Optimism versus Faith
Why optimism should never be confused with its opposite—Faith
In this, the eighth article in our occult studies course, we shall discuss and explore the important subject of FAITH—too often ignored or misunderstood by ordinary people and occultists alike.
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According to Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage optimism affirms the definite ascendancy of good, and pessimism affirms the definite ascendancy of evil; but a third hypothesis is possible: namely, the optimistic or sentimental hypothesis that wickedness always fares ill in the world. These definitions show the words in their proper sense. But generally speaking the words optimism and pessimism have become trendy words on much the same level as "awesome" and "fantastic." For instance:
"The company had suffered severe losses, but at the last meeting the Chairman spoke with a fair amount of optimism" or "The young husband hopes that his mother-in-law will not come to visit them too often, but he is optimistic if he thinks that she will keep away for ever." These two examples show the word in its modern triviality. The word has lost the charm of novelty and become discredited. In fact to be called an optimist is not always a compliment!
We, ourselves, have often been called optimists, but the word has never appealed to us, for we have always considered an optimist to be the foolish sort of person who "puts his shirt" on a horse without having the least idea about "form" and many other highly technical and "horsey" scientific expressions which are completely beyond them—and beyond us as well! Therefore the word optimism should never be confused with its opposite—Faith. To be optimistic is one thing: to have faith is another. Without real faith nothing can be done. We must have faith in ourselves, in our abilities, in our fellowmen; but, above all we must have a deep and unwavering Faith in God.
When we speak of Faith we do not necessarily refer to any religion or sect. Whether we are Hindus, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, or follow any other belief or creed: we all have one thing in common—and that is our belief in God. We may look upon God as a personal Father, benevolent and loving in every way; we may regard Him from a classical or a philosophical point of view, or think of Him in the form of Nature or Universal Law; but the personal realisation of God does not matter. We believe that there is a Supreme Being (or principle) to whom we owe ALL.
This belief in the God of our Hearts is common to all thinking human beings and we hope applies especially to those of you sharing this investigation into Faith with us. But if we believe that there is a God who has created us in Love, then it goes without saying that we must trust Him in every way and have Faith in Him to give us His Holy Protection as long as we live. This is the Faith we are discussing in contrast to mere "optimism." We hope we have shown you already the great difference in these terms, which bear no comparison; each mean something quite different to their generally accepted interpretation.
Most of us have to pass through times of testing, when the quality of our Faith is being decided, as you can read in the true story on your right, and if we can only cling to an unshaken faith in our loving Father we shall emerge from our trial strengthened and purified. We shall have reached a deeper, holier understanding of the sorrows of other people and be more ready than before to stretch out a loving and helping hand to them.
Many of you may be familiar with the passage from St. Matthew, chapter 6, where we can read: "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" With regard to optimism, we would like to quote you another example, which came our way recently.
Not so very long ago we received a letter from a man who said he was 45 years old with a good job in the financial sector and that he felt lonely. He wanted us to introduce him to a "spiritual" lady, preferably with a little income of her own—although money was not really his aim. He further told us that he was interested in New Age, Yoga, Reiki, extra-terrestrials, modern paganism, angels and, among other things, Nudism! In fact, he covered the ground pretty well by mentioning all the best known modern cults, cranky and otherwise, evidently in the hope that one of them would strongly appeal to us, thus inducing us to interest ourselves in him. We wrote back explaining that we were not a marriage bureau, and that we could do nothing for him, much to our regret. Our answer must have been an awful blow and "put years on him" as the saying goes, for one week later he wrote to us again stating that he was 65, had no work or money and could we please send him some clothing, forgetting that he was a Nudist too!
Now, this man is an optimist!
Let us have done with that sort of optimism and once more look into the Book of Books, in which we have failed to find a single mention of the word optimism. Everywhere in the Bible, however, there are references to having Faith in God. To quote a few at random:
"According to your Faith be it."
"Thy Faith hath saved thee."
"He had opened the door of faith."
"Purify your hearts by faith."
"Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
"The fruit of the Spirit is faith."
"The Source of Peace is faith."
What greater authority is there to encourage our Faith and trust in God? Countless numbers of prophets, seers and other holy men confess their trust in God in the Bible and other sacred books. In the New Testament these sayings are quoted over and over again and new ones are added. Who are we that we should DARE to be without faith in our God when we read all these marvellous testimonials? We have only to look back for a moment into our own present lives and we shall remember instances without number, when the Hand of God and His loving care of us has been made manifest; and if we do this sincerely no doubts as to our present troubles being resolved for our ultimate good, nor fear of the future, should be able to assail us. "He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about."
What wonderful comfort and Peace there is in these words! Words of benediction and love beyond our understanding! History abounds with examples of faith and the lack of it. Napoleon won every battle in war and peace, but when he lost faith in himself and his Star he met his Waterloo.
Agapitus was cast to the wild beasts and unharmed by them after the Emperor Aurelian had ordered him to be beaten, roasted with his head downwards, scarified and doused with boiling water. When the wild beasts were set upon him, instead of tearing him to pieces, they went up to him, wagging their tails, and then lay down at his feet. In spite of his tortures he kept an unshaken faith in God and the brute beasts acknowledged it.
