I have just had a huge negative reaction from a believer in Buddhism – horrific. It was out of the blue and as yet (if ever) I have no idea where it came from.
I suspect it came from a believer or a jhana king, and even if it isn’t that is where I begin this. A belief is simply an idea that is clung to, however beliefs are clung to by institutions and this makes those beliefs powerful; so powerful that those beliefs have been used to fight wars. My understanding of the Buddha is that he was trying to say to people to move beyond belief to understanding. Ideas are not important, they rapidly change over time; the deep conviction that comes with Insight into these ideas is the understanding that he was trying to convey.
Faith is a word that I have rejected. My view of it would be that it was not just belief but complete immersion in a set of ideas, and that immersion brings with it a conviction. However that particular conviction is not based on Insight but this immersion process. It is this immersion that leads to the blindness that can lead to conflict. “My faith is better than yours” is a consequence of this immersion, and because there is a conviction nothing can change that comparison.
Of course this is separation – division, and because Unity is fundamental dangerous to humanity.
However the word “conviction” here is interesting. To describe Insight I would begin with Eureka moments, followed by Insight through creativity, and then Insight meditation; I think all three are Insights although meditation is the only method – at a stretch you might call “being creative” methodical. What accompanies Insight is a deep conviction, a conviction that cannot be changed. This is a danger with Insights in that although they are never wrong they can develop, and if you cling to early Insights without allowing them to develop this can be harmful.
What if Insight is the basis to genuine Faith as opposed to immersed faith. Saul to Damascus is a described religious exerience that could be considered a “sort of awakening”, I presume St. Paul then had faith. If it is an “awakening” then there is Insight in St. Paul’s faith even if the terminology does not match Buddhists or mine.
Such a genuine religious experience has to be an “awakening” onto the Path, so the issue with Faith is not whether someone has Faith but where did that faith come from? If that Faith came from a genuine religious experience then that Faith is someone’s Path.
HHDL’s study method is taken from “The Middle Way: faith grounded in reason”. In the above descriptions Faith comes from Insight or religious experience, which hopefully leads them to follow a Path. If that Path is not subjected to analysis there is a danger of stagnation thought clinging. The suggestion of the title “Faith grounded in reason” is that the Faith can come from reason, to me the study method reads that although I don’t understand that. The study method says (this is my interpretation as I don’t understand it) that through immersion there can develop a conviction on the Truth of what is being studied leading to a deep conviction that is Faith.