Faith: Saddha

Faith: Saddha

1. Saddha (Faith)

If you believe what is logical you will develop saddha (faith). It has two characteristics, belief and clarity of mind.

a. Belief

Wrong belief rejects the truth of kamma and its results, the truth of existence of the past and the future lives; the Omniscience of the Buddha, a human personage, who knows all these truths, his teachings, the Dhamma and his disciples, the Sangha. Such rejections are total disbelief which is different from vicikiccha, the skeptical doubt with partial acceptance. Here faith (saddha) means belief in kamma and its result. Saddha is also called “Saddhadhimokkha” (decision based on full faith in things if real nature) it is also a wholesome mental factor (kusala cetasika).

b. Clarity of Mind

The second characteristics of saddha is clarity of mind. While giving alms or observing precepts, or meditating, one’s mind becomes filled with faith and clear. It’s just as a ruby of the Universal Monarch, when put in a muddy water, will cause the impurities and sediments to sink and make the water to become crystal clear, so also saddha will eliminate all doubts, skepticism, and other mental defilements and purity the mind. Such is the skeptical doubt with partial acceptance. Even children and some pet animal, even though they cannot understand the first characteristics of saddha, will perform good deeds in emulation of their elders and teachers. So they will pay homage to the Ti-Ratana (Three Jewels), offer alms, and do service to others. While doing such good deeds they enjoy the fruits of the second characteristics, clarity of mind. Even unbelievers sometimes do acts of generosity such as donations to social services, like hospitals, orphanage, homes for the aged, etc. and enjoy clarity of mind. 

Note:Please study about true saddha in detail in the chapter on Carita (mature or Habitual conduct) where saddhacarita is further explained.   

False Faith

True faith consists of purity of mind and belief in the truth of Dhamma. But there is also false belief in the world. For example some unscrupulous person may proclaim that a Buddha statue or a pagoda is emanating radiance in order to lure people to give donations. People who are made to believe in bogus scared relics, heretics who believe in their erroneous doctrines, etc. do not have true faith. They are just misled due to their ignorance, stupidity, naivety or simplicity, and this is to be categorized as moha (delusion), which is an akusala cetaiksa (unwholesome mental factor) People who have faith in good orators, or in monks and hermits with elegant appearance and pleasant voices who can dispense good magic, charms, or medicines, are not true believers. This is moha based on lust and intimacy. Such false faiths are classified in the Pali texts as muddhappasanna (deluded devotion).

Note:    Today, the world is abound with liars and swindlers. In some religions new and singular doctrines are affluent; in Buddhism also some impersonators invent novel doctrines, new modes of meditation and mystic medicine to trick ignorant devotees and naïve persons. When people give alms and money to such liars, such cheats, their acts stem from lust and delusion, not genuine faith. Because wise persons do not care to go against these tricksters, they become more and more popular day by day. “Yo balavatiya saddhaya samannagato avisaDanano, so muddhappasanno hoti na avecca pasanno; tathahi avatthusemim pasidati, seyyathapi titthiya” ~ Ekanipata Anguttara Tika Nowadays, women often take the leading role in matter relating to charity and religious rituals, without pondering whether this be appropriate or not. One must not believe blindly. Careful reasoning should precede faith and devotion. So everyone should endeavor to better their knowledge in religious affairs, including female devotees.

Confusion between Faith and Love

Today even virtuous persons confuse faith with love or affection. Many devotee will revere Dhamma teachers with pleasant voice and personalities who give good instructions. If they respect and honor them only for their good ethical conduct, it is saddha (faith). But if they become attached to such teachers like their own relatives it is mixture of faith and love. In Gotama Buddha’s time, disciples such as Venerable Vakkali and Minister Channa not only revered the Buddha but also loved him personally. So although faith was present in their hearts, there also was samyojana (attachment) which is unwholesome. Some people accept doctrines and instructions through personal attachment; such attachments sometimes can promote knowledge and wisdom and enhance fulfillment of parami perfections. If wholesome mental factors are cultivated on account of personal attachments, then it is beneficial. In the Patthana Pali it is said, “Akusalo dhamma kusalassa dhammassa upanissaya paccayena paccayo – unwholesome mental factors can support the formation of wholesome mental factors.” So even small unwholesome mental attachments can lead to good states of mind. In this view, teachers and preachers should teach the Dhamma with sincerity and goodwill to promote such developments. And disciples and devotees, on their part, should properly practise what is taught, so as to get beneficial results.