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Is Buddhism a faith?

KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonderThe Continent Veteran

I came across an article in Buddha Weekly called How Your Faith Can Make You Happier (see here), and it made me wonder, is Buddhism truly a faith? Somehow the word and the images that it conjures up do not fit the reality. Buddhism to me is something to be explored and examined and learned from, something to be tested inside heart and mind.

It seems to me that because Buddhism is grouped with a series of other world’s religions, some of the words that apply to them are also applied to it. But can these kinds of descriptions not cause a misunderstanding about what sort of life path comes from the study of Buddhism?

Is your Buddhism a faith? How else would you characterise it?

Comments

  • Is your Buddhism a faith? How else would you characterise it?

    I guess in a sense Buddhism becomes a kind of faith, a faith/trust/confidence in awareness as one ventures further into the Dharmic path and the mind's magic become stronger...that is, faith in the growing evidence....AKA experiential knowledge/understanding...

    As awareness continually opens the self to see for one/itself....("Ehipassiko") and through this awareness, there grows an understanding (experiential) that there is nothing to hold on to, including faith...

    No doubt others may see faith differently...After all faith is just a word with many meanings attached... I guess whatever meaning takes one's fancy...

    "Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" Nothing whatsoever should be clung to...

    howChoephalSuraShine
  • I prefer to think of Dharma as a confidence rather than a faith or fake news superstition. In other words it is Gnostic. We know through practice and this knowledge gives us confidence in its veracity.

    howChoephalKeromeSuraShine
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I'd say some traditions of Buddhism are more faith based than others...

    lobsterhow
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran
    edited January 11

    Is your Buddhism a faith? How else would you characterise it?>

    No, my Buddhism is all brass tacks from top to bottom. I think that when I first encountered Buddhism and started practicing, there was a large element of faith in it, but that has diminished year by year until I'm not sure it's even there any more - it seems superfluous.

    KeromelobsterShoshin1
  • GuiGui Veteran
    edited January 11

    .

  • I think you could translate faith as confidence. So what practice would you practice challenging times? Refuge vows perhaps. Mindfulness of breath perhaps. Mantras perhaps. Thinking of your loved ones. Calling on a being like Buddha, Medicine Buddha, Padmasambhava, Avalokiteshevra, Amitabha, etc..

    What practice do you have enough confidence in such that you do it daily and when you are 'challenged' by difficulty?

    In this sense everyone has faith in something or if they don't then in a way they have faith in skepticism I guess?

    Shoshin1lobstermarcitkoperson
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    For me faith has connotations of blind belief. Probably a holdover from very early introductions to Christianity by my grandparents, which I ended up re-examining in my teens while listening to Osho, who was not a fan of organised religions.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 13

    We're all blind to an extent and feeling our way along the path as we go. And to the extent that we are blind — not fully knowing where we're going or 'things as they are' — then it is a faith. We are placing faith in our practice, in our selves, in the reassurance that we are doing something that is skillful and beneficial and worth the effort, etc. But we are also testing these hypotheses and seeing what works and letting go of the things that don't, like most contemplative practices. So I see it is a faith and as something more. And it's really up to us what it is and what it'll become.

    lobsterKerome
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Jason said:
    We're all blind to an extent and feeling our way along the path as we go. And to the extent that we are blind — not fully knowing where we're going or 'things as they are' — then it is a faith. We are placing faith in our practice, in our selves, in the reassurance that we are doing something that is skillful and beneficial and worth the effort, etc. But we are also testing these hypotheses and seeing what works and letting go of the things that don't, like most contemplative practices. So I see it is a faith and as something more. And it is really up to us wht it is and what it'll become.

    See also: https://newbuddhist.com/discussion/comment/393980/#Comment_393980

  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    @Jason said:
    We're all blind to an extent and feeling our way along the path as we go. And to the extent that we are blind — not fully knowing where we're going or 'things as they are' — then it is a faith.

    Very well developed insight there @jason. I think that it is true that a lot of ‘god the father’ religions talk of faith because one puts trust in the father-figure, while in Buddhism you put faith in the path, which at any given time is also not fully explored.

  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    @federica said:
    Currently, my confidence is at an all-time low.

    I think it is the wintertime... the days are short and dark, the weather is cold, the gardens are reduced to twigs and snow fields. And everyone is worried about corona, and all the shops are closed.

    Which is kind of why I have been doing yoga — it is undemanding and pleasant to work all of the kinks out of the body.

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    edited January 18

    It can be as much of a faith as you want it to be.

    But basically, Buddhis is self-examination and the inner changes you create within yourself. Since (as our Lama has pointed out) no one else, no higher power, can do this for you ... there is no higher power TO appeal to. So what role could faith have in Buddhist development?

    You will hear Buddhists talking about faith in the PROCESS, but this comes slowly over the years. As your Practice starts to create inner change, you do start to have faith (born from first-hand experience) that your Practice WILL create inner change.

