The Leap of Faith

Sunday I was reading the news and came upon a link to watch the live video feed of the skydive from 24 miles up by Felix Baumgartner. I’m generally negative toward this kind of event, seeing it as little more than kitschy spectacle. The silly “mission control” set reinforced my feeling. Nevertheless, I got pulled in and I stayed to watch. I realize that the man had put a lot into this effort and was risking his life. But if he’d died, I believe that it would have been for nothing. I respected him for admitting his fear afterward. I could hear it in his voice on the way up. He said that it was much more difficult than he’d expected.

The one moment that really grabbed me was the one in which he jumped. Later, I was thinking of the image: a man standing against the backdrop of the cosmos and taking a great leap. As I’ve come to understand it, it describes what the sage does when he seeks enlightenment: He climbs as high as he can with his reason until there comes the moment that his thought won’t take him any higher. Then he has to let go of everything and take a great leap into the unknown. This is what Buddha, Christ, Lao Tzu, and all the other true sages accomplished. One big difference between Baumgartner’s leap and the leap of the sage is that the sage can’t get into position to make the leap unless he or she is willing to do it for all of humanity. It’s not a personal show or the act of a daredevil.

I think that ultimately we all have to take that same leap at the moment we die. Reading the spiritual books, it becomes apparent that, for some reason, it’s regarded as a noble thing to do before one’s actual death. Few ever consider attempting it, though—especially in this era of materialism.

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2 Responses to “The Leap of Faith”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Hi Mark, I appreciated your article very much, thanks for sharing this.

  2. Jared Burton (JB) Says:

    I too, was sucked into this spectacle and quite unexpectedly. I was visiting my in-laws and they happened across a TV channel airing the live jump (my in-laws watch a lot of television which is my only real connection with that medium). It wasn’t Lady Gaga in a meat dress, but rather the opportunity to see the edge of the atmosphere through the experience of a human being willing to risk his life for something rather extraordinary. I started to imagine what it would be like if people did this type of thing on a regular basis, instead of bombing each other over symbology which really point toward the same truths. Seeing his tumbling body as a speck in a telescope gave me hope for humanity in some strange way. This type of adventure seems so much more noble than the type of things that shows like “Jackass” produce.

    Your analogy to the sages is spot on. Thanks for this.

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