Author Topic: Is doubt helpful in our practice?  (Read 8769 times)

Q

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Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« on: May 03, 2012, 08:04:52 PM »
Approximately 2 months ago, I noticed a friend of mine seemed rather troubled. I didn't know what was bothering him, so I decided that a casual chat would probably cheer him up and hopefully he would open up to tell me what was wrong. True enough, he expressed how he is feeling unsure about Dharma... or simply put, doubting Dharma and his Spiritual guide. It reached to a point where he actually stopped coming to the Dharma centre for pujas and broken many promisses made to his Dharma friends...

However, because of such doubt arised... he actually took the extra step to study Dharma texts intensively... and because he's more of an intellectual person rather than believing in faith when it comes to religion, reading all that Dharma text actually removed his doubt and made him more motivated and became more reliable as well as consistent with his involvement in our Dharma centre.

We have always looked at doubting the Dharma as something negative.... but is there any chance that 'doubt' can be a tool to push us forward in our spiritual practice? What do you think?

dondrup

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2012, 04:02:54 AM »
Deluded doubt is one of the six root delusions i.e. desirous attachment, anger, delude pride, ignorance, deluded pride and deluded view from which all other delusions arise.  Deluded doubt is a mental factor that engages its object two-pointedly or waivers in hesitation between two alternative viewpoints.  The objects involved is anything e.g. karma and true sufferings that are important to realize in order to attain liberation.  The hesitation is in favour of the wrong view denying the existence of such an object. Doubts for objects which are not important for liberation are not deluded e.g. if someone comes visiting, we wonder if the person is the one we were expecting. 
 
It is important to differentiate between deluded doubts and doubts that are the beginning of wisdom.  Deluded doubt must be abandoned whereas the latter is necessary to gain realization. For example, we have doubts when we first study the Dharma because Dharma contradicts our wrong views and incorrect assumptions and makes us undecided about them. Without such doubts at the outset, we cannot gain conviction in Dharma. These doubts help us develop our wisdom.

Deluded doubts destroy our faith in objects that are virtuous and worthwhile and make us undecided about objects that are trustworthy and beneficial. Deluded doubt is dangerous as it quickly halts our spiritual practice.  It is especially important to avoid deluded doubt when we are practising secret Mantra because success in Tantra practices depends on our having perfectly pure faith.
 
Fortunately your friend had made the effort to find out more about Dharma.  Even an intellectual understanding initially helps clears up some queries or doubts that he may have.  Please advise your friend to be patient when studying Dharma.  Also encourage him to study further by attending Dharma classes in your centre.  Through active listening, sharing, debating and participating in the Dharma classes, he will learn and understand more about Dharma.  Encourage him to talk to more senior Dharma practitioners in your Dharma centre who may help clear some of his doubts.
 
A spiritual guide is someone who is qualified to teach us Dharma.  A true spiritual guide cares for our spiritual development.  Please advise your friend that all of us had been conditioned by our countless past habituations and we are very deluded in our minds.  It takes time to remove our delusions.  When our spiritual guide advises us, gives us assignments, it is only for our benefit.  If we develop faith in our spiritual guide and the Dharma, we will eventually be able to remove all our delusions.

hope rainbow

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2012, 04:09:31 AM »
If think that doubt is our best friend and our worse enemy.

Doubt will be with us for a while, depending on the karma we have created, and as a spiritual practiotioner, we need to learn how to deal with our doubt.
One thing that I have learned is to not just ignore it when doubt arise, because it may just rotten and get worse, I think it is best that we face our doubt, that we analyse it with logic, with knowledge, with experience and with the help of our friends in Dharma and those not in Dharma.

It is important that we learn to do that because the only way our Guru has to strengthen our faith is to put us on the edge, at a point were we can really test our faith, at a point where we are to face our doubts.
When we go through such experience and have established a stronger faith, doubts gets lesser, but if in this challenge we give in to doubt and let doubt win, then we loose up.
A Guru always takes a risk when pushing his students on the edge, a knowledgeable risk of course, but a risk. The risk of loosing a student to samsara, and it happens sometime.

Even without a Guru, we'll have doubts to deal with for a while.
I don't claim to be an expert, and I am not a good practitionner, but these are my tools that I put in motion when I experience doubt:

1. I recall Dharma teachings, or I open a Dharma book and read, or I watch a Dharma talk on you tube,
2. I do a puja,
3. I imagine what I would loose if I let doubt win over my mind,
4. I imagine what would I "gain" if I let confusion win,
5. If somehow, I think I would gain something good from letting my doubts win, I think: how "good" is that really? how long will that last?
6. I open my heart to a Dharma brother that I know is reliable and that can help and that I know I won't damage with my clouded thoughts,
7. I test a little bit the people that I know are not in Dharma (as a last resort).

