Faith, an essential ingredient in our spiritual journey, is the first of the five spiritual faculties the Buddha taught as necessary for awakening. Faith is first because it is the ground on which awakening unfolds. When we have faith in the practice, we are willing to put energy and effort into it. Our determined effort to be present leads to deepening mindfulness. Mindfulness leads to concentration. And when the mind is concentrated, focused and clear, wisdom and compassion, necessary ingredients of awakening, arise.
The Pali word saddha, which we translate as “faith,” is a verb meaning “to place the heart upon.” It signifies the work of an open heart. This does not mean believing that things will always work out as we wish, or an unquestioning devoted belief in doctrine or a teacher that overrides or ignores our own experience. Rather, faith is a deep inner connecting to the myriad possibilities of being alive that assures us we can meet life openheartedly. We trust our own deep awareness of the amazing potential in the heart-mind qualities of generosity, wisdom and love imbedded in the inexorable changing and unfolding of life. We might be inspired by our teachers or words we read, but it is the practice itself that deepens our willingness to carry on, establishing trust in our capacity and giving us the courage and faith to meet every moment with wise loving attention, to be awake to our life.
What have you learned from your practice that you can trust to lead you onward? Got faith?