How to Cultivate Faith

Unless we have faith, however many other good qualities we might have, they will not be of much use to us — as though we were very beautiful, but blind. So we have to make an effort to develop faith — by meditating on impermanence four times a day, by reflecting minutely on actions and their effects, by reflecting on the positive aspects of everything, by reflecting on how rare the Dharma is, by thinking of our teacher’s kindness, by thinking of our spiritual brothers and sisters with pure perception, and by thinking of the excellent qualities of the Buddha. It is important to consider that other people are—all of them—marvelous, and to be free of partiality and notions of high or low status, thus making a habit of faith and taming your own mind.

The Omniscient Dharma Lord said:

Unless you do all you can to develop faith, You will never attain perfection, But will wander constantly in cyclic existence. Therefore, whomever you are following, Make every effort to cultivate faith. In the first place, you should be shrewd in seeking a teacher and the teaching—begin by examining the sublime beings. Once you have found a teacher, train yourself in following him or her with devotion. For this there are ten aspects. Your devotion should be unchanging, like Mount Meru. Like the sun, it should not wax or wane. It should be like the ocean, without surface or depth.p Like a mother it should never complain or expect to be thanked. It should be like space, without boundary or center; like the string of a bow, neither too taut nor too slack; like a boat or bridge, untiring and uncomplaining; like a great river, flowing unceasingly; like the sky, never prey to circumstances such as being influenced by others or scolded. And like the string of a prayer flag, it should be respectful, supple and adaptable, and embellished with reverence.

What are the signs that we have cultivated faith? We reject the deceptive appearances of cyclic existence like someone with nausea seeing food. We ache with devotion and longing for the teacher, like a small child yearning for its mother. We throw ourselves enthusiastically into study and reflection, like a thirsty person longing for water. We treasure our precepts like a poor person who has found some gold or a turquoise. We delight in practicing virtuous activities like a merchant traveling to an island of gold. Our faith and interest in all the different vehicles are like those of a keen shopper arriving at a market. It is when these signs occur that the Dharma has tamed our mind and the teachings and the individual have not gone different ways.

Dudjom Rinpoche.
A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom:
Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices
Shambhala
Photographer unknown

 

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