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The place of faith
May 16th, 2018 (May 18th, 2018)
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illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

The place of faith

Faith in Buddhism is often discerned from "blind faith"; it's usually described as "more like a form of trust. "

You can —and are even encouraged to— test the teachings; you shouldn't accept them based on the fallacy of authority (i.e. based on who said this-or-that), nor on the fallacy of popularity (i.e. based on how many believe this-or-that)… so the "faith" is based on a projection "it worked so far, so let's trust that it might be helpful again (in the situation at hand)."

And mindfulness is supposed to be the protector against blind faith: based on past experience, you trust that the Dharma will be useful… yet you keep monitoring the situation, you don't blind yourself vis-à-vis the consequences of what you do (should the Dharma not apply, at least not the Dharma-that-you-understood-so-far ;-) ).


There's one particular situation though, when faith plays a major role in the practice: "not having a (personal) agenda".

We cultivate relinquishing biases, personal preferences, selfish tendencies… And sometimes, we push far enough to seek the relinquishment of "personal agendas", the relinquishment of "goals". We attempt not to cling to the outcomes (expected or hoped for) of our best (unselfish) efforts.

At that point, we see that agendas and goals (i.e. a specific type of views) are a primary source of conflictual relationship with reality, a root-cause of "fighting for what we want" as opposed to "experiencing peace".


But how do you avoid creating a goal of "not to have goals"?

Faith!

You simply apply the teachings, the practice of relinquishing stuff. You don't aim for "not to have goals". You just relinquish goals as they appear; you don't relinquish them for something; nor do you relinquish them not to have them; perpetual relinquishment is just a practice you've learnt to "trust", to have "faith" into… a practice which so far has yielded wholesome results and therefore is worth trying ;-)

By relinquishing thus, you embody your wholesome karma leading you towards awakening, without even having to "aim" for awakening: nirvāṇa is unconditioned, yet the attainment of nirvāṇa is the result of causes and conditions… When you embody said causes, you don't need (on top) to "aim for" nirvāṇa, you don't need extra intentionality to get there. That's why efforts and endurance are praised by the Buddha, in relation to the causes and the "factors" of awakening (not in relation to nirvāṇa itself).

Hence you arrive at a situation where, with no personal agenda, you do what's called for by the situation at hand (which will notably take into account that all sentient beings seek to avoid suffering… that we're all connected… that phenomena arise and cease based on supportive conditions arising and ceasing…). You do so with application, wisdom, 'right effort' and 'right intention', and yet without selfish nor biased agenda. You do so without a goal, and even without the goal of not having goals.



But this goal of "not having goals" may regularly pop back in our heads, so what do we do?

We just apply to this goal what we do to other goals! We relinquish it, we let it go: we refocus on the situation at hand and what it calls for, and give no weight (no lust, no aversion; no chase, no denial) to the 'goal' we just relinquished… we 'just' focus on something else, more constructive.

Refocusing 'at will' is why meditation is part of the path: meditation is a training in vigilance and in pliancy, so we can detect quickly whenever we drift towards unwholesome thoughts (and words and acts), and so we can refocus the mind easily and quickly on more wholesome conducts.

"Not having goal" doesn't need to be a goal… no more than nirvāṇa and peace need to be the direct object of efforts: "not having goals" is a consequence… a consequence of focusing on what matters, what's beyond our little selves and selfish agendas; just like the attainment of nirvāṇa (or of peace) is a consequence, of focusing on appropriate engagement with reality as it is (or of renouncing fights, in particular fights in the name of peace!).

#Buddhism #Dharma
image: gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm