Author Topic: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?  (Read 31451 times)

hope rainbow

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What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« on: July 08, 2012, 05:49:44 PM »
What do you think is actually the difference between faith and delusion, there must be a very important difference, yet their definitions are rather similar... see here below.
Do you agree with these definitions?

definition of faith:
A feeling, conviction, or belief that something is true or real, without having evidence.

definition of delusion:
A belief that is resistant to confrontation with actual facts.

(definitions are from wiktionary)


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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2012, 07:17:22 PM »
I would say that Faith is the strong conviction that a certain belief is  true and correct even though there are no clear and concrete proof to support the belief. We have faith when we live and behave in dependance on that belief. Faith is not the blind acceptance of something but the firm conviction of something to be true based on our experience even though we cannot show evidence of it.

On the other hand Delusion is the refusal to acknowledge a reality that is based on clear evidence and proofs to refute certain beliefs. The outcome of delusion is living a life and behaving in a certain way based on wrong views. If we continue to belief in something even after it is clearly proven not to yield the expected results, then we are deluded. For example, we may believe that money makes us happy and so we chase after it at the exclusion of other nobler pursuits. That belief becomes a delusion when we experience unhappiness even after acquire money, and yet continue to chase after money still believing it as a means to happiness.


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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2012, 08:15:35 PM »
Both faith and delusion are mental factors.  Faith functions mainly to oppose the perception of faults in its observed object.  There are three types of faith: believing faith, admiring faith, and wishing faith.

In this context, delusion refers to ignorance, a mental factor that is confused about the ultimate nature of phenomena.  Delusion arises from inappropriate attention and functions to make the mind unpeaceful and uncontrolled. There are three main delusions: ignorance, desirous attachment, and anger. From these arise all the other delusions, such as jealousy, pride, and deluded doubt.


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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2012, 11:04:40 AM »
To some buddhist, may consider faith and delusion as a spiritual downfall.

However, to me, I believe faith and delusion is a totally different concept where faith itself can be positive.

Lets understand a little more about delusion first.
In the Buddhist context, delusion is equivalent to our ignorance which is the source of our greed and anger - bringing about the 3 poisons that corrupts our mind and the largest obstacle every practitioner faces. The scary thing about delusion is, until enlightened, delusion will always be there in our mind. It is for this reason that some practitioners, even after years of diligent practice can spiral down in his/her spiritual practice.

Having Dharma wisdom is the best antidote to our delusion. Our mind is like a balancing scale at it's edge that can be tipped over any time when we give in to the 3 poisons. Most of the time, it is due to karma delusion that puts us in trouble! The heavy negative karma that leads us to think negative things of Dharma practice, of our Guru... and show us positiveness in secular life. Now... this is where faith kicks in.

Faith in Buddhist practice is not believing form of faith. Faith that will help us greatly in our Dharma practice is faith that is born through wisdom, contemplation and knowledge.

There are many things in our spiritual path that will be incomprehensible to us in the beginning, middle, and end... That's why even in the Lamrim, there are several stages for spiritual improvement, methods to employ in accordance to a person's level of mind. It is because of this very reason that some people find the teachings as contraindicating... and for those who do, lack knowledge... go read up! lol...

But faith through wisdom, will hold us on our spiritual path regardless of the challenges, the occasional disappointments and even the negative thoughts due to karma delusions. How? Simple... My Guru, the Buddha, and Mahasiddhas has all attained enlightenment through the Dharma, just because I cannot perceive it with my limited mind does not mean it is not achievable as all these great masters has proven otherwise, and therefore I take refuge and have faith in the 3 Jewels to lead me step by step to pure bliss of enlightenment.

For example, lets say I'm from some village and have never tasted Apple before. You're from the town and you've eaten an apple before. When we meet, you tell me, apple is the tastiest fruit on earth. It is incomprehensible to me at that time as I have never tasted an apple before, but i have faith in you, who have tasted it before, and therefore I also think apple is the best fruit on earth.

