As a Buddhist, it is good to have the occasional doubt. I am referring to questions in our mind that says,
” Are you sure that is Buddhism?,”
” The Buddha taught that?”
“How is that going to solve my problem?”
Having such thoughts are healthy because it shows that we have not turned into mindless followers.
Such thought only become terminal when we are overly cynical. If we are fixated with our own views, then we close the door to other possibilities in life.
Doubt in the Triple Gems is the worst. This is because the Triple Gems are the three cornerstone of Buddhism. The Triple Gems are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
To overcome such doubt we need to have good understanding of the Triple Gems and why we are taking refuge in them.
Buddha is not God.
This statement has many significances to me. Fundamentally, it means that I should not pray to the “Imagery of Buddha” or an “Imaginary Buddha” for boons or Favor.
Imagery of Buddha means statues and pictures,etc. Buddhism has its fair share of miraculous crying statue, walking statue, talking statue etc. Devotees flock to these “Holy statue” to pray for various wishes. If you ask a monk or elder who possess right understanding, they will advice you not to take these statues seriously. As the saying goes
“Attachment to form, is attachment to Mara.”
Imaginary Buddha means a Buddha in our mind. Instead of praying to a statue, we imagine that we can communicate with a celestial / divine Buddha. Similar to some world religion, we chant some sutra or sing some praise and then we pray to our Imaginary Buddha.
It is interesting to note that the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha; actually discoirage these practices.
One advantage of learning not to pray for things, is that we learn contentment. Be it material gains, health,marriages or lifespan etc, we learn to live contentedly with our present situations.
Buddhism is really for people who are not so dependent on divinities to (1) provide solace in life or (2) provide an answer to life.
Instead of praying for a desired result, Buddha taught us Karma so that we learn how to deal with challenges and blessings in life, positively.
When we are independent from divinity, we will rely on ourselves. We become our “own God” We take charge of our life and be responsible for ourselves. We live positively and develop good qualities based on Buddha’s teachings.
Here comes the twist or irony that many people do not know.
When we learn karma and take charge of our life, practice good positive mental habits, our mind become “Bright” (borrowing a word that my teacher used) We have self confidence and positiveness in our mind.
When that happens, the supernatural beings of a higher class, will be attracted to us. Without us having to pray to them, they will support us and be willing to “come to” us.
Therefore it is important for a Buddhist to observe the precepts. The Buddhist precepts will guide our actions. Over a period of time, our habitual good actions will influence our mind positively (It becomes bright)
It is important for us to also practice mind training. Meditation or chanting helps to still our messy mind. This strengthen our mind and makes it bright too.
So if we take refuge in Buddha correctly, we are learning to depend on ourselves.
We learn to become Buddha.
At this level doubt in Buddha is doubt about ourselves.
May all be well and happy.