Chapter 10 -
Prayer, Meditation and Religious Practices
Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
Confidence and Devotion
Right understanding points the way to
confidence; confidence paves the way to wisdom.
in the theistic sense is not found in Buddhism because of its emphasis on
understanding. Theistic faith is a drug for the emotional mind and demands
belief in things which cannot be known. Knowledge destroys faith and faith
destroys itself when a mysterious belief is examined under the daylight of
reason. Confidence cannot be obtained by faith since it places less
emphasis on reason, but only by understanding.
Referring to the
unintelligible and 'blind' nature of faith, Voltaire said, 'Faith
is to believe in something which your reason tells you cannot be true; for
if your reason approved of it, there could be no question of blind faith.'
Confidence, however, is
not the same as faith. For confidence is not a mental acceptance of that
which cannot be known. Confidence is an assured expectation, not of an
unknown beyond, but of what can be tested as experienced and understood
personally. Confidence is like the understanding that a student has in his
teacher who explains in the class-room the inverse square law of
gravitation as stated by Newton. He should not adopt an unquestioning
belief of his teacher and his textbook. He studies the fact, examines the
scientific arguments, and makes an assessment of the reliability of the
information. If he has doubts, he should reserve his judgment until such
time as when he is able to investigate the accuracy of the information for
himself. To a Buddhist, confidence is a product of reason, knowledge and
experience. When it is developed, confidence can never be blind faith.
Confidence becomes a power of the mind.
In his book, What The
Buddha Taught Walpola Rahula says:
'The question of belief
arises when there is no seeing -- seeing in every sense of the word. The
moment you see, the question of belief disappears. If I tell you that I
have a gem hidden in the folded palm of my hand, the question of belief
arises because you do not see it yourself. But if I unclench my fist and
show you the gem, then you see it for yourself, and the question of belief
does not arise. So the phrase in ancient Buddhist texts reads:' Realizing,
as one sees a gem(or a myrobalan fruit) in the palm'.'
Page Contents Next
Study and Practice Group, http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/
Layout: Chan Duc - Nguyen Thao
Update : 01-11-2002