Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzburg says the opposite of faith is despair.
Every time I hear the phrase “President-elect Trump” a constriction arises in my chest with the concomitant thought, “How could this be happening?”
And I wonder: “Is this despair I’m feeling? Have I lost my faith?”
Like a good yogi, I investigate by taking seat on my cushion. I breathe slowly, inviting my muscles and nervous system to relax. I lean into the breath breathing me and wait. I listen.
At the foundation of the stillness and silence, which I know as the ground of my being, I find a peace that tells me all is well. Truly. Trump or no Trump, life is as it should be.
I’m painfully aware that my not liking the results of the election has no bearing on what is true. Just because I feel sick about this presidency doesn’t mean that objectively it is wrong or bad. I hate this. Yet I can’t deny that, although it feels like our world is entering a dreadful moment in its history, what is fundamentally true is that all is well. I’ve learned to trust this certainty because I know it’s true in some unknowable yet unequivocal way. It’s an all-cell certitude where my faith lives.
The word faith comes from the Latin fides meaning trust, confidence, and credence.
Since I’m not losing faith in the fundamental ground of being and my knowing that all is well in the mysterious cycle of life and death, I can recognize what I am losing faith in.
Truth is, maybe I never had it. Maybe that’s what drove me to seek and discover something that is unquestionably faithful.
What I know for certain is that humans are not perfect. Humans are a work in process. Humans enact a mysterious blend of the most exquisite actions to the most horrific. To expect something other from ourselves is to go against the fundamental nature of what it means to be human.
Okay. I get that. So, what’s this constriction in my chest?
It’s my heart.
What’s been washing through me since November 8th, with a steady rhythm and a certain heaviness, is a strong emotion. I’m profoundly saddened by how we humans are showing up for life these days. I know it’s not all of us. Many, maybe even most, are essentially good, and hardly any are primarily wicked. But millions are either passive or else grossly intoxicated with consumption and greed, living in adult bodies but behaving like unbridled children or parentless adolescents.
I’m simply heartbroken about the general state of humanity and how we are treating our bodies, one another, and all life on this planet. I want us to speak rationally about our differences and to allow for multiple points of view and ways of being. I wish we would share our resources more equally and enjoy the profundity of this precious planet and our exquisite impermanent lives.
On the other hand, I’m relieved to discover my faith intact and to discern between where my faith lies and where my heartbreak lives. This awareness gives me the energy and the courage to keep loving, through the same heart that is grieving, and to allow the alchemy of these two potent energies to fuel my walk in the world and my devotion to being the best human I can be in the face of all that is.