Adhitthana (Pali): Decision; resolution; determination.
The verb πειθω (peitho) and its derived noun πιστις (pistis) are possibly the most signature words of the Greek New Testament. The verb means to persuade, and the noun means faith, trust or certainty. From the noun in turn derives the verb πιστευω (pisteuo), meaning to have faith, that is, to behave as someone who has persuaded himself into certainty. (Abarim Publications)
Christian Hope: “The state of pure love does not exclude the mental state which is called Christian hope. Hope in the Christian, when we analyze it into its elements, may be described as the desire of being united with God in heaven, accompanied with the expectation or belief of being so.” – Francois Fenelon, Maxims of the Saints
“Therefore I say unto you, Whatever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive and you shall have.” (Mark 11:24)
Faith is the belief that you are something infinitely greater than the ego.
To believe in spiritual truths is a simple matter of choice. But to have the conviction that you will attain Self-realization is much harder. In fact, one of the primary reasons for the existence of this realm is to give us the opportunity to let go of the fear of failure. That opportunity is not available in higher realms because existence is effortless—thoughts are instantly fulfilled.
Lester Levenson faced difficult challenges and some spectacular business failures before his enlightenment. He attributed the failures to his having lost interest in the businesses, but this isn’t the whole story.
Imagine that it’s 1941: you have a three luncheonettes and you’re opening a fourth. You’re making $1,200 a week and you’re living at the Hotel Taft on Broadway. In 1941 $1,200 was worth $21,800 in 2019, and that’s every week. Then the government orders you to work in Washington and you lose the restaurants.
After the war you go to Canada and start selling lumber wholesale. You get up to selling two carloads of lumber a day, making a profit of $300 a carload, and you have acquired $80,000 (almost a million dollars in 2019) of lumber. Then the Canadian brokers go after you and you lose everything.
After that you buy a large sawmill and planing mill in New Mexico. After you have paid off all of its debts the two biggest competitors drop the price of lumber, putting you out of business.
Lester later understood that he was the cause of everything that happened to him. He knew that he had been pre-destined to make money and lose it. We know this because he once said that before we are born we “pre-program” ourselves to go through certain experiences. He once told a student about something else that was decided before he was born:
He told me it was actually his bad karma to have to put out the Release Technique to the world. When he was going free, wiping out the last vestiges of his ego and mind, a big hand appeared before him, stopping him from leaving the world completely, and showed him a pre-incarnation “deal” he had made.
All masters, once freed of their worldly karma, he told me, do not want to take a physical body again and to have to live among the emotionally troubled and severely limited people playing out their karma from past lives. He told me that only a rare few, twenty-four at any given time, take on this burden. (Seretan, pp. 25-26)
Lester learned fearlessness at a young age; he never seems to have lacked self-confidence. I suspect that this is the reason he didn’t teach how to release self-doubt. Like other masters, he spoke of not allowing doubt to enter the mind, to overcome self-doubt with self-confidence:
Your inner conviction does it. Your thinking does it. When your unconscious thinking that is negative on a thing is overwhelmed by the conscious thinking to the contrary that you can, then you can. (https://youtu.be/-XE-wat7btU?t=74)
However, for most of us, trying to push away doubt only holds it in mind. Hale Dwoskin (Sedona, 2005) said of the practice of repeating positive statements (made popular by Norman Vincent Peale) that if an affirmation doesn’t feel true, repeating it only reminds you of the feeling you are trying to get rid of. Instead of trying to nullify it, we should acknowledge the feeling of self-doubt. This does not give it more power, but instead releases it—provided that we focus on the feeling and do not dwell on any thoughts.
The following is the greatest illustration in history of letting go of doubt:
With all his memory and learning, Ananda could not sound the bottom of the Buddha’s wisdom while the latter was still alive. According to tradition, Ananda’s attainment to Arhatship took place at the time of the First Convocation, in which he was not allowed to take part in spite of his twenty-five years’ attendance upon the Buddha. Grieving over the fact, he spent the whole night perambulating in an open square, and when he was about to lay himself down on a couch all exhausted, he all of a sudden came to realize the truth of Buddhism, which with all his knowledge and understanding had escaped him all those years. (Suzuki, 1953, p. 67)
What happened to Ananda that he finally attained enlightenment? Instead of repressing his shame, instead of pushing away the fear that he would never become an Arhat, he allowed the feelings to come up and released them.
