what do we mean by faith?

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DGA
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what do we mean by faith?

Post by DGA » Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:25 am

What is meant in a Buddhist context by the term "faith"?

It seems to me that this is an indispensable concept because we can't really talk about practice in a meaningful way without touching on it, but at the same time there's some agony over what it means and even how it ought to be discussed. Here's a recent exchange on it.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=27784&start=40#p434267

And here is a thoughtful post that offers some useful points of departure regarding terminology, eg, "confidence" over "faith"

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=27784&start=40#p434267

With all that for prologue: what is meant by faith in the context of Buddhist practice?

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Thomas Amundsen
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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:30 am

Loppon Malcolm wrote:Śraddha, which is often translated as faith, is defined in Abhidharma as the mental factor which brings clarity to the mind, and that is it.

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by rory » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:47 am

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
THE UNIVERSAL DOOR OF GUANSHI YIN BODHISATTVA
(THE BODHISATTVA WHO CONTEMPLATES THE SOUNDS OF THE WORLD)

Listen to the practice of Guanyin,
Who skillfully responds in all places.

With vast vows, as deep as the sea,
Throughout inconceivable eons,
He has served many thousands of kotis of Buddhas,
And has made great, pure vows.

I shall now tell you in brief,
That for those who hear his name or see him,
And who are mindful of his name unceasingly,
He can extinguish the suffering of all realms of existence.

If someone is the victim of another's harmful intent,
And is pushed into a pit of fire,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The pit of fire will turn into a pool.
If someone is being tossed about in the great sea,
And is surrounded by the dangers of dragons, fish, and ghosts,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The waves will not drown him.

If someone is on the peak of Mount Sumeru,
And another person tries to push him off,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
He will stand firm as the sun in space.

If someone is pursued by evil people,
Who want to throw him off a Vajra Mountain,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
Not a single hair on his body will be harmed.

If someone is surrounded by vicious bandits,
Who threaten him with knives,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The bandits will all give rise to compassion.

If someone is in trouble with the law,
And on the verge of being executed,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The knives will break into pieces.

If someone is imprisoned, shackled, or chained,
Or if his hands and feet are in stocks,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
His bonds will open and he will be free.

If someone is about to be harmed,
By mantras, spells, or poison,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The harm will all return to the sender.

If someone meets with evil rakshasas,
Poisonous dragons, or ghosts,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
They will then not dare to harm him.

If someone is surrounded by vicious beasts,
With fearsome fangs and claws,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The beasts will quickly run far away.

Poisonous snakes and scorpions,
Have blazing lethal vapors,
But if one evokes the strength of Guanyin,
At the sound of one's voice, they will disperse.

Clouds of roaring thunder and lightning
May send down hail or great floods of rain,
But if one evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The clouds will immediately scatter.

Living beings are beset with hardships,
And oppressed by limitless sufferings.
The power of Guanyin's wondrous wisdom
Can rescue the world from suffering.


Complete with the power of spiritual penetrations,
Vastly cultivating wisdom and expedient means,
Going throughout countries in the ten directions,
He manifests everywhere in all places. ...
in thought after thought we have no doubt:
Guanshiyin is pure and sagely.
In times of suffering, agony, danger, and death,
He is our refuge and protector.


Complete with all merit and virtue,
His kind eyes watching living beings,
He is endowed with massive blessings, limitless as the sea.
Therefore we should reverently worship him.
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/reso ... otus25.htm
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:53 am

If the question is, as the thread title has it, What do we mean by faith?, it really needs quotation marks if it is to be meaningful, i.e. What do we mean by "faith" ?
That highlights the fact that it is a question about terminology, and suggests that we should try to separate a group of related English terms and (maybe) work out how they relate to "sraddha".
Which terms?
Knowledge and faith to begin with, and then probably belief, understanding and trust.

:coffee:
Kim
.

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:33 am

I was taught that the Buddhist word for faith, ‘sraddha’, means ‘to place ones’ heart upon’. Another definition I found helpful was ‘confidence in the principles of Buddhism’. But ‘faith’ in a mundane sense is demonstrated all the time by signing contracts, taking out insurance, and so on. All of those transactions are undertaken in the faith that the other parties to the transaction will observe certain standards of behaviour. Faith in religions is somewhat similar, however in respect of trans-mundane factors.

