Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Is there "FAITH" in Buddhism?

There are many faiths based only on faith.
Buddhism does have and rely, at least in the beginning, on "faith." But it is not blind faith. It is confidence and conviction -- a verifiable faith called saddhā.
Buddhists are said to have saddha if "they believe in the Awakened One's enlightenment" (MN 53; A.V, 2), and in the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), by going for guidance (ti-sarana) to them. This "faith," however, should be ākāravatā saddhā dassanamūlika ("reasoned and rooted in understanding," MN 47) so that it is verifiable in this life.

One investigates and tests the object of faith (MN 47, MN 95). A Buddhist's faith is aligned with a spirit of free inquiry. So "doubt about things giving rise to doubt" (A. II, 65; S. XLII, 13) is admitted, and inquiry into them is encouraged.

Balance faith with knowledge
Faith can help to start, wisdom to finish.
The "faculty of faith" should be balanced with the "faculty of wisdom." (See indriya-samatta).

It is said: "A monastic who has understanding, establishes confidence/faith in accordance with that understanding" (S. XLVIII, 45).

Through wisdom (understanding), faith/confidence becomes an inner certainty that matures into firm conviction based on one's own direct experience.
Faith is called the seed (Sn. v. 77) of all wholesome states because -- according to commentarial explanations -- it inspires the mind/heart with confidence (okappana, pasāda) and determination, for "launching out" (pakkhandhana, see MN 122) to get across the flood of samsāra, the Ocean of Suffering, the Wheel of Life and Death.

Unshakable faith
Unshakable faith, that is, complete confidence is attained by reaching the first stage of enlightenment called stream-entry or stream-winning, when the fetter of skeptical doubt is eliminated.

Unshakable confidence (avecca-pasāda) in the Three Jewels is one of the characteristic qualities of the stream-winners.
Faith is a mental concomitant, present in all karmically wholesome states, and its corresponding neutral consciousness. (See Table II). It is one of the Four Streams of Merit, one of the Five Spiritual Faculties, Five Spiritual Powers, Elements of Exertion, and one of the Seven Treasures.

See Faith in the Buddha's Teaching by Soma Thera (BPS.lk, Wheel #262) and "Does Saddhā mean Faith?'' by Ven. Ñānamoli Thera (Wheel #52/53).

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