Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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kc2dpt
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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby kc2dpt » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:59 pm

I think debates on what Christians do or do not believe in, and discussions of whether other religions offer any value or not, are quite off topic for this very interesting thread on the nature of Buddhist faith. I'd like it if we could get back on topic.
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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby nathan » Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:47 pm

green wrote:Nathan, thank you for your declaration of faith -- I find it refreshing. These days people like Ven. Ananda and Vakkali -- those with great faith- would be derided by many as being highly emotional and contrary to the dhamma.

It is, unfortuneatly, unpopular in many Buddhist circles to just let lose and declare one's absolute faith and love for Buddha (i.e. God for other faiths -- Buddha is known as the Brahma kaya, Dhamma kaya -- literally the body of God and the Law, and Raja abhi Raja or King of kings.) --

Im not in it for a popularity contest. My faith or my life is what I make it. I am open to correction.

Buddhism is about getting rid of all our WRONG views about God and wrong views about just about every other thing and establishing that love with truth so that our faith becomes unshakeable.

our WRONG views about God Not for getting rid of God. But you can take that up with God just like I did.

Until then, in Buddhism faith is one of the most powerful strengths (bala) out of 5 strengths...so your faith (in Buddha dhamma and Jesus) is a strength not a weakness.

Of course with me I have a commitment to Buddha dhamma and a personal relationship to Buddha. For example, the Buddha anusati (recollection of Buddha) is as if having Buddha "face to face".



Here is the purest declaration of "bhakti" and faith from early Buddhism:

Buddhassaahasmi daaso (WOMEN: daasii)va, Buddho me saamikissaro.
I am the Buddha's servant, the Buddha is my sovereign master,

Buddho dukkhassa ghaataa ca, Vidhaataa ca hitassa me.
The Buddha is a destroyer of suffering & a provider of welfare for me.

Buddhassaaham niyyaademi, Sariirañjiivitañcidam.
To the Buddha I dedicate this body & this life of mine.

Vandanto'ham (Vandantii'ha.m) carissaami, Buddhasseva subodhitam.
I will fare with reverence for the Buddha's genuine Awakening.

N'atthi me saranam aññam, Buddho me saranam varam:
I have no other refuge, the Buddha is my foremost refuge:
:anjali:
I've had all kinds of doubt. Lots and lots for long long times. Patient investigation and discovery leads to faith in seeing only the seen and knowing only the known. :anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:51 am

Peter wrote:I think debates on what Christians do or do not believe in, and discussions of whether other religions offer any value or not, are quite off topic for this very interesting thread on the nature of Buddhist faith. I'd like it if we could get back on topic.

You are probably correct. Yet the assertion that:
"The important things in Buddhism are directly verifiable so us Buddhists don't have to have faith, but everyone else does."
is periodically reborn.

Yet, proof of the existence of Nibbana (for a non-Ariya) has not been forthcoming...
:popcorn:

Not that it stops me practising... :meditate:

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:59 am

Yet, proof of the existence of Nibbana (for a non-Ariya) has not been forthcoming...



Yes but you can see and understand aspects of what it means in this life, heaven and god etc are just speculation



Metta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:44 am

clw_uk wrote:
Yet, proof of the existence of Nibbana (for a non-Ariya) has not been forthcoming...


Yes but you can see and understand aspects of what it means in this life, heaven and god etc are just speculation

Perhaps I'm a little dense. Which aspects of Nibbana should I be understanding?

And how do I know that I should trust the Buddha's teaching regarding Nibbana and not other teachings regarding devas, planes of existence etc?

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:00 am

mikenz66 wrote:Yet, proof of the existence of Nibbana (for a non-Ariya) has not been forthcoming.

Well, sure, but you have proof of the existence of dukkha, and you have some experience of how things are always changing and how nothing seems to last forever, so, putting two and two together, it seems to make sense that dukkha might somehow cease. That's probably a good starting point for non-blind faith in the 4nt.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:27 pm

Perhaps I'm a little dense. Which aspects of Nibbana should I be understanding?


Its meaning of going out

And how do I know that I should trust the Buddha's teaching regarding Nibbana and not other teachings regarding devas, planes of existence etc?


Kinda what jechbi said, you can verify for yourself that in this life there is dukkha, you can verify that there is conditionality, therefore there must be an opposite, free of dukkha and unconditoned, which you can begin to become aware of through mindfulness. The devas and plains of existence you can varify for yourself as well since they are realms that can be entered into into this life, if you mean the Devas and realms that are after death, unless you discover for yourself that they exsist, then yes this will be out of faith but since these are not important and the deathless here and now is, i see no reason to doubt the Buddha in any way (not saying that you do)


heaven and god are just thoughts and ideas, they are conditioned. Furthermore you have no way to know for sure that they exsist, its complete faith because you cant investigate it in your own experience

Nibbana is also a word that comes from conventional thought, but the buddhas teachings allow you to look through the convention of the word nibbana into the reality of it in this very moment



:anjali:
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 01, 2009 8:41 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Perhaps I'm a little dense. Which aspects of Nibbana should I be understanding?

