or faith, is one of the sobhana cetasikas which arises with each sobhana
citta: with the sobhana cittas of the sense-sphere (kama-sobhana cittas),
with the rupavacara cittas, with the arupavacara cittas and with the lokuttara
cittas. Saddha is not blind faith in a person, it is confidence in wholesomeness.
There is saddha with dana, with sila and with bhavana. There cannot be
any kind of wholesomeness without saddha. Saddha is called by the Atthasalini
the "forerunner of wholesomeness.
The Atthasalini (I, Part IV, Chapter I, 119) states about saddha:
... It has
purifying or aspiring as its characteristic. As the water-purifying gem
of the universal monarch thrown into water causes solids, alluvia, waterweeds
and mud to subside and makes the water clear, transparent and undisturbed,
so faith arising discards the hindrances, causes the corruptions to subside,
purifies the mind and makes it undisturbed: the mind being purified, the
aspirant of noble family gives gifts, observes the precepts, performs the
duties of "uposatha" (1 Uposatha days are days of fasting or vigil; uposatha
is observed an the days of full-moon and new-moon, and sometimes also on
the days of the first and last moon-quarter. in Buddhist countries there
is a tradition for lay-followers to visit temples and to observe eight
precepts on these days.), and commences bhavana. Thus faith should be known
to hove purifying as its characteristic...
refers to a simile given in the Questions of King Milinda (35) (2
Containing discussion on Dhamma between King Milinda and the arahat
Nagasena. This work
which is not part of the Tipitaka must have been written
before the time of
Buddhaghosa, but its date is not known. It gives most valuable
explanations of the
Buddhist teachings and it often refers to the texts of the
Tipitaka) : a universal
monarch crosses a small stream with his army. The water has been polluted
by the army but his water-purifying gem purifies the water so that mud,
sand and waterweeds subside and the water becomes clear and undisturbed.
The water which is disturbed by pollution is like the mind which is disturbed
by defilements. Faith purifies the mind so that it becomes clear, transparent
As to the characteristic of "aspiring", the Atthasalini uses another
simile in order to explain this. A crowd standing on both banks of a great
river full of crocodiles, monsters, sharks and ogres, is afraid to cross
over. A hero crosses the river and repels the dangerous animals with his
sword, and leads the crowd in crossing over. The Atthasalini ( 120)
... So faith is the forerunner, the precursor to one who is giving gifts.
Observing the precepts, performing the duties of uposatha and commencing
bhavana. Hence it has been said: Faith has purifying and aspiring as its
also uses another method of defining saddha:
... Faith has confiding as its characteristic; purifying as its function.
like the water-purifying gem, or aspiring faith as function, like the crossing
of the floods: freedom from pollution or decision as its manifestation;
an object worthy of faith or factors of "streamwinning " as its proximate
(XIV, 140) defines confidence in the same way as the Atthasalini
in the second method.
When there is akusala citta there is no confidence in kusala. For example,
when we are attached to a pleasant sight or when we have aversion towards
an ugly sight, there is forgetfulness of kusala, there is no aspiration
for it. Whereas, when there is faith or confidence, there is aspiration
for kusala. Only when people have confidence in the value of dana, sila
or bhavana will they apply themselves to it. It depends on a person's accumulations
which kind of kusala he is inclined to perform. Some people have confidence
in dana and sila but they do not see the benefit of being aware right now
of seeing or hearing, in order to know these realities as non-self.
As we have seen, purifying has been mentioned as a function of confidence
and freedom from pollution as one of its manifestations. When the citta
is accompanied by confidence, it is pure, free from the hindrances. But
so long as latent tendencies have not been eradicated defilements are bound
to arise, time and again. The purity of confidence is in the ariyan of
a higher degree than in the non-ariyan. The sotapanna does not cling to
the concept of self, he has eradicated wrong view, and thus his good deeds
are purer. His sila is more purified than the sila of the non-ariyan, he
has no more conditions to transgress the five precepts.
Another manifestation of confidence is decision or resolution. When there
is determination to accomplish kusala, it is evident that there is confidence
in kusala. There is no self who decides for kusala, it depends on conditions
whether kusala citta arises or not. When there are conditions for aversion
and discouragement, there is no resolution for kusala. We may have no energy
for any kind of kusala when we feel annoyed because of our shortcomings,
or when we are disappointed about other people, when we feel lonely and
depressed, when we find life useless and frustrating. When we are depressed
we are self-centred. We want pleasant objects for ourselves and when we
do not get these we feel dissatisfied with life. If there would be less
clinging to the self there would be less conditions for feelings of frustration.
Right understanding can eventually eradicate the clinging to the self,
but it can only develop very gradually. If we are impatient because we
do not notice any progress in the development of right understanding, we
should remember the patience and determination of the Buddha in the lives
when he was still a Bodhisatta. He was determined to develop right understanding
life after life, without becoming discouraged, without coming to a halt
halfway. Courage and patience are needed in order to develop understanding
of the realities appearing in daily life. One has to have "aspiring confidence"
like the hero who crosses the floods. It is useless to worry about the
lack of mindfulness, or to think of ways to make it arise. When there is
more understanding of what the object of mindfulness is, an ultimate reality,
there are conditions for mindfulness now of whatever reality appears.
