really am.

Slider/Abyss< Koklee: Have you ever tried to meditate? If not, read up on the subject, and if you do meditate, read up on it anyway, and always make sure you protect yourself with the Light when you meditate. You may find some answers this way. Also, believe in yourself.

Yopo< I've thought sometimes that religion should be about a certain state of consciousness, and about the ways to bring that about, more than about beliefs and such.

MoniMed< Interesting thought, Yopo.

Koklee< Yopo: Could it be both (state of consciousness and beliefs)?

Yopo< Koklee: I think it must be so. The experiences we have give us our beliefs. And the beliefs we have determine what experiences we are open to.

Koklee< Yopo: Which one do you think comes first? (Back to the old chicken & egg thing.) Do we set our place, or does something/someone else set it for us?

Yopo< Koklee: Don't you suppose that, for most, beliefs come first? We most often get them in our early childhood. In my own case, at least, spiritual consciousness arrived much later.

Koklee< Yopo: I think so, but am not sure. If we accept and reject various portions of what we are being taught, then how do we weigh our decisions when they have not been parented to us?

Yopo< Koklee: I'm not sure I understand that last post ... the "when they have not been parented to us" part.

Koklee< Yopo: Example of my question: If a parent teaches a child that they should trust everyone they meet, and the child encounters someone they do not trust, how can this be if it was not taught?

Yopo< Koklee: At some point, I suppose, the child begins to trust his or her own experiences ... to form his own conclusions ... Don't you suppose?

Koklee< Yopo: I do think the child learns from experiences, but I'm wondering about children who have not experienced anything similar, and follow their own way (rather than what was taught). I think most children do this. Even when an infant is approached in a crib, each one will respond differently. It seems like the personality is already there. I'm just wondering how much can be changed by subsequent teaching.

[Ben< Koklee: That's a good point. Yes, infants already have personalities, and children do tend to go their own way. What they are and become isn't entirely determined by their biological heredity and/or cultural environment. I believe individuals are influenced by heredity and environment, but also bring with them subconscious tendencies and preferences from their previous lives. This would explain why so many people feel "at home" in a particular religion or religious faith. For some, it is the one they were raised in this time, and for some, it isn't.]

[Ben< COMMENT: In retrospect, I see that I had a three-way choice this time: (1) bind myself to the religion I was taught in this life; or (2) follow my feelings back to a religion that I bound myself to in a previous life, or (3) start trying to build a personal religious faith that makes more sense to me now.]

14. Faith
Session 5: Sat 19 Dec 1998

Ben< ALL: We are still looking at faith as unquestioning belief in something or unquestioning trust in someone. Tonight the topic is "tests of faith". This may seem like a contradiction, because we don't initiate a test unless we question something. However, we are confronted with tests of faith, and that is what I plan to explore tonight.

Ben< QUESTION 1a: (Instant past-life regression, please. Thank you.) The shaman who is spiritual leader of your tribe calls you together and says "Our enemies are coming. They will be here in two days. Pack everything and be ready to leave at dawn tomorrow." Do you believe him without question? YOUR TURN

Joan< Ben: (Instant past-life regression) Yes, I believe him. *S*

LadyV< I would believe him.

5foot2< Yes, if I had learned faith in his predictions.

TimG< What is his success rate for previous predictions?

Ben< TimG: Ah, yes ... that question indicates you have a scientific faith, not a faith in authority. Questions are the stock-in-trade of scientific research, but they are anathema to most religions.

SLIDER< I guess I would follow his recommendation if I had been taught to or had faith in past insights of his.

FRAML< One reaction is "Right! Let's bug out!" but I have another one of wanting to know more. Perhaps it is safer to stay and fight where we are, rather than to be caught in the open.

Koklee< If he is already established as the spiritual leader, it must be so for some reason. A time when enemies may be approaching would not be a good time to start questioning his leadership.

SLIDER< At the same time, if this shaman had no track record, I would question his insights.

greyman< If the shaman has a good track record, then prepare to skidaddle! If the shaman has an absolutely abysmal track record, you may want to stay near a cave just beyond the camp site.

Joan< If he has a bad track record, how could he be shaman?

LadyV< What does a track record have to do with it? He is the shaman; it's his job to know ... besides a good run is better any day.

TimG< Unless there is a history of correct predictions or he has shown great compassion there is no reason to follow.