Its meaning of going out

The etymology of the word is not the sort of answer that I was looking for. I was hoping for a description of how preliminary development of the Path make the nature of Nibbana obvious...

Mike

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby green » Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:59 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Yet, proof of the existence of Nibbana (for a non-Ariya) has not been forthcoming...



Yes but you can see and understand aspects of what it means in this life, heaven and god etc are just speculation



Metta


The question is, does everything need to be verified before it is believed? Faith is simply trust.

Lack of faith is -- hey, you don't trust me.

There are several levels of trust and faith in Buddhism:

1) More Doubt than trust -- blind faith: For the Putthujana or uneducated average person who doesn't have contemplation as part of his education -- he is asked to trust the basic teachings of the "wise" priest and contemplatives that there are other worlds, there is a consequence of good and bad actions. Of course, ultimately the wise in Buddhism's case would be Buddhist contemplatives. Here would apply the Kalama Sutta. Yes you have doubt, this doubt is understandable.
Here there is still danger that one can be led into other's religions and doctrines -- which is why it is here faith is blind. Without having the Panna faculty developed along side the faith faculty one can be led to non-Buddhist teachings.

2) Faith established: This trust then reaches fruition when the "dhamma eye" opens -- this trust is NO LONGER BLIND -- now you know who Buddha truly is -- you have "touched" the Dhammakaya of the Buddha. It is now faith with vision, a stream enterer knows the supremacy of Buddha's teachings but still has not completed the training -- but guaranteed to complete the training eventually. ONE CANNOT BE LED INTO NON_BUDDHIST DOCTRINES.

Ananda was here for quite some time and took many of Buddha's more advanced teachings on blind faith and love for Buddha-- without realizing the truths himself. Buddha extols this quality of Ananda as this love for Buddha in the Anguttara Nikaya causes the development of several faculties allowing Ananda to be the King of Gods over a 100 times had he not attained arahanthood.

3) Confirmation: Arahanthood. So teachings are confirmed upon Arahanthood only. Here it is people like the Buddha's chief disciples.





Every day we wake up ASSUMING we will be alive the next day. We have faith and make an assumption that we won't be dead as soon as we get up -- this is all blind faith. (of course in Buddhism, seeing that we can be dead in another moment we try to meditate as if we were to be dead the next moment)

Everyday, the non-scientific community takes scientific discoveries ON faith -- on BLIND faith that scientists aren't quacks and actually know what they are doing...

So basically, to a certain extent WE HAVE TO TRUST TO A CERTAIN LEVEL, and yes it is a blind trust...without this trust -- what people call blind faith -- on the kindness and honesty of strangers, society wouldn't work --one cannot be an expert on everything -- that doesn't mean we don't have quality checks BY EXPERTS to make sure quacks who are trying to fool people aren't found out -- this is the vigilance that Buddha expects from everyone -- especially the Sangha.

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:31 pm

I was hoping for a description of how preliminary development of the Path make the nature of Nibbana obvious


Kinda what jechbi said, you can verify for yourself that in this life there is dukkha, you can verify that there is conditionality, therefore there must be an opposite, free of dukkha and unconditoned, which you can begin to become aware of through mindfulness.


Nibbana is the end of dukkha, once you have a basic grasp and insight into the four noble truths, then nibbana doesnt have to be taken on faith anymore, faith in buddhism is only needed until you have insight yourself, so its just there to get you going so to speak
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

clw_uk wrote:Nibbana is the end of dukkha, once you have a basic grasp and insight into the four noble truths, then nibbana doesnt have to be taken on faith anymore, faith in buddhism is only needed until you have insight yourself, so its just there to get you going so to speak

I guess that's the key point.

Continuing my "devils advocate" line, it seems to me that those who say that they don't need faith any more might be setting the bar on what "have insight yourself" actually means at a rather low level.

One obvious place to put that bar is at stream entry. Where would you place it?