"An object worthy of faith" is a proximate cause of confidence. The Buddha,
the Dhamma and the Sangha are objects worthy of confidence. This does not
mean that someone who never heard of the Dhamma cannot have confidence.
Confidence is an ultimate reality with its own characteristic, it is not
specifically Buddhist. Each kusala citta is accompanied by confidence;
kusala is kusala, no matter what nationality or race one is, no matter
what faith one professes. Also those who never heard of the Dhamma can
have confidence in ways of kusala such as generosity and true loving kindness.
Also good deeds are objects worthy of confidence. If one listens to the
Dhamma and develops right understanding there am conditions for the eradication
of akusala and thus there will be more opportunity for the development
The "factors of streamwinning", that is the factors, necessary for attaining
the first stage of enlightenment, the stage of the "streamwinner" or sotapanna,
are also a proximate cause for confidence. These factors are: association
with the right friend, hearing the Dhamma, wise attention and practice
in accordance with the Dhamma (1 Dialogues of the Buddha , III , 33 , Sangiti
Sutta , 227.). Confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha starts
with listening to the Dhamma as it is explained by the right friend. we
read in many suttas that people first listened to the Buddha, considered
what they heard and then took their refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and
the Sangha. Their confidence was based on listening, inquiring and considering.
We read in the Middle Length Sayings (I, no. 4, Discourse on Fear
and Dread) that the Buddha, while staying near Savatthi, in the Jeta Grove,
spoke to the Brahman Janussoni about his living in the forest without fear
and dread, and his attainment to Buddhahood. Janussoni, after he listened
to the Buddha, took his refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha
with the following words.
... Excellent, good Gotama, excellent, good Gotama. It is as if one might
set upright what had been upset, or might disclose what was covered, or
show the way to one who had gone astray, or bring an oil-lamp into the
darkness so that those with vision might see material shape- even so in
many a figure has dhamma been made clear by the reverend Gotama. Thus I
am going to the reverend Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma and to the Order
of monks. May the reverend Gotama accept me as a layfollower going for
refuge from today forth for as long as life lasts.
Some people have confidence
to become a lay-disciple and others have confidence to become a monk, it
depends on one's accumulated inclinations. There are also people who are
inclined to listen, but who do not gain enough confidence to practise the
teachings. It may not be the right time for them to begin with the development
of the Path, but in a future life they may listen again and then gain enough
confidence to practise the teachings. We should find out for ourselves
whether our confidence is to the degree that we apply the Dhamma we have
heard or not yet. If one has enough confidence one will continue to develop
right understanding until enlightenment is attained and all doubt and wrong
view are eradicated.
There is still another aspect to confidence, saddha, and that is the aspect
of indriya, controlling faculty. An indriya exercises leadership over the
dhammas it accompanies. There are five wholesome cetasikas, indriyas, called
the " spiritual faculties", which should be developed. They are : confidence,
energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. These faculties overcome
the defilements which are their opposites. Confidence governs the accompanying
dhammas, citta and cetasikas, in its quality of purifying and of confiding
in kusala. It overcomes lack of confidence in kusala, without confidence
kusala citta and its accompanying cetasilkas could not arise. The Atthasalini
(I, Part IV, Chapter I, 119) states:
"From the overcoming of lack of faith, faith is a controlling faculty in
the sense of predominance, or in its characteristic of decision it exercises
lordship (over associated states)."
When the "spiritual faculties"
have been developed they become "powers " or "strengths" (balas ) . Then
they have become firm and unshakeable, they cannot be shaken by the defilements
which are their opposites. The same cetasikas which can be considered under
the aspect of indriya can also be considered under the aspect of power,
we read in the Dhammasangani about confidence as faculty, indriya,
and as power, bala:
The faith which on that occasion is a trusting in, the professing confidence
in, the sense of assurance, faith, faith as a faculty and as a power- this
is the faith that there then is.
(I, Part IV, Chapter II, 145) explains this passage and states that assurance
is abundant assurance in the virtues of the Buddha. Such assurance is not
based on mere theoretical understanding of the Buddha's teachings. There
can only be abundant confidence in the Buddha's virtues when right understanding
of realities has been developed.
Those who want to develop calm to the degree of jhana have to develop the
five "spiritual faculties". we read in the Visuddhimagga ( IV, 45-49 ),
in the section on the conditions necessary for the attainment of jhana,
that the faculties, indriyas, have to be "balanced". When any one of them
is too strong and other faculties weak, they cannot perform their functions.
The faculty of faith has to be balanced with the faculty of wisdom:
... For one
strong in faith and weak in understanding has confidence uncritically and
groundlessly. One strong in understanding and weak in faith errs on the
side of cunning and is as hard to cure as one sick of a disease caused
by medicine. With the balancing of the two a man has confidence only
when there are grounds for it...
