Not Just a Starter
Generally, in Buddhist circles, it is said that you need faith in order to enter upon the Dharma Tao but when you have progressed you don’t need faith any more because it is replaced by knowledge and wisdom, but.... Faith is wisdom and complete wisdom is complete faith.
What Do You know?
In the common view, knowledge and faith are taken as mutually exclusive. Faith is what you need when you don’t know. So when you know you won’t need faith. However, what is it that you come to know? In fact, you come to really, really know that you don’t know ~ So faith is IT.
Right now you think that you think that you don’t know, but a big part of you thinks that you are really clever as clever and God or mummy or whoever just hasn't realised yet just how clever you are. The well of self-conceit is very deep.
How are we to deal with this deep well? There are many spiritual practices that purport to tell us how to fill in the well and concrete over the top. People join and start digging. After a while of shovelling earth into the pit they stop and have a look and it looks as big as ever. Then the instructor says, “Well, it takes a long time.” In fact, a few myriad kalpas, so keep digging. Right? Wrong. The pit has no bottom.
Well, it is certainly true that those practices will give you something - many things in fact - self discipline, patience, stress-relief, and so on, just as shovelling into a bottomless pit will strengthen your muscles and, maybe, teach you some patience - and those things are all certainly worth having. After a while most people who go on practising are doing so for those benefits primarily, but something is still missing. Filling in the well can come to be a rather fixed focus and in becoming attached to one’s practice one runs the risk of becoming intolerant, and rather narrow.
Getting Too Square
Buddhism began in the hippy period - it was a happy part of flower power - but now that it is putting down roots, it already has the reputation of being puritanical. Buddhists are those people who won’t let you have any fun any more. It’s no longer a happening - it risks becoming squarer than square.
Is there another way? Yes. The puritan streak is a function of believing that one can do God’s job oneself. At the end of that road, God has been forgotten altogether, and, unfortunately, the world is no more spiritual than before. That is not what Buddha taught. In Buddhism we don’t say God, we say Dharma and the Dharmaskaya, we say the Buddha Tao, the Unborn, Amaravati, there are any number of names for the Nameless. It is not naming it that matters, it is having faith in it.
Clinging is Anxiety
The Buddhist texts talk a lot about giving up clinging. Clinging is the opposite of faith, which is anxiety. It is like being in the swimming pool and being unwilling to let go of the rail on the side. In order to float one has to relax. The puritan impulse is really a clinging to false certainty. One becomes overly convinced that one is on the right track. This was the condition of Shakyamuni during his period of asceticism. Deep down he thought he knew better than his parents, his teachers, his companions, everybody. Result - disaster. The person of wise faith knows that they do not know where the road is taking them. They know something is happning and they are willing, that's all. With willingness, one can play one's part. Then things happen. But opne can never pre-determine the outcome - there are too many variables. Nonetheless, as all the ancient texts say, there are bigger forces at work and one can trust them. They are reliable.
In awakening, faith is not replaced by wisdom, wisdom is faith. Faith is not replaced by knowledge - the knowledge that one gains is knowledge of the immensity of one’s ignorance. That is what truly boggles the mind and allows faith to find its proper place. When one has been completely boggled in this way, there is no need to fill in the well. Throw down the shovel. Or use it as a dancing partner. Be like the characters in the Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra who, when they hear the Dharma, are so ecstatic they dance on tip toe. That’s faith. That is also dhyana, samadhi, and liberation.
Go pick flowers, then visit each other's wells and decorate them, and laugh and laugh. Then the gods will give you wings.
[Thanks for the picture, Carol]
Thank you Dharmavidya! I have enjoyed this reading a lot…It reminds me of the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible. Mara tempting us to get to the tree of wisdom and transgress the rules by eating the forbidden fruit: trying to be as God , trying to be perfect. It is curious the fact that Adam comes from a Hebrew name which means “human” and Eve is not either a person name , originally means “life”
In trying to do so they transgress the rules of humans and Paradise becomes life/dukkha . It suggests me the same for me: that is, in trying to become perfect, Dharmas become dukkha. Trying to gain the perfection in other way is a kind of break from the Spirit, negating our deepest nature or condition
We are human beings encountering life (Adam and Eve) and it seems that our first moment of suffering starts from our trying to go beyond humanity and be perfect in some way or another. I think if I could surrender to my humanity, I could surrender to God or the Buddhas and I would find Dharma instead dukkha, but, I think It is also in our human condition, trying to escape from this reality and look for some perfect state, in fact I do it every day in different ways.., so I find dukkha… That is why it is so important for me to practice, it makes me remember what I am forgetting once and again, and it also helps me to be alive.
I don’t think that finding dukkha once and again is a “mistake of Matrix”. I think that maybe we have some confusion about what perfection consists of. We are Adam and Eve, that is, humans encountering life. This is our only way, though this is also what I am always forgetting
Thank you Nati. Very interesting observation about Adam and Eve. Yes, we are always forgetting - but forgetting is also important. When we forget, then things are going on in the unconscious.