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7 points to gauge your spiritual progress – part 1 of 7

For serious Buddhist, we engage in spiritual practice to gain enlightenment or become awaken.

Like the modern us, we are used to certifications and examinations. Reviews and performance appraisal. So how do we know if we have made any progress in our Buddhist practice?

The following is inspired by the ‘7 treasures of a Buddha cultivator’ 修佛者七宝

1. Unwavering faith

It sounds a bit religious but faith in Buddhism is unlike faith in a God. The faith in Buddhism is born out of logical rational thinking and wisdom. In Buddhist practice, we need to have faith that our effort will bring positive results. For example, faith in karma will result in a greater good for oneself and society. Faith in the doctrine of non self will produce more selfless individuals. The list goes on and on…..

After we analyse the dharma and logically know it’s benefits, our faith which is based on logical thinking will arise.

However, that is insufficient because since ancient time, mankind is trapped by the delusion of self awareness. What is the purpose of life? Who created life? Such are just some of the examples. Questions that requires answer that are beyond rational thinking.

Therefore, we need to practice Buddhism. That means, we observe precepts and train our mind. With the ultimate aim of seeing the Truth. Just like Buddha.

This leads to a necessity for faith in our practice, be it meditation or chanting or observance of precepts.

Faith in practice grow when we gradually experience the desired result of the practice. Faith is one of the result.

At the beginning stage, one may experience peace and happiness occurring at home or at work. When we practice, we have more patience, we forgive easily, family members and friends benefited from associating with us. Over time, situations in family and at work becomes better.

Such experience will warm our faith. We witness the positive results of our practice in the secular world and in mundane situations.

As we practiced, our wisdom will mature. Once we start to deeply realise the Truth in the Buddha dharma, there will be no more rooms for doubt. That result in an unwavering faith.

The tricky part is to look deeply within ourselves, to examine if there are still lingering doubt. As we progress, doubt of various levels will occurr in our mind. It is normal.

But as we practice and see more of the Truth, those doubts will be solved.

Therefore, one way of measuring our progress in Buddhist practice is to honestly examine the doubt within us. To gauge The level of faith in us.

Have fun in this self examination. MAY ALL BE WELL AND HAPPY.

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My Buddhist name is Ratna Jamyang Puntsog. I first encountered Buddhism in this life when I was 12. Formally took ceremonial refuge in the triple gem when I was 19. I believe the different spiritual methods were taught by Buddha to suit various beings who each have their own unique characteristic. The various sects and practices that arose are just a naming convention invented by disciples out of communication necessity. Had read and studied different forms of Buddhism. Volunteered in Buddhist organization. Until it last, I hope to share my views on Buddhism and find like minded practitioners around the world. May we practice Buddha's instruction together and connect through cyber space!

9 comments on “7 points to gauge your spiritual progress – part 1 of 7

  1. Hey nice post. I would say that “faith” is a terrible word to use here as you said is far too Christian. It would be much better to use “confidence”. The long term practice of the Buddha dharma and the results we see, understand, and realize give us confidence or an almost scientific certainty that the methods work. The Buddha said don’t believe me just because I am the Buddha. Try and see for yourself. This is not faith it is tested and proven confidence.

    Just my thoughts

    QP

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    • Hey thanks for sharing your thoughts. Confidence is a good thing to have. For me, there were times where faith is important.

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      • Ok but I mean in your post that you could substitute confidence for faith and still retain if not strengthen your position. And then you sound less Christian.

        QP

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      • Faith is defined as “2.
        strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.” When you have faith in the Buddha dharma you might be believing in something that is not there. But when you have confidence “the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.” You have a much clearer picture of how things are. Buddhism is about clarity and truth, think dharmakaya here.

        QP

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      • I used the word faith because there are certain things that requires belief base on conviction for some of us.. For example, rebirth, non self, different stages of arhanthood, the background and context of mangala sutta,ratatna suta, purelands, Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha teaching in heaven, hidden sacred text safekeep by supernatural beings? So in a way, I need to have faith in these stories, then have faith in the practice. Then as one practice, that faith changes to confidence. So I think faith still has a place in the practice. But we get to grow out of it when we realise the essence of Dharma as we practice.

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      • That’s a very interesting point. I do not use faith for things like rebirth, for me I put it into a Grey Zone. The Grey zone is neither here nor there, it can change and change back again. I appreciate now much better your idea of faith, for me it just leaves us in the same place as the Christians.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is an interesting discussion. Thank you for sharing. Really appreciate it.

        For the stuff that I have not realised or see yet, I use faith to believe in it.

        In the beginning, it is a KIV zone. Something that I put aside until I have more confidence to handle?

        Then as we practice, we become more confident. We start to take it out from the KIV and look at it a bit.

        Then we slowly understand the content as our wisdom strengthen.

        To store it in the KIV must mean that
        1. We believe it is dharma, otherwise I would just rubbished it.

        2. It is something that I need to deal with, in order to accomplish the task.

        The unique traits of Buddhism is that the truth in Dharma can be realised or attained in this very life. We do not need to die in order to see rebirth.

        So we have to approach the topic of rebirth in this life. It is part of our assignment or homework.

        The wonderful thing about dharma is that it leads to a letting go of an illusionary self. So while we talk about rebirth, the question is who is reborn. If we stick to an ego, then we denied the basic tenet of non self. If we stick to nihilistic denial, then we negate ownership of karma. The question is the big question of all time. Who am I ?

        Faith in Buddhist spiritual method leads to seeing the Truth. It does not allow any space to project a selfish ego. Without a selfish ego, we do not imagine our celestial Buddha to have that selfish traits of Samsara. Therefore true Buddhist are not capable of committing acts of evil in the name of the religion.

        I think the most important thing about Buddhism is that enlightenment is to be attained in this life. Not after death.

        Homework continues. Where is pureland?
        Who is Amitabha?
        What is the guru’s mind?

        Thanks for the fun.
        I like your sharing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes the discussion is gun and to learn something is real bonus. You ask some really good questions.

        As for rebirth our bodies are in a constant state of death and rebirth as our cells and bacteria are also subjects of impermanence.

        The pure land, where is it? Very good question, as I only understand this on an intellectual level it makes complete sense that the pure land is everywhere. If we want to see it as separate then we waste so much time and energy judging what is pure and great or not. But old habits die hard, that’s why we practice. The same goes for the gurus Mind. What is my mind, your mind and his mind? The idea of non-separation frees us from constantly having to distinguished what is what and where it is. It’s actually too easy, funny eh?
        Who is Amitaba? I think that everything we can dream up or imagine including Amitaba
        Or a new Porsche for example is a product of the richness of mind. Some things are just so fantastic just because they can be.

        Yes enlightenment should not just be attained in this life but in this present moment. Why wait? It is already here.

        Your thoughts?

        QP

        What is

        Like

      • Well said, well said. But not everyone likes to hear what is said. So we have to say what can be heard…..
        Slowly faith becomes confidence.

        Liked by 1 person

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