This I Believe

T.Collins - San Diego, California
Entered on October 13, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

Kneeling in Puget Sound, arms wide to witnessing stars in an endless sea of black. “I acknowledge You and honor You,” I said, “…and I let go.” A Presence entered me then, consuming my being, chasing away fear and chilling wet. Although not the first or last time I felt touched by a mysterious Something, on this occasion I opened my heart wide. What did I draw down? Names, dogmas and window dressing seem trivial; it matters only that the experience was real to me. So this is the first element of my belief: a worshipful, heart-centered process where acceptance, love and humility bind me to the Vast Unknowable.

A youthful experiment with mushrooms confirmed another belief component. A friend and I got high and discussed the nature of faith all night. Certainties were exposed as intellectual tricks; convictions a sort of willful whimsy; ascriptions of meaning a laughable farce. This reinforced conclusions that no matter what knowledge I accumulated or how skillful my spiritual practice, a gap in understanding would always exist that faith would have to fill. But faith in what? Names, dogmas and window dressing again…this trust was not externally dependent but internally essential. So my faith became a courageous and practical illusion.

Because of the emotional and physical trauma I experienced as a child, the third element, unconditional love, was particularly challenging. Pain and grief taught me what love wasn’t: not lust, not possessiveness, not controlling or being controlled. Then, growing through spiritual discipline and healthy friendships, I began to appreciate authentic love. I encountered safety in being kind, compassion as a fulfilling way of being, and gratitude as a natural state of heart that opened me to affirming experiences. Eventually, I began to fall in love with everything and everyone.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve encountered spontaneous, intuitive ways of seeing. My Mom encouraged these, sharing her Tarot and tea leaf readings with me and searching for hidden meaning in dreams and stories written in sky and cloud. Some call this listening within, past clutter and babble, to a place of perfect, meditative stillness. Others describe it as being entirely present to what is. It’s difficult to put into words, but the eventual effect is sensing the essence of something – so that names, dogmas and window dressing become unnecessary. Relying on such mystical awareness is the fourth aspect of my belief.

And finally, my creed is guided by the evidence of transformative results. Do I live my beliefs? If so, they should nourish me with healing, growth and transformation – mirrored by healing, growth and transformation all around me. A catalyst effect first within, then without. I credit my Dad with this metric, because growing up he reminded me frequently that meaningful outcomes are built on careful and continual evaluation.

So what do I believe? I believe in cultivating a disciplined, structured and faith-filled belief – a belief permeated with love-consciousness, renewed by mystical insight, and navigated by the light of positive results.