With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
One of the issues, if one can call it that, about religion is the question of "faith". What's the question? How can we have faith in a belief. Which leads to how to have a belief in something nonsensical. By nonsensical I mean something not available to our five senses.
Belief in something non-tangible means taking a belief transmitted by a religion or parent or text on "faith" and making it ours. When we are young our parents teach us either directly or indirectly their beliefs: Jesus was the Messiah, Moses brought the Torah down from a mountain; Buddha sat under a tree and reached enlightenment, and so on. As we age, we often begin to challenge these beliefs (as only teens can) . Some of us find some of those beliefs to be lacking. We let them fall away. We see them as fairy tales, or worse, a means of social control. Others accept these beliefs, begin to own them, and find ways to integrate them into their consciousness. These become internalized. The locus of control shifts from external to internal.
What remains regardless is the fact that our beliefs are beliefs and not facts. We cannot test for God, Jesus, or the validity of Moses' coming down from the mountain.
Some might argue that we have reliable historical witnesses: the hundreds of thousands of Israelites at the base of Mt. Sinai; the thousands of followers of the Buddha as he walked across India to teach; or the individual testimony of Jesus' disciples as recorded in the New Testament scriptures. But these witnesses are dead. We cannot cross examine them. We really do not know what they saw or heard. We can only have faith.
The Buddha taught that we should never take anything on faith. Interesting, isn't it? A spiritual leader teaching not to believe him, but to go out and test his teachings for oneself? Why would the Buddha have taught such a thing? My sense is that he was all about his students, not himself. The moment Buddha became Buddha he left himself behind and directed his attention on how to bring others to awakening themselves. We cannot "teach" enlightenment. We can only experience it. This is because awakening is a phenomenon of perception, not a belief.
From the Buddha to the Ancestors to contemporary teachers comes the same message. Forget what I say, its not worth a moment of your time. Instead, begin your own practice. Discover yourself. All of Zen is about just this.
So, Zen teaching is not about faith, its about practice. You can believe the sky is a giant cup for all Zen teachers care; but your practice? Well, that's another thing.
If we practice with diligence, our "faith" is that we will discover ourselves and that this discovery will be the truth. Zen Buddhists suggest that this truth is that everything is constantly changing, thus nothing has a permanent form. To attachment oneself to a form is to invite suffering as that form is bound to change. There is a way not to suffer: stop investing in forms. How do we still live then? By following a middle path between extremes in our lives. We become non-dependent on a form, but we still understand a form has reality.
And if you don't discover yourself? No matter, infinity is forever.
May you be a blessing inthe universe.