The role of faith in Buddhism

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The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby mydhana » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:16 pm

Ok, I am a new member and I have joined to get feedback on this question I am stuck on. I am sure there will be more questions to follow as I explore Buddhism further. I hope I have posted in the right place.
Radiant inner peace is dependent on the realisation that my inner being is immortal. How is this a certainty? Isn't this a belief based on faith? How do I know this concept of 'rebirth' is true? I thought that Buddhism is not a religion and does not require any faith?
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:48 pm

mydhana wrote:Radiant inner peace is dependent on the realisation that my inner being is immortal. How is this a certainty? Isn't this a belief based on faith? How do I know this concept of 'rebirth' is true? I thought that Buddhism is not a religion and does not require any faith?

I don't know where you read that bit about an immortal inner being. Its certainly not the Buddha's teaching, which says that all conditioned things are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self.

If one had no faith or confidence that the Buddha's teaching was true and verifiable by one's own efforts, then one would make no effort to verify it. So, confidence is an essential first step to develop insight and liberation from suffering. It is one of the five powers, and one of the controlling faculties.

The truth of rebirth is difficult to verify — one would need psychic powers to recollect one's own previous lives or those of others. That is not something that most people can do, but we can arrive at the right conclusion by intelligent reasoning.

An Explanation of Rebirth.
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby Bunjers » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:51 pm

you may find this video helpful http://www.vimeo.com/12360941 a talk by Ven. Aj. Jayasaro. He explains at the start the nature of faith - saddha - in the Buddha's teachings. I personally think the whole talk is delightful, I recommend you listen and soak it all up haha :)
Gāravo ca nivāto ca, Santutthi ca kataññutā, Kālena dhammasavanam, Etam mangalamuttamam :anjali:
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:57 pm

mydhana wrote:Radiant inner peace is dependent on the realisation that my inner being is immortal. How is this a certainty? Isn't this a belief based on faith?


Hello Mydhana,

Im not sure were you got this but I dont think it is congruous with the way Buddhism is taught. I dont know what you mean by immortal but Buddhism teaches us to observe how there is nothing in our experience which does not change. Since it is all changing how can we apply a notion of immortality. Also I think its best to avoid certainty. Faith in Buddhist terms is not the same as it is in other religious traditions. The word "Saddha" which is often translated as faith could also be translated as a kind of "optimistic confidence" in the value of spiritual practice.

May your practice bring happiness and well being for you and others.

Take care

Prasadachitta
Last edited by Prasadachitta on Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby Bunjers » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:57 pm

I recommend this video http://www.vimeo.com/12360941 with Ven. Jayasaro, especially the first part of his talk :anjali:
Gāravo ca nivāto ca, Santutthi ca kataññutā, Kālena dhammasavanam, Etam mangalamuttamam :anjali:
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby cooran » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:46 pm

mydhana wrote:Ok, I am a new member and I have joined to get feedback on this question I am stuck on. I am sure there will be more questions to follow as I explore Buddhism further. I hope I have posted in the right place.
Radiant inner peace is dependent on the realisation that my inner being is immortal. How is this a certainty? Isn't this a belief based on faith? How do I know this concept of 'rebirth' is true? I thought that Buddhism is not a religion and does not require any faith?


Hello mydhana,

I am glad that you are exploring buddhism. :group: Be prepared to get answers that aren't in accord with what you first thought. Sometimes seemingly scary answers e.g about 'notself'. But persevere, and all will be well.

In the Buddha's Teachings, 'faith' does not mean 'Blind Faith'.

The part of this booklet which addresses: Does Saddha Mean Faith?
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh052-p.html# ... aMeanFaith?
Faith in the Buddha’s Teaching
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh262-p.html

with metta
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:57 pm

Here is a thread that, among other things, discusses faith as expressed in the Suttas:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 008#p77273

:anjali:
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby mydhana » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:27 am

Thank you so much for all the leads and I am looking forward to reading them all.
I apologise for my miss-worded post. I think most of you got the gist of what I was trying to say.