I don't think you like the commentarial analyses, but the "Progress of Insight" is one way of classifying it where you might want to set a standard:
http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progress/progress.html
http://www.buddhanet.net/imol/develop.htm

1. Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind (nāma-rūpa-pariccheda-ñāna)
2. Knowledge by Discerning Conditionality (paccaya-pariggaha-ñāna)
3. Knowledge by Comprehension (sammasana-ñāna)
4. Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away
(udayabbaya-ñāna) in its weak stage, involving the Ten Corruptions of Insight
5. Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-ñāna)
6. Awareness of Fearfulness (bhayatupatthāna-ñāna)
7. Knowledge of Misery (ādīnava-ñāna)
8. Knowledge of Disgust (nibbidā-ñāna)
9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance (muñcitu-kamyatā-ñāna)
10. Knowledge of Re-observation (patisankhānupassana-ñāna)
11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations (sankhār'upekkhā-ñāna)
12. Insight Leading to emergence (vutthānagāminī-vipassanā-ñāna)
13. Knowledge of Adaptation (anuloma-ñāna)
14. Maturity Knowledge (gotrabhū-ñāna)
15. Path Knowledge (magga-ñāna)
16. Fruition Knowledge (phala-ñāna)
17. Knowledge of Reviewing (paccavekkhana-ñāna)
18. Attainment of Fruition (phalasamāpatti)
19. The Higher Paths and Fruitions



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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Jechbi » Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:32 am

Tying this into the OP, maybe it's not a question of setting the bar as a division between "need faith" and "don't need faith." Maybe it's more a question of the degree to which that faith is "blind" as the term "blind faith" is broadly understood. I think with practice, faith in Dhamma becomes less and less "blind." A lot of this discussion has to do with symantics. And I guess what we regard as "faith" versus "knowledge" is going to be subjective. I have faith that Nibanna brings all that to an end. I don't think this faith is completely "blind," but I figure I'm probably wrong on some level. Gotta keep on working ...

So for the sake of argument, I wouldn't bother worrying about whether one's faith is less "blind" than that of one's Christian counterparts.

fwiw :smile:
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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby lonewolf » Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:56 am

Because it is not. Blind means to accept without verification, on a face value as far as I know.

We are asked, not to believe in anything, or anybody, and verify everything, even the words of the Buddha. We are told it's up to us, and our own wise, and Right Effort to free ourselves from the bonds of samsara.

So you start with nothing, and gradually build your understanding, all due to your own effort, and determination. No fairy tales, just hard work, seems reasonable to me.

Or as Sherlock Holmes would say: How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Mkoll » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:10 am

Blind faith in the Triple Gem is better than no faith at all.

IMO of course.
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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Mr Man » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:44 am

Is it possible to have blind faith in the triple gem?

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby cooran » Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:51 am

I think blind faith would ensure a person ceased seeking and searching for ultimate truth - and therefore cease making progress on the Path.

Faith in Buddhism
http://theravada.dk/?pageid=339

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:07 am

Jechbi wrote:So for the sake of argument, I wouldn't bother worrying about whether one's faith is less "blind" than that of one's Christian counterparts.


If I'm honest my faith in Buddhism does have an irrational component, or at least an intuitive aspect.
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Dan Rooney » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:51 am

A slight tangent to the OP but on the blind faith thing, the idea that anyone has it - in the sense of believing things to be true but lacking any justification whatsoever for those beliefs - seems to be basically wrong. If you did have blind faith (of this type) how could you decide between what to believe and what not to believe? There must be some reason why you lean towards some truths and not others; your culture gives you a certain worldview or the myths of the religion have some explanatory power or have a particular experience, etc., etc. Whatever it is, there's going to be something. So the question is then, does religion A provide better or worse justifications for its claims than religion B. That seems like a very hard question to answer. How could you tell? If a Christian says that she has experience of the divine and a Buddhist says that she has experience of the deathless, how are you to adjudicate between those? It seems like a complete waste of time even trying.

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Anagarika » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:58 am

Listening to a youtube Dhamma talk by Ajahn Jayasaro, he describes Buddhist faith as a form of confidence, the same way that a scientist, having tested a hypothesis a number of times, has faith or confidence in the outcomes. As has been mentioned here earlier, the Buddha never insisted on untested faith, or a faith based on blindly accepting what one is taught. Yet, having been vetted for nearly 2600 years, the Buddha's teachings inspire confidence in his methodology, and the science (physics, psychology, et al) is corroborating much of what the Buddha taught with respect to dependent origination, the release of dukkha, anatta, anicca, and is even venturing into the corroboration of rebirth. The 4NT do seem, upon testing, to be a profoundly excellent way to live our lives, and we know from experience that acts of bright kamma over time tend to produce brighter kammic outcomes.

What distinguishes Buddhism from religions of "faith" is this quality of pragmatism, rationality, and scientific soundness. We have confidence in it not because some book says we must believe, not because we think that G-d wrote it, but because upon testing, it works, and it resonates with all that is rational, compassionate, ethical, and reasonable. And that is a sound foundation upon which to build your spiritual house.

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:01 pm

Dan Rooney wrote: If a Christian says that she has experience of the divine and a Buddhist says that she has experience of the deathless, how are you to adjudicate between those? It seems like a complete waste of time even trying.


Good point, and such experiences are inevitably subjective. In any case I think it's best to avoid simplistic dichotomies like "blind faith" v. "Buddhist faith" or to pretend that faith doesn't have a role in Buddhist practice.
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric


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