Faith, Trust, Confidence

The Pali word for faith is Saddha and is also translated as trust or confidence. It is one of the five powers in Buddhism, along with energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. When you practice mindfulness, you are developing all of these powers. These are qualities everyone has, but they become powers when they are directed towards cultivating awareness. Their power can override their opposites: doubt and worry, laziness, forgetfulness, a scattered mind, and confusion.

When Nagasena the sage was asked what the mark of faith was, he replied, “It makes one serene and it leaps forward.” When it is present, the 5 great fears of humans are eased: the fear of the loss of life, the fear of the loss of livelihood, the fear of the loss of reputation, the fear of public speaking or public humiliation, and the fear of illness. These fears which everyone experiences as regular visitors can’t be in your heart at the same time as faith.

Faith comes with the sense of, “Everything will be all right,” or “I can do this,” or “Good will come from this,” and it delights the heart. Early in my practice I told my teacher that I was worried about something and she said, “Worry is an unwholesome mindstate.” It was a revelation for me. Previously I had thought I needed to worry and that it was helping me. And it was a relief to know I could rely on a different internal force, one that is more reliable, one that is more powerful; I could rely on a heart that is serene and that leaps forward.

As you practice meditation faith grows. You see that the practice brings us benefit, doesn’t cause harm, and is trustworthy. Your practice becomes a refuge for you, something that you can rely on and trust. You can develop this quality for yourself and have confidence in your ability to overcome inevitable obstacles on your path.

May you learn to recognize and appreciate this quality in your own experience. Bringing attention to it helps it grow so that it becomes a power – a power to support you and inspire those you meet.

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