But another factor in current culture is that faith has political connotations due to the role of religion in secular culture. In that context, ‘faith’ Is depicted as ‘believing in things for which there is no empirical evidence’. In liberal societies, individuals are allowed ‘freedom of conscience’ whereby they are able to entertain all kinds of religious ideas (within reason and the law). But even so ‘faith’ has a connotation of clinging to superstious notions in the eyes of many scientific rationalists.

There are also some dimensions specific to the Buddhist view, as distinct from the Christian view, of faith. Christians are expected to recite the Nicene Creed and are obliged to believe in the Resurrection, which is an account of a supernatural event. Buddhism, by contrast, was often supposed by its Western interpreters to be a ‘scientific religion’, in that the principles and practices were thought to be commensurate with Enlightenment ideas (which is one of the reasons that the word ‘enlightenment’ was chosen to translate the Buddhist ‘bodhi’.) But because of the emphasis in Buddhism on understanding practical principles, faith in Buddhism is thought to be less dependent on the so-called miraculous aspects of religion. (However I have come to question this naturalistic depiction of Buddhism as I believe it has always had a ‘trans-mundane’ aspect.)

This issue is by no means resolved, as secular Buddhists wish to consciously exclude the supernatural aspects of Buddhism in favour of a kind of secular philoosphy (as per Stephen Bachelor).
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by fuki » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:59 am

DGA wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:25 am
What is meant in a Buddhist context by the term "faith"?
In the Zen tradition it means having faith regarding your Buddha-nature and that you are able to awaken.

In practise we need great faith, great doubt, and great determination.
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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by MatthewAngby » Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:26 pm

Class note Feb 11th


The tathagatas have taught about suffering. They have also taught about the cause of suffering. These teachings are called four noble truths.

To be free from suffering one needs the causes and conditions to cease suffering, which is the path.

The path is consisted of five stages: the path of accumulation, the path of joining, the path of seeing, the path of meditation, and the path of no more learning.

Taking the path is to practice dharma, which will lead to the cessation of every suffering.

Merely making offerings, doing prostrations cannot qualify “taking the path”, for path is wisdom.

To dispel suffering one needs to eliminate the cause of suffering.

The cause of suffering is the five negative emotions.

So first, one should know about suffering, and the cause of suffering. Then know the antidote to the cause of suffering and apply them, and finally eliminate the cause of suffering.

It is like first one knows oneself is sick and goes to the doctors. Having taken the medicine that the doctor has prescribed, one then is free from the sickness.

Today our topic is about faith.

Faith, belief, trust, devotion, these are all very similar.

We can talk about faith in a general sense, or in a specific buddhist context.

The object of faith is that which one has belief, trust and devotion in.
In that sense, people might have faith in celebrities, theirs parents, or science.

For buddhists, the object of faith is the three jewels.

Those without faith cannot accumulate merit, because faith, like renunciation, is the gateway to sublime dharma. Therefore, one without faith to the three jewels cannot perform genuine dharmic activities, be it prostration or offering incense.

Faith can also be looked at with another way of categorization: blind faith and wisdom faith.
Wisdom faith is that which depends on valid cognition, whereas blind faith is not.

Blind faith changes easily when under the influence of money, power, or desire, and thus cannot guarantee our happiness.

To have authentic faith in the three jewels one has to know the qualities of the three jewels.
As mentioned in Uttaratantra shastra by Mitreya, the final object of refuge is the buddha jewel.
However for beginners, the object of refuge should be the dharma jewel. Why? Because one cannot make the judgement directly and needs know dharma in order to know the qualities of the buddha jewel and the sangha jewel. It is through understanding dharma that one understands the qualities of the three jewels.

Without understanding dharma, one cannot understand the qualities of the three jewels, and if so, the faith that one has cannot be genuine and therefore must be blind faith.

However, those without wisdom faith yet have to rely on blind faith. Like climbing a tree, hold on to one branch tightly before letting go of the other one. Do not let go of blind faith before you can actually hold on to wisdom faith.

Blind faith can give rise to the common Siddhis such as worldly success, but not the uncommon siddhis, ultimate buddhahood. It is not based on valid cognition and is generated by the mistaken mind, namely, wrong views. It cannot thus lead one to liberation. Why? Because we suffer when we have wrong views.

