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In Oriah Mountain Dreamer's poem "The Invitation", the sixth paragraph is:

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy..

I can't figure out what she means by the last phrase --being "faithless and therefore trustworthy". I've thought it refers to not being dependent on a higher power for "goodness", but on one's own sense of right and wrong, but I'm not sure that's what she's trying to say.

I really can't find anything about it when I search -- certainly not about that particular phrase.

What is the meaning of that phrase?

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My take on the passage is that a person who will put aside their own belief in the right thing to do because they cannot bear to be the cause of disappointment in another person, can never be as trusted as one who will not.

If you think about it, if someone sets aside their own will to not disappoint one person, then you cannot know if they will set it aside for another person. They will always be susceptible to pressure not to 'break faith' with another person.

So to go back to the quote:

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy..

You can only fully trust a person who is prepared to break faith with another person to be true to themselves. A person who is not true to themselves is true to whoever holds most sway over them, and their actions cannot be predicted, so one cannot put trust in them because you don't know who can pull their strings.

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I think the accepted answer is not quite right, based on having read most of Oriah Mountain Dreamer's books a number of years ago -- so I can't recall which books contained what, but...

When she says faithless, she doesn't mean susceptible to pressure, but really faithless --

Edit: As per @Spagirl's comment below, I misunderstood her answer and am fixing that now.

By 'faithless', OMD does indeed mean what the quote says: willingness to disappoint another and be accused of betrayal to be true to one's soul. And it goes beyond that as well. Mountain Dreamer's laudatory take on faithlessness means being willing to break vows, willing to go against one's own convictions and values. Both the OP and @Spagirl in the answer above talk about being true to oneself, but Oriah Mountain Dreamer is not a moralist, she's a real spiritual daredevil. So, yes, she is talking about being true to oneself, but not like sticking to your principles. Mountain Dreamer's version of being true to herself is having the guts to follow her spiritual path to genuinely scary places.

I highly recommend her non-bestselling first book, Confessions of a Spiritual Thrillseeker: Medicine Teachings from the Grandmothers. The faithlessness quote is meant to be challenging, like the Nietzsche quote: “A very popular error: having the courage of one's convictions—? Rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one's convictions.” Unlike Nietzsche, Mountain Dreamer doesn't have a philology professor job to support her radical independence, so I think her work may be colored by its market niche of new age self help, but what she's offering is not tepid self-actualization.

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  • 'doesn't mean susceptible to pressure,' if this is a response to my answer, I defined 'faithlessness' as not susceptible to pressure. I've downvoted this for now as 'not useful', being more argument than an answer itself. But with your knowledge of the author I think you could make it into a really valuable one, that addresses both faith and trust, (as per the question) perhaps with explicit reference to OMD's work and how you differentiate between 'sticking to your principles' and 'following your own path'. I hope the vote might catch your attention to do that, so I can upvote instead!
    – Spagirl
    May 14 at 10:56
  • Thanks for clarifying, @Spagirl! Sorry to have misread your answer. I fixed my post.
    – Sigfried
    May 15 at 21:32

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