Saddha ( Faith ) is the fundamental step to become a Buddhist

By Venerable Sao. Pannyanada ( Mong Ton)
A Burmese Scholar Monk in Sri Lanka, 23 January 2001

      The term "Saddha" is generally translated into English as " faith’’. However it is generally believed that there is no place for faith in Buddhism. It has been argued that Buddhism is a non-theistic religion and therefore there is no saviour in whom one should have faith. In addition, it is pointed that Buddhism considers one to be one’s own master and therefore it is not faith that is important but effort. Yet it is clearly seen that in the early Buddhist scriptures themselves there are numerous references, which show that some kind of faith plays an important role in Buddhism. Taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha shows that there must have some form of faith in act of taking refuge. Correspondingly, numerous terms are used which convey some idea of faith. The best-known terms are Pasada and Saddha. And of these two, "Saddha" is often found in the Suttas.

      This term "Saddha" as it is used in the Suttas could mean faith, trust, belief or even confidence. However it is very clear that this term is never used in the Suttas to mean faith in the sense the term is used in other theistic religions. It is quite clear that in Buddhism there is no blind faith, meaning having faith by surrendering oneself to the power of a God or Saviour. This kind of faith is completely rejected and never even indirectly encouraged in Buddhism. This kind of faith is referred to as Amulika Saddha or groundless or rootless faith. It is emphatically stated that kind of faith should never be cultivated. The kind of faith encouraged in Buddhism is called Akaravati Saddha (reasoned-faith). This faith is described as being based on coming and seeing (ehipasiko)

      In Buddhism, faith is considered as an important factor. It is an initial step in one’s spiritual journey to his own liberation. This initial faith, called "Saddha", means a permanent acceptance of the Buddha as the competent Teacher, The Dhamma as the prefect teaching and the Sangha as the ideal living examples. But this initial stage is not totally blind faith in the Triple Gem. Because of this initial faith one does not surrender oneself to the Triple Gems. But one desires to conduct oneself to the Triple Gems.

      It is this initial faith, which at first merely is a willingness to find out the truth of what one believes, is really the starting point of the journey toward the realization of the truth. When properly directed, this initial faith helps one to develop wisdom and see the truth. Even if faith remains at this initial level, it might guide one to the realization of the noble truth.

      The story regarding the monk named Vakkaki clearly shows that the Buddha did not encourage his disciples to develop mere faith in him just because of some sort of attachment they developed towards him. Out of faith in the Buddha, Vakkali is said to have been attached to the physical form of the Buddha. Vakkali is said to be the first among monks those who had faith in the Buddha. But he is not highly praised for this. It is Ven. Sariputta, who was the chief among those who had wisdom, that came to be praised by the Buddha.

      In Ghatikara Sutta, there was a person called Ghatikara who had much faith in the Buddha. But it is clearly pointed out that this act of his faith in the Buddha did not enable him to reach the final goal, Nibbana. After death, Chatikara was born as Brahama. This shows that faith helps one to obtain a good destiny, but not final liberation.

      The Kitagiri Sutta is still more important in this context. This Sutta mentions seven stages of spiritual of attainments and among these are two closely connected to faith. Those who have reached the two states are called Saddhanusari (faith devotee) and Saddhavimuttam (Faith liberated). But none of these are said to be completely freed. Of these, the former is not liberated: for he has not cultivated wisdom at all and he, therefore, has much to accomplish through effort. The latter is somewhat better than the former: for some of his cankers are destroyed through wisdom. Yet he too is only partly liberated.

      Faith is compared to the seed in Buddhism. "Saddha" is an indispensable factor governing all spiritual growth; it is called the seed from which is born the tree that bears the fruit of deliverance. Five factors of spiritual powers and spiritual faculties; Saddha (faith), Viriya (energy), sati (mindfulness), Samadhi ( concentration), Panna ( intuitive wisdom), the primary factor is "Saddha". It, if accurately cultivated, conditions the development of the rest.

      Yet faith is very important in Buddhism: for it is almost an essential requirement for the average follower of Buddhism. This is seen from the Canki Sutta, which very clearly explains the initial role that plays in leading one along the spiritual path. Herein "Saddha" is mentioned as the initial factor that draws one close to the teacher and his Dhamma. This Sutta points out that if not for faith, the spiritual journey would not be possible sometimes.

      Accordingly, it is seen that while blind faith is totally rejected, reasoned faith is encouraged in the teachings of the Buddha. But faith is never considered as a means to salvation. However, it is said that faith could lead one to good destiny and it is accepted as a very helpful, initial factor that facilitates one’s spiritual journey till his ultimate freedom.

