In his book, “A well-build faith: a Catholic’s guide to knowing and sharing what we believe”, Joe Paprocki writes:
“To believe is to enter into a relationship with another and to place our trust in that person. Until that happens, what we have is not a belief, but an idea. An idea evolves into a belief when it makes the leap from the head to the heart. Belief or faith is not blind. It is grounded in reason. We do not intimately love another person unless we have good reason (and some degree of evidence) to think that this person can be trusted. In the same way, we place our faith in God, not blindly, but based on good reason and some degree of evidence that God can be trusted. What is that evidence? Namely, the story of salvation history and the living witness of other followers of Christ. The Sacred Scriptures tell us the story of how God has been faithful to his people since the dawn of creation. The living witness of the saints – those canonized and those quietly leading lives of faith – provides us with credible evidence of the trustworthiness of God. Our own experience can also lead us to believe that God can be trusted. And yet, in the end, we have no proof, no guarantee – only an invitation to trust. And so, when we say in the Creed, ‘We believe in one God,’ we do so at our own risk. “
To help people to believe in Christ, we are to help them to trust God. The three main works for us are: 1) helping people to understand the meaning of the Scripture; 2) living out a faithful life; and 3) inviting people to experience God in their own life.
When I read Haemin Sunim’s reflection on the Christian faith, I feel that this Koren Buddhist monk’s faith is deeper and more profound than some of the Christian authors and pastors. In his book, “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down”, Haemin Sunim writes about prayer:
“We don’t receive more love from God by asking for it. Rather, we awaken to the truth that God has always loved us unconditionally…In the beginning, our prayer takes the shape of, ‘Please grant me this, please grant me that,’ and then develops into, ‘Thank you for everything,’ and then matures into, ‘I want to resemble you.’ Eventually it transcends language, and we pray with our whole being in sacred silence. As my prayer deepens, I hear more of His voice than my words. As my humility grows, I feel more of His love overflowing in my heart. As my mind quiets down, I sense more of His presence in every moment.”
I appreciate that Haemin Sunim has clearly shown us the different stages of our spirituality as we continue to seek and grow in prayer.
We are spiritual. To grow our spiritual life, we need to practice spiritual disciplines. In his book, “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down”, Haemin Sunim points out that
“Spirituality must be practiced not just in solitude but also among people. Open up to people around you and feel connected. This is the true challenge of spiritual practice. “
When we are in solitude, we open our hearts to ourselves. We listen to our own voice and the voice of the Spirit. We open up to people around us, we listen to each other’s voices. Then, we will discover that we are actually connected to the same voice of the Spirit. The discovery of our deep connection is one of the main goals of our spiritual practices.
The challenge is that we do not want to have that level of connection with both the Spirit and each other. We do not want to follow the voice of the Spirit. We hate and fear facing our true selves. Therefore, we do not want others to know our true selves that we do not like.
In the end, the challenge is to embrace and love who we truly are. The beginning of our transformation is to know that we are the beloved ones. In love, we have no fear of opening up to people around us.
Is this challenging for you to believe that you are the beloved one?
Haemin Sunim is one of the most influential Zen Buddhist teachers and writers in South Korea. His writing in his book “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down” on the way to look at outside the world has been inspiring me and I love to share a few pieces with you:
“…When we look at the outside world, we are looking at only a small part that interests us. The world we see is not the entire universe but a limited one that the mind cares about. However, to our minds, that small world is the entire universe…What our mind focuses on becomes our world…If we look at the world through the lens of our mind, the way my friend did, we will readily notice what we are looking for, because our mind will focus on it. Given that the world we see through our mind’s eye is limited, if we can train our mind and choose wisely where to focus, then we will be able to experience the world corresponding to the state of our mind…When your mind is joyful and compassionate, the world is, too. When your mind is filled with negative thoughts, the world appears negative, too. When you feel overwhelmed and busy, remember that you are not powerless. When your mind rests, the world also rests”.
The way to be/become joyful and compassionate is to look inward. My heart fills with joy and compassion because of the love of God. Then I can look at and treat the world (and people) with joy, love, and compassion.
A book called “Children’s book of Classic Catholic Prayers” edited by Robert F. Morneau includes the following prayer called “Act Of Love”:
“My God, I love you above all things because you are all good. I love you as the creator of life, I love you as the one who has forgiven our sins and opened the gates of heaven. I love you as the Spirit whom you have sent among us to guide us in this world. Because of my love for you, I love my neighbor as myself. Amen.”
We are children of God, therefore, this prayer is also for us. Pray this prayer and grow daily in faith, hope, and love.