Ben< QUESTION 1b: Now suppose you just returned from a scouting expedition. You know for a fact that your enemies are at least three days away and moving in the opposite direction, away from your tribe. Do you contradict the shaman? YOUR TURN

Joan< I would just state that.

FRAML< I'd tell the shaman privately, and also the other tribal leader, if there was one.

5foot2< Contradict, no ... approach privately, yes.

TimG< Track record again. If he has had a 95% success rate, we can let this one slide, but you still tell the people.

SLIDER< Armies have been known to move quickly in diversion tactics.

FRAML< Slider: Good point about diversion.

greyman< That group may be known. That decision would be dependent upon the number of known enemies.

Joan< Oh, I would gently say it to her (the shaman) in front of the group.

LadyV< No ... I would leave the poor guy alone. No one would trust him then, and next time he may be right ... then what?

TimG< LadyV: If everything he has ever said or suggested has been wrong, why would you do anything he said? Discernment: know them by their deeds.

LadyV< TimG: I don't think I read it that way. I think it said he was wrong this time. If he is a shaman, he hasn't been wrong many times; otherwise he would not have the position ... shucks! maybe I did read it wrong.

TimG< LadyV: Not to bring politics into it, but we have a president who lies to the people but they follow him anyway.

LadyV< TimG: With me, good buddy, best to keep politics out of it. (smiling)

Koklee< I would let him know what I saw, but understand, at this time, that their course may have changed or there may be other enemies of whom I am not aware.

kola< I would think a shaman would be open to private consult from all sources.

Ben< COMMENT: Shamans and prophets enhance survival if (and only if) what they say is true. However, once they are established as leaders, people tend to go on following them.

Ben< ALL: In this instant past-life regression, you tell the shaman what you know (publicly or privately). What do you suppose happens next? YOUR TURN

Joan< Next ... the group discusses it, to come to a decision.

TimG< If you are a known trouble maker, you will be banished. If you have a close relationship, he will understand.

greyman< The reaction of the shaman is unknown.

kola< I think if you tell the shaman publicly, he/she would feel obligated to "trust" their own judgment according to their vision. If privately, perhaps the shaman would consider the information sent and accede to it in his/her own thinking. The shaman would do what's best for his followers, I believe.

FRAML< He could berate me in front of the tribe, saying that I was undermining his authority from the gods. Or he could be tactful and explain that he is aware of deception.

SLIDER< It would depend on the status one held in the tribe. Move the women and children, but rally the warriors and stand ground, until the size of the enemy can be determined.

Koklee< There are many possibilities. If he is a bad shaman, he may freak out. If he is in a hurry, he may speak crossly. If he is patient and has the time, he may explain things to you.

Joan< Among the Real People (Cherokee) the Shaman would "know" things, but the War Chief made war decisions, and the Peace Chief made peace decisions -- so maybe I am filtering your question through this.

5foot2< He knows the news or he doesn't. The responsibility for what to do with the news relies on his faith in himself, and the validity of his visions.

Ben< ALL: If you contradict this shaman, the odds are that you suddenly find yourself dead. (End of past-life regression.)

Joan< ((((((Poof))))))))

TimG< I hate waking up dead!

greyman< Nice shaman, no kill I. *Grin*

d-bar< greyman: Down, boy. Master be good. No kill.

SLIDER< Ben: Not dead if you can out run the best warrior?

[Ben< SLIDER: Maybe, if you start running soon enough. In this scenario, you were poisoned. No one was surprised when you suddenly got sick and died a few days after you contradicted the shaman.]

Yopo< Hmm. This fella ain't my kinda shaman. *LOL* Seems trouble always follows, when a hierarchy of authority enters into spiritual matters.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, that's the problem. Power tends to corrupt. A good shaman doesn't need coercion. A bad one does.

Ben< QUESTION 2. Suppose a professional psychic does his or her thing (casts your horoscope, reads your palm, consults spirit guides, etc.) and then says "If you travel by airplane in the next two weeks, the airplane will crash and you will be killed." But you already have a flight scheduled for the day after tomorrow. Do you cancel your flight? If so, why? If not, why not? YOUR TURN

Joan< Don't cancel flight. Read tomorrow's horoscope -- it may say the opposite. UNLESS this person has a strong track record of predicting catastrophes. Well, then ...

