This Monday night, Marie will facilitate. She shares:
Last Monday, we explored the topic "Faith in our Buddhist practice". This week, we will build on this theme and ask, at a practical level, what do we do in our practice that generates faith?
Let's start off by defining faith. In the Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh writes that:
"Faith is the confidence we receive when we put into practice a teaching that helps us to overcome difficulties and obtain some transformation.
It is like the confidence a farmer has in his way of growing crops... Faith does not mean accepting theory that we have not personally verified. The Buddha encouraged us to see for ourselves. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha) is not blind faith; it is the fruit of our practice.
In Buddhism, our faith is concrete, not blind, not a leap. It is formed by our own insight and experience. When we take refuge in the Buddha, we express trust in our capacity to walk in the direction of beauty, truth and deep understanding, based on our experience of the efficacy of the practice.
When we take refuge in the Dharma, we enter the path of transformation, the path to end suffering.
When we take refuge in the Sangha, we focus our energies on building a community that dwells in mindfulness, harmony and peace.
When we touch these Three Jewels directly and experience their capacity to bring about transformation and peace, our faith is strengthened even further...
During the Buddha's last months, he always taught, "Take refuge in yourselves, not in anything else. In you are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Don't look for things that are far away. Everything is in your own heart. Be an island unto your self."
To me, it seems like a mutually reinforcing cycle; as one practices in ways that really make a difference in one's life, one generates more confidence, more faith, and then one wants to practice more deeply, and so on...
What are the practices that make a difference in your life? Specifically, what do you do, how do you do it, and what impact does it have on your life?
On Monday night, we will water the wholesome seeds of our practice. By reflecting on what we are doing (as opposed to berating ourselves for what we're not doing), we can strengthen our practice and our faith.
I hope you will join us.