People who lack faith are deprived of the good fortune of being able to practice the Dharma, and their not having faith is therefore an immeasurable defect. Just as a rock on the bottom of the ocean will never appear on the surface, without faith it is impossible to reach the dry land of liberation. Just as a ferry without a helmsman will never reach the other shore, without faith it is impossible to traverse the great river of suffering.
Without faith, it is as impossible to nurture good qualities in one’s being as it is for someone with no hands to pick up anything even if he were to find himself on an island of gold. Without faith, it is impossible for the shoot of bodhichitta to grow, for nothing can ever sprout from a burned seed.
Without faith, one is like a blind person who finds himself in a temple: it is impossible to see the light of the Dharma.
Without faith, however clever one is, one is trapped in the deep pit of cyclic existence: everything one does becomes an action that leads to cyclic existence, and it is impossible to ever attain the freedom of enlightenment. As the Sutra of the Ten Qualities puts it,
From roasted seeds
No greenery will sprout
In those who have no faith
No virtue will appear.
The benefits of cultivating faith
There are boundless virtues in cultivating and increasing one’s faith. It is the foundation for all virtuous practice. It clears away all the sufferings of cyclic existence and is the first step on the path to liberation. As a result of your faith, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will constantly keep you in mind.
You will have a sense of shame, a sense of decency, and wisdom. In all your lives, as soon as you are born, you will meet a sublime teacher, the sacred teachings, and spiritual companions, and you will thus be able to practice the Dharma. You will be protected by those gods who delight in virtue.
Falling asleep peacefully, in your dreams too you will have pleasant visions of encountering your teacher and the Three Jewels and practicing the Dharma, and you will wake in a happy frame of mind. You will accomplish all your wishes and die peacefully, guided by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
You will have none of the terrifying experiences of the intermediate state. You will be reborn wherever your aspirations lead you, and uphold the lineage of the Three Jewels. Swiftly, you will attain Buddhahood. Such are the infinite benefits of having faith, as we read in the Sutra of the Precious Lamp:
Though for kalpas one might venerate beings
Numerous as the atoms of the universes in the ten directions,
Bringing them every kind of happiness,
In comparison, nothing is more sublime
Than the merit of faith in this Dharma.
- Dudjom Rinpoche – A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom