Author Topic: A matter of faith  (Read 22560 times)

beggar

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A matter of faith
« on: November 05, 2010, 09:20:24 AM »
Recently, I have been thinking about the importance of having confidence and faith in Dharma practice. I have met many people who say, "I cannot be a good practitioner," or "I can't be as good as you" or "I don't know very much" and somehow, allow themselves to stay there. There is a sense of false modesty but actually just reflects a big lack of confidence, or even laziness.

Sometimes, yes, it can be daunting when we think of the long, big road ahead of us that we need to trek to reach enlightenment. It seems so far away! It seems like there is a lot we need to overcome, a lot of hurdles, and sometimes we get scared.

Then, I came across an interesting teaching recently that said (and this is very common sense, very clear), that if we keep saying we cannot do it, we don't know how, we don't want to do it etc then we are just opening the karmic imprints for us to NOT do it; we allow all those negative karmas that keep us away from dharma to open and literally stop us from practicing. So eventually, yes, we literally cannot do it, won't know how to do it and will NOT DO IT.

The opposite must therefore be true. We must have the determination and some faith to say, "I will do it", "I can do it". This opens the positive karmic imprints from whatever positive virtue we have done before, TO CONTINUE DOING IT AGAIN now.

The question perhaps, then, is not whether we have faith in ourselves to practice, but whether we really WANT TO PRACTICE?

Is it really a lack of faith? Or just pure laziness and attachment?

hope rainbow

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 10:04:14 AM »
THE faith we should cutivate, THE faith that is the root of the spiritual path is to see one's Spiritual Guide as a Buddha.
A fact to reflect on:
How could we start developing Buddhahood if we cannot even see it in other beings?

This and seeing all beings as our mothers are the two most difficult topics of the lamrim.
So as to help us get there, the lamrim lists three types of faith, or three stages in the development of our faith in Buddhahood. This gives us hope and a step by step guide to cultivate faith.

In the first stage, we recognize the qualities of our Spiritual Guide, and the qualities of the Dharma that is being taught and we develop ADMIRATION. This is the most common faith, on its basis we put Buddhas on altars, make prayers, give offerings etc... But, sometimes, we put the Buddhas on the altar and see them as an inaccessible ideal, an the altar becomes like a barrier. Just like one would recognize the qualities of Mother Thereza and say "oh, she is wonderful, but I could never do that.."
There is a quote from Henri Ford that goes like this:
"Weither you say I CAN or I CAN'T, either way you are right"

The second stage is that on the basis of admiration, we develop a YEARNING for cultivating the qualities of the Spiritual Guide and the qualities of the Dharma that is being taught - in ourselves. This faith is also sometimes called wishing faith.

The faith one has at the third stage is called CLEANSING faith, or also believing faith. That faith is what holds one not to fall when things get shaky. With this faith, one sees his Spiritual Guide as a Buddha and does not give in perception of faults or doubts. That faith is the root of the path.
This is also the faith we need to cultivate when dealing with the controversy of Dorje Shugden for example.
Controversy, perception of faults, wrong (and un-met) expectations are tests to faith.

To have faith in one's Spiritual Guide is to have faith in one's self.

hope rainbow

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2010, 06:12:51 AM »
Then, I came across an interesting teaching recently that said (and this is very common sense, very clear), that if we keep saying we cannot do it, we don't know how, we don't want to do it etc then we are just opening the karmic imprints for us to NOT do it; we allow all those negative karmas that keep us away from dharma to open and literally stop us from practicing. So eventually, yes, we literally cannot do it, won't know how to do it and will NOT DO IT.

The opposite must therefore be true. We must have the determination and some faith to say, "I will do it", "I can do it". This opens the positive karmic imprints from whatever positive virtue we have done before, TO CONTINUE DOING IT AGAIN now.

The question perhaps, then, is not whether we have faith in ourselves to practice, but whether we really WANT TO PRACTICE?

Is it really a lack of faith? Or just pure laziness and attachment?

Our Spiritual Guides show us that we can practice, they teach us how to practice, they show it though their own examples, they are examples of devotion, effort, perseverance and consistance.
I think a lack of faith is a poor excuse, we can work our way to faith, "admiration" - "wish and action" - and "genuine faith".
I think the reason we do not practice is laziness and attachment, not lack of faith. We let our bad habits be in the way, we give in to them and make them stronger instead of our faith.

I think that for some of us the question is
"do we want to admit and nurture faith?"
(because with faith, we lose our only poor excuse)
or do we prefer to nurture our attachments?

Helena

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2010, 10:02:45 AM »
I think that for some of us the question is
"do we want to admit and nurture faith?"
(because with faith, we lose our only poor excuse)
or do we prefer to nurture our attachments?

Very interesting question. Much easier to say than do.

I say this not with a self-defeating negative thought or feelings, but with the personal experience of my own journey.

It is so simple and logical. Like what Beggar wrote, '"very common sense, very clear" and yet why is it so hard to do?

Do we prefer to nurture our attachments or our faith? Very profound question.

The spiritual path is very dynamic and interesting - as it mirrors the maze within our minds.

Sometimes our personal Ego can fool us and disguise itself as many different virtues. And we think we are nurturing the faith, but we are not. Upon closer or deeper inspection, we find that we are actually nurturing our Ego.

The various layers we need to uncover and discover about ourselves is staggering and scary.

It does not get any easier when we go deeper, but the joy and benefit lie in knowing that we are going into the heart of the enemy. We are closer to destroying the enemy within.

Sometimes I do not think it is a matter of can or cannot. I believe we all can because Buddha and all other Enlightened Beings are proofs that it can be done. It has been done.

Beyond can or cannot, want to or do not want to - I believe, it must be done.

There is simply no other way out of this samsaric cycle.





Helena

hope rainbow

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2010, 04:43:41 PM »
Sometimes our personal Ego can fool us and disguise itself as many different virtues. And we think we are nurturing the faith, but we are not. Upon closer or deeper inspection, we find that we are actually nurturing our Ego.
The various layers we need to uncover and discover about ourselves is staggering and scary.
It does not get any easier when we go deeper, but the joy and benefit lie in knowing that we are going into the heart of the enemy. We are closer to destroying the enemy within.

Dear Helena,

I really like what you wrote.
Our deluded mindset is where we start from on our journey out of delusion.
Sounds anchronic? No it is not if one has faith.
Faith is like the light of enlightenment in a deluded mind.

Sometimes this light fades out and our delusions and attachments catch up, sometimes this light gets brighter and we are not fooled as easily. And this light needs nurturing at all times.

As long as wisdom as not settled in, I guess the best thing we can do with our powerful delusions and atachments is to use them as a platform to engage in enwisening actions.
We use delusions against themselves. Just as the lotus grows from the mud.



Vajraprotector

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2010, 10:13:19 PM »
I couldn't agree with you more Helena and Hope Rainbow. It is from our deluded mindset that we need to start our journey out of delusion.

In The Four Noble Truths by Geshe Tashi Tsering, it is explained that when we create an action of body/speech/mind, the conscious or subconscious volition that causes that action also creates a potential  (imprint) that is deposited in the mental continuum, the stream of consciousness (our mind). When the appropriate conditions arise, this potential becomes manifest as a positive or negative result.

So when someone says "I cannot be a good practitioner," or "I can't be as good as you" then he/she continues to reinforce his/her tendency to fall back on such responses. This creates the causes for them to remain in samsara and further away from liberation/ Buddhahood. Why?

The truth of the origin of suffering consists of the relationship between ignorance, afflictive emotions, and karmic actions.  Ignorance leads to afflictive emotions, which in turn cause karmic action to take place. 

Whether it is due to lack of faith, or laziness that this person uses this tagline as an excuse, these are results of the
root delusion - ignorance, just different manifestation. Hence, the person who is already deluded, continues to reinforce negative habituations, and the vicious cycle called samsaric rebirth continues.