Happiness in Buddhism

By Venerable Chandhadika, Sri Lanka
A Burmese Scholar Monk in Sri Lanka, 24 January 2001


        Although men have their aims very differently in their ways of life, in general they have only one aim, which is happiness. You can see people around you. They are busy with their daily activities. They are struggling all the times for good and successful lives because they desire to be happy. In spite of their day-to-day struggle for establishing a happy, their happiness is still far away from them as well as from you as the world contains a lot of things you don’t like. It is unavoidable for you to face the unhappiness. However, according to the saying " when there is will, there is way" it is possible to find the way out of it. The sufficient attempt has to be made if you have a liking for a happy life.

         The ordinary individual seeks his happiness in material things such wealth, rank, wife, children, friends and the like which are subject to be changeable. When these things are lost, or when he becomes disappointed at them, the happiness he places in them will disappear as well. It is unquestionable to acknowledge that these material objects can render one’s happiness within the limitation of their impermanent nature. They are only temporary, not everlasting. They in due course lead to the state of unhappiness.

        In that case, how should we be of opinion towards this changing world? Sobbing is futile. That will make the situation change for the worse. Lets us try to have sufficient knowledge of understanding the world in its real nature by facing life with our head held high. Following the advice given by the Buddha to Nakulapita, was in his old age broken down and sick. When Nakulapita visited the Buddha, he was told by the latter "though sick of body, my mind shall be healthy. Thus should you train yourself."

         Happiness is the emotional state. It is not something determining our degree if happiness or unhappiness. Circumstances are capable of disturbing our peace of mind only as they are allowed to. Events and happenings are of the outside world. Only our reactions to them matter.

         The top secrecy of happiness and the life of success are within present actions, which are required to be done now, not pondering over the past and worrying about the future. There is no moment but now that is the best time we can control.

         This universal accuracy has been accepted not only by the Buddha but also by all the great philosophers of the world. They say that it is futile to live in memories of the past and in dreams of the future, neglecting the present moment and its opportunities. Times move on. Let us not stand idly by, and see our hopes, for success turn into memories of failure.

         It lies in our power to build today, something that will endure through many tomorrow, something more solid than castles in the air. The Buddha has shown us the way. The time is now and the choice is ours.

         Many people just worry by thinking about their future but if they have learned to adjust themselves according to the circumstances of their daily life, there is no reason for them to be worried. Whatever castles they may build in the air, whatever dreams they may have in their mind, they must always remember that they are living in this world of constant changes.

        In spite of the emphasis on suffering by His teaching, the Buddha dose not deny happiness in life. On the contrary He admits various kinds of happiness both material and spiritual, for laymen as well as for monks. In the Anguttara-nikaya, there is a list of happiness (sukha) such as the happiness of family life and the happiness of the life of recluse, the happiness of sense pleasures and the happiness of renunciation, the happiness of attachment and the happiness of detachment, physical happiness and mental happiness and the like.

        In His discourse on various types of happiness in relation to wealth, the Buddha gave four practical classifications of happiness as follows;

        Happiness in the possession of wealth through righteous and legitimate means;

        Happiness through the proper and correct usage of accumulated wealth;

        Happiness in being free from indebtedness to anyone;

        Happiness in the knowledge that no illicit or illegitimate means had been employed in the course of accumulating wealth and that no one had been harmed or injured in so doing.

        The Buddha says that happiness of renunciation is higher than that of the household life and it finally leads one to Supreme Bliss or Nibbana. The Buddha deals in detail about the material progress of householders, for it is on material development that their happiness depends on. Hence He says that the great misery a householder has to face is poverty. That is why he encourages householders to work hard and make a righteous accumulation of wealth. But all these kinds of happiness are subject to impermanence and all included in suffering.

        Therefore, this precious quality of happiness does not come without being developed and cultivated. There are certain outstanding techniques the heart and mind, which are crucial for happiness. They are confidence, charity, contentment, compassion, courage, calm and clarity.

         If these noble qualities are applied practically to our lives, happiness and peaceful mind will not lie far away from us. The cultivation of even some of these virtues will go a long way in making our lives happy, contented and cheerful.

         But be contented with one’s life, confidence is very essential in Buddhism and it also is the forerunner of all the other virtues. Without confidence and faith in oneself there is no possibility for one to achieve anything valuable in his life. In the highest sense of confidence denotes faith in moral and spiritual values and the ability and capacity to achieve ideals and goals that one aspires to.

        According to Buddhist philosophy, it is a purifying mental factor in the mind and has a deeper philosophical meaning than that of merely confidence. First of all, it is confidence born out of understanding or conviction of the Four Noble Truths. Secondly, it is feeling of reverence or admiration, which a follower accords to a personality, or a set of doctrines. Thirdly, it implies an earnest hope of execution and realizes ethical principles of developing one innate morality.