King Phillippe VI, who touched and cured 14,000 persons of the King's Evil, could do so because he had faith in his power and believed that he was appointed by God to do this work; and his subjects had faith in their King. Phillip the First, on the other hand, had no such faith and could cure no one.
Then there is the faith in saintly relics which has cured many diseases. St. Bruno's cured plague; Ignatius' cured fever; Maurin's cured bad eyes; Peter's cured paralysis; and so on. However right or wrong these examples may be in principle, they all prove the power of Faith.
In the Bible, in Habakkuk, Chapter 3, we may read:
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord is my strength, and he will make my feet like hind's feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places."
You may search the Bible from cover to cover, but you will not find a more triumphant expression of Faith in God. When all seems lost—hold on to your faith in God and rejoice in Him, for there lies your salvation. He will raise you up again if you are steadfast in your belief in His Mercy, Love and Goodness.
But it is not only in the Bible that we can read about Faith. A very fine passage is found in Isis Unveiled by H. P. Blavatsky.
"Healing, to deserve the name, requires either faith in the patient, or robust health united with a strong will, in the operator. With expectancy supplemented by faith, one can cure himself of almost any morbific condition. The tomb of a saint; a holy relic; a talisman; a bit of paper or a garment that has been handled by the supposed healer; a nostrum; a penance, or a ceremonial; the laying on of hands, or a few words impressively pronounced — either will do. It is a question of temperament, imagination, self-cure."
This pronouncement by such an eminent woman as Madame Blavatsky is extremely interesting, for it seems to show that, although she speaks the truth in regard to the instances she quotes, she does not quote the whole truth of the matter. The cooperation of the patient is needed, up to a point, but we do not believe it is entirely a question of faith in such instances, although confidence in the healer's knowledge and power is necessary.
But you cannot cure a broken leg by faith alone, nor can you get rid of a dental abscess by confirming that you have no pain, though we do know of cases where very strong imagination combined with Faith has reduced inflammation and accelerated the healing process. There is also the faith in your favourite doctor, or in medicines or remedies of all sorts, and there can be no question that such faith works, whether we call it the "placebo effect", "bedside manner", or anything else.
True faith-healing occurs in such places as Lourdes, but it seems to be that cures of this nature can only apply to diseases caused by nervous disorders, although on the surface it appears that some of these ailments—such as some skin-diseases—have no direct connection with the nervous system. There are a number of very interesting books, written by doctors on this and related subjects, one of which is The Body Electric by Robert Becker M.D., which are well worth reading.
It seems clear that the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for many outward disorders due to inward injuries to the nerves. This may be caused by shock, worry, fear, jealousy and other reasons. Some mystics go so far as to say that all diseases commence in the so-called "astral body" first on account of wrong thinking, anger, hatred and so on, and that they gradually spread from the astral to the physical body. This seems possible, but personally speaking we see no reason why such negative thoughts and emotions should not react on the physical body directly. Have we not all encountered people who are so negative in all that they do and think that they quite literally make themselves ill? If only they had just a little faith!
What is Faith?
Now, what is Faith? As Jesus said about Truth, so we would say of Faith. That it has many sides and no man knows them all. Only God knows, Who is the All in All. Some have more faith than others and each sees it in a different light, like the colours reflected by the facets of a fine jewel, or men in the valley and on the mountain top, who each behold Faith from a different aspect. Even those who do not believe in anything at all, and sneer at all things holy, may be considered to have a kind of inverted faith; they believe in negation, until the day arrives when the great lesson is learnt. But to the person who has Faith, more shall be given. Let each one of us hold on to what we see as the Truth in faith and love, for where love is not, faith is a dead letter.
In The Gospel of Chrishna-Jeseus we may read:
"The men who trust in worldly aid live in complexity, having manifold intricate laws, which are like shifting sands that suck the wanderer who trusts in their solidity unto perdition."
How true this is! How much simpler it is to put our trust in God.
". . . whose Laws are just and sure, unchangeable and not to be distorted by the arts of devils' ingenuity; for based they are upon the adamantine surety of God's own Mercy and His Justice"
As we may also read in the aforementioned Gospel.
Therefore, whatever your problems or tribulations in life—lift up your thoughts to God Who will ever patiently hear you and grant you your wishes, provided you ask Him with a clean and unselfish heart and have perfect faith that He will hear you and give you succour. After your prayer fill yourself with complete confidence and faith and set to work and strive with all your mind and power to realise that which you have asked for, and it is impossible that your aim will not be reached. "I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me." You—who may have failed to reach your goal in the past—will be surprised at how easily and pleasantly everything will come to you, if you will only remain faithful and keep on trying. There is no end to the blessings God will send you in answer to the prayer you have addressed to Him with a faithful and believing heart.
And when you have realised your aims, please give a thought to your suffering brothers and sisters and set aside a small portion for those who have not yet learned to have perfect faith or who do not know how to ask, or who do not yet realise that all our prayers are heard and answered. Such may regard your success as miraculous or "magic", not knowing that all good things come from God and that there is no shortage of them at any time, if we keep FAITH and know how to pray in the right manner. You can read more about the true nature, purpose and power of prayer in the tenth of John Temple's excellent articles on the Search for Truth. What MAGIC really is, and what it is not we hope to discover in our next article in this occult studies course.
Published 12 March 2013 — © Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Updated 5 May 2019.