~ Monday Musings ~ The Power of Possibility ~


FAITH (Photo credit: cacigar)

Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.”

I heard a wonderful definition of faith on the Canadian television program “Big Ideas” a few weeks ago. It seems in this sometimes secular age we are not supposed to admit that we have faith in something—but this definition, by a Jewish scholar and Rabbi wrapped it up quite neatly for me. Rabbi Sacks said that “Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.” I love that. We are capable of believing no matter what our particular belief system is. The Rabbi also said that “nothing interesting is probable.”

The word probable is defined as “appearing to be true or accurate” in “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” by Peter E. Meltzer. My computer’s thesaurus comes up with a few more pithy synonyms for probable, such as: likely, credible, feasible, and plausible. In other words, probable has its feet firmly planted on terra firma, but still wants to hedge its bets.

On the other hand, the word “possibility” does not seem to have hard and fast perimeters. And I have found that wonderful if hackneyed saying “anything is possible” has so many delightful derivatives. Here are just a few, from the wise to the famous to the philosophical:

Anything is possible as long as you have the passion. ~ Guy Forget
Anything is possible in this world. I really believe that. ~Liza Minelli
Here’s proof that if you live long enough, anything is possible. ~ Barry Manilow
Never let life impede on your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen. ~ Corin Nemec
The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible. ~ Ray Bradbury

Try changing the word possible to probable in any of the quotes above, and the meaning is just not the same, and not nearly as inspiring.

Possibility reeks of hope and aspiration with words like: option, opportunity, potential, and leeway, with a little risk and chance thrown in for good measure. You cannot quantify possibility; you just have to believe in it.

My favourite “possible” quote is found in the words of the Dalai Lama ~ “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Do you believe in the probable or the possible? Is faith the defeat of probability over possibility?

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44 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Just what I needed and I believe in the possible – thank you!

  2. Wonderful post. Of course possible to me, has greater significance than probable. I use those two words often, I think, when I am talking and writing. To quote something from the bible, of which I have minimal knowledge, “Oh yee of little faith.” In my thinking, if you do not believe in yourself, then probably, you will not (attain/achieve/access) those things that are possible. I made that up but maybe I have read that someplace.


    • Whether you made it up, or read it someplace–it is golden–thank you for such a thoughtful comment

  3. I always try to believe in the possible. I heard a saying once(it is sports related)- “In a season of the improbable, the impossible has happened.” I have always liked that and believe in it. I know that sounds goofy, but it keeps me going in my simple life.

    • I don’t think it is goofy at all — I need to believe in the impossible to get me through sometimes–love that saying–I can feel another post coming on….

  4. Beautiful post, beautiful words and beautifully written. And inspiring too. I love the way you write. Thankyou x

    • You just made my day — I am having to write up town council news right now to meet deadline and I was not inspired. You have now inspired me – thank you

      • Ahh, that means a lot and it was my pleasure anyhow 😉 x

      • 🙂

  5. Great quotes. I am adding a few of them to my collection. 🙂

  6. I’m going to try that–when I have a choice, I’ll try to do the kind thing. Thanks.

  7. Love the Dalai Lama quote. I found another quote the other day by Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.” Great post Lou.

  8. Wonderful quotes!!

  9. Love that first quote – I try to have faith in the possible.

    My other favourite “possible” quote came from a nurse that I work with – about to give her very first bed bath, and being distinctly uncomfortable, the elderly gentleman involved said, How about you wash up as far as possible and down as far as possible, and I will wash possible. 🙂

  10. I needed this today sometimes school feels impossible 😉
    Thank you!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • read my sister’s comment about impossible and you will feel better — my sister is Peggy

  11. Great post with wonderful posts. The Rabbi’s words stimulate thinking, which is good. I think many have some misconceptions about faith in today’s secular words. Some try to use science to discount out, but I don’t think science can answer that question. Meanwhile, because of my interest with the interchange of science and theology, here’s a past post on the subject …. and the last paragraph addresses my thoughts on faith.

    • Frank I love your last paragraph and am going to go back and read the whole thing — such a depth of knowledge and intelligence

      • Many thanks. 🙂

  12. Wonderfully written post!
    All of your quotes enticed a lot of deep thought, especially the simply-put yet starkly profound words from the Dalai Lama.

    Adieu, scribbler

  13. What a great way to describe possibility and faith! I agree with the Rabbi about how nothing interesting is probable. If you look at technology today, I bet that people merely 20 years ago would think it wasn’t probable to have all the things we have now.

    • the 20th and 21st centuries have been truly magical in all that has come about–it has been an amazing time–and you are right –we could not have imagined twenty years ago that we would be so dependent on things that just were dreams or fairly unaccessble

  14. Balance is everything to me. I believe in the probably as much as the possible. I like to think they work together while waiting for us to figure it out. 🙂 What’s life without a little imagination mixed into reality?

    • good point–probability is the reality we need; possibility the imagination unleashed

  15. I truly believe with every inch of my being, anything is possible..
    What a wonderful post 🙂

  16. Evidence exists to conclude….Although further study recommended….Indicators imply…Experts on the matter present…Yet to be disproven it is….Qualified assumptions…..An examination of the facts show…….Perhaps…..Maybe….

  17. That’s a lovely post. You’re right; replacing possible with probable just does not have the same effect. And I love the words of the Dalai Lama – it really is possible to be kind all the time, you just have to open yourself up to it. =]

    • and take the time to be kind — it does take some forethought sometimes — so much easier to be a grouch

  18. I believe in the possible…always. xo

  19. Great post! I love, love, love words and quotes! I still like the Biblical definition of faith best though. “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

    • I understand why you think it is the best definition – covers the bases quite well –:certain of what we do not see:-faith in a nutshell – thanks for sharing that

  20. I love this post! It was incredibly inspirational to me. Thank you for sharing the quotes, LouAnn. As usual they spoke to me, and I’ll be adding them to my collection 🙂

    My favorite quote about possibilities is by Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible!” Whenever I’m feeling as though it’s easier to look at the negatives instead of the wonderful possibilities, I remember those words.

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