In the previous post, we discussed faith and its importance. The opposite of faith is doubt. It not only hampers our progress but can make us give up our quest for Ultimate Happiness (aka Enlightenment) completely. Faith and doubts are mental positionings. Therefore, it is within our capability to manage them carefully. In fact, they are important factors that either bring success or cause failure in all endeavors in life, not just Buddhism.
Since faith brings us success, doubt will cause failures.
Doubt is a wavering of our convictions that
- Enlightenment is the only goal worth pursuing in life.
- Enlightened is attainable
- The method for enlightenment works
- Enlightenment exists.
When we doubt the Triple Gems, we lose our zeal to practice. Unfortunately, doubt can occur at any time, regardless of how long we had been Buddhist. Especially for people without deep faith (conviction).
When we have any doubts, it is best to address them immediately. One of the best ways to deal with doubts is to clarify them with our Buddhist friends and teachers. Especially long-time practitioners.
There are various causes of doubts.
When our mundane desires over power our rationale
This is a pretty common reason for falling off the Bodhi path. For example, a failed businessman converted to another religion because he felt that his practice did not help protect his business. In another case, a lady abandoned her Buddhist practice after falling ill. Some blame Buddhism for family issues like their children turning rebellious or doing badly in school. In short, they blame all their mundane problems on Buddhism.
If we examine the root cause of these examples, we can easily recognize that craving for mundane goals took them away from the Dharma path. In other words, they prioritise mundane gains over enlightenment.
Being serious practitioners, we should know that Buddhism teaches us to prioritise letting go of our mundane stuff. This is because all material gains are temporal and will be lost upon death. Instead, we should focus on gaining enlightenment (Ultimate Happiness).
When we understand this, we won’t be easily swayed by challenges in life or be tempted by material goals. This is because we obtain happiness from our Dharma practice. We prioritise enlightenment over temporal worldly gains.
That doesn’t mean we become negligent of our businesses and family. Buddha had many successful lay disciples who are billionaires or Kings. They can be good role models for lay Buddhists. Lay disciples such as King Bimbisara or Anathapindika did not enjoy a challenge-free life. They also met with obstacles and adversities. However, they faced their adversities with calmness and poise. Their faith in Dharma was never shaken throughout their ordeal.
Ultimately, they won something more precious and that is enlightenment.
May all be well and happy.