         This quality of confidence is described in the Buddhist doctrines as "Saddha" which the great philosopher Asanga has pointed out three aspects of meaning. In fact the three meanings given to this term contain the ingredients of happy living. The three meanings are;

         (1) Full and firm conviction that a thing is

         (2) serene joy at good qualities and

         (3) aspiration or wish to achieve an object in view

         Charity is also precious high caliber, which conduces to happiness, joy and contentment in our lives. When it is practiced, it gives the peace of mind not only to the giver but also liberal disposition to the receiver.

         Buddhism which pays emphasis on self-restraint and denies the idea of selfishness regards contentment as a happy life. A discontented person will never find contentment spending his time by running after wealth. Nothing is more miserable than a wealthy person who is discontented.

         A dissatisfied man will find dissatisfaction even in the midst of riches. No less miserable is the condition of a rich man who pines for riches after riches without any satisfaction even if he does neither want to use for himself nor for others.

        The more we seek our happiness by just only collecting material gains, the further we are far away from happiness. Real happiness does not lie in material things. We cannot find real happiness by seeking worldly materials that are in the limitation of their being subjected to the mobility. It is proved from our day-to-day experience. What belongs to us cannot give any grantee to us. Sooner or later, it will come to its nature. It is not quite possible to expect all things we wish to have in the world. Therefore, it is very important to bear in mind that we are not in a position to obtain everything we want.

        In order to gain happiness in our lives, we should follow the way expounded by the Lord Buddha.

         Compassion is a sterling quality that contributes in no mean measure to happiness. Buddhism teaches us not only to abstain from killing beings, but also to love and protect them. If every person in our society is benevolent and grateful or ready to help in a small way, and reciprocate the kind feelings shown to him, then, our society will be very pleasant to lives mutual love prevails, then, there will be no hostility whatsoever among us.

         Very often we insensitively and sometimes intentionally add to the anxiety and sufferings of others. If we do not wish to be harmed by others, we should avoid giving any harmful action to others. "Treat others in the same way as you like to be treated" is a secure law, advocated by the Buddha. The technique that we should adopt to achieve happiness must be harmless one. It is nonsense in experiencing happiness by creating pain to another living beings. The Buddha says " Blessed are those who earn their living without giving any harm to others".

        Wisdom and compassion are the two virtues by which can attain supremeness and by which everlasting peace and happiness on earth can prevail. "Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself".

         Audacity is also a vital aspect for the achievement of happiness and peace of mind. The Buddha’s Dhamma is a pragmatic teaching. The Buddha says that we must be spiritual warriors, so that we could wage war against the inveterate enemies of the mind - greed, hatred and ignorance. We must valiantly use the powerful weapons of dana-generosity, sila-virtue and bhavana-meditation, to conquer the enemies, which harass and torment us so frequently in our lives. Then only will we emerge triumphant and victorious.

         Composure or tranquility of mind is an indispensable factor for happiness. The mind of man in the modern world is in a state of confusion, anxiety and bewilderment as he is continuously and harshly attacked by sense motivation through the mass media.

        Peace of mind, contentment and happiness are rare commodities these days. On the other hand modern man is subjugated and trounced by unconstructive thoughts of apprehension, nervousness and worry. Thus the modern times is pertinently stated as an times of nervousness and depression. The progress and promotion of peace, tranquility and serenity occupy a very dominant place if we are to lead blissful, serene and significant lives. A necessary precondition for the accomplishment of calm and tranquility is to reduce one’s desires and wants. It is a fact of common experience that our desires are insatiable and can never be satisfied and as a result dissatisfaction, disenchantment and worry prevent our minds from being close the state of calmness and tranquility.

How the Teachings of The Buddha Promote World Peace.

By Venerable Narinda ( Namlan)
A Burmese Scholar Monk in Sri Lanka, 25 January 2001


        The concept of "peace" is expressed with word " Santi" in both the ancient and modern language of India. As santi is described as the ideal state of man in Buddhist literature, we can say that Buddhism has aimed a peace throughout its long history.

        The concepts of peace, truth, freedom, justice and love in Buddhism belong to partly to common content and partly to the disparate element, which distinguishes Buddhism from other religions as peace is a central concept in the religion of the Buddha, who came to be known as the Santi Raja or the "Prince of Peace".

        Peace or Santi, according to Buddhism, is not merely the situation of the absence of war or hostility, but it must be Santisukha, which is accompanied by tranquility and happiness. Peace in a nation does not mean only that there is no fighting, but it must also allow the citizen to develop their own social and economic well being to live a happy life. So peace and happiness must not be separated from each other. There cannot be true peace without true happiness. In order to gain real peace and happiness we should adopt the practical methods discovered by the Buddha 25 centuries ago.

