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Cultivating Basic Trust in a Time of Uncertainty

After his many years of research and study, teaching and discovery, Albert Einstein famously stated:

“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.”

With COVID-19 cases surging by the day and the aftermath of a contentious US election, I sense that many people, perhaps unconsciously, are struggling with this very question: is the universe friendly?

It can be posed in many ways: Is God ultimately good? Is the universe trustworthy? Is human nature fundamentally good? or Is reality ultimately working in our favor, individually or collectively?

These are no small questions to ask, and indeed to pose them so directly can shake the soul from the inside out. But they must be asked and they must be answered if we are to survive with a sense of hope for the days and months to come.

As many cancel plans for family gatherings, are separated from loved ones, tune in to Zoom to connect with friends, or feel the isolation of living alone during a global pandemic, I think now more than ever we need to be intentional about cultivating some form of basic trust, by answering an affirmative Yes to the question posed by Einstein. We must come to know in our bones that, yes, God, the universe, and life itself are by their very nature, good, loving, and ultimately trustworthy.

Of this kind of hope-filled-faith, A.H. Almaas writes that basic trust is “an unspoken, implicit trust that what is optimal will happen, the sense that whatever happens will ultimately be fine. It is the confidence that reality is ultimately good; that nature, the universe, [God,] and all that exists are of their very nature good and trustworthy; that what happens is the best that can happen.” 

So how do we go about cultivating basic trust?

I suggest we start where we are. Perhaps nothing needs to be done other than to open to this trusting confidence in God. Perhaps all we need to do is just be, sinking into the spiritual heart where we come to know, from the inside out, that all is well.

Contemplation, the slow sinking into the Heart of our hearts, allows us to rest in the spaciousness within us that is ultimately good, ultimately loving, ultimately trustworthy, because it is home to the Divine alive within.

Through contemplative prayer and practice we can return to this basic simplicity, where we recognize and remember that by nature, when things are in right order, life is trustworthy.

The eye, by its very nature sees clearly, and only when it’s obstructed do we lose clarity of sight. The good food we grow is by nature healthy and healing, and only when we disrupt and pollute the earth’s natural order do we lose its healing properties. And we, as beings “created in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:27) are by nature called “blessed.” We too are made in the image of Goodness and Love, and as such, are good and loving.

And if we can trust our eyes to see, our food to nourish, and our very selves to love, then how much more can we trust God?

We can have this very trust in God, the universe, and life itself.

The reality is, things are not in right order. The election and political divide makes us far from “united” states, but we can, regardless of our situation, trust that there is an underlying goodness flowing through all that appears uncertain and off center, just as the fundamental warmth of the sun is never changed by dark and stormy clouds.

Moving into this space in prayer and meditation allows us to live from our centered-self in an off-centered world. Living from trust, we bridge the fear of the future with a light that cannot be overcome by darkness.

Find some time today to cultivate some basic trust by sinking into those deeper parts of your being where you find for yourself that God is alive and well within.

Trust that.

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