Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Dear me! dear me! this is very unexpected. I wrote you a long while ago about doubt, and now I suppose the seed fell in fertile ground! My chaste remarks have prompted a new question "arising out of the previous answer, Sir."
You point out quite correctly that the doubt of which I wrote in passages of such burning eloquence is after all what used to be called "philosophic" doubt; and by "philosophic" people apparently meant something rather like "Pickwickians."
Not the genuine McCoy, determining action, but—well, rather like scoring points in an intellectual game.
Now then (air connu) what is Faith? There are two kinds; and they are almost exact opposites. (N.B. The word is allied to Bide: there's some idea of endurance (or perhaps repose) in it. Cf Peter!?!?!?) Then the third kind, which is moral, not intellectual; as in "good faith," bona fide, yours faithfully; and this is probably the hallmarked sense, for it implies just that endurance which goes with bide, and is not dependent in any way upon reason or conviction. This then I may dismiss as impertinent to the question in your letter, and stick to the other two.
Faith in its Meaning Number One was perfectly well defined by the schoolboy: "the faculty of believing that which we know to be untrue." It is at least the acceptance of any statement as true without criticism, examination, verification, or any other method of test. Faith of this sort is evidently the main symptom of the moron, the half-wit, the village idiot. It is this kind of faith upon the possession and exercise of which religious persons always insist as the first condition of salvation.
Here is my own lamentable foresight on the subject!
(A Hundred Years Hence)1
There met one eve in a sylan glade
A horrible Man and a beautiful maid.
"Where are you going, so meek and holy?"
"I'm going to temple to worship Crowley."
"Crowley is God, then? How did you know?"
"Why, it's Captain Fuller that told us so."
"And how do you know that Fuller was right?"
"I'm afraid you're a wicked man; Good-night."
While this sort of thing is styled success
I shall not count failure bitterness.
Sometimes, note well! they are even frank about it, and say plainly that there would be no merit in it if there were any reasonable basis for it! This position is at the worst both honest and intelligible; the only trouble is that there is no possible means of deciding which to two conflicting statements to accept.
In faith of this kind there are of course in practice delicately shaded degrees; these depend mostly upon the authority of the speaker and your relations with, and opinion of, him. In practice, moreover, faith is usually tinged—should I say clouded?—by questions of probability. I see no need to weary you with examples of varying degrees; it is enough to dismiss the subject with the remark that faith is not true faith if any considerations of any kind sully its virgin nullity.
To prop faith is to destroy it: I am reminded of Mr. Harry Price's young lady of Brocken fame, who was so timorously careful of her virginity that she never felt it safe unless she had a man in bed with her.
What is the other kind of faith? Like its hostile twin, it must have no truck with reason, at least no conscious truck, or it ceases to possess a moral meaning. It is that confidence* in oneself which assures one that the long shot at the tiger will fly true to the mark, that the tricky putt will go down, that the man one never beat before will go down this time; also its horrid contrary, the moral certainty that something will go wrong, even with the easiest problems, with one hundred to one in one's favour.
I think the official answer is that one's certainty is in reality based upon subconscious calculation, so that faith has nothing whatever to do with it. If there is any answer to this, I don't know it.
After all, that is neither here nor there; there is but one material issue: how to acquire that kind of faith. Suppose we hunt it up in that precious Book of Lies! Any luck? Sure, kiddums, here we are!
Mind is a disease of semen.
All that a man is or may be is hidden therein
Bodily functions are parts of the machine; silent, unless in dis-ease.
But mind, never at ease, creaketh "I."
This I persisteth not, posteth not through generations, changeth momently, finally is dead.
Therefore is man only himself when lost to himself in The Charioting.
Nothing in that to contradict the official view, is there? Nothing in biology either.
Or in Blake:
"If the Sun and Moon should doubt
They'd immediately go out."
Or in that other chapter of the Book of Lies:
Consciousness is a symptom of disease.
All that moves well moves without will.
All skilfullness, all strain, all intention is contrary to ease.
Practise a thousand times, and it becomes difficult; a thousand, thousand, and it becomes easy; a thousand, thousand times a thousand thousand, and it is no longer Thou that doeth it, but It that doeth itself through thee. Not until then is that which is done well done.
Thus spoke FRATER PERDURABO as he leapt from rock to rock of the moraine without ever casting his eyes upon the ground.
Or in The Book of the Law. You know the passage well enough.
Conclusion: this discussion has for ever abolished the use of the word faith to imply conscious belief of any sort.
At least, if there should ever be an element of awareness, it is of the nature of a sudden leap into daylight of the quintessence of a mass of subconsciously selected and ordered experience.
Then what, if you please, did Paul mean when he wrote "Faith is the substance of things hoped-for, the evidence of things unseen." Oh, spot the Lady!
Love is the law, love under will.
P.S. Don't take any wooden money.
P.P.S. I have a marvelous proposition for you; I wouldn't let in anyone on it but my very best friend: there's a man in San Luis Potosi in a mine there; he stole about $20,000 worth of gold dust and now he's afraid to get rid of it, but he knows I'm safe and knows how to handle it and I've been his very best friend for twenty years, and he's as straight as a die, and I know he'd let us have it for $10,000 and I've only got $4,000—and that is where you come in!
* "Confidence" = cum, with; fidere, to trust = to trust fully. This confidence of which I write is usually a sort of "hunch".
1: Originally published in The Winged Beetle (1910).
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