I just spent some time trying to reword my original question but feel like I am probably digging myself a deeper hole. It seems as though these are just words and I am going to be misinterpreted for the meaning of them. I will read all of your wonderful suggestions and get back to this.
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby Cilla » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:08 am

Faith as it is meant in buddhism is an excellent concept and i use it to great effect. It is simply trusting that things will work out. It is not having blind faith where you have to believe in something that you can verify except by any other means than faith such as faith in god or fairies.

The former version (the one i like) is like having faith that you friend will be on time.
Having faith that you husband/friend/whoever will do the right thing
Having faith that all your difficulties will be resolved in due course so you can stop worrying and just get on and do whatever it is that has to be done to enable them to be solved if it is within your power.
Having faith in your boss to pay you at the end of the week.
Having faith that following the dharma the eightfold path will lead you to a better place in your life.


This is what is meant by faith in buddhism.

I can safely say that this is a very powerful concept. It lets you put your mind at rest so you can stop being stressed, stop wasting your energy on pointless worries. And stop all sorts of other negative mental actvity. Faith is trust in what's right and that things will turn out for the best. This sort of faith is the best sort of faith.

This sort of faith means that you can turn your mind to more practical/immediate/urgent matters. It may even mean you can have a good time right now in the present moment because you can stop worrying. Having faith enables you to be in the present while not having faith - which implies worrying - means your head is in teh future. and that's not mindful.

See its great isn't it. :-)
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Re: The role of faith in Buddhism

Postby nicholas » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:09 am

mydhana wrote:Ok, I am a new member and I have joined to get feedback on this question I am stuck on. I am sure there will be more questions to follow as I explore Buddhism further. I hope I have posted in the right place.
Radiant inner peace is dependent on the realisation that my inner being is immortal. How is this a certainty? Isn't this a belief based on faith? How do I know this concept of 'rebirth' is true? I thought that Buddhism is not a religion and does not require any faith?



i second whoever said they don't know where you got that quote, it's not what the buddha taught. it may be from one of the mahayana sutras which have no direct connection to the pali canon.

as far as i know, blind faith has no place in buddhism. there is some faith involved and the buddha encouraged letting go of doubt but one can certainly practice simply using a trial and error technique. according to the dhamma encyclopedia (a little tip offered to me by retro, thanks for that :smile: ), it's called saddha and it is a type of faith but it is supposed to be rooted in reasoning and understanding and a person is asked to investigate and test the object of his faith. so it's certainly not the kind of faith that so many "religions" require. the buddha was big into trying things out. he at some point in the canon says, i'm paraphrasing: "don't do my practice because this old monk tells you to, do it because it is what you know is right in your heart". so basically, try out his teachings, if they work, use them, if something does not work, don't. for example if you simply cannot believe in rebirth, then don't. now this isn't to say, sit and meditate for five minutes and if you don't reach nibbana then give up, or try the precepts for a day and if they don't make you happy then drop them. it's more like a challenge; he was so confident that his teachings work that he taught to make a whole hearted effort to perfect his teachings and if, after a true and deep effort has been made over a reasonable amount of time, you don't have results or it doesn't seem right in your heart, don't do it.

one thing he said over and over is that "this dhamma is good in the beginning, middle and end". results are visible in this life, here and now. it's not about faith in some unseen afterlife or anything.

i think the idea is that eventually, inevitably, most people feel that the practices work and have no need for faith in anything they can't see. the four noble truths can be seen here and now and so can the effects of the eight fold path. kamma can be seen here and now as well in a simple cause and effect type way and certainly in a psychological way. and then some get so good at it that eventually they see rebirth and all that for themselves. but even if someone never gets that far, as long as it can free you from suffering some of the time and make you feel less suffering it's a win in my book!
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