NOTE: Different people will have different experience and their faith in Buddhism may develop differently. Below are just my personal journey that is full of stumbles and falls.
To be a Buddhist, it is important to have
- Faith to sustain our practice,
- make offerings to sustain the Triple Gems
- practice the Dharma to sustain our spiritual development.
The emphasis on Practicing the Dharma to gain Enlightenment, sets Buddhism apart from many religions. The Buddha is not just an invisible force or a magic statue granting us eternal happiness.
If it is that “simple”, I would not have become a Buddhist. This is because such a belief would defy my common logic and be contrary to daily experience in life.
The Buddha informed us that:
- we can all experience enlightenment as long as we work on it.
- this life or other alternate existence (6 realms of existence) is imperfect. So stop getting too engrossed with them.
- the conditions and factors for enlightenment are all present in our current precious human existence and we just need the correct method to become enlightened.
These are the logical messages that appealed to me and help build the foundation of my faith in Buddhism.
It is a simple and honest message that we are responsible for our own happiness. We need to work on it ourselves.
Faith in Triple Gem
When I started learning Buddhism, my faith is aroused by the Dharma (teachings of the Buddha) Especially the four noble truths, noble eightfold path and the five precepts. From a logical analysis, I think such Dharma would make this world a better place.
When we try meditations, contemplations and studying the various Buddhist sutra, we start to develop wisdom that correlate to our daily experience.
For example, when we try to look at the world from a Buddhist perspective, we start to experience a decline in our craving and aversion. That leads to a direct experience of a kind of peaceful happiness. This type of happiness is unique and immediately heals any emotional pain.
We catch glimpses of an alternate type of happiness that transcend worldly habit. For example, we start to appreciate happiness are not born from possessing more stuff but born from contentment. Happiness that are not born from successful elimination of what we detest but born from compassionate acceptance.
To me, that is the spirit of Ehi Passikko (roughly translated as: come and experience for yourselves) Since we can experience the transformation ourselves, we develop faith in the Dharma. (IT WORKS!)
We learned that Enlightenment is ultimately the complete absence of craving , aversion and ignorance. Although we are a long way from that level of perfection, we gain faith that the promised happiness in Nirvana exist. We develop faith that the celestial beings are also keen to learn this type of happiness from Buddha. Thus my Faith in Nirvana
It follows that the idea of a fully enlightened one (Buddha) is believable. This is because such wonderful and precise teachings that can result in an immediate experience of happiness was first taught by Buddha. That is why when we understand the Dharma, we see the Buddha. Thus I developed Faith in Buddha.
Therefore it isn’t hard to believe that many determined and diligent men / women had successfully attained enlightenment by following the Buddha’s teaching. Such enlightened disciples are the Sangha. That is my faith in the Sangha, a faith that enlightenment is ultimately possible for everybody.
Faith in the concept of karma and rebirth.
We are all afraid of the unknown. The ultimate fate of death looms upon everyone. The Buddha taught that if we do good (action, speech and thought), we will have good results.
Including rebirth into a good next life.
In short, passage to heaven or a desirable next life is gained by being a good person in our current one. Even if we do not achieve enlightenment in our current existence, our effort will not be in vain because it will help us achieve a favourable rebirth. (afterlife)
If we have strong faith in the Triple Gems, we can have faith in the concept of karma and rebirth.
Furthermore, such a faith is important because it helps me live a life that is not handicapped by an uncontrollable fear of death. Such a faith, allow us to have hope and courage to live our present life to the fullest.
It motivate us to live life as a good person and therefore contribute positively towards a better world.
To be, its an empowering message: “Why worry, just be good”
Faith in ourselves.
Finally, I think to be a good buddhist, we need to have Faith in ourselves. We need to believe that we can be enlightened. No matter how bad we were previously, as long as we start working on ourselves, that inner peace and happiness is attainable, that ultimate happiness named Nirvana is attainable.