Continuing with Kamala’s talk, “The Five Spiritual Faculties’ relationship to Equanimity“
Kamala gives a brief overview of the five faculties, and then delves into each in more detail. Today, we’ll look at the overview and touch into the first – in Pali, it’s called saddha, which is often translated as faith.
Kamala’s talk describes how the five faculties have a natural flow from one to the next.
We start with some inkling of faith – in the teachers, in the teachings, in ourselves. That brings about some energy to taking the steps in the practice. This energy or effort is a relaxed yet sustainable effort. Kamala calls it a “gentle persevering effort” – it’s not striving with harshness, but a gentle willingness to keep going on the path, step by step. From this sustained effort, mindful awareness can arise – paying attention to changing experiences with continuity. This brings about a stability of mind, a type of concentration, where the mind is unified and steadied. Kamala likens this mind to a laser beam – it can light up each moment’s experience, one moment after the other, which allows us develop wisdom to see deeply into the nature of reality.
The flow continues in ever-deepening spirals – “The cycle deepens and continues – faith again arises – deeper faith, confidence. This kindles the energy to do what needs to be done. That kindles mindful awareness, so that it becomes very sustainable. That kindles concentration. That kindles wisdom – the insights that open to experiencing life in a profound way.”
This cycle starts with faith.
Sharon Salzberg writes,
In Pali, the language of the original Buddhist texts, the word usually translated as faith, confidence, or trust is saddha. Saddha literally means “to place the heart upon.” To have faith is to offer one’s heart or give over one’s heart. In Pali, faith is a verb, an action, as it is also in Latin and Hebrew. Faith is not a singular state that we either have or don’t have, but is something that we do. We “faithe.” Saddha is the willingness to take the next step, to see the unknown as an adventure.~ Sharon Salzberg, excerpt from Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, quoted in Tricycle article, “Reclaiming Faith“
Kamala talks about different kinds of faith. She describes “blind faith” as that we may have been born into and we follow along with what others do without checking it out for ourselves. Sharon says, “Blind faith, unlike bright faith, continues to depend on an external source for validation, not on developing our own experience.”
The next kind of faith Kamala mentions is “bright faith.” She says,
When we’re inspired by a teaching, a person who personifies wisdom and compassion. We say, “if that person can do it, then I can do it too.” … We see that there are qualities in that person that we may be able to establish in ourselves.
As Sharon Salzberg says in another article, “As important and wonderful a launch this is for a journey of faith, it’s still just a beginning.” From there, we put into practice what we learn to see how it makes a difference in our lives. This leads to “verified faith,” where we know what’s true from our own experience. This can further develop into an unshakable confidence.
Guided meditation: Sangha Live has a recording where Shaila Catherine led a guided meditation, about 30 minutes, followed by a talk on faith, and a Q&A session. You can watch the video or listen to an audio version:
Reflection: What brought you to the practice? How have you verified things for yourself? How does faith support you when doubt arises?
Feel free to share your reflections or comments below, or by email.
With warm wishes,