Author Topic: what is faith for Buddhists?  (Read 12025 times)

hope rainbow

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what is faith for Buddhists?
« on: October 09, 2011, 06:26:55 PM »
I have heard before that Buddhism is not a religion based on faith, as compared to some other religion where it is kind of a pre-requisite to have faith (in God).
Yet, this is not entirely true, for faith is a vital element of the spiritual journey of any Buddhist.

One can have three types of attitudes in one's spiritual journey:
a) an academical approach,
b) an experimental approach,
c) a combination of the two.

Or one can simply have faith (faith not being an attitude or an opinion or an intellectual approach, but being faith).
I have met many people who actually have a strong faith in Buddhism, and this faith is a very strong ally for them on the spiritual journey that can be though at times. It allows them to take short cuts, and I find this admirable.

So what is faith when it comes to Buddhism, as it cannot be faith in God (in the sense of God being the ultimate refuge).
Is it faith in the 3 jewels?
Is it faith in the 3rd Noble Truth?
Is it faith in one's Guru?
Is it faith in karma and rebirth?

My question is:
What is faith for Buddhists?

PS:
I'd share this definition of faith from the "Joyful Path", Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:
"a naturally virtuous mind that functions mainly to oppose the perception of faults in its observed object."
so far the clearest definition of faith I have come across.

Example:
I seem to see "faults" in my Guru, but I know by inference that these "faults" are only seen because I perceive them as such, and if I have created causes for it, my mind will be naturally virtuous so that it naturally opposes my bias perception of faults in my Guru. Thus, I have faith in my Guru easily.
This also implies that faith is not falling upon us, but it is a state of mind that needs to be nurtured and trained until it become natural (by "natural", I understand spontaneous and without effort).

Positive Change

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2011, 07:05:15 AM »
Very interesting question HR,

Faith to me is an almost wholehearted acceptance that a certain something or someone is true without question. Almost innate with our inner most "feelings" as the natural pulse point.

However, in Buddhism we are asked to "question" and find answers, debate even and hence perhaps the colloquial term of "faith" may not be appropriate. For me personally I find it liberating to be able to "jump" into the deep end purely from faith and seeing if I swim. Faith is knowing that I wont drown given whatever extreme circumstances.

Faith is also a general word which varies in its scale of intensity and would differ from person to person or the subject matter but faith in a higher purpose of making others happy, above and beyond ourselves, inevitably wins as that is the truest form of altruism.

WoselTenzin

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2011, 05:15:00 PM »
For one's faith to be firm and stable, it must be backed up by logic.  Otherwise, when the going gets tough and our faith is challenged, we will have nothing to hold on to if our faith is just instinctive and based on the good feelings we had before.

For eg, When are plagued by problems and sufferings and if we do not have a firm understanding of karma or the law of cause and effect, our faith in the Dharma can be badly shaken.  However, if our understanding of karma is strong, then logically we will be able to understand that our suffering is due to the ripening of our past negative actions and take responsibility. In that way, with understanding and logic our faith in Dharma can be firm.
 

hope rainbow

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 10:51:39 AM »
But then, isn't faith the power we have when our "beliefs" are challenged or appear faulty?

I take this example:
we have faith in the law of gravity, right?
If we were to see an object floating in the air, our mind would search for the causes that makes this object float, I mean, our mind wouldn't suddenly loose faith in the law of gravity, right?
So we have faith, that is we still are sure that the law of gravity exists despite a phenomena that appears to contradict it.
Our faith in the law of gravity is grounded.

And here comes the definition of faith from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso again:

"a naturally virtuous mind that functions mainly to oppose the perception of faults in its observed object."

That is: even though we see a phenomena that we perceive as a contradiction to the law of gravity, our faith in the law of gravity wins.
Though Geshe Kelsang Gyatso refers to more important aspects than the gross law of gravity, as we are talking about a "virtuous mind".
(the mind that has faith in the law of gravity would refer more to a scientific mind)

So what is the faith of a "virtuous mind"?
And why this adjective "naturally"?
I would be interested to know what the people in this forum think about this.