TimG< Cancel the flight; the ridicule of being wrong does not outweigh the consequences of her being right.

Koklee< I don't put my trust in psychics. I would continue with my plans. If I were not meant to be on a crashing plane, then it would not happen.

greyman< Take the bus. Or purchase more life insurance.

FRAML< I fly. I don't believe in psychics, especially the telephone or "pay for the prediction" types. Once again, track record would be important.

LadyV< hummm... well, if I asked, I would expect to follow the directions. If I did not ask and it was brought to me, I would give it very serious consideration. In the end, the decision would be mine.

kola< I would not cancel my flight based on that information, but if *I* felt it as well ... then I would use the info as validation.

5foot2< I'd fly, yet at the slightest unknown noise, the psychic's words would be replaying constantly in my mind.

SLIDER< I fly, unless my own intuition keeps me on the ground. The psychic may have crossed paths with another entity not pertaining to my plans at all (and if the plane goes down, so be it).

Chaske< Ben: It seems like you are centering on Native perspectives. Why is this? Is this your background?

[Ben< Chaske: In these seminars, I try to show the breadth of the subject area, and then point discussion toward looking at it from several different perspectives.]

Ben< COMMENT: This scenario is a test of faith. It is a test of your faith in psychic predictions in general, and of your faith in this individual psychic.

TimG< I met someone recently that had her fortune told several years ago. She was waiting in the crowded lobby when the teller came out for the next person. She stopped and looked right at my friend and said "Shhhhh, the grass is whispering widow" and then took the next customer. When my friend got her turn, she was told her husband would die and she would move to a place that had tall buildings and water. Shortly thereafter her husband did die. After a couple of years she fell in love with someone and moved to a beach city with tall buildings.

greyman< TimG: Ahh Huuuuh.

TimG< My uncle was in the Navy aboard a destroyer when he had a dream that there was going to be a collision with another ship and there would be lots of fire. He woke up and started running toward the captain's quarters. Before he could make it the collision happened.

Ben< COMMENT: A test of faith is also a test of power -- the power of authority and obedience.

kola< Ben: Excellent point about a test of faith is a test of power. I believe that.

Ben< QUESTION 3: A funeral or memorial service is a test of faith. Oftentimes they provide an occasion for someone to babble religious platitudes, but look inside yourself. You can tell a lot about your own deep beliefs by noticing your reactions. How do you react when you are confronted with the reality of death? YOUR TURN

LadyV< reverence ...

Koklee< I find it painful. But it is as natural as birth, and part of a much bigger picture.

5foot2< I was sheltered from death as a child. The first funeral I attended in my early 20's (with my belief that death is the next step). I was surprised when I started to cry, and recognized my tears were not for the dead but rather for those 'left behind'.

Walt< God saw he/she was getting tired and a cure was not to be. So he put his arms around him/her and whispered "come with me". With tearful eyes we watched him/her suffer and saw him/her fade away. Although we loved him/her dearly, we could not make him/her stay. A Golden Heart stopped beating. Hard Working Hands were laid to rest. God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best!!! Then I would easily cope ...

Ben< Walt: I have often been asked, at funerals, something like: "Why did God take her, so young and with two children to raise?" I reply with a question: "Does God take them, or receive them?"

5foot2< Ohh, Ben, I like that one. *smile*

kola< There is a definite difference between the death of a very close loved one and the death of an acquaintance. Seems also to depend on how the person themselves viewed life and death. Generally, the religious platitudes seem cold and out of place. What's real is how people felt about the deceased ... what impact their life had upon others.

greyman< Interesting simulation. Dependent variables are: (1) Personal belief system(s). (2) Connection to person. (3) Secondary personal connections.

Walt< Take the Religious thoughts, for they cannot hurt. Avoid Psychiatry Psycho-Babble for it is junk science.

SLIDER< I have always felt that the sorrow during most funerals is misplaced. In my opinion, the grieving should be for the living that have lost the person in question, not the deceased, for they have moved on to another place where things should be better if the living pray for their salvation.

Joan< Ben: Are you saying that a memorial service is a test of faith in *life after death* or in *God* or in something else?

Ben< Joan: A memorial service is a test of personal faith in the nature of human beings and the nature of deity. For some, there is no comfort in what they believe.

