The Buddhists have a name for a particular level of faith: bright faith.
This is not the bedrock kind of faith that grounds your psychology or devotion. It’s not the spiritual-insurance kind of faith where we hope (trust) that life will come through for us, in the end.
It’s the Holy wow, I’m standing at the beginning of something that is so insanely ripe with potential that I wanna get naked and roll around in it right now, while singing rock opera kind of faith. It makes you grin and do uncharacteristically obsessive and impulsive things. Bright faith chugs downs exhilaration at every pit stop.
“This is a state of love-filled delight in possibilities and eager joy at the prospect of actualizing them. Bright faith goes beyond merely claiming that possibility for oneself to immersing oneself in it. With bright faith, we are lifted out of our normal sense of insignificance, thrilled as we no longer feel lost and alone. The enthusiasm, energy, and courage we need in order to leave the safe path, to stop aligning ourselves with the familiar and convenient, arise with bright faith.” – Sharon Salzberg, Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
Bright faith is essential to falling in love – with people, with causes, with your own unfolding self. Bright faith is primal to creativity.
Bright faith can be unnerving, slightly embarrassing, and awkward. We are trained to resist it, and we do so at the cost of innovation and the passion we crave.
BRIGHT FAITH BURNS THE PATH TO CLARITY
Here’s a headline for a life resume: “Selectively, but wildly excitable.” I adore exclusively stoked people. They’re discerning — not everything is a great opportunity, in fact, golden ops are rare. But when they see something that glimmers with uniqueness, or resonates with their reason for being, they just they freak the fuck out.
This is how brainstorming goes with brightly faithful people: “Hmmm. Uh huh. Nope. Nah. No. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Ooh. Ahh. Wait a second. Holy sh*t, yes yes, yes, oh my God, we could…and then we could…and it would be so…and Holy yes and…I’ll sell it all if I have to…and what am I going to wear when I accept the award?! Who will we invite to the wedding?! How big do you think we can build it? Excuse me while I make a phone call.” They go off.
It’s illogical, and grandiose, crazy, and most certainly romantic. It’s faith. But these are the essential ingredients for breaking through mediocrity and cynicism. Bright faith is a divine kind of madness. And what the Spocks of the world don’t quite get is that the chaotic sparks of bright faith actually burn a path to clarity of mind.
To create things of beauty — in form or between two people — it’s a passion first, discrimination second formula. And yep, it’s dangerous.
BEING ‘UNCOOL’ IS THE ULTIMATE STRATEGY
If I have to choose between two service providers with similar skill and equal pricing, I’ll always go with the one who expresses their excitement. I did a gig recently with someone who said, “Oh my God, I’m so excited to work with you! I’m going to hang up the phone and do the happy dance.” She was so uncool about it all. No pretense, just joy and bright faith in how much fun we could have. So then I said, “Me too! Now I’m really stoked. I’ll do the happy dance when I hang up too. Let’s do this!”
My best strategic meetings have been the most uncool. Un-self-conscious. Everyone comes to the table with bright faith. They’re happy to be there and they say so.
Bright faith shows up at the beginning — that extremely precious and fractional space when you need as much light as you can to see which way you want to go. The more possibilities you let shine — the more you shine with possibility — the more lucid and discerning you can be.
Facts, faced: you are extremely fortunate.
By many accounts, you and I have every advantage to be happy, healthy, and deeply fulfilled.
Your heart may be broken, you may not have enough money to get to the end of the week, you may be fighting for your life. But when placed into perspective — you are extremely fortunate.
In fact, if you’re reading this, the highest probability is that you are living in the western world, above the poverty line, in a democratic environment.
: If you were unfaithful to your spouse, you would be stoned, likely by your neighbors.
: Are you gay? If you’re found out, you will get jail time.
: Thirsty? Clean water is five miles away. Walk to get it. You have one bucket.
: Have you complained about the government in an email? You’re going to court.
: Want to convert to a religion other than the one you were born in to? That would warrant execution.
: You may want to play soccer with the other boys your age, but you have weapons training.
: You can’t get a job because by law, women are considered “half the value of men”. Hell, you can’t even vote. You can’t even look a man directly in the eyes.
: If you’re menstruating, you will miss school rather than face the ridicule.
: Raped? Refuse a marriage proposal? If you’re lucky, they won’t kill you, they’ll just throw acid in your face.
: Long for erotic pleasure? It’s difficult since your grandmother cut out your clitoris with a razor blade when you were twelve.
: Long to be thin, to run in the sun? Forget it, men in your village like large women and you are force fed.
We could go on with the atrocities and restrictions — from the extremes of human trafficking (the average American girl is thirteen when she is forced into sex slavery) and torture, to what we consider basic health-care, like clean needles and dentistry. The hell that is Haiti, and parts of Uganda, Sierra Leone, West Bengal…and our own cities…
Facts, faced: even in our struggles, most of us are privileged. We have so many rights, must we exercise the right to complain?
Sometimes, the most direct route to appreciation is through the darkness — even if it’s merely imagined.
I’m writing this from an airport because I missed my flight — which derails my luxurious escape plans for a day. I’m lucky to have plans, to be sitting by a $2 million dollar sculpture, in a gun-free airport, drinking my peppermint tea, in a new warm coat, using free wifi. I’ll choose to be appreciative.
Your mother had the right idea: eat your dinner, there are children starving in the world.
That fresh salad you get with your entrée. The insurance on your car. The clothes you wear, where you want. The hands you hold in public. The light you’re reading by. That vaccination scar on your arm. Your innocence. Really, what’s the worst of your problems?
Perspective isn’t everything in terms of have’s and have nots. But you can work it to your very great advantage.
Editor’s Note: Danielle LaPorte is the creator of WhiteHotTruth.com, which has been called “the best place on-line for kick-ass spirituality.” She is the author of The Fire Starter Sessions: A Digital Experience for Entrepreneurs, an inspirational speaker, former think tank exec, and news show commentator. You can read all of Danielle’s EcoSalon guest articles here, and find her on Twitter @daniellelaporte.