Thursday, May 27, 2010

Faith

Faith is a concept usually associated with Christianity and not buddhism. But ironically, faith is often misunderstood in Christianity and faith is absolutely essential in Buddhism. The important thing to realize is that faith does not mean belief in dogma or bronze age scribblings (as  Richard Dawkins
believes, although to be fair most religious people wrongly believe this). Faith refers to faith in your own experience, it refers to the glimpses of God and Nirvana that we all have (although some people have more than others). In Christianity, the idea that faith means belief is relatively recent according to historians. The original meaning of faith is more akin to the idea of faithfulness in a marriage. The idea is that you love God and you trust God. In Buddhism faith is not often discussed, at least in westernized Buddhism. However, faith is critical for Buddhism. In Buddhism faith is is divided into two things. The first is the experience or glimpse or clue that nirvana is real. This is developed through direct experience in meditation. In Shambala Buddhism, faith in this is called doubtlessness. You do not doubt your experience. The second part is called fearlessness in Shambala. This is where you no longer suffer from fear. Fear is the primary reason we do not experience compassion and nirvana. Therefore, in buddhism, faith can be understood as a fearlessness based on doubtlessness arising from direct experience. However, it is possible to have direct experiences without developing doubtlessness, so you get people who are very good meditators but continue to act with fear in their lives because they are not taking it to the next level. In my opinion western Buddhism suffers because the faith aspect is downplayed. This may be because faith is misunderstood in the west as a belief in dogma. Faith in your experience and the Buddhist teachings is essential, but not blind faith. Buddhism is an invitation to try out the teachings and see if they are true, but at a certain point you have to develop faith, an embodied certainty that the path is true, in order to continue. So both Buddhists and Christians suffer from this misunderstanding. For Christianiy it is important to keep on mind that faith in Jesus does not mean believing a bunch of stuff about Jesus, it means a direct experience.

The God DelusionShambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

3 comments:

  1. Hi Rob!
    This is a nice post. So faith is a kind of filling you have without a dogmatic view. Or we may say some faiths are dogma because they are wrong.
    Ahmad

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  2. thanks for the comments, I agree, it is a feeling not a belief

    appreciate the feedback

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