I was asked a question about faith 10 years ago and this was my reply. It still stands:
For me faith has grown out of the feeling of confidence that the Buddha’s teachings have truly been a source of refuge. They have made such a difference to my life, for which I am immeasurably grateful. And filled with awe, as what I receive I cannot feel is due, in any way, to my own deserving. So, for me, Pureland is the form of Buddhism that works particularly, although I appreciate all other schools.
I found myself in a room in NW UK one evening eight [now eighteen] years ago, having followed a non-Buddhist path for 25 years, and having become seriously unstuck on my spiritual journey at the end of this time. And I found myself listening to Dharmavidya, who became my teacher. What I heard in that couple of hours turned my life around irrevocably. And my being there in that place at that time was not something I could have contrived or expected. So many coincidences and unexpected meetings had placed me there. So, in Pureland terms, I was there, listening and able to hear in a profound way by the grace of the Buddhas, by the grace of Amida. From this grace comes such gratitude that I feel my eyes filling as I write.
Faith is something that grows. It is not to do with thinking about Buddhism or thinking about faith. it is to do with the relationship between oneself and the Buddhas, the Unborn, the Immeasurable. For me, who felt unable to raise my eyes to look at Amida to begin with, it began with a relationship with Quan Shi Yin, whom I felt more approachable – although I was acceptable to Amida right from the start – it was to myself that I was unacceptable.
Relationship is a mystery and a precious gift and how it grows, even between people, cannot be fully grasped. We can only put ourselves in the company of the Buddhas, whatever that means to us individually. And to be willing and open hearted. What develops takes time and is not in our power to contrive.
Namo Amida Bu