So how do we undo this process?  In "Four Hundred Stanzas", Aryadeva makes the point that we must deal with the coarsest levels first, dealing consciously and determinedly with the negative habit that most plagues us. The more subtle afflictions will come to light only after we have begun to subdue the grosser ones.  In that way, both the origin of afflictive emotions and the origin of karmic actions can be abandoned.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 10:25:28 PM by Vajraprotector »

hope rainbow

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2010, 07:25:21 PM »
So when someone says "I cannot be a good practitioner," or "I can't be as good as you" then he/she continues to reinforce his/her tendency to fall back on such responses.

'Wether you say "I CAN" or "I CAN'T", either way you are right'
no, no this is not from a high lama, this a quote by... Henry Ford

Vajraprotector

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2010, 08:50:57 AM »
Hi friends,

Saw this on a Singapore forum re Buddhism that reminded me of this thread, thought I share it here:

Are you teachings perverted dharma :

Both the Nirvana and Pitaka Sutra state that "Faith without wisdom leads one to become more ignorant and wisdom without faith leads one to a perverted view.

"If we rely on faith only and do not cultivate understanding and wisdom we will be unable to comprehend the Triple Gem and the methods that we are learning. In that case, the real benefits of the Dharma would be beyond us. For those who practise in this manner, in their minds, they believe Buddhism is no different to the worship of ghosts or Gods. It is just an ignorant faith-superstition. This kind of attitude is in fact very commonly found in the circles of Chinese Buddhists nowadays.

It is more dangerous for one to have wisdom without faith. The Nagarjuna Bodhisattva said that, "If we try to attain ‘emptiness’ without the foundation of faith and precepts, such a concept of ‘emptiness’ will be a perverted one." This perverted view of ‘emptiness’ rejects the Truth of the Law of Cause and Effect. Such a mistake is made due to self-approbation and the lack of pure faith in the merits of the Triple Gem. The foolishness of superstition is less than the foolishness of perverted views. Perverted view may lead one to Hell. Thus, it can be seen that faith and wisdom must be practised together, neither should be neglected.

From: Open letter Shamar (Rinpoche?) and Kelsang Gyatsho ex Geshe , http://sgforums.com/forums/2205/topics/299301

vajrastorm

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2011, 08:47:36 AM »
I think we are discussing 'faith in our Dharma practice' and not 'faith' per se.

We should have great confidence and faith in our Dharma practice for the following reasons:

1)we are being guided along this path of practice by our Spiritual Guide, who has shown us by  his fine example, how steadfastness and determination to benefit mother sentient beings as well as Guru Devotion have led him to success and realizations;

2)although the Path of practice may be long and daunting and fraught with obstacles, Holy Beings have tread the Path and attained Enlightenment;

3)we have to begin walking the Path of Practice with faith and determination NOW as we have been endowed with the eighteen opportune conditions and more in this precious human life of ours.

4)our inherent Buddha nature is in us – we have only to work our way towards it by removing the layers and layers of neurosis and ego-centricism.

DSFriend

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2011, 12:55:34 PM »
I think we are discussing 'faith in our Dharma practice' and not 'faith' per se.

We should have great confidence and faith in our Dharma practice for the following reasons:

1)we are being guided along this path of practice by our Spiritual Guide, who has shown us by  his fine example, how steadfastness and determination to benefit mother sentient beings as well as Guru Devotion have led him to success and realizations;

2)although the Path of practice may be long and daunting and fraught with obstacles, Holy Beings have tread the Path and attained Enlightenment;

3)we have to begin walking the Path of Practice with faith and determination NOW as we have been endowed with the eighteen opportune conditions and more in this precious human life of ours.

4)our inherent Buddha nature is in us – we have only to work our way towards it by removing the layers and layers of neurosis and ego-centricism.


With these gems available, our lack of faith shows lack of contemplation, an upside down pot?

hope rainbow

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2011, 07:40:14 PM »
With these gems available, our lack of faith shows lack of contemplation, an upside down pot?