This last point, to me, has proven to be very effective and very destructive too, for I have done this once only, and the very worldly construction I had built up in my mind as an alternative to my Dharma journey simply collapsed in a matter of 2 or 3 days, displaying in full force its fragility, un-reliability and lack of solid foundations. The very people I had targeted as being my support and friends to rely on if I was to let go of my Dharma journey and "rely" on samsara turned into enemies in a matter of a few days, in a matter of an hour and over years of friendship. Like a live display of the un-reliability of samsara for me to see with my own eyes!

Maybe it is thanks to my merit that it happens though, and maybe some of us do not have the merit to have samsaric "friends", unknowingly working for Mara secret services, simply destroyed by enlightened snipers... But, then, we simply need to look at our samsara friends and see what they do, where they go, what they engage into and analyse seriously.
I find that they only entertain themselves in escapes (that is if they have it "good" all right), holiday, movies, food, party nights, car collection, whatever collection, travels, drink, family, career, money, books, art, jokes, clothes, social recognition...
None of this is wrong in any way, but really, if that is all there is, then one must be real and recognize the value of this stuff for what it is: deceptive.

This does not mean that I "like" all my Dharma brothers and sisters, for sure there are some I like more than others, and some that irritate the hell out of me. Why like that? because I am not enlightened.
But the thing is this: I am there for them, they are there for me, because they know more, much more than anyone however successful in samsara.
And yes, I work with those I "like", those I don't "like" indifferently, and I learn even more with those that I don't like, I learn to apply patience, I learn to apply generosity, I learn to control my mind, I improve, I learn to love them. I learn to look at my short-comings, I can go to them and ask them to show me who I am, to show me how I treat people, they will hold a mirror for me so I can see the real me, the good practitioners will scold me out of compassion, they will even embarrass me to make me understand...
Now, these are real friends!

In fact, I am asking:

What do you gain from letting delusions fuel your doubts, for letting doubts cloud your mind and for letting go your Dharma journey? Where is this leading, to what state of mind, that what kind of experience...
What is there to gain? What is there to loose?

And: what do you gain from clearing confusion away, and get clear about what Dharma means, get clear about what kind of mind one's Guru displays, get clear about the opportunity at hand, get clear about HOW LONG that window of opportunity is to remain open?
What is there to gain? What is there to loose?

Then, at least, if you mind is not a mind of total faith, it must be one of intelligence, logic and analysis.
Doubt works from a basis of intelligence, logic and analysis but with a background of delusions and worldly concerns.
Faith works also from a basis of intelligence, logic and analysis but with an open mind, no bias, no pretense, no defensiveness, and with no other background than reality itself and as a whole.

lotus1

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2012, 12:41:50 PM »
Good question to be pondered and very good suggestions from Hope Rainbow on how to deal with doubts.
I think it is common to have doubt sometimes. Therefore, it would be important to know how to deal with doubts. For me, I would normally ask my Guru or spiritual friends or contemplate & check in Dharma text. Lamrim would be a very good source for us to check what should we do or believe.
In addition, I would think it is also important to practice to purify our negative karma that hinders us from practicing Dharma such as having a lot of obstacle and doubts and at the same time to create more merits for us to have the wisdom to receive higher practices and meditation. According to Lamrim, in the seven limbed prayer, Confessions by using the four opponent powers will help us to purify our negative karma. At the same time, the other limbs such as prostration, offering, rejoice, dedication, etc will help us to create more merits and this will help in our spiritual path.

pgdharma

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2012, 01:58:12 PM »
I think for beginners it is natural to have doubts as we are new to the subject. In this modern age, it is easy to access to the net to search and learn up if one is in doubt. Reading dharma books, contemplate and apply the dharma into our daily lives will help clear some doubts away. Thus doubt is helpful in our practice as it will help us to learn and push us in our spiritual practice.  Through knowledge we clear away ignorance and gain wisdom.

Our deluded mind is the cause of our doubts due to the negative karma accumulated through many lifetimes. The only way to clear these is to purify our negative karma and collect merits to support our dharma practice. If we have faith in our spiritual guide, by listening to his advise and guidance, we will be able to clear away our delusions and doubts and continue with our spiritual practice.

vajraD

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2012, 04:44:26 PM »
Personally “doubt” can be good because it can enhance our knowledge and also chase for an answer and want to learn more to clear the doubt.

But on the other hand having “doubt” sometimes also will slow us down from our dharma practice or worse is loosing faith toward the practice.

When ever I have doubt I’ll watch some dharma talk, listen to some Cd’s or read some very light books alto books are not so much my favourite. Then contemplate over and over again until I find the answer. But there is never the right answer hence ill dwell in the situation for some time, but sometimes is just within a few days my doubts are clear. I guess I have so much doubt or obstacles are due to my pass negative karma.

Last but not least as said above it can be both ways but at the end whatever answer we have and decide to apply, we have to bare the consequences that comes along with it even if things were to turn out negatively.