Further on we read that
concentration and faith must be balanced: "One working on concentration
needs strong faith, since it is with such faith and confidence that he
The "spiritual faculties" have to be developed also for the attainment
of enlightenment and they must be balanced. How are the faculties balanced
in vipassana? One may have confidence in the Buddha's teachings but there
may not be the development of right understanding of realities and then
confidence is not balanced with the other faculties. But when there is
the development of right understanding of the present moment, there is
also confidence and this is balanced with understanding and the other faculties.
When we are forgetful of realities there is no confidence in awareness
of the present moment. This may happen, for example, when we are listening
to the stories other people tell us and we are quite absorbed in these
stories. But sometimes there may be mindfulness of one reality at a time,
for example of sound, and then this can be realized as only a rupa, a reality
which can be heard, not a voice or a person. At such a moment there is
confidence which sees the value of right understanding. When we develop
right understanding, we do not have to aim at confidence, it arises already.
Confidence grows to the extent that right under-standing develops. Through
mindfulness of nama and rupa, thus, through the development of the four
"Applications of Mindfulness" (satipatthana ) the five spiritual faculties
As we have seen, when the faculty of confidence has been more developed,
it can become unshakeable and firm, it can become a "power" or "strength"
(bala). So long as one has not attained enlightenment confidence can still
be shaken. One may have doubt about the value of the development of right
understanding, doubt about the eightfold Path. The confidence of the sotapanna
cannot be shaken anymore; he has eradicated doubt. He has an unshakeable
confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. At each stage of enlightenment
the faculties and thus also confidence have become more developed. At the
moment of the attainment of arahatship they have reached completion.
As we have seen, one of the proximate causes of confidence is an object
worthy of confidence. The Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha are objects
worthy of confidence. so long as we are not ariyans we do not really understand
what enlightenment means; we have only theoretical understanding about
it and thus our knowledge is very limited. We take our refuge in the Buddha,
but our confidence in his virtues cannot be as strong as the sotapanna's
confidence. The second Gem in which we take refuge is the Dhamma. The term
"dhamma" has many meanings, it can stand for the teachings, or for paramattha
dhamma, ultimate reality. seeing and attachment are real, they are dhammas.
We do not take our refuge in every dhamma. Nibbana is lokuttara dhamma
and this is the second Gem, the Dhamma we take our refuge in. Also the
eight types of lokuttara cittas which experience nibbana are included in
the second Gem; thus there are "nine lokuttara dhammas" in which we take
our refuge. Again, our understanding of the second Gem is limited so long
as we have not attained enlightenment. Our confidence in the teachings
which lead to enlightenment cannot be as strong as the sotapanna's confidence;
he knows from experience what enlightenment means. The ariyan Sangha is
the third Gem in which we take our refuge. We do not really know what it
means to be an ariyan so long as we are not ariyans ourselves and thus
our confidence in the ariyan sangha is still weak.
When we realize how weak out confidence still is, we should not become
discouraged. When we think of all the virtues of the ariyan, his unshakeable
confidence in wholesomeness, his purity of sila and his generosity, we
should not forget that it all started with listening to the dhamma, considering
it and developing right understanding. We read in the Middle Length sayings
(II, no. 70, Kitgiri sutta) that the Buddha, while he was in Kasi, said
that enlightenment could not be attained without diligence. He spoke to
the monks about people with different accumulations who attained enlightenment,
and then said:
do not say that the attainment of profound knowledge comes straightaway;
nevertheless, monks, the attainment of profound knowledge comes by a gradual
training, a gradual doing, a gradual course. And how. monks. does the attainment
of profound knowledge came by means of a gradual training, a gradual doing,
a gradual course? As to this, monks, one who has faith draws close; drawing
close, he sits down near by; sitting down near by he lends ear; lending
ear he hears dhamma; having heard dhamma he remembers it; he tests the
meaning of the things he has borne in mind; while testing the meaning the
things are approved of- there being approval of the things desire (1 kusalacchanda,
"wish-to-do" which is kusala.) is born; with desire born he makes an effort;
having made the effort he weighs it up; having weighed it up he strives;
being self-resolute he realizes himself the highest truth itself and, penetrating
it by means of wisdom, he sees...
The ariyan is often described
as a person who has heard much. He has listened to Dhamma and has applied
what he has heard. If he had been a passive listener he could not have
attained enlightenment. We may wish to reach the goal without cultivating
the right cause which leads to the goal. If there is no beginning of the
development of understanding at this moment how can we expect the arising
of profound wisdom? Realities such as hardness, feeling or sound appear
time and again. If one begins to be mindful of the reality which appears
now, one cultivates the right conditions for the growth of right understanding.
There should be confidence which is as courageous and determined as the
hero who crosses the flood. Many moments of such courageous determination
are needed in order to realize what one has not yet realized.
Which are objects worthy of confidence?
Can confidence arise with maha-vipakacitta?
How do we know when there is confidence?
How can confidence grow?
What hinders confidence?
Why is the sotapanna's confidence "unshakeable"?
is confidence "balanced" with the other spiritual faculties in vipassana?
viii At which
moment is there confidence in the development of the four Applications
can take their refuge in the Triple Gem with confidence, but why is the
confidence of the non-ariyan still weak in comparison with the confidence
of the ariyan?