With regard to valid cognition, there are also the ultimate valid cognition and the relative valid cognition. The ultimate valid cognition is the understanding of the ultimate truth, which can eliminate our self grasping, that is, wrong view or mistaken mind, and can thus lead us to liberation or enlightenment.

It is as what is said in the Uttaratantra Shastra, the nature of phenomena needs to be realized via faith, and the brightness of the sun cannot be seen by the blind. The faith mentioned here is wisdom faith.

Faith can be further divided into three divisions: admiration faith, longing faith, and trusting faith.
The admiration faith and longing faith belong to blind faith, whereas trusting faith is wisdom faith.

Admiration faith is based on belief in the outer features of the object, such as looks, reputation and so forth.

Longing faith is based on the belief that the object of faith shares the same background of oneself, such as the same hometown or country.

Trusting faith comes from valid cognition, and is therefore wisdom faith.

Those with faith can increase their merit; roasted barley cannot sprout.


Q & A:
1.
Q: How do we generate wisdom faith?
A: We need to analyze the object of faith. As said in the Words of My Perfect Teacher, we need to be smart about choosing the guru, relying on the guru, and finally training in the guru’s advice.

That is, if one knows the qualities of the guru then one can generate wisdom faith, with wisdom faith then one can practice genuinely.

2. (I cant remember the question, but the answer has to do with emptiness).
Emptiness verses empty is not empty(nothing).
On any given phenomenon there is emptiness verses empty.
One cannot find its existence through reasoning, thus empty, this pertains to the ultimate truth.
Nevertheless it appears, thus emptiness, pertains to the relative truth.
The force is my ally...and a powerful ally it is - Yoda

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by DGA » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:58 pm

rory wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:47 am
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
THE UNIVERSAL DOOR OF GUANSHI YIN BODHISATTVA
(THE BODHISATTVA WHO CONTEMPLATES THE SOUNDS OF THE WORLD)

Listen to the practice of Guanyin,
Who skillfully responds in all places.

With vast vows, as deep as the sea,
Throughout inconceivable eons,
He has served many thousands of kotis of Buddhas,
And has made great, pure vows.

I shall now tell you in brief,
That for those who hear his name or see him,
And who are mindful of his name unceasingly,
He can extinguish the suffering of all realms of existence.

If someone is the victim of another's harmful intent,
And is pushed into a pit of fire,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The pit of fire will turn into a pool.
If someone is being tossed about in the great sea,
And is surrounded by the dangers of dragons, fish, and ghosts,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The waves will not drown him.

If someone is on the peak of Mount Sumeru,
And another person tries to push him off,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
He will stand firm as the sun in space.

If someone is pursued by evil people,
Who want to throw him off a Vajra Mountain,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
Not a single hair on his body will be harmed.

If someone is surrounded by vicious bandits,
Who threaten him with knives,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The bandits will all give rise to compassion.

If someone is in trouble with the law,
And on the verge of being executed,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The knives will break into pieces.

If someone is imprisoned, shackled, or chained,
Or if his hands and feet are in stocks,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
His bonds will open and he will be free.

If someone is about to be harmed,
By mantras, spells, or poison,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The harm will all return to the sender.

If someone meets with evil rakshasas,
Poisonous dragons, or ghosts,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
They will then not dare to harm him.

If someone is surrounded by vicious beasts,
With fearsome fangs and claws,
If he evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The beasts will quickly run far away.

Poisonous snakes and scorpions,
Have blazing lethal vapors,
But if one evokes the strength of Guanyin,
At the sound of one's voice, they will disperse.

Clouds of roaring thunder and lightning
May send down hail or great floods of rain,
But if one evokes the strength of Guanyin,
The clouds will immediately scatter.

Living beings are beset with hardships,
And oppressed by limitless sufferings.
The power of Guanyin's wondrous wisdom
Can rescue the world from suffering.


Complete with the power of spiritual penetrations,
Vastly cultivating wisdom and expedient means,
Going throughout countries in the ten directions,
He manifests everywhere in all places. ...
in thought after thought we have no doubt:
Guanshiyin is pure and sagely.
In times of suffering, agony, danger, and death,
He is our refuge and protector.