Let's imagine we would see our Guru drunk, would we have the "naturally virtuous mind" to still see him as a Guru?
It is easier to have faith in the Guru when He is in monk's robes and on a throne and gives a Dharma speech, how strong is our faith when we perceive a "fault" in our Guru?
That is a true test to our "naturally virtuous mind" really, and perhaps if our Guru does not put us through such tests it may be that we still need to nurture our faith some more, or maybe also because the faith is already there, naturally virtuous, and there is no need for these "games".

Chogyam Trungpa sometimes delivered Dharma talks while being visibly drunk and actually drank sake every day. His students did not loose faith (most of them), maybe some even may have found this "attractive" and "cool", and it may have had the effect of strengthening their faith...
I know of buddhists that would not have enough faith to understand and accept this.
How come some would run away and some would find it attractive?

I mean to say this: the faith does not come from the object we observe as "being" how we conceive it to be, faith comes from our mind only, not from the "object" observed.
If we think it comes from the object, it is denying us perceiving it, it is thinking that we are somehow observing things around us kind of independently when, in fact, we are only perceiving what our mind is able to conceptualize as a perceiver. And then, out of habituation, we go on believing that the "object" we perceive IS how we perceive it.

We see what and how we can (and with a very limited degree of control for most of us).
We are depending on our aggregates for this, and they are limited to what they are.
Maybe when I see my boss, my stress level goes up and I see him as a pain, but when his mother sees him she rejoices and is happy. So it is not the "object" (my boss), it is how we perceive it (some would even say, how we project it so as to emphasize that the perception comes from us, not from the "object").

When the "object" appears to be or behave differently than how we have conceived it, perhaps we should wisen up and challenge our conceptions, rather than the object (because there is no "object" in the way we think there is).

This is particularly true when it comes to our Guru.
With grounded faith in a Guru, we give Him the leverage to propel us faster into our spiritual path.

I really like to think as faith not as a belief, but as a mind that is naturally virtuous, my gratitude to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for this definition. It means the world to me.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2011, 01:46:45 PM »
Faith actually is not the exclusive domain of religions other than Buddhism.
Vajrayana approach is to use the most efficacious methods to bring about results. Basic faith is useful in starting up one’s spiritual path but is not enough when the challenges become tougher. One needs to study and contemplate through valid reasoning and logic combined with experience to stabilize and deepen this initial faith otherwise it can easily be undermined.
If we examine closely, every decision or the things we do , is preceded by faith. For those of us who are lazy to practice or not  serious enough to study dharma , faith is all we have got to engage in some simple acts of devotion and prayer to plant some seeds and accumulate some merit .

DSFriend

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2011, 04:26:59 PM »

When the "object" appears to be or behave differently than how we have conceived it, perhaps we should wisen up and challenge our conceptions, rather than the object (because there is no "object" in the way we think there is).


Often times, we function, live and react according to anything we perceive and conceive through our deluded aggregates... similar to puppets on strings. Without dharma knowledge, it is very difficult to challenge what we "take in". It'd be quite impossible to feel, think (process what we take in) and react positively because we are very much conditioned beings. Thus, before we know it, we have formed negative thoughts/feelings towards the "object". It is then the perfect time for us to gauge what is in our minds... sufferings exists within, only to be triggered by external factors.


This is particularly true when it comes to our Guru.
With grounded faith in a Guru, we give Him the leverage to propel us faster into our spiritual path.


Yes, it will be much faster but will be a bumpy ride simply because...we have not rid ourselves of the three poisons which are at work in us.



icy

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2011, 03:20:52 AM »
Yes, Guru is the one to show us enlightenment.  The outer Guru trigers the inner Guru the ultimate wisdom.  Without logical faith and devotion to Guru enlightenment is a despair and absolutely impossible.  We end up a loser always. 

Guru who has travelled there shows the path to enlightenment without mistake, cushions our path with minimum dangers, diversions, risks and brings our ultimate goal within reach if we have faith.  Hence faith is important. 8)


pgdharma

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2011, 02:17:02 PM »


(It is easier to have faith in the Guru when He is in monk's robes and on a throne and gives a Dharma speech, how strong is our faith when we perceive a "fault" in our Guru?
That is a true test to our "naturally virtuous mind" really, and perhaps if our Guru does not put us through such tests it may be that we still need to nurture our faith some more, or maybe also because the faith is already there, naturally virtuous, and there is no need for these "games").