Joan< Ben: Thanks for the clarification for concrete Joan. *S*

d-bar< Ben: If you are alive, death is a reality.

greyman< d-bar: Hopefully, if you are dead, life is a reality. *G*.

Walt< Who can slay Ben or whom can Ben slay? None! For Ben is eternal as well as the rest of us.

Yopo< Confrontation with the reality of death is part of life. When we have a loss, we become more focused on the issue. So, I react by questioning most everything I believe.

LadyV< Actually people who are in the first stages of grief do not hear you. The brain puts them on a place that keeps the shock from killing them. It is mercy a kind God grants those that lose a child (for instance). Words are heard in the distance ... they do not recall half of it.

FRAML< It is knowing whether or not the minister, if there is one presiding, knew the person and family. Also there are those who say what they believe, even if they don't understand the contradicting truths.

Walt< And he said "Let the dead bury the dead, and you get on with living"

LadyV< Walt: And what is the quote (I do not know it exactly) "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" ... and it is a truth; it really is.

TimG< I like Noah's version of faith.

Tracey< Mom's funeral was yesterday. It was a tribute to her ... a time of happy memories and healing ... letting go and wishing her safe passage. People stood to tell stories and relate of what she meant to them. The minister read some of Dad's poems and my son read a poem I wrote to Mom. It was really a healing.

LadyV< Tracey: We are so sorry about your loss.

Tracey< LadyV: Thank you, darlin'.

[Ben< Tracey: "a time of happy memories and healing ..." Thank you.]

5foot2< So, funerals celebrate life or mourn death.

TimG< I have real trouble with "Taps"... I can never make it through.

LadyV< Tim: That's me. I want to salute and cry at the same time.

Joan< TimG: Me, too.

FRAML< I just remembered my Uncle's funeral from last year. The minister celebrated his life. Don't remember if "God taking him" was in it, but probably was however, since he was racked with cancer. Most probably saw that statement as a blessing for my uncle.

TimG< My grief in the last two funerals was not knowing if they had made their peace with the lord. If they hadn't, they were not headed for a happy place.

Ben< TimG: Yes, we don't really know where any soul is headed. But I believe the Loving Father receives and welcomes all of His errant children, His prodigal sons and daughters.

Ben< QUESTION 4: If you personally believe in a god or gods, do you recall being confronted with something that was (or is) a test of your faith? YOUR TURN

greyman< Ben: You betcha. Many of the tests directly effected perception and allowed a change in perspective (for the better).

TimG< Yep, and I failed.

kola< Yes, my mother's death was a test of faith, I wanted to be angry at someone or something. It was a test of my spiritual belief in the "just is". I had to separate my wants in grief from whatever was my mother's journey ... a hard test to pass.

FRAML< Thinking that I was unworthy of God's notice, that I didn't "know how to properly pray". Just look at my Spiritual Journey on my website.

LadyV< I feel that faith and trust are about the same thing. Trusting that what you know in your heart and belief system is true for you is a test.

SLIDER< All of the above ...

Yopo< Oh, yes. Not specific events, since those are more a test of my EXPECTATIONS about how Creator has ordered the world. What has most often tested my faith in Creator's presence is my reason. In the past, my rational mind stubbornly refused to allow vague feelings, unusual experiences, or the perceptions of my intuition to be presented as serious evidence. *S*

FRAML< Yopo: I can identify with that.

Koklee< Ben: Not sure what you mean.

Ben< Koklee: Well, for example, for those who believe in God as the Creator, Darwinian evolution may be a test of faith.

Yopo< Perhaps evolution is a theory about Creator's methodology. *S*

TimG< Yopo: I find most of my problems are caused by faulty expectations.

Yopo< TimG: True of us ALL, I think.

LEGS< I suppose faulty expectations and a belief that good always wins has flawed my life.

Yopo< LEGS: That isn't really a flaw, IMHO ... but it IS a thing that will be the source of unavoidable disappointment. Perhaps it would be better to see GOOD as the northern point of the compass that we travel by, through an imperfect world that contains BOTH good and bad. It points out the way to a destination, but doesn't change the nature of the land we travel through.

LEGS< (((Yopo))) Thank you for that thought ... appreciated !!!

FRAML< Yopo: A good example.

