Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mikenz66
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Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:35 am


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jcsuperstar
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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:17 am

because we're asked to test it, and told it can happen in our lives, not just after death
also many other faiths have no tolerence for questioning the faith or the teaching themselves.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Jechbi » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:32 am


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:38 am

[quote="mikenz66"
So, for the sake of argument, how would you argue that my "faith" is less "blind" than the faith of my Christian counterpart?

Metta
Mike[/quote]
Christians tend to give advise about how to overcome spiritual difficulties that makes no sense to me. Other than that Im not sure that there is any difference. Of course I am totally out of the loop when it comes to any other religion but Buddhism and The Native American Church.

Metta

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"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:20 am


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:47 am

sure.... sorta

you havent made a value judgement about it though, you havent said faith is bad or faith is good. most people who leave other religions for buddhism do, they see faith as something bad and then try to refute buddhism as a religion which requires faith.

also most "faith based" religions do not actually have faith, faith is based on knowledge. you have to know god and have seen how he acts etc to have faith. so in reality the deist religions have no faith at all since they have nothing base it on.

say my brother calls me at 3am from jail and says "some woman said i raped her but i didnt can you help?" now i know my brother i know his actions etc, i would have faith that he's telling the truth. if a stranger called i could not have faith, since i have no relationship or prior knowledge of his actions
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby cooran » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:26 am

Hello all,

Just so we are all on the one page about what the Buddha taught 'faith' actually is:
"Does Saddhā mean Faith?'' by Ñānamoli Thera
http://www.bps.lk/wheels_library/wh_052 ... c178478034
Faith in the Buddha's Teaching, by Soma Thera
http://www.bps.lk/wheels_library/wh_262.html

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:06 am


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby nathan » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:50 am

I was brought up in the Christian faith so don't get me started about the similarities or the differences or I may never shut up! :smile:

I went into a christian bookshop in the city a few weeks ago and asked for books about meditation. They couldn't find me any and I couldn't find any either. The shopkeeper eyed me more suspiciously the longer I looked through the books they did have. Not that there was any ill will involved, I imagine she simply wondered what I was looking for so enthusiastically. I assured her that I would find some books on the subject elsewhere by christian authors which is very true. Christianity does not lack some insights into the subject but in general I have not seen many christians who have a strong meditative practice and the difference does show even in them.

So, I would say that the path is not blind because we are taught to enter and continue on this path with our eyes open. That is true all the way along or we wouldn't wrestle with our understanding as we do. I think this is quite different from other forms of faith and it does not work itself out in the same kinds of ways even when the faith appears equally strong or even stronger in effect.
Last edited by nathan on Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 genkaku » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:08 pm

I prefer a pretty flat-footed approach to faith -- one that admits what needs to be admitted and goes forward anyway.

First: I have tried a lot of things to assure my happiness and peace in this life and most of them have proven unable to provide anything other than a temporary fix.

Second: Buddhism holds out some promise ... but then so have the other things I tried. It's a crapshoot, pure and simple: No one can foresee the future, no matter how yummy the words may be.

Third: I put my money on Buddhist practice because nothing else has worked very well. Are Buddhism's promises true? I don't know. Is it just another two-penny religion? I don't know. But I put my money on Buddhism because there is a lot of so-called evidence (teachers, sutras, etc.) that SEEM to accord with my disposition and hopes.

Fourth: I am filled with about equal measures of hope and skepticism and denying either one is pure hooey. All I can do is PRACTICE AND FIND OUT. So, on behalf of my hopes, I may quote scripture and try to practice what is advised. On behalf of my skepticism, I may try not to lie. But in the midst of all this, I will do my best to remember: No one can know the future. My faith and hope are just my faith and hope. Neither of them provides the firm ground I seek. They may support and encourage, but that does not make their promises -- yet -- true.

Fifth: My teacher once observed that "for the first four or five years (of practice), belief and hope are necessary. After that, they are not so necessary." Why? Because anyone with experience of anything has no need of running around believing or hoping. Experience is what you KNOW ... and isn't that better than anything you might simply hope or believe?

Sixth: Knowing is not a static thing. It changes from moment to moment. Yesterday's understanding may encourage today's, but that doesn't mean that yesterday's understanding is the same as today's. For this reason, practice is endless.

FWIW
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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby zavk » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:39 pm

Thanks for starting this great thread Mike! This is something I've been pondering on recently. I shall have to gather my thoughts carefully. But for now, I'd like to make some general remarks, if only to give myself a point of reference for a fuller response later.

Firstly, whilst I appreciate how Buddhism enjoins us to base faith on investigation I think this notion of a 'verified faith' (and particularly one that is opposed to so-called 'blind faith') has sometimes become a convenient slogan of sorts. This is not to deny the various suttas and commentaries that espouse the importance of independent inquiry. Rather, I'm wondering about the unexamined assumptions that lie behind our reading of such advice as well as our presuppositions about what is within the domain of 'the verifiable'.

