Once there was a fish who lived in the great ocean, and because the water was transparent, and always conveniently got out of the way of his nose when he moved along, he didn’t know he was in the ocean. Well, one day the fish did a very dangerous thing, he began to think: “Surely I am a most remarkable being, since I can move around like this in the middle of empty space.” Then the fish became confused because of thinking about moving and swimming, and he suddenly had an anxiety paroxysm and thought he had forgotten how. At that moment he looked down and saw the yawning chasm of the ocean depths, and he was terrified that he would drop. Then he thought: “If I could catch hold of my tail in my mouth, I could hold myself up.” And so he curled himself up and snapped at his tail. Unfortunately, his spine wasn’t quite supple enough, so he missed. As he went on trying to catch hold of his tail, the yawning black abyss below became ever more terrible, and he was brought to the edge of total nervous breakdown.
The fish was about to give up, when the ocean, who had been watching with mixed feelings of pity and amusement, said, “What are you doing?” “Oh,” said the fish, “I’m terrified of falling into the deep dark abyss, and I’m trying to catch hold of my tail in my mouth to hold myself up.” So the ocean said, “Well, you’ve been trying that for a long time now, and still you haven’t fallen down. How come?” “Oh, of course, I haven’t fallen down yet,” said the fish, “because, because–I’m swimming!” “Well,” came the reply, “I am the Great Ocean, in which you live and move and are able to be a fish, and I have given all of myself to you in which to swim, and I support you all the time you swim. Instead of exploring the length, breadth, depth, and height of my expanse, you are wasting your time pursuing your own end.” From then on, the fish put his own end behind him (where it belonged) and set out to explore the ocean.
I believe that faith is a precursor of all our ideas . Without faith, there never could have evolved hypothesis, theory , science or mathematics . I believe that faith is an extension of the mind . It is the key that negates the impossible. To deny faith is to refute oneself and the spirit that generates all our creative forces. My faith is in the unknown, in all that we do not understand by reason ; I believe that what is beyond our comprehension is a simple fact in other dimensions, and that in the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good.
We must here make a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would “lief” or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.
The present phase of human thought and history almost compels us to face reality with open minds, and you can only know God through an open mind just as you can only see the sky through a clear window. You will not see the sky if you have covered the glass with blue paint.
But “religious” people who resist the scraping of the paint from the glass, who regard the scientific attitude with fear and mistrust, and confuse faith with clinging to certain ideas, are curiously ignorant of laws of the spiritual life which they might find in their own traditional records. A careful study of comparative religion and spiritual philosophy reveals that abandonment of belief, of any clinging to a future life for one’s own, and of any attempt to escape from finitude and mortality, is a regular and normal stage in the way of the spirit. Indeed, this is actually such a “first principle” of the spiritual life that it should have been obvious from the beginning, and it seems, after all, surprising that learned theologians should adopt anything but a cooperative attitude towards the critical philosophy of science.