Koklee< You have to trust yourself to do all you can with what you know, and, for me, trust that God will help with the rest.

FRAML< Ben: It is also knowing the difference between "questioning God" and "asking God questions." Too many, imo, see the latter as the former.

Ben< FRAML: Good distinction. Questioning God is an indication of disbelief in God or distrust of God. Asking God questions is an indication of belief and trust.

Joan< The loss of several people and things that I cherished seemed to be tests of faith ... been one long test lately. *S*

Koklee< I went through a time where it was difficult for me to see God, but he pulled me through it anyway. ... another is something that happened on the 18th.

[Ben< Koklee: I'm sorry that neither I nor anyone else in the room asked you what happened on the 18th.]

5foot2< Yes, everything seemed to be falling down around me: work, home, bills, etc. I truly believed I could do no more. As I drove home with tears in my eyes, I asked for a sign that I was where I was supposed to be. I repeated "Please give me a sign." Up ahead, a portable sign in front of the fire hall said "This is it." I giggled, slowly at first, then a fully belly laugh; my god has a sense of humor. Ask for a sign and get one. It changed my day and still makes me smile. The next day the sign read "This is it: fire prevention week." As always, timing is everything.

LadyV< 5foot2: And being aware helps. (smiling)

FRAML< 5foot2: I also believe that God has a sense of humor; it is us that take him too seriously at times (and thus we miss the messages).

d-bar< How can one "fail" a test of faith?

TimG< d-bar: By turning away from God instead of towards him.

Joan< TimG: Yes, I've done that -- turned away -- but more tests came later. God gives second, third, etc., chances -- until we figure it out, I guess.

LadyV< d-bar: You know you have blown it when your knees hurt because you have been on them long enough to ask "Why am I so miserable?"

FRAML< d-bar: Perhaps by thinking I was the only sinner in the congregation, because I didn't really know the congregation even after attending there for five years. Plus, throw in job problems.

Ben< d-bar: A person can fail a test of faith by acting or reacting in ways that show the faith was merely lip service and not what the person really believed.

LadyV< I feel also that a test is forgiving others ... if you can do that and believe the promise of peace that comes with this ... to me this is testing faith.

Ben< LadyV: Good point. If you believe (on faith) that your God wants you to forgive others, then you are confronted with a test of that element of your faith whenever you are wronged by others.

LEGS< Ben: After praying in earnest and in the firm belief that sincerity and love of God was what caused prayer to be answered, my two year old beautiful son died anyway. For awhile I turned from God for I believed He had turned from me. It was a severe test of my Faith.

TimG< LEGS: I'm crying just trying to imagine what that would be like. My daughter is two and she is out of town right now.

Ben< LEGS: Yes, my friend, THAT is a test of faith! Have you resolved it?

LEGS< Ben: I trust God to know, and trust that I don't have to know. My aim is to love unconditionally ... and I find that quite a task at times ... but with God's grace I keep trying.

Ben< LEGS: Well said. Deeper trust, as a response to a terrible test of faith.

Chaske< I don't know if I believe so much in tests of faith. I have been taught and have experienced what I think of as tests of self. Maybe that is what you mean by tests of faith?

Ben< ALL: Some tests of faith are very mundane -- like bungee jumping and parachute jumping. Of what faith are they a test? What do you have to believe and whom do you have to trust? YOUR TURN

greyman< Personal faith. Yourself.

Joan< Bungee jumping and parachute jumping would be tests of faith in the people who make the cords and parachutes, and in your own courage.

kola< Ben: I believe these are not tests of faith so much as a "quick" route to "experience" life ... the rush or high of feeling your physicality.

LadyV< I guess we have to hope the man in charge has done his job ... (hopefully). Then again, if you are going to go for the thrill of a lifetime, I suppose you know you are taking risks and they are calculated. I think greyman said, one week, "You gotta take risks to enjoy the challenge" or words to that effect. Regards to our esteemed countryman greyman. (grinning)

TimG< Without risk, there is no life.

markfrmatl< Ahhh, faith ... in the people that constructed, inspected, fueled, and piloted the plane that my nephew just flew in from Norfolk, VA, to Atlanta. Faith.