    One problem with faith is that it can be just another way of seeking a sense of security (as Pema Chodron says, "... seeking to find ground"), and this tendency tends to close our mind. The more we seek to think we know something that we have not experienced, the less we are receptive to learning from experience. Too much faith closes our mind and halts learning.
    “Holding onto any truth blocks true wisdom. The truth could knock on our door and we would not see it because of our fixed ideas.“ Pema Chodron

    Jeffrey
  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    And even all that you have experienced will vanish again in due course, as my stepfather is encountering. He is now 84, and has a lot of difficulties with his memory. He can no longer read clocks or count change, and frequently forgets where he puts things.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited January 18

    Buddhism is the Buddha's path towards suffering's cessation.
    Faith can either be a part of that journey or not but neither state in itself need be a barrier to being a walker on that path.

  • The best is yet to come....

    Hooray.
    I am confident in your blip. Always good to have faith in others, never ours selves.

  • ajhayesajhayes Konchok Dondrup Zopa Northern Michigan Veteran

    Buddhism, as I understand it, teaches a (better?) response to the day. I have faith that things will happen, and I have faith that I'm better equipped to handle life with the teachings of the Buddha.

    I tend to think it's somewhere between faith and fact.

    lobsterShoshin1
  • So I see it is a faith and as something more. And it's really up to us what it is and what it'll become.

    Exactly. We make god dharma in our image. In a sense we create or imaginate ourselves into the path we become ...

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited January 20

    I think the notion of path has a sense of faith built in. It's not all blind faith. But I have faith in the path I am on that has been travelled by the others in the sangha. Will there be obstacles? You bet. Will I need to think critically sometimes? Sure.

    Reminds me of my mother's comment to me and Michelle on our questions about how to proceed training our puppy Clark that just love him and everything will work out from that. Or at least not to worry and just maintain some serenity.

  • KeromeKerome Certainty is the enemy of wonder The Continent Veteran

    I have seen a response to Buddhism as a faith that went, Buddhism is not really a faith because as you proceed you test it and it earns your confidence. That’s pretty far from faith.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    "Faith" in Buddhism means IMO belief that the Buddha's method will bring more equanimity to life, help you weather stressful events, and perhaps eventually, with dedicated practice, might lead to more contentment, if not outright Enlightenment.

    lobster
  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    As someone who was born and raised Catholic, my intuition has told me follow The Way and God will find you if you need to be found - if that's faith then so be it. But to be honest, I don't really care if my Buddhism is a faith or not. I care far more if it helps me be a better human being than anything else.

    Shoshin1lobsterKerome
  • Rob_VRob_V North Carolina Explorer

    Most answers I've heard usually follow the 'Buddism is not a faith, it's a practice' line of thought. One of the Ajahns I consider my teacher, Ajahn Jayasaro, says that yes, we do have faith; faith in the Buddha's enlightenment, faith that he was enlightened as a human being, faith that his teaching was correct, and faith in our ability to also realize enlightenment. But mostly, Buddhism is an education in how to attain said enlightenment.

    JeffreylobsterShoshin1SuraShine
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    Interesting question.

    I can't say my Buddhism is a faith or even faith based but there are some aspects of faith involved in the forms of trust and seeing potential.

    The Buddhist teachings I trust can be tested and their value can be felt. I don't have faith in what enlightenment may mean or what the truth is but I can feel a progression in awareness and see truth unfolding in everything.

    I see Buddhism as a process of progressive awareness and have faith that every one of us has the potential to wake up to our true nature but I don't have faith in what said true nature is.

    lobster
  • The Buddhist teachings I trust can be tested and their value can be felt. I don't have faith in what enlightenment may mean or what the truth is but I can feel a progression in awareness and see truth unfolding in everything.

    Truth unfolding in everything is a good sign. As ever it denotes the need for caution. One of the great traps of any experience, including enlightenments is feelings of achievement.

    One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. "We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?" they asked.
    "It is," he replied.
    
    "And how do you feel?"
    
    "As miserable as ever," said the monk.
    

    http://users.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/enlightened.html

    David
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited January 27

    @lobster said:

    The Buddhist teachings I trust can be tested and their value can be felt. I don't have faith in what enlightenment may mean or what the truth is but I can feel a progression in awareness and see truth unfolding in everything.

    Truth unfolding in everything is a good sign. As ever it denotes the need for caution. One of the great traps of any experience, including enlightenments is feelings of achievement.

    One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. "We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?" they asked.
    "It is," he replied.
    
    "And how do you feel?"
    
    "As miserable as ever," said the monk.
    

    http://users.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/enlightened.html

    I don't even know exactly what enlightenment is supposed to mean. I am simply more aware than I used to be and have less questions.

    I find it odd that someone could claim enlightenment while at the same time say they are "as miserable as ever".

    Beware of the unhappy Buddhist teacher.

    Rob_VSuraShine
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