"Among the Buddha ancestors, drinking tea and eating rice is everyday life. This matter of drinking tea and eating rice has been transmitted over a long period of time … the everyday life of the ancestors is nothing but drinking tea and eating rice." (Dogen)
The concept of 'faith' plays a large part in the "tribiblical" trajectory of Judeochristianislam, and I want to take the term up with respect to the ideas of Paul Tillich (1886 - 1965) concerning 'absolute faith' and 'ultimate concern' as his approach, in my opinion, existentially epitomizes the idea of faith. Firstly, 'absolute faith,' according to Tillich, transcends the traditional, theistic idea of god; absolute faith is a comportment to being that resists despair and meaninglessness, and embraces the ground of being-as-such as the "god above god" which transcends essence and existence. So far so good, this idea of faith is fine, if correctly applied. But his idea of 'faith' is further interpreted as 'ultimate concern,' of which he says: "Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality. It is the most centered act of the human mind...it participates in the dynamics of personal life" (P. Tillich, Dynamics of Faith).
So here we have a plethora of related concepts getting tossed around: 'absolute faith,' 'ultimate concern,' and 'total personality.' Note the use of the words 'absolute,' 'ultimate,' and 'total.' Now let me throw another idea into the mix, "quasi-religion" (another Tillichian contribution). 'Quasi-religion' to Tillich is any kind of social ideological system which "claim the loyalty or veneration of their followers with the intensity sometimes of … theistic religions." So what's happening here? There is, "ultimately," no difference between religion and quasi-religion, a la Tillich, except their object of faith. The former's object is supposedly beyond subjectivity and objectivity, essence and existence (according to Tillich), which brings it to the existential level of being. But the same can be said of the latter; ecstatic adherence is possible, and is constantly seen, to so-called quasi-religious paradigms, with absolute fervor. This holds true when religion and quasi-religion are intermingled, say, in christofascism, race-based theocratic nationalism, karma-based feudalism, patriarchalism, and so on. Strip those paradigms of the "numinous," and what you get from their adherents is no different from when they're infused with the "numinous"; you get: absolute faith, ultimate concern, and total personality.
'God above god' is a matter of subjective definition, no, subjective-existential comportment. The idea of a "people," a "nation," can easily become that god above god. The idea of a political system, economic system, can easily become that god above god. It can become the object of ultimate concern that calls for absolute faith and involvement of the total personality. Faith in it can become "the most centered act of the human mind …" which "participates in the dynamics of personal life." Why the hell else would anyone use "terror tactics," murder, violence, genocide, etc., to make their statement of faith in something they so strongly believe, so powerfully, so fully, so ultimately, so fucking absolutely, that they would resort to atrocities? Because the object of their faith is beyond subject and object. It is beyond essence and existence. It is the ground of being. It demands absolute allegiance and action to prove it (see On Righteousness, The Vilification of Nature, and The Devil Field).
No, folks. Faith of this kind, "the masculine" warlike, "absolute, ultimately-concerned" faith is passé. It is the stuff of poison. This literally is the Satrean mauvaise foi. Finite, mortal, limited human beings aren't cut out for the "absolute." They don't understand it, they cannot understand it. Because there is nothing absolute about being human. The absolute, the ultimate, the total personality … these are not human categories, and neither is faith. Show me the money: humans need to stick to the stuff of ol' rags 'n bones of day-to-day existence, to stuff they know and understand, to whatever works. It's dangerous business to toss around "ultimate concerns" for mass consumption. Humans, the masses, have no idea what 'absolute' is. They have absolutely no fucking idea. They keep trying to grok it, but it's always beyond their reach. Because it's absolute, stupid. Throw it away. Throw away the masculine, patriarchal "faith" that is of "ultimate concern," absolute allegiance, and all that meme-poison. They are masks of the demonic.
I'll top the article off with thoughts from my friend Anna, regarding faith: English is so inept to describe things sometimes. Is it not possible that the word "faith," at its root, has multiple levels of meaning - just as the word "love"? I do see the difference between ultimate faith and putting faith in something/someone other than yourself. I always regard faith as "negative fear" - or fearless; a version of trust....not in someone or something, just in general.
Thank you Anna W. for your help and contribution!
Paul Johannes Tillich (August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965)