Similarly, the Buddha has tasted the fruit of enlightenment, and he is telling us the methods on how to gain it. What we do not understand now, we have faith... and with diligent practice, we will see how this faith turns into wisdom.

Faith and delusions will always be there until we achieve enlightenment... we just need to make sure that delusion shrinks consistently and not take up the bigger chunk in our mind.

Positive Change

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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2012, 11:55:20 AM »
This is a most interesting thread. It is true that is is indeed a rather fine line because both are born from the basis of our very own perceptions and hence possibly flawed. Here is what I have gathered:

Faith vs Delusion

- A belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
- A strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence.
- A conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, esp when this is not based on reason.


- A belief held in the face of evidence to the contrary, that is resistant to all reason.
- A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness.

Do you see a correlation yet? Let's continue...

An interesting article I found which equates religion/faith as a delusional disorder, however more to the context of a creator God I feel. Most interesting, however it serves as a strong debatable hypothesis and not meant to degrade, belittle or put down anyone's beliefs! Read on:

DSM: Delusional Disorder

It defines delusions as false beliefs based on incorrect inference about external reality that persist despite the evidence to the contrary (Sound familiar? Like religion/faith perhaps?) and these beliefs are not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture.

Delusional disorder is on a spectrum between more severe psychosis and overvalued ideas. Additionally, personal beliefs should be evaluated with great respect to complexity of cultural and religious differences: some cultures have widely accepted beliefs that may be considered delusional in other cultures. (Does that make them any less delusional regardless of how many people hold the same delusional belief?)

Unfortunately, patients with delusional disorder do not have good insight into their pathological experiences (Constant defending, adjusting, and mental gymnastics to normalize their delusional belief). Interestingly, despite significant delusions, many other psychosocial abilities remain intact, as if the delusions are circumscribed (Ability to function in society is not severely hindered by these delusions, though they do play a significant role in making many decisions for the individual with the disorder). Indeed, this is one of the key differences between delusional disorder and other primary psychotic disorders. However, the individual may rarely seek psychiatric help, remain isolated, (Does not admit to having a problem, and remains enclosed within their own religious communities: ie. Church). Despite this, their prognosis, while not good, is not as bad as other more severe disorders.

The similarities between faith/religion/belief in god are strikingly similar to delusional disorder. It is my opinion that faith/religion/belief are actually mental disorders. I will hopefully be able to explore and research this more when I get back to university in my beloved field of Psychology.

I am hoping that one day religion/faith/belief in god will be seen as a mental illness. Preferably in my lifetime, but that is probably asking too much. Though I do see some promising research being done in the field, and many are beginning to see a correlation between the two.

Positive Change

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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2012, 12:17:40 PM »
To add further on the basis of faith:

The word "faith" often is used as a synonym for religion; people say "What is your faith?" to mean "What is your religion?" In recent years it's become popular to call a religious individual a "person of faith." But what do we mean by "faith," and what part does faith play in Buddhism?

As a Buddhist I call myself religious but not a "person of faith." It seems to me "faith" has been dumbed down to mean nothing but rigid and uncritical acceptance of dogma, which is not what Buddhism is about. "Faith" also is used to mean uncritical belief in divine beings, miracles, heaven and hell, and other phenomena that cannot be proved. Or, as crusading atheist Richard Dawkins defines it in his book The God Delusion, "Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."

Why does this understanding of "faith" not work with Buddhism? Buddha taught us not to accept even his teachings uncritically, but to apply our own experience and reason to determine for ourselves what is true and and what isn't. This is not "faith" as the word is commonly used.

Some schools of Buddhism appear to be more "faith-based" than others. Pure Land Buddhists look to Amitabha Buddha for rebirth in the Pure Land, for example. The Pure Land sometimes is understood to be a transcendent state of being, but some also think of it is a place, not unlike the way many people conceptualize Heaven.

However, in Pure Land the point is not to worship Amitabha but to practice and actualize the Buddha's teachings in the world. This sort of faith can be a powerful upaya, or skillful means, to help the practitioner find a center, or focus, for practice.