LadyV< markfrmatl: Do you know, when my sharers have family members on airplanes they call for prayer, so serious is this matter to them. Makes one stop and think.

markfrmatl< Yes, LadyV, I can believe that most certainly. We all place our physical beings and those of our loved ones in harm's way each and every day. Living is equivalent to faith ... although most fail to take into account how fragile the entire system is until it cracks.

LadyV< markfrmatl: Well said and in truth.

5foot2< Test of faith in others ... trainer, pilot, mechanic, bungee-cord makers, parachute makers (some are made in my home town), the guy that stretches the bungee-cord to determine exactly how much stretch there is. *grin*

Ben< 5foot2: Yes! There is a whole long list of people one has to trust without even knowing them. Bungee-cord and parachute jumping are somewhat dramatic examples. Who-all do you have to trust whenever you bite into a McDonald's hamburger?

d-bar< Ben: Your immune system!

LadyV< Now in that, I draw the line here: if the kid looks like he has a fear of water, I avoid the hamburger. But in reality, again it is hope that those in charge have done the job, inspection, etc. They are our neighbors. You hope your neighbor would protect you as he/she would the family. In reality that is what it's all about anyway, doing a good job and being a good neighbor, and we pray it is so.

Joan< McDonald's -- the folks that raise the cows on penicillin, wheat growers who use fertilizers, bread-makers, ketchup company employees, and on and on.

Ben< Joan: Hah! Yes. Sometimes faith is: "I don't even want to think about it!"

TimG< I'm worried that when 1/1/2000 arrives the McDonald's signs will read "00 Sold". *Grin*

greyman< TimG: Nahhhh, Mackiedees will just use hexadecimal rather than base 10.

Ben< /topic Discussion of tests of faith

Tracey< Ben: I think you have to believe in your soul and your path and that all things are as they should be ... let go of fear and believe that things will work out if you act in truth of spirit. I don't feel it is as important *what* you believe or in *whom* but only that you do believe that you are not in this alone. *S*

[Ben< Tracey: Well, it does help to believe we are not in this alone, but *what* and in *whom* we believe is very important because faith is so easily misplaced.]

SLIDER< Ben: I feel God does not test our faith -- He/She allows us to test our own faith in who we choose as God, and in doing that we confirm for ourselves if we do carry faith and to whom we attribute that faith. To place faith in a God or Gods allows intervention into our daily lives for guidance and fellowship in something bigger than we can now comprehend. Faith allows us to make mistakes and have someone there to pick up the pieces, allows us to grieve and know someone is listening. Gives us someone to yell at when things go bad. And gives us someone to thank when things go good. Someone living without a faith in anything would surely be a sad and lonely person.

Chaske< There you go, Slider! Now one of you is finally getting somewhere.

FRAML< Slider: Here, here!!!

LEGS< Well thought out, Slider ... Thank you.

Ben< SLIDER: Yes, I believe God doesn't test our faith ... like those who really love us don't say to us "Prove you love me."

LEGS< Ben: What of next week? A lesson next Saturday??

Ben< LEGS: I need to take some time off, so I don't plan to prepare another seminar until after the Holidays. However, those who wish to might gather here at the regular time for a chat. And I'll attend if I can.

LadyV< Ben: Thank you.

greyman< Thank you, Ben, for your time in the chat room, and in preparation.

LEGS< Ben: That would be nice to look forward to. Hope that you can be here ... it will be a gift to us all.

Joan< Ben: Thanks -- and Merry Christmas! Oh -- and keep the faith.

Ben< ALL: When we stop and really think about it, I believe we find that we actually live by faith all the time.

TimG< Without faith in something, you would huddle in the corner until you starved to death.

Yopo< Ben: Could you elaborate on that a bit?

Ben< Yopo: It was my response to what many here are saying. We live by faith all the time: faith in ourselves, and faith in our neighbors, and faith in innumerable people we don't know.

Yopo< Ah ... *S* Even in faith that the next moment will come, I suppose.

enigma3< Indeed, Ben, I do as well believe that faith is thy key.

5foot2< Sure is the truth. Driving down a highway 60-70 mph, we have to have some faith ... either in other drivers or air bags. *grin*

enigma3< Without faith you have darkness. Faith sheds light; it shows a path.

TimG< I believe many people's faith will be tested in the next 380 days or so. Many things that we take for granted will no longer be there. We know this test is coming.

SWIFT< Faith in life after death?