Hehehe... Yes, I think the up-side down pot is appropriate!
Faith is a factor that plays in our motivation to be in Dharma, for: without faith in Dharma why are we in Dharma?
Without faith, our mind is closed tight to Dharma.
Without faith, our contemplation applies on the worldly reasons we have to be in Dharma, not on Dharma.
Without faith in Dharma, how can we have faith in our Spiritual Guide?


dsiluvu

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2011, 09:18:32 PM »
Faith is a factor that plays in our motivation to be in Dharma, for: without faith in Dharma why are we in Dharma?
Without faith, our mind is closed tight to Dharma.
Without faith, our contemplation applies on the worldly reasons we have to be in Dharma, not on Dharma.
Without faith in Dharma, how can we have faith in our Spiritual Guide?

I agree with HR that we start out with some kind of faith first most of the time but like what VP says from her findings... Faith without wisdom leads one to become more ignorant and wisdom without faith leads one to a perverted view.

The perverted views to me could mean our cover ups or excuses to not commit due to our laziness and attachments which wanting to remain in the self-cherishing comfort zone. We give many reasons why we cannot commit and play mind games with ourselves by focusing on our shortcomings. It is not so much that we do not have faith in ourselves practising, it is more likely we do not want to because we do not even want to try. Isn't it better for us to at try and fail then to never try at all?

I have a friend that does the "I cannot" "I am new and fresh" reasons all the time. But if it was something that would make them look good in the eyes of others, their effort has no limits, No matter what they will find a way to succeed. Hence this is pure selectiveness which I take to mean the perverted view?

On the other hand if we have all the Dharma knowledge but do not apply them and put it in to practice, it also shows we do not have real faith but just superficial. Question is can this superficial faith be turned in to real faith? 

Damian.D

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2011, 07:12:20 AM »
I think the only way we can see if our fatih is stable is for it to be put under constant testing from all sides. I guess thats what I like about the Vajrayana path which attracted me. The role of the "Guru" or the "Spiritual Guide", their purpose is to do just that.

Each test comes a realisation to change that something which needs changing, and then through change, faith develops, becomes stronger, more concrete.

It can be cultivated, with the help of a skilful guide, who knows us soo well and how far we can be pushed, so we don't run from our practice or give up.

If left to our own devices I am sure we would just say "too hard", "i don't know about that" or just plain, "NO".

shugdentruth

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2011, 07:09:56 PM »
In my opinion, when it comes to faith in the Dharma. It is best to practice with your best effort. It is only when we practice the dharma that we will see significant results and perhaps the results will bring us faith. Saying 'I can' or 'I can't', to me, is just a way the ego plays with us. I know some people who say 'they can' and they can and i know people who say 'they can't' and they can and vice versa. Given an example, I know people who told me they could never be vegetarians, but today, they are. I have also heard people saying that its a piece of cake to be vegetarians and they couldn't do it. But personally, i prefer the 'I can' positive approach. Having all stated, i still believe actions create results, not so much words.

Coming back to having faith in the dharma. The very good judge of your efforts in your practice and the growth of your faith, would be the people around you seeing value of the dharma in you and following your footsteps to happiness. Only the people in your life will notice the transformation the dharma has brought you. Essentially, we practice the dharma for others anyways. I look at dharma as a way to improve oneself to assist others in improving as well.

I am very sorry if I do not make any sense. I coughed all this up myself trying be as logical as i possibly can. Hope it can benefit anyone who reads it.  ;D

Positive Change

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Re: A matter of faith
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2011, 07:44:18 PM »
A matter of faith or a matter of fact? I find that often one either 'seemingly' has faith or tries to factualise (if there is such a word) faith. When I say seemingly, it means one 'believes' blindly without question and on the other hand one questions and looks for the facts till he/she chooses to believe. Which way is right? Is there a right way?

For me a combination works as there are certain things our limited mind cannot perceive and for that we need blind faith so to speak and for other things we do need to question to gain the foundations of our practice. If we lean too much either way, our spiritual practice may not stand the test of time.