Bestselling author Sharon Salzberg explores the meaning of faith through her personal story about a harrowing childhood of isolation and loss (a father's abandonment, a mother's early death) and her eventual journey into the Buddhist tradition. The overriding message, explains Salzberg, is that faith is "not superficial or sentimental: it does not say everything will turn out all right." So what is faith, if not trust in a happy ending? Salzburg, the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society, explains that faith resides not in the outcome, but in the willingness to see the possibility for change.
"The first step on the journey of faith is to recognize that everything is moving onward to something else, inside us and outside.... We see that a self-image we've been holding doesn't need to define us forever, the next step is not the last step, what life was is not what it is now, and certainly not what it might yet be."
Like the great teachers of Buddhism, Salzberg relies on her stories to make the teachings relevant. She shifts effortlessly from the voice of a memoirist to the voice of a master teacher. Through her insights, we come to understand faith as a verb. Faith means never giving up on the possibilities of each moment, always seeing "our own potential for happiness, for vibrant wisdom and sustained compassion--a potential that all beings share." --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
Current world events show that we need to find fresh ways to think about faith. Just at the right moment, Buddhist teacher Salzberg (Lovingkindness) offers a deeply personal and luminously honest work that makes faith relevant to us all. Unyoking faith from its usual association of adherence to systems of belief (and even the belief that we have no faith), she allows it to be a verb, an act of offering and affirmation that can heal and enlarge our lives. "Faith is the animation of the heart that says, `I choose life,' " she writes. "This spark of faith is ignited the moment we think, `I'm going to go for it. I'm going to try.' " In 1970, as a shy, 18-year-old college student, Salzberg recounts, she decided to travel to India to learn to meditate. She had lived cocooned in sadness since her mother died when she was young, until a course in Buddhism sparked the intuition that life held possibilities that could make her future different than her past. She went for it. In the rich stories that follow, Salzberg describes how that first flare of faith ignited the next, how a path appeared step by step, light by light, as she encountered teachers and friends and, finally, her own innate wisdom and compassion. True faith, according to Salzberg, is the action of the heart opening to admit life in all its unknown potential. It does not need to constrict around a particular belief or view, because it flows from an inner sense of reality, "a homing instinct for freedom." Salzberg shows that, in its essence, faith is a love of life that breaks out as it is exposed to real forces. Truth feeds faith. This is a work of great truth and great heart. It will help everyone who reads it.
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