Complete with all merit and virtue,
His kind eyes watching living beings,
He is endowed with massive blessings, limitless as the sea.
Therefore we should reverently worship him.
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/reso ... otus25.htm
gassho
Rory
This is an important passage.

What do you think it means with regard to faith in Buddhist practice? How do you understand it?

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by DGA » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:04 am

fuki wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:59 am
DGA wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:25 am
What is meant in a Buddhist context by the term "faith"?
In the Zen tradition it means having faith regarding your Buddha-nature and that you are able to awaken.

In practise we need great faith, great doubt, and great determination.
I've been reflecting on this.

It seems to me that faith is antithetical to belief.

This is another way of saying "great faith and great doubt."

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by fuki » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:21 am

DGA wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:04 am
fuki wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:59 am
DGA wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:25 am
What is meant in a Buddhist context by the term "faith"?
In the Zen tradition it means having faith regarding your Buddha-nature and that you are able to awaken.

In practise we need great faith, great doubt, and great determination.
I've been reflecting on this.

It seems to me that faith is antithetical to belief.

This is another way of saying "great faith and great doubt."
Yes it is not (blind) belief in the intellectual or emotional sense. The greater the faith, the greater the doubt, the greater the doubt, the greater the awakening. If one has faith without doubt it isn't really faith at all, its just a kind of believe we tell ourselfs, practise will be shallow then.
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steveb1
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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by steveb1 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:55 pm

I can only submit an opinion based on my Jodo Shinshu practice. In Shin, faith is a sheer gift from Amida Buddha, and it is called "Shinjin" - perfect, adamantine faith. Because it is a gift, and is received as such, the Shin adherent claims no responsibility for it, and does no boasting about it. Granted, saying, "I have perfect faith" could easily be denounced as narcissism. But in Shin, precisely because faith is "a raft from the Other Shore" - a gift from Amida's transcendent realm - there is no human ego attached to its reception. In fact, the human ego is utterly incapable of generating Shinjin on its own. Shinjin is considered to be the mind of the Buddha and Buddha Nature - two things that Jodo Shinshu teaches that very few persons are capable of attaining, through self-power practices, in our current age of "Dharma decline".

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by smcj » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:56 am

Some questions:
What type of faith is a non-starter and unacceptable to us?
Why is that so?
Are those objections and preconditions regarding faith improperly coloring our understandin of Dharma??
Are the reasons that we object to faith, as approached in our western religions, still valid in the context of the various forms of Buddha Dharma?

Just askin’.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by Zhen Li » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:27 am

In reply perhaps to both steveb and rory, the case of salvation due to faith in regards to Avalokitesvara and Amitabha Tathagata appear to me to be similar in regards to other power. As I understand and experience it, entrusting in the vows of a buddha or great bodhisattva means letting go of one's desire to change one's situation. It is a profound acceptance of the state of being a suffering and deluded being, but accepting that ultimately in the world encompassing Dharmakaya, the ineffable truth manifested in the forms of buddhas and bodhisattvas and their skillful means, one finds ultimate peace and quietude. It is a surrender of the ego and self and it is this experience that is described in much Jodo Shinshu literature as being a "turning of the mind." I think this experience can be likened, outside of the Pureland tradition, to the description of the irreversible Bodhisattva in the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Lines: they have patient acceptance of the non-arising of all phenomena, and when they encounter the emptiness of the phenomenal world they do not experience any trembling: they thus enter into suchness (as one enters into the Pureland) of all things and then go forth armed with the great armour to liberate all beings on the great vehicle, "going out," as Vasubandhu puts it.

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by steveb1 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:21 am

Thanks for the nice reply - some new info for me to contemplate.

:)

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by Vasana » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:40 am

Excuse the bad copy paste formatting - See 'Words of my Perfect teacher for a pretty clear exposition.

'APPROACHES TO TAKING REFUGE
1. Faith
Just as taking refuge opens the gateway to all teachings and practices, it
is faith that opens the gateway to taking refuge. As the first step in taking
refuge, therefore, it isimportant to develop a lasting and stable faith. Faith
itself is of three kinds: vivid faith, eager faith and confident faith.

1.1 VIVID FAITH

Vivid faith is the faith that is inspired in us by thinking of the immense
compassion of the Buddhas and great teachers. We might experience this
kind of faith on visiting a temple containing many representations of the
Buddhas' body, speech and mind, or after an encounter with a great teacher or spiritual friend we have just met personally or whose qualities
or life-story we have heard described.

