Having faith in the teachings of the Buddha is essential in the path of Buddhism, and utilising Buddhist psychology is crucial to achieving spiritual growth. Without faith, our minds become closed, and we are unable to cultivate the essential factors that lead to spiritual growth and freedom.
In times of difficulty, having faith can dispel doubts and motivate us to seek out solutions. This faith should not be blind or based solely on the teachings of the Buddha but must be developed through personal investigation and practice. The Buddha himself advised his followers to test his teachings through direct experience, rather than relying solely on blind faith or commandments.
Buddhist psychology plays a critical role in this process. Through an understanding of the workings of the mind and the nature of suffering, practitioners can develop insight and wisdom, which is essential for spiritual growth. By examining our own minds, we can develop a deeper understanding of the nature of reality and the causes of suffering, leading to greater clarity and freedom.
To have trust in the dharma, we must cultivate faith through reasoning and direct intuition. This involves developing a deep understanding of the teachings and applying them in our daily lives, which can lead to personal transformation and spiritual growth. Ultimately, Buddhist psychology aims to help us develop the wisdom and insight needed to achieve liberation from suffering and attain enlightenment.
These are the three faiths of the Buddha:
1. Informed Faith
After researching and learning the Dharma, you recognise its logic, you feel its value and strength. By using reasoning to see how the Dharma makes sense, you can be sure that the meaning is true. It’s not about emotion or surrendering reason —it’s about using it skilfully, your mind becomes clear; you admire the Dharma, which is informed faith.
2. Yearning Faith
It is a passion. It isn’t devotion.
You must be very certain that you want something. Bodhicitta is the driving force behind this enthusiasm for the Mahayana. At the same time, for the Hinayana (Theravada) it is similar to a pull but towards the prospect of only your own relief from suffering. Imagine being in the desert and noticing birds circling in the distance. You use logic to infer that there must be water nearby. You are thirsty and long for a drink. You begin to travel the path to the water because you desire it and you are fully confident in your choice.
3. Full Conviction
As you walk the path, you get closer, it’s not just signs; you now see the water for yourself and know the suffering of your thirst will be quenched. That path is the Dharma and the water is liberation from all suffering.