Tenzin K

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2012, 05:33:43 PM »
Personally I feel ‘doubt’ definitely a tool to push us forward in our spiritual practice. By wanting to know we learn up. For most of the intellectual kind of person, it’s not easy for them to have faith at the early stage. Their faith develops much later after they get their answer but this should be a good start rather than totally reject. Everyone is different in their learning process, some are faster and some are slow. Their interests play a big role here. The more the know and make them found their purpose of life, this will be the acceptance.

vajratruth

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2012, 06:03:01 PM »
We all have doubts especially in the earlier stages of our practice. If we do not have doubts then perhaps our conventional mind is not being sufficiently challenged by the infusion of dharma knowledge. In a lot of cases, conventional wisdom can be very different to wisdom that arises out of dharma knowledge. At some point, we have to analyze and choose which one is correct.

If doubts is followed by a sincere desire to learn more and test the new information, then it is good to have doubts. It may even be better to have some doubts than to absorb the dharma completely without proper understanding which may lead to spiritual dishonesty.

Take the Dorje Shugden controversy as example. Many practitioners became very strong in their practice after they have struggled with doubts as the result of the rubbish that the CTA has been sprouting about this Protector. They take the doubt, do more research, analyze, ask deeper questions and cross examine what has been said against their personal experience of the DS and then come to a conclusion. By the end of the journey they become very firm in their belief and their faith is based on true understanding.



hope rainbow

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 06:58:25 PM »
Take the Dorje Shugden controversy as example. Many practitioners became very strong in their practice after they have struggled with doubts as the result of the rubbish that the CTA has been sprouting about this Protector. They take the doubt, do more research, analyze, ask deeper questions and cross examine what has been said against their personal experience of the DS and then come to a conclusion. By the end of the journey they become very firm in their belief and their faith is based on true understanding.

Dear VT, I like what you said about how doubts arising first when confronted with the Dorje Shugden ban and related events can eventually bring us to faith. This shows the skillful means of the Buddhas at work.
In fact, this is a display of enlightened skillful means for those who have the merit to see it.

This also shows how doubts can be helpful to our practice, for as long as there are tools and methods for us to analyse doubts and overcome them. This website is one of these tools.

DSFriend

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 07:47:41 PM »
It's not easy to get rid of doubt due to ignorance. Doubt controls our perception so strongly that it's hard to shake it off!

Doubt usually manifests towards our lack of confidence in others, be it our teacher or any other external experiences/phenomena.

What I find helpful is to turn that "doubt" energy inwards instead of towards someone/something.
Example :
Doubt yourself instead of others. Doubt your own fixated perceptions instead of your supreme teacher's words. In this case, doubt can be helpful in our practice.

The mara of doubt exists as long as we are not free from ignorance. While it exists, use it for help our practice...it's a matter of what and who we re directing it at and the result will be different.

just some thoughts...

Carpenter

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2012, 08:01:14 PM »
Doubt is not necessary negative, it depends on your action too, just like a knife, it can help to assist people in life, it can also take people’s life, so how you use it is the key factor.

When we have doubt onto something, but we refuses to go find out, we just sit there and continue doubting or worse still, spread our ‘doubt’ on an organization to the people around, then this is bad.

If we have doubt and we try to check it out, to find out the answer to our doubts, then this will be something very good, because when our doubt is clearing, we gain more faith in it, and eventually our will be stable and to help more people.

diamond girl

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 09:14:33 PM »
Thank you all for your thoughts and knowledge on this topic of doubt. I personally got a lot from Dondrup's explanation of deluded doubts. Before reading about deluded doubts, and understanding now that it is deluded doubt which is bad, I used to think that doubt is bad.

However, I still do think that doubt is negative because it will cast a "block" in our minds for new information and knowledge. And the pursuit of knowledge is in the attitude. So is the attitude key in eradicating doubt? I know so many people who say, "I doubt this is true... " then because of no attitude to want to learn they just let the doubt stay and used an excuse for staying ignorant...   

hope rainbow

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2012, 02:19:01 AM »
Thank you for your post DSFriend, thank you.
It is straight to the point, I am taking the liberty to repeat it and to highlight it:


Doubt your own fixated perceptions instead of your supreme teacher's words.


Tammy

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2012, 05:05:09 AM »
Q - thank you for sharing!

I am glad your friend takes his doubt positively and made the effort to clear them by studying up and researching dharma texts.. In fact, DOUBT is the best gift we can have. By doubting, it shows we have contemplated on the subject matter (in this case dharma and spiritual practice) and not just take anything as it is without proper understanding. 

Anything goes through proper thinking process, will be better understood and remembered for a longer time frame. Such is the way of learning.

May your friend keep up the positive attitude in his dharma practice.
Down with the BAN!!!

ratanasutra

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Re: Is doubt helpful in our practice?
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2012, 09:03:17 AM »
Doubt can be harmful or helpful depend on how we do with it after we feel it.

If we just ignore it and put it down then it can be harmful later as it accumulate until the point that can bring faith down. but it can be helpful once we have doubt and we find the answer by study, research and contemplate it in logic term.

but that doesn't mean that we always have doubt in everything.. in that case we have to look ourself as we are lack of knowledge therefore everything to us is so doubtful.