Characteristics of Faith


What are the particular characteristics of having faith?

When one has faith, one is like a fertile field, in which the shoot of bodhichitta will sprout and grow. Faith is like a great ship crossing the river of cyclic existence. It is like a reliable escort protecting us from our enemies, the afflictive emotions. Like a good mount taking us to the land of liberation. Like a wish-fulfilling jewel accomplishing everything we desire. Like a mighty hero annihilating all that is nonvirtuous. Faith is thus a sublime quality, and for this reason it is the first of the seven noble riches.

People who have faith are especially exalted, and yet they are extremely rare,
as the Sutra of the Precious Lamp points out:

Faith gives birth to delight in the Buddha’s teaching,
Faith points the way to the city of happiness and excellence.
Faith banishes lack of opportunity, it is the best of all freedoms.
Faith turns one from the path of the demons,
Faith is what makes one attain Buddhahood.
Among the hosts of ordinary beings,
Rare are those who have such faith in the Dharma.

Dudjom Rinpoche
A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom
Padmakara Translation Group
© 2011 Shambhala Publications

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