The Zen of Faith

On the other end of the spectrum is Zen, which stubbornly resists belief in anything supernatural. As Master Bankei said, "My miracle is that when I'm hungry, I eat, and when I am tired, I sleep." Even so, a Zen proverb says that a Zen student must have great faith, great doubt, and great determination. A related Ch'an saying says the four prerequisites for practice are great faith, great doubt, great vow, and great vigor.

Common understanding of the words "faith" and "doubt" renders these sayings nonsensical. We define "faith" as an absence of doubt, and "doubt" as an absence of faith. We assume that, like air and water, they cannot occupy the same space. Yet a Zen student is encouraged to cultivate both.

Interesting quote:

"Great Faith and Great Doubt are two ends of a spiritual walking stick. We grip one end with the grasp given to us by our Great Determination. We poke into the underbrush in the dark on our spiritual journey. This act is real spiritual practice gripping the Faith end and poking ahead with the Doubt end of the stick. If we have no Faith, we have no Doubt. If we have no Determination, we never pick up the stick in the first place."
- Sensei Sevan Ross, director of the Chicago Zen Center

Faith and Doubt

Faith and doubt are supposed to be opposites, but the Sensei says "if we have no faith, we have no doubt." I would say, also, that true faith requires true doubt; without doubt, faith is not faith.

This kind of faith is not the same thing as certainty; it is more like trust. This kind of doubt is not about denial and disbelief. And you can find this same understanding of faith and doubt in the writing of scholars and mystics of other religions if you look for it, even though these days we mostly hear from absolutists and dogmatists.

Faith and doubt in the religious sense are both about openness. Faith is about living in an open-hearted and courageous way and not a closed up, self-protecting way. Faith helps us overcome our fear of pain, grief and disappointment and stay open to new experience and understanding. The other kind of faith, which is a head filled up with certainty, is closed.

Pema Chodron said, "We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice." Faith is being open to what scares us.

Doubt in the religious sense acknowledges what is not understood. While it actively seeks understanding, it also accepts that understanding will never be perfect. Some Christian theologians use the word "humility" to mean about the same thing. The other kind of doubt, which causes us to fold our arms and declare that all religion is bunk, is closed.

Zen teachers talk about "beginner's mind" and "don't know mind" to describe a mind that is receptive to realization. This is the mind of faith and doubt. If we have no doubt, we have no faith. If we have no faith, we have no doubt.

Leaps in the Dark

Above, I said that rigid and uncritical acceptance of dogma is not what Buddhism is about. The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth."

But although they are not absolute truth, Buddhist systems of thought are wonderful guiding means. The faith in Amitabha of Pure Land Buddhism, the faith in the Lotus Sutra of Nichiren Buddhism, and the faith in deities of Tibetan tantra are like this also. Ultimately these divine beings and sutras are upaya, skillful means, to guide our leaps in the dark, and ultimately they are us. Just believing in them or worshiping them is not the point.

I found a saying attributed to Buddhism, "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Take one leap after another in the darkness until the light shines." That's good. But the guidance of the teachings and the support of the sangha give our leaping in the dark some direction.

Open or Closed

I think the dogmatic approach to religion, the one that demands unquestioning loyalty to an absolute belief system, is a faithless one. This approach causes people to cling to dogmas rather than follow a path. When taken to extremes, the dogmatist can be lost within the fantasy edifice of fanaticism.

Which takes us back to speaking of religion as "faith." In my experience Buddhists rarely speak of Buddhism as a "faith." Instead, it's a practice. Faith is part of the practice, but so is doubt.

Big Uncle

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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2012, 08:15:36 PM »
To many, faith has the connotation that it is blind to rational logic and may even seem to get close towards superstition. This is a very powerful tool to exploit the masses and keep them in check by many secular and religious leaders of the past. It may have worked in the past but not anymore because people today are wealthier and have access to education and information.