Self-doubt is an aversion to failure; it is the feeling, “I can’t.” However, the feeling of failure may be covering up the desire for approval. If you were the only person on Earth, would success be important to you? Whose approval are you seeking by trying to accomplish something? To let go of your anxiety about failure you may need to let go of your desire for approval.
• Bring the thought of failure up into your awareness. If this is about something you want to accomplish the feeling may be anxiety; if it is about a past failure, it may be shame, regret or unhappiness.
• Relax any tension there is in the body and exhale.
• Remaining relaxed, focus on the feeling until it passes away.
• Use the thought of failure to bring up the feeling again, and keep it in your awareness until it passes away.
Hale Dwoskin (Sedona, 2005) suggests a more advanced releasing technique: it consists of alternating between negative feelings and awareness of the Self. Begin by establishing the feeling “I can’t” or “I am unloved” and spend a few minutes with it. Then establish “I am” and spend a few minutes just being. Alternate back and forth between the two states of consciousness, the negative state of wanting and the positive state of being. After practicing this you may find that it takes more effort to re-establish the ego-consciousness. This is because the Self is what you really are: it takes great effort to hold on to the ego.
“Do or die”
In times of old, generals invading foreign lands sometimes ordered the the burning of the bridges crossed by their advancing soldiers so that they wouldn’t attempt to go back home. The temptation to go back is sometimes expressed by the thought, “at least”: “I may not succeed, but at least I have this or that consolation.” To seek consolation in anything except success will only bring failure, as Meister Eckhart said:
So, if you would seek and find perfect joy and comfort in God, see to it that you are free of all creatures and of all comfort from creatures; for assuredly, as long as you are or can be comforted by creatures, you will never find true comfort. But when nothing can comfort you but God, then God will comfort you, and with Him and in Him all that is bliss. While what is not God comforts you, you will have no comfort here or hereafter, but when creatures give you no comfort and you have no taste for them, then you will find comfort both here and hereafter. (The Book of Divine Comfort, Complete Works, p. 535)
You can achieve Self-realization in this lifetime if you decide that you are going to do it, whatever it takes. You don’t lack the knowledge of how—the only thing that hinders us is a lack of resolve. We may have killed people or done other terrible things in previous lives, but this is no obstacle to enlightenment. In fact, having done terrible things can be an advantage because that gives us a stronger desire to get out of our misery.
The Master instructed the group, saying: “Those who study the Way need to have faith in themselves and not go looking for something outside. Whatever confronts you, don’t let it get the better of you. If you entertain even a moment of doubt, the devil will enter your mind. Even a bodhisattva, when he starts doubting, is prey to the devil of birth and death. Learn to put a stop to thoughts—whenever anything appears, shine your light on it. Just have faith in this thing that is operating in you right now. Outside of it, nothing else exists.” (Lin-chi)
Jacob, brother of Yeshua:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2, New King James)
Erich Fromm: (1960)
To have faith means to dare, to think the unthinkable, yet to act within the limits of the realistically possible; it is the paradoxical hope to expect the Messiah every day, yet not to lose heart when he has not come at the appointed hour. This hope is not passive and it is not patient; on the contrary, it is impatient an active, looking for every possibility of action within the realm of real possibilities. Least of all it is passive as far as the growth and liberation of one’s own person are concerned.
Lester Levenson on Conviction
The moment we decide to be the Self—really decide—it is so!
We should expect to go all the way. Every one of us is born with the ability to do it in this lifetime.
Whatever your expectations are, raise them higher. Expect no less than infinity.
You will move as quickly as you expect to. To move more rapidly, expect it.
Every impossible, no matter how impossible, becomes immediately possible when we are completely released on it. And you know you are completely released when you just don’t give a damn.
Erich Fromm, D. T. Suzuki, et al. (1960). Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis. New York: Harper Colophon Books.
Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom: Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation. Phoenix, Arizona: Sedona Institute. ISBN 0-915721-03-1
Seretan, Stephen (2008). Lester and Me.
Suzuki, D. T. (1953). Essays in Zen Buddhism (Second Series). London: Rider and Company.
Walshe, Maurice O’C. (2009). The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. (download)