Ben< SWIFT: Yes, people have to accept or reject any belief in life after death on faith in others' testimony, until they have personal experience in communicating with a discarnate person they knew personally before he or she died. Then they have facts in support of faith.

TimG< There is much false faith today that the mysterious programmers we don't know will magically fix the Y2K problem. It won't happen.

SWIFT< George Michael needed a lot of faith in the public and their reaction to the news. How would they accept him? He went out there and faced the music. You gotta have faith, in GOD, in others and yourself.

enigma3< Faith in all things, including where you will go after life. No being has come back to tell us the unknown.

TimG< enigma3: I believe Jesus did exactly that!

enigma3< Indeed, TimG, he did !

FRAML< TimG: Ditto.

d-bar< As a Christian, I believe at least one being did return.

SWIFT< Jesus had faith? "Why have you forsaken me" is what he told GOD on the cross; even then with his loss of faith, GOD still loved him, resurrection and onwards.

Yopo< enigma3: You mean, "Where will I be, when I cease to be, and am I gonna like it there?" *LOL*

enigma3< Indeed, Yopo.

SLIDER< Yopo: You will not cease to be, ever, unless that is your choice; we have that option. *S*

Koklee< Slider: Can that be chosen?

SLIDER< Koklee: You make the choice. That's the option!

Yopo< SLIDER: Oddly, the question of my own future being or non-being is not so interesting to me as it once was. I suppose what I need faith in now is that things eventually come out right. I need to know that there is MEANING in all this. Non-existence holds no terror, but meaninglessness DOES.

enigma3< Yopo: In response, I believe that you have faith but no direction in faith.

Yopo< enigma3: Oh, I believe I am beginning to get my bearings. *S* Meaning only to say that I hold what we do in the here-and-now to be of paramount importance. Whether we are defining what we are for this lifetime, or setting a trajectory that will carry beyond our physical end, it is STILL what we do here that matters.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, non-existence would be oblivion, and meaninglessness would be worse than that.

Yopo< Ben: I think perhaps meaninglessness is what evil is about.

TimG< Yopo: I think meaninglessness is probably more in the middle -- limbo or drifting -- evil has a definite goal and direction.

Ben< Yopo: I see evil as a set of attitudes, intentions, and actions; however, evil people and spirits do try to make others think that everything is meaningless.

Yopo< Ben: Yeah, I see the distinction you're making. What I meant to say, maybe, was that meaningless is the final destination evil can take a spirit to. It's method involves acquiring what is good for the self, without regard for others. Seems that meaning involves self-enrichment, by the way of placing the other ahead of the self.

SLIDER< Yopo: My friend, we are here by choice, and when we find ourselves looking for meaning, then that part of the experience is accomplished. So create another experience with your power of thought to give your existence on this plane more meaning. (Examples: teach, learn, help others, plant trees. etc.) *S*

FRAML< Yopo: Your search for meaning shows that you know it exists; you are just needing to define it. From what I've seen of you over the last year, you are well on your journey, and have found answers so far.

Yopo< FRAML: Thank you! I must admit, I am less an idiot that I once was. *LOL*

FRAML< Yopo: Your self-descriptive word is definitely not mine of you. *G* I can easily identify with it, though.

Yopo< FRAML: Well, maybe not an idiot, but one who sometimes behaved idiotically. Was once too turned in upon myself, you see. Untouched by the things around me. Avoiding pain, at the expense of love. You wouldn't have much liked the one-time fellow Yopo was. Maybe not disliked him, but you wouldn't have liked him. HEY! But I'm ALL BETTER NOW! (*foolish grin*)

LEGS< (((((Yopo)))))) dear friend ...

enigma3< I take life this way: I believe that life should be lived to it's fullest. However when that time comes to pass on you should not be afraid. I just had a discussion with my grandmother and she is afraid to die. But I believe when it is your time, it is your time. My great grandmother said it best once: "If you don't die in a fire, you will not die in a flood." -- Grandma Abercumby

FRAML< Enigma3: May I recommend that you visit Ben's site and read two of his papers: "Charlie" and "Watershed"? They relate to the fear your Grandmother is expressing.

SWIFT< I am not in my guides' good books at the moment. :-(

enigma3< Swift: What did you do to your guides to make them so mad?

SWIFT< I said something yesterday, not so good. I was in a lucid dream. It has a lot to do with faith. Hey, but I am who I am; they came to me, they initiated the relationship.