A mind that is naturally virtuous will not view or judge the externally appearance of the Guru but will understand the qualities of the Guru and how the Guru uses different methods to tame the different levels of the mind of the students.

Yes having faith in one's Guru is important as he will skilfully guide us through the long and winding path towards Enlightenment.


Klein

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2011, 08:36:31 AM »
Faith to me is when I've reached a point that I can't figure out the intention behind some of my Guru's methods, I don't try to analyse anymore and just accept the process. This is because i trust and have faith in my Guru.

In other words, when something is beyond my wisdom, I need to operate from faith. Otherwise, when doubts arise, they will dampen the progress of my transformation.

Galen

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 09:35:17 AM »
One must have faith is everything one do and that includes being a Buddhist. As a Buddhist, faith to me is a start to believe in the Dharma and its practices. It is a good start but one must generate more than faith to continue with the journey to enlightenment.

From faith, one must study and learn more what is behind the philosophy of Buddhism and texts to gain knowledge so that those knowledge gained can be practiced. And one also must have faith in the Guru who is the ultimate source for us in this degenerate time to bring us us to enlightenment.

One must also not just have "Blind" faith as once this faith is shaken or challenged, then one may just give up. Faith must be backed up by knowledge and logic and that makes our faith strong.

This is my humble opinion.

Tenzin K

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2011, 06:09:44 PM »
Faith is important for one to keep on continue in doing anything.
It is the same in our spiritual practice, faith is the core for us to stay strong and continue our journey.

Our faith for Buddhism will get stronger when we understand better of the context and the stronger our faith the further we will continue our journey.

For me, I gain my knowledge from my Guru.
My faith in Buddhism is from my Guru and it is the same faith I have for my Guru.


Positive Change

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2011, 10:28:08 AM »
Faith to me is when I've reached a point that I can't figure out the intention behind some of my Guru's methods, I don't try to analyse anymore and just accept the process. This is because i trust and have faith in my Guru.

In other words, when something is beyond my wisdom, I need to operate from faith. Otherwise, when doubts arise, they will dampen the progress of my transformation.

It is interesting what you say here Klein, as often in our spiritual journey we will encounter such bumps and roadblocks and our faith is one of the elements that holds us together. And such faith comes from, as you say, the trust we have in our Guru of whom we have taken refuge with.

Hence, it is important that one takes refuge in a Guru which embodies the three jewels as our Guru will be the one that will lead the way should we get lost or are in darkness. Because our Guru has the insight and wisdom that we most certainly lack but of the exact qualities we would like to eventually have.

biggyboy

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2011, 11:36:13 AM »
Faith to me is trusting.  Having that trust with an open mind is a moment to moment to realising and enriching one's life towards fulfillment of inner joy and happiness.


kris

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2011, 09:22:19 AM »
I am still a newbie in Buddhism, and at this stage, faith for Buddhist is to have faith in Karma and we all have future lives.

I heard of karma way before I get into Buddhism, but I only know it on an intellectual level. I know when I do bad things, the karma will come back, but yet I still do bad things hoping that it won't come back to me. This is what I mean by "I know it on an intellectual level", but still I don't have faith in it.

To have faith in karma, to me, mean I will constantly remind myself that whatever I do will definitely come back, either this life and future lives. With this faith, I am convinced to do virtuous actions, because whatever virtuous acts I do, it will also come back either this life or next lives.

Before I become Buddhist, even though I have heard of reincarnation, but it seems very distant, like it is not so related to me. Now that I have faith in future lives, I should even do more virtuous work and collect a lot of merits so that I can come back and not suffer in future lives.

RedLantern

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Re: what is faith for Buddhists?
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2012, 04:39:32 PM »
The cultivation of faith involves several stages.Although the depth of this practice involve each stage is different,the common purpose of the various stages is ultimately the unification of faith and wisdom.
Faith without prejudice.Open faith is important because if one has a prejudiced mind,it will make it difficult to understand others views,or to accept the truth.
Faith with profound understanding.After establishing faith without prejudiced,one is required to develop a profound understanding of the valid grounds for faith,by such a reasonable means to acknowledge it's authencity.
The deeper the understanding of the valid grounds for faith the stronger the faith,that will arise.
Faith is to believe in something which your reason tells you cannot be true,for if your reason approved of it then there could be no question of blind faith.
I have incredible faith in my Guru and the three jewels.