Noticing the Christian Saint of Doubt, and Recalling Zen’s Way of Doubt, Faith, and Energy

Noticing the Christian Saint of Doubt, and Recalling Zen’s Way of Doubt, Faith, and Energy December 21, 2016

I see the ever lovely Anglican church celebrates today as a feast for the Apostle Thomas. Which, it turns out is the “original” date for this festival in the Western calendar, although in the middle of the twentieth century the Roman communion moved it to early in July.

As a devotee of the spiritual discipline of not knowing, Thomas is my Christian saint. Thomas, for those of us less familiar with the scriptures, is the apostle who when confronted with the risen Christ is said to have declared I’ll believe when I get to stick my finger into the wounds. I’m with him. Doubt. Doubt. Doubt.

Only don’t know.

All the way down.

And, yes, it is more complicated. Yes,there is also faith. Although for me that’s not faith in wild assertions. Rather it is faith as our ever present human, deeply human glimmer of hope in the face of all that happens. Faith in a flower, faith, as Thoreau put it, in a seed. Faith as the very blood coursing through our veins, noticed each time we take a breath.

So, doubt and faith. For me doubt and faith always travel together. Our relentless presence to doubt and to faith together that takes us to the gate of wisdom. Well. Actually, there is one more thing on that journey. Both the path to the gate and the gate itself are discovered within that relentlessness to pursue it right down, all the way down, found as energy.

Doubt. Faith. Energy. In Zen sometimes we call these things great doubt, great faith, great energy.

When these things come together, doubt, faith, and energy, we find the exact identity between our ordinary consciousness and our fundamental openness. And here we find the Zen way. Actually, here we find the ancient and always renewed possibility of our deep healing.

This healing is into a reality that includes you and me, and the whole world, each thing presenting itself and freely transposing with the other. First this, now that, sometimes one drops away, sometimes the other, sometimes both drop away, sometimes one emerges from the other, sometimes both emerge together – but we rest nowhere. Resting nowhere and moving fluidly among these perspectives is the true practice, the authentic way.

And for me that path started with doubt. And today is sustained in doubt.

And, so, of course, today, on Thomas’ feast I lift my cup in honor of the Christian saint of not knowing.

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