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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Faith and Wisdom.

The Buddha compared faith to a blind giant who meets up with a very sharp-eyed cripple, called wisdom. The blind giant, called faith, says to the sharp-eyed cripple, "I am very strong, but I can't see; you are very weak, but you have sharp eyes. Come and ride on my shoulders. Together we will go far." The Buddha never supported blind faith, but a balance between heart and mind, between wisdom and faith. The two together will go far. The saying that blind faith can move mountains unfortunately omits the fact that, being blind, faith doesn't know which mountain needs moving. That's where wisdom is essential, which means that a thorough understanding of the teaching is crucial.

-- Ayya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies

~Peace to all beings~

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6 comments:

Barry said...

In Zen, faith is sometimes referred to as "try mind" -- the mind that always, in every situation, tries to see clearly and respond beneficially.

In English, the word "faith" has connotations that seem inconsistent with Buddha's intent, especially as he voiced it in the Kalama Sutra. But if we understand faith as a vow to always try, then the term supports our practice intent.

My old teacher used to end his letters with this phrase: "Try, try, try, ten thousand years, non-stop, soon get enlightenment, and save all beings from suffering." So Great Faith is fundamentally important!

Barry
www.oxherding.com

Dhamma81 said...

I think the idea of always trying is a skillful way of looking at faith because you can't really keep trying if you don't have faith. If you don't believe that actions matter and that Enlightenment is available through your own effort then you wouldn't have the heart to perservere in the path.

What strikes me most about the Kalama Sutta is it gives a reason for faith because it is one of the only known discourses in a religious tradition where the teacher is literally putting himself up on the chopping block. Think about that, the Buddha was so confident in the eightfold path, the four noble truths and all of his other teachings that he willingly encouraged people to try it out and put it into practice. If that doesn't show an amazing confidence and lead you to a deeper faith in what the Buddha taught then I don't knwo what will.

They call him James Ure said...

Barry:

Faith and Wisdom go hand in hand and are interconnected just like everything else.

Dhamma81:

I too have been impressed with the Buddha calming putting his teachings up for investigation. It is one of the things that attracted me to Buddhism.

It seems that most religious founders were plagued by too much ego. Demanding blind loyalty and faith. Instead of understanding that faith and wisdom go hand in hand as Buddha understood. The two complement each other nicely and work to the benefit of the other.

Kinderling said...

The saying that blind faith can move mountains unfortunately omits the fact that, being blind, faith doesn't know which mountain needs moving. That's where wisdom is essential, which means that a thorough understanding of the teaching is crucial.
A child has faith that is neither blind or wise but is trusting of what she can see. "Why worry?"
In time there is more experience and understanding. The mountains are in the mind. An attitude is to surrender prejudice and want, then achieve whatever you desire.

donald said...

This makes a lot of sense. I've often wondered about faith in the context of Buddhism. I found another interesting article at Dharma123.com that agrees with Barry - that the english word faith is inconsistent with Buddha's intent. It also has an interesting take on the function of faith for a Buddhist.

donald said...

Here's another article on Buddhist faith (Sacred-texts.com) - it says the cornerstone of Buddhist faith is based on 3 things:
1. that all sentient beings are fundamentally of the same nature,
2. sentient beings are all different and
3. the law of cause and effect.

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