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December 10, 2018


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Maybe it's better to say I agree with the Flower Garland, since the lesser follows the greater :).

The example of Ananda comes to mind. Not many Western Buddhists are familiar with Shakyamuni's disciples, at least not in the same way that many Christians have passing familiarity with those of Yeshua (and by the way, off topic, Aramaic was commonly used as a trade language, and it seems only logical that Yeshua had met with some Buddhist teachings carried from the East).

There appears to have been a lot of debate in early Buddhism about Ananda, who is recorded in various scriptures, both Theravadin and Mahayana, to have been a troubled fellow in many regards. He seemed to lack moral perfection as well as the ability to sustain Samadhi due to weak concentration. And yet, of all the saints who followed Gautama, he seemed to have been very much in the Buddha's favor.

If Ananda gained sainthood on the basis of wisdom, I cannot see this as in any way different from faith. Here was a guy who was easily swayed by Kapila magic and the sexual arts of wayside women, but still (according to the Shurangama sutra) he managed to pry himself free from their honeyed embrace, and I think it was only on the basis of faith rather than moral conscience or strict obedience to the rules of the Vinaya.

This is really leading to a whole other topic of wisdom versus knowledge, but I think I'm not the best to expound on that. Maybe someone else can take that up.

n. yeti: the Flower Garland nods in agreement: "if stated as faith ... that covers everything"

Faith is the embryonic state of the indwelling unborn mind of Awakening

when the seed meets with the conditions (sun, earth, water) it sprouts

Faced with this, I think many people in the West or those new to Buddhism in general (perhaps even new to any kind of religion and are drawn to Buddhism because it lacks the dogma of other religions) tend to reach a point of doubt. Why would I want this? How could I give this up, would I no longer be human...but I like being human!!

The fact remains that faith is, in my opinion, the strongest factor for success along the Buddhist path for people at this point, who may have some good moral habits and perhaps dissatisfied with material delights, seeking something greater, a higher understanding, something which breaks all doubts and establishes the person anew with a correct understanding of reality.

It should not be underemphasized how important the final point of the original post is -- Buddhism teaches total liberation from all mundane limits, something not easily understood nor cheaply obtained by the average person who clings to the functioning of the skandhic system and the twinfold delusion of selfhood in a self-existent universe.

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