1.2 EAGER FAITH
Eager faith is our eagerness to be free of the sufferings of lower realms when we hear them described; our eagerness to enjoy the happiness of
higher realms and of liberation when we hear what they are; our eagerness
to engage in positive actions when we hear what benefits they bring; and
our eagerness to avoid negative actions when we understand what harm
they cause.

1.3 CONFIDENT FAITH
Confident faith is the faith in the Three Jewels that arises from the depth
of our hearts once we understand their extraordinary qualities and the
power of their blessings. It is the total trust in the Three Jewels alone that
comes from the knowledge that they are the only unfailing refuge, 109
always and in all circumstances, whether we are happy, sad, in pain, ill,
living or dead. * The Precious Lord of Oddiyana says:
The faith of total trust allows blessings to enter you.
When the mind is free of doubt, whatever you wish can be achieved.

Faith, then, is like a seed from which everything positive can grow. If
faith is absent, it is as though that seed had been burnt. The siitras say:
In those who lack faith
Nothing positive will grow,
Just as from a burnt seed
No green shoot will ever sprout.
Of the seven noble riches, faith is the most important. It is said:
The precious wheel of faith
Rolls day and night along the road of virtue.
Faith is the most precious of all our resources. It brings an inexhaustible
supply of virtues, like a treasure. It carries us along the path to liberation like
a pair of legs, and gathers up everything positive for us like a pair of arms.'Faith is the greatest wealth and treasure, the best of legs; it is the basis for gathering all virtues, like arms.'

The compassion and blessings of the Three Jewels are inconceivable, butnevertheless their ability to reach into us depends entirely on our faith and devotion. If you have immense faith and devotion, the compassion
and blessings you receive from your teacher and the Three Jewels will be equally immense. If your faith and devotion are just moderate, the compassion and blessings that reach you will also be moderate. If you
have only a little faith and devotion, only a little compassion and blessings will reach you. If you have no faith and devotion at all, you will get absolutely nothing. Without faith, even meeting the Buddha himself and
being accepted as his disciple would be quite useless, as it was for the monk Sunaksatra, whose story was told in the previous chapter, and for the Buddha's cousin, Devadatta.

Even today, whenever the Buddha is invoked with sincere faith and devotion, he is there, bestowing blessings. For the Buddha's compassion there is no near or far.
For all who think of him with faith he Buddha is there in front of them And will give empowerments and blessings.

And the Great Master of Oddiyana says:

For all men and women with faith in me, I, Padmasambhava,
Have never departed-I sleep beside their door.U"
For me there is no such thing as death;
Before each person with faith, there is a Padmasambhava
.'
'When alone, watch your mind. When with others, watch your speech'- Old Kadampa saying.

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:48 am

smjc wrote:What type of faith is a non-starter and unacceptable to us?
Obstinate clinging to dogmas without understanding their real meaning or intent.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by fuki » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:28 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:48 am
smjc wrote:What type of faith is a non-starter and unacceptable to us?
Obstinate clinging to dogmas without understanding their real meaning or intent.
Wouldn't you say all such clinging is due to not seeing the true function and direction of the words?
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javier.espinoza.t
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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:23 am

as buddhist, sometimes i see faith as a degenerate practice
principle in buddhism is not faith, but knowledge
i mean experience. truth.

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by smcj » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:26 am

javier.espinoza.t wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:23 am
as buddhist, sometimes i see faith as a degenerate practice
principle in buddhism is not faith, but knowledge
i mean experience. truth.
Do you see/experience every being's Buddha Nature?
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: what do we mean by faith?

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:35 am

smcj wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:26 am
javier.espinoza.t wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:23 am
as buddhist, sometimes i see faith as a degenerate practice
principle in buddhism is not faith, but knowledge
i mean experience. truth.
Do you see/experience every being's Buddha Nature?
i don't.
buddha nature is a concept
it points to an inexpressible fact

for example:
it is explained that if you really look for the permanent "i", the individual identity, you couldn't find it because it doesn't exist
it is explained that if you really look for the isolated "i", the individual independence, you couldn't find it because independence doesn't exist
such explanations point to that fact

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