The Need & Rewards of Faith in General & Pure Land Practice

The Need for Faith (Pubbakotthaka Sutta Excerpt)

The Buddha: ‘Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realised, or attained it [the Deathless; Nirvana; liberation] by means of discernment [realisation of wisdom] would have to take it on conviction [saddha; faith in the efficacy of the Dhamma] in others that the [Five Spiritual Faculties; Roots: ??] faculty of

(1) 信根      conviction [faith; confidence]…
(2) 精进根  persistence [energy; diligence; effort]…
(3) 念根      mindfulness
(4) 定根      concentration
(5) 慧根      discernment [wisdom]

when developed and pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal and consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realised, and attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction… persistence… mindfulness… concentration… discernment, when developed and pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal and consummation.’ –

In the context of Pure Land practice, we need to cultivate:

  1. Faith in Amituofo’s Vows to receive us via practising mindfulness of his name,
  2. Diligence in practising mindfulness of his name,
  3. Mindfulness in practising mindfulness of his name,
  4. Concentration [single-mindedness; wholeheartedness] : in practising mindfulness of his name, and
  5. Wisdom via realising the Pure Land teachings, which are interconnected to other aspects of the Dharma

till there is no more doubt that the above can lead to Pure Land and the Deathless; when one attained the Deathless through them. Faith is thus crucial from the beginning to the end of the spiritual path. The cultivation of the Five Spiritual Faculties are also aligned with the Three Provisions of Faith 信, Aspiration (Vow 愿) and Practice 行 for birth in Pure Land.

It is interesting to note that the Buddha taught that, before enlightenment, we need to begin by having faith in the efficacy of right faith, along with faith in persistence, mindfulness, concentration and discernment, till there is full discernment of them, including discernment itself, which is the realisation of the efficacy of Five Spiritual Faculties above.

The Rewards of Faith (Saddha Sutta)

The Buddha: ‘For a lay person, there are these five rewards of conviction
[saddha; faith in the efficacy of the Dharma]. Which five?

  1. When the truly good people in the world show compassion,
    they will first show compassion to people of conviction,
    and not to people without conviction.
  2. When visiting,
    they first visit people of conviction,
    and not people without conviction.
  3. When accepting gifts,
    they will first accept those from people with conviction,
    and not from people without conviction.
  4. When teaching the Dhamma,
    they will first teach those with conviction,
    and not those without conviction.
  5. A person of conviction,
    on the break-up of the body, after death,
    will arise in a good destination, the heavenly world.

For a lay person, these are the five rewards of conviction.

Just as a large banyan tree, on level ground where four roads meet, is a haven for the birds all around, even so a lay person of conviction is a haven for many people – monks, nuns, male lay followers, and female lay followers. A massive tree whose branches carry fruits and leaves, with trunks and roots, and an abundance of fruits, there the birds find rest. In that delightful sphere they make their home. Those seeking shade come to the shade, those seeking fruit find fruit to eat.

So with the person consummate in virtue and conviction, humble, sensitive, gentle, delightful, and mild, to him come those without effluent – free from passion, free from aversion, free from delusion [the Three Poisons; the Three Roots of Evil] – the field of merit for the world [the greatest of whom are the Buddhas]. They teach him the Dhamma that dispels all stress [dukkha; dissatisfactions; suffering]. And when he understands [realises], he is freed from effluents [asavas: spiritual pollutants or fermentations; the four qualities of sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance that “flow out” of the mind to create the flood of the round of death and rebirth], totally unbound.’ –

In the context of Pure Land practice, Amituofo is able to more readily

  1. show compassion to those with faith in him,
  2. visit to inspire those with faith in him,
  3. receive offerings from those with faith in him,
  4. teach those with faith in him, and
  5. guide to his Pure Land those with faith in him.

(Pure Land is the best of spiritual destinations, that transcends heavenly worlds in excellence.)

A good Pure Land practitioner is also like a spiritual haven for many beings, readily offering the Dharma, while being readily offered and receiving the Dharma from the enlightened too, be it directly or indirectly.

Related Articles:
The Mark of Faith (in the Milinda Panha)
Buddha Mindfulness (in the Dhammapada)
How Do We Know Amituofo & His Pure Land is Real?

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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