Secondly, and this follows from the first point, I think it'd be worth our while to take a step back to reconsider the very notion of 'faith' itself. It seems to me that in discussions like this, the word 'faith' is used--whether in criticising or supporting one position or another--as if it has some self-evident meaning that is just waiting to be unveiled. I think a way forward is not to be so quick to qualify faith with this or that (as 'blind' or 'verified') but to be willing to grapple with 'faith' itself. For me this is precisely what 'faith' demands of me.

Hmmmm... I'm not quite sure what I'm on about now. This 'faith' thing is strange... I'm going to bed now.

Metta,
Zavk
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zavk

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby nathan » Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:03 pm

I can't say it's the same for me as with most people. I "grappled" with my faith in the context of Christianity all through childhood and into adulthood. With the Dhamma, as with the rest of life, I no longer grapple with faith. It is a quality or condition that, as Genkaku has said, is there or not. This approach makes it much easier to see where my supreme confidence is. I DO grapple with the knowledge, quite tangibly, and with the understanding ultimately but it is the realizations, based on both the knowledge and the faith that acts together with it that results in that understanding. I do not know what is right to do or think at times but I am taught and so I try out that teaching with one kind of faith and the results lead to an entirely different quality of faith.

Ironically, my Christian faith has really benefited from my Buddhist faith and visa versa. Before the Dhamma practice, I had doubts about God and Christ. I have far fewer doubts overall now and I get along much better with both God and Christ and I am sure the Buddha would approve of the increased harmony in my internal neighborhoods. The Dhamma is my refuge and sanctuary but God is in a reality for me much more apparently now than He was before I made the very long considered and deep commitment to Buddhism.
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 clw_uk » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:37 pm

Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Jechbi » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:45 pm


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Individual » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:13 pm

The best things in life aren't things.


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:16 pm

I like something Ajahn Sumedho said in reguards to stream-entry and arahantship


He something along there lines that you dont become a stream-winner, there is no i am a stream-winner and there is no i am not a stream-winner because thats still thinking, still self-view. Just like thinking i will become an arahant in the future is just thinking and self-view



Its there all along you just need to see it through awareness in the present moment, you dont become it so there is no i will become ..... in the future


Just thought id add that


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:44 pm

Thank you all for the thoughtful replies.

Perhaps I should have expressed my point without using loaded words such as "faith". In posing the question I'm not particularly interested in the translation of saddha, the actual mechanism of stream-entry, or how one has to let go of the concept of "I".

Furthermore this discussion is not motivated to any particular problem that I have with my practise. Discussions such as this, I feel, do little to advance my practise. However, they can be an interesting diversion and may shed light on other discussions that go on here and elsewhere.

The point I am trying to make is that, despite the statement that in Buddhist practise one should "test for oneself", the advertised goal of Arahantship (or even Stream Entry) is, in fact, unverifiable until achieved. (See, for example, MN 27 Cula-hatthipadopama Sutta, The Shorter Elephant Footprint Simile, which I quoted above.)

Personally, I keep practising because I can see that it does give improvements. I can see that my teachers are living the holy life and it appears to be working for them. I can verify certain signposts from the Suttas, Commentaries, Dhamma books and talks, and discussions with my teachers.

However, I cannot actually state that I have "verified the teachings" in the sense of verifying the ultimate goal (Nibbana). And I suspect that there are few, if any, here who can.

Of course, it is possible to "redefine" the goal as something along the lines of: "Being reasonably happy and content in this life". Well, if that's the goal, I could say that I've verified it too. However, from my reading of the Teachings, it's not...

Metta
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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Individual » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:29 pm

The best things in life aren't things.


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby Jechbi » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:34 pm


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Re: Why is Buddhist Faith not blind?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:21 am

I think when we practice Mundane Right View--at least for most of us--there is an element of what could be called "blind faith," otherwise we would have no basis to put in the effort for practice. We have faith that there is merit in good deeds, that kamma works, that meditation will cultivate insight and mindfulness, etc, and that we'll cultivate deeper insight, and confidence, as we go along. I don't think any of us start along this Path with any kind of certain conviction it will work for us. Maybe for some of us it makes sense or resonates with something deep within us, but I don't think any of us could say for sure we've directly experienced the Real. I know my motive for practice have changed several times over the many years I've practiced. I don't quite remember why I started to begin with. :lol:

Of course, at some point we hope or assume we'll attain Supramundane Right View where faith in any form is superfluous. If anyone is already there, I for one would enjoy hearing about it.

J BB
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?


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