Fault in No Faith

imageThe fault in not having faith.

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.”

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

In the service for public disclosure,
this post has been reprinted under the Fair Use Law.

Characteristics of Faith

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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

In the service for public disclosure,
this post has been reprinted under the Fair Use Law.

The benefits of cultivating faith

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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
Shambhala Publications

About photo:
HH Dudjom Rinpoche bestowing the Nyingma Ka-ma for the first time outside of Tibet, Kalimpong, 1961. According to Lama Dawa (who was there), there was no monastery or buildings at that time, and the entire series of empowerments were given under makeshift tents. There were about 300 people there. Most of the attendees were Bhutanese. HH Dudjom Rinpoche himself got up and went from person to person to bestow the vase empowerment. This photo was taken on the day when Rinpoche was bestowing the empowerment of the main articles – he and his attendants went around to each person.
Photo was taken by one of Rinpoche’s attendants, whose name was Tashi. He was the only one at that time who had a camera.