Also, faith grounded in the superstition is at best a shaky foundation. When things don't go well, such faith will collapse into a quicksand of doubt, despair and delusion. Hence, in our tradition, faith should be grounded on logic, understanding and contemplation. In this way, faith is much stronger and can surprise some experts today with the level of endurance inspired by such faith. Hence, faith should always be inspired by logic, understanding and contemplation.


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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 07:08:30 AM »
Faith is associated with something unproven, cannot be perceived but CANNOT be proven wrong in the mind of the perceiver of the faith. Faith can have positive or negative results. If the results is negative, then it is delusions.

Delusions can also be faith that can be proven wrong at least logically. By definition delusions can only bring the negative.

Usually in Buddhism, we use the word faith for Dharma (truth) that we cannot yet perceive or we cannot logically understand. Examples are the 4 kayas, 6 realms (except humans and animals realms), karma and even impermanence. If one cannot perceive it but belief in it, then we call it faith.

Delusions are untruth that is perceived as true. Examples are things or events that brings "worldly happiness",  creator GOD and selfishness. Delusions are the cause of all sufferings.

The antidote to delusions is Wisdom, renunciation and patience.


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Re: What is the difference between FAITH and DELUSION?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2012, 01:51:53 PM »
In Buddhist terms, faith is defined as such:

The Cultivation of Faith and Wisdom

The cultivation of faith involves several stages. Although the depth of practice involved in each stage is different, the common purpose of all the various stages is ultimately the unification of faith and wisdom. These stages include:

1. Faith without prejudice — This is faith based on understanding devoid of any prejudice. Such an 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. For a simple example, suppose A and B did not get along well. If B makes some mistakes and A then gives B some honest advice, not only will B reject A’s advice but he will further misconstrue it as malicious slander against him. Conversely, if A and B do not have any prejudice against each other, or if their relationship is very close, B will be willing to follow any of A’s advice even if A uses strong language in expressing it to him. Therefore, one can only learn and have faith in the Truth if one first frees oneself from prejudice. This is the way to develop and to purify confidence and faith. (This is consistent with the first of the three ways that Buddhism teaches that one may acquire wisdom i.e. by listening and learning (s. srutamayiprajna).)

2. Faith with profound understanding — After establishing faith without prejudice, one is required to develop a profound understanding of the valid grounds for faith, and by such reasonable means to acknowledge its authenticity. The deeper the understanding of the valid grounds for faith, the stronger the faith that will arise. The valid grounds for faith are learnt and authenticated by listening, by seeing, and deepened by incisive thought in order to gain a systematic understanding. (This correlates with Buddhist teaching on the second of the three ways to acquire wisdom i.e. by thinking (s. cintamayi-prajna).)

3. Faith with endeavor — After exercising one’s reasoning and coming to understand the grounds for faith, one will make every endeavor to achieve it. The process is analogous to oil mining. One must first examine the ground and be very certain that petroleum can be found under a certain spot. One then starts to drill an oil-well at that spot, persevering until its riches are brought to the surface. (This corresponds to the third of the three ways to acquire wisdom i.e. by meditation and contemplation (s. bhavanamayi-prajna).)

4. Faith with realization — By continuous practice and contemplation, one comes to realize that there is no difference between the ultimate truth and what one believes in beginning. It is like a miner who procures a large quantity of petroleum by virtue of his effort in drilling oil wells. (This corresponds to the realization of prajna.)

Also, faith is defined as such in conventional terms:

1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.

So there is a disparity of terms as the Buddhist definition of faith is more of confidence and trust as opposed to the word "faith"

being delusional is a state of mind, as defined:

A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.[1] Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological (the result of an illness or illness process).[1] As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, or other effects of perception.
Delusions typically occur in the context of neurological or mental illness, although they are not tied to any particular disease and have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both physical and mental). However, they are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, paraphrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.

Basically, taking an untruth as the truth.

both are very different things, but they can also mean the same thing when someone decides to have faith in a lie. They are also different in the sense where faith is trust, while delusion is when you think that a falsity is the truth. But in basis, they are not the same as the definitions show very clearly.