        To the unique credit of Buddhism, it could be said that not a drop of blood has been shed throughout the ages in its propagation and dissemination in the many lands to which it spread and no religious wars either between the schools of Buddhism or against other religions have been heard of. Buddhism spread through its own intrinsic merit and un-surpassing beauty.

        The whole of the Buddha’s teachings is pervaded and saturated with spirit of peace, compassion and happiness. Peace and loving-kindness, tolerance, compromise and consensus preached in Buddhism must go hand in hand. With love and justice then only would there be real happiness and peace.

        The Dhammapada succinctly describes "Hatred does not cease by hatred. Hatred ceases only by love. This is the eternal law". A characteristic quality of the Buddha’s philosophy of peace, which promotes friendliness, goodwill, and synchronization, is that dignifying and heart-emancipating virtue of good will and loving-kindness. It is that extraordinary and valuable quality of the heart and mind which knows and understands and is ready to be helpful and serviceable. Love more than any other quality encourages peace, prime of life and understanding among people and this virtue is a rare product these days when there is so much of bitterness, hatred, hatred and brutality among people of different communities and credos. We accept an aggressive and viable attitude towards others, mostly due lack of knowledge.

        The Buddha taught the method of realizing happiness here and now through separation from greed, hatred and delusion. He said that if it were not possible to eliminate greed, hatred and delusion, he would not ask His disciples to make their attempts to put an end to the roots of evils. It is due to the fact that greed, hatred and delusion are capable of being overcome that peace and concord among men are possible.

        The leading of the good life, actually should be in keeping with peaceful and harmonious (Sama Cariya) with one’s fellow beings and is described as the attainment of a state of peace, which is a characteristic of Nibbana or the Transcendent Reality.

        For this very purpose, the Buddha for the first time in the history of mankind established the kingdom of righteousness (Dhamma-Chakkam) for the good and happiness. The Buddha said the Buddhist texts, "to have been born for the sake of happiness of mankind" (manusaloka hita sukhataya jato). After the establishment of the kingdom of righteousness, He first trained sixty-one of his disciples to attain the highest spiritual goal this life itself and then sent them out as a messengers of peace, requesting that no two of them were to go in the same direction. They were to preach the Dhamma, which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle and glorious in the end. There is necessity of emphasizing the essence of this training which is aimed at bringing about advancement of the the moral (sila), concentration ( samadhi) and wisdom ( panna) in the person because in Buddhism it was only those who had already achieved the "inner peace" were considered fit to teach others.

        Those who went out on such missions were to train themselves in such a way that " if brigands were to get hold of them and cut them limb by limb which a double-edged saw," they should not consider themselves to have done the biding of the Buddha, if they showed the slightest anger towards them.

        The supposition that one’s own welfare and the welfare of others both ultimately depend on the individual who has achieved inner peace is a particularly Buddhist concept. Because a spiritual advanced person is freed from greed, hatred and delusion, he thinks in terms of friendliness towards fellow beings. It is only by developing one’s own mind such extent where peace and tranquility reign supreme that a person can think of fostering peace in every sphere of social activity. It is clear from the remarks of the Buddha to a monk called Cunda, saying " it is quite impossible, Cunda, for one is himself stuck in the mud to pull out another who is stuck in the mud. But Cunda, it is possible for one who himself is not stuck in the mud to pull out another who is stuck in the mud".

        This moral declaration is that social welfare and the attempt to serve society in any measure, depend ultimately the moral advancement of the person concerned, whether he has attained inner peace or not. One who is deprived of inner peace will not be able to propagate peace in society. By developing peace in his own mind he will very easily avoid all conflicting situations and pave the way for peaceful co-existence.

Morality and Peace

The morality upon which the Buddha’s teaching is based does not come from following the rules of without questions but out of love and respect for the rights of all others. One of the most simple statements of principle was given by the Buddha himself for creating peace in society as follows:

To refrain from all the demeritorious acts,

But to develop all the good actions,

And to purify one’s mind.

This is the teaching of the Buddha.

        Elsewhere in the scriptures, the Buddha spells out what He means by the right way of leading our happy and peaceful lives: that is abstaining from killing living creatures, taking what is not given, committing sexual misconduct, avoiding false speech and refraining from taking intoxication, drugs and liquor.

        For those who follow the Buddha’s teaching it is impossible to be violent or harsh. The teaching will train men in responsibility. It will teach them to be careful of their own and others’ good. This teaching will bring about the end of all hate, instill self-control into the human mind, give serenity and calm to it. So it will promote peacefulness in the minds of the people in the world.


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