What Is Belief?

A friend asked, What is belief? questioning my haiku:
    Believing is seeing—
    Kitty Hawk's a test of faith
    in man's first flight.

How could I answer his objections that belief
in tooth fairies doesn't make them so, or how we
ceased to believe in Santa Claus when we're older,
that beliefs need to be verified by facts and proof.

What about the connection between trust and belief,
investors losing their life-savings in Ponzi schemes?
I guess religious dogmas and creeds will not help
nor priests and gurus to guide us, except perhaps

Buddha's last words "Be the lamp unto yourself"
and Ralph Waldo Emerson's call for self-reliance.
The BBC asked Carl Jung if he believed in God,
and he replied: "I don't believe. I know."

What is the distance between belief and knowledge?—
Is it the lapse of time between seed and fruit?
Theaetetus says "knowledge is perception and true belief"
but Socrates says "you know what you do not know".

Those who believe only in things they can see
do not realize the importance of the invisible
as roots and saps of trees, the air we breathe,
Bernoulli's principle supporting planes in flight.

My first spiritual mentor Anthony told me
that his wife thought him crazy because he saw
fairies in his bed of roses, but the Dalai Lama
considers him "one of my closest spiritual brothers."

Can science explain the potency of placebos,
children zapping cancer cells with ray-guns
in their mind, or cripples at Lourdes giving up
their crutches, even those with no belief in God?

The power of belief is our mind's miracle—
inspiring Dante's journey to paradise,
the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk,
and Apollo astronauts landing on the moon.

The Queen tells Alice "Why, sometimes I've believed
as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Brenda Hillman believes stuffed animals have feelings,
a found pen brings good poems, and there's no free will.

Do you believe that the Empire State Building
could fall in love with something 2000 times
smaller than it like a basketball?— No?
The proton did with the electron, a marriage

that has lasted as long as this universe,
almost 14 billion years! I believe this is
the greatest love story. Heaven forbid if they
should part, and lucky are we they stayed together.

              — Peter Y. Chou
                   Mountain View, 2-4-2009

Notes: http://www.wisdomportal.com/Poems2009/Notes-WhatIsBelief.html