SLIDER< If one is chosen to join something, that person still has the option to accept or reject. Discernment of the chooser is where our intuition should help.

Koklee< Slider: I'm missing your meaning.

SLIDER< Koklee: Anything -- group, movement, religion -- that we are asked to join, we have been told we are accepted or chosen to become a part of such. Some we may not want to be associated with, and some we may; it is our option to chose whether to become a part of such or not. *S*

TimG< We must build our faith now because there will be much suffering this time next year. We will need faith in the Lord and in our own ability to survive.

enigma3< One of the faiths that I hold dear is this woman I think I'll meet some day. I've seen her in dreams. However I need to have faith that she will show herself to me when the time is right.

TimG< Ben: There were many parallels with your questions tonight and the trials we will face when Y2K arrives. Our trust and reliance on others will be severely tested as well as our faith in God. Like in the story of Noah, we have been warned. Those of us taking precautions may be ridiculed as well. The fabric of our society is woven with trust. What happens when that disappears?

enigma3< The society falls, TimG, but copes; that is what we always do (as the human civilization, that is).

Ben< TimG: I agree that Y2K is likely to be a real test of all of us. However, with or without Y2K, any civilization unravels if the citizens are not civil to each other.

TimG< There wasn't much civility in the gas lines of the seventies.

[Ben< TimG: I think the fact they even formed waiting lines was a sign of civility.]

enigma3< Why are all so scared of the end ... hast thou lost the will to fight for thy faith at hand?

TimG< Enough of my ravings. I'm not really a madman standing on the corner waving his arms and proclaiming the end is near.

SLIDER< TimG: If society fails, the best way to survive is by friendships. All the food or munitions in the world will not stop others from attaining it without the help of friends.

TimG< SLIDER: I believe that also, having stated to others that I would much rather work with my neighbors than shoot them.

SLIDER< TimG: Good start! *S*

Yopo< TimG: *S* I was briefly in the grips of Y2K mania, after listening to a bit too much Art Bell. By the way, I'm a federal employee. My agency has been working to get the Y2K bugs out since 1989. Ought to be done by mid-99. We aren't typical, however.

TimG< Must be Social Security. It's not the retirees rioting that worries me. Welfare won't be ready.

Yopo< TimG: Either you are very astute, or a fellow slave. *LOL*

TimG< Yopo: I just know that Social Security is the only agency that's been working on it for ten years. Anyone that starts now and expects to finish on time is just insane.

Ben< /topic OPEN

SWIFT< Hey, what if there is no after-life? Then people won't have any fear of hell or heaven. They would do any and every sin under the sun. Maybe that's it: it's all a fabrication imposed by some secret ancient organization that utilizes super-science that seems like magic to the unexpecting. This fabrication instills a sense of moral order and a sense of hope, reason and possibility.

Yopo< SWIFT: Well, IMHO, if there is no after-life, what we do with our brief time here is even MORE important. Might be our only time to shine. *S*

SWIFT< YEP! But who is going to smack me for being a naughty boy after all this? Well, if it's oblivion, then let's go out with a bang: life can be one egotistical orgy.

Yopo< SWIFT: Yeah, but suppose our predecessors had felt that way, and left us to clean up the mess after the party? Even if I am to die and fade into eternal nothingness, I hope to leave this place better for my having passed through it. Uh, I DON'T think we go out like a candle, however.

[Ben< SWIFT: Who is going to smack you? Naughty children smack each other. However, you have presented the classical hedonist faith in oblivion, as a test of other peoples' faith in life after death. Oblivion is a mental condition in which one has no memory and no awareness of surroundings. Many seek oblivion; they get themselves blotto, stoned, wasted, to anaesthetize their painful memories and present awareness. And many want to believe there is oblivion after death because they do not want to believe there are any consequences of the life they are living.]

SWIFT< Hmmmm ... how can we stop this orgy, said the wise and evolved, lets invent the after-life. But how did this secret organization become so evolved and civilized in the first place, knowing what they know?

[Ben<SWIFT: Wise and evolved souls don't try to stop this egotistical orgy, because they know it is natural, expectable behavior of biological life-forms on earth. They try to teach those who aspire to spiritual maturity how to get themselves out of this egotistical orgy.]

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