Nov. 20, 2022

Faith | Ajahn Brahm

Faith | Ajahn Brahm

Having faith in the practice will help you to relax in meditation When you have faith in the goodness of another person, you can forgive them. Faith is trust and confidence in something, leading to a sense of security and comfort. It's one of the sym...

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Having faith in the practice will help you to relax in meditation When you have faith in the goodness of another person, you can forgive them. Faith is trust and confidence in something, leading to a sense of security and comfort. It's one of the symptoms of our modern age that people have faith in very little. Develop a strong confidence in yourself and your ability to succeed. This will lead to increased energy and focus, which will help you achieve any goal.


This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 30th April 1999. It has now been remastered but the quality is still a bit scratchy. But the content is classic Ajahn Brahm and will be of interest to his many fans.

You can find the transcription and other related information on the Ajahn Brahm Podcast website.

These talks by Ajahn Brahm have been recorded and made available for free distribution by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. You can support the Buddhist Society of Western Australia by pledging your support via their Patreon page.




 Somebody asked me last week, but sometimes I already had a couple of requests or subject in my mind. I put off this request for seven days. This evening, I'm going to talk on the development of faith.  And there the reason why I'm going to talk about this is that one for a person to really understand what faith means.  I'm not just talking about religious faith. I'm talking about faith in a much deeper, more practical way and how we can use faith to develop the tools and means for  overcoming some of the problems in our lives, and also just how we can use this. Concept, this movement of the mind which we call faith, to develop deep meditation inside  before enlightenments, all based on this understanding of faith, the practice of faith, the development of faith to its fulfillment. So it's not just an ordinary understanding of faith I'm talking about here. It's. When I try to explain even to myself what faith really means in action there's an effect sometimes that I recall one of the earliest expressions of faith which I can remember and it's result on my life. That was the faith which is trust, confidence when I was a small child in the arms of my mother. As a baby, you have so much faith in the arms of your mother that you can see the baby being carried around the shopping malls, around the streets, completely asleep, trusting so much in the care, the love, the attention of the mother, so the baby can fully relax and be at ease. Because of the faith that baby has in the arms of his mother. And I viewed that as a metaphor for the meaning of faith and its effect on a person's life. When we develop faith in any area of our life it's always gives rise to a sense of security and comfort.  A sense of being able to relax and be at peace because we have faith in something. And it is one of the symptoms of our modern age that people have faith in very little. And as a result of that lack of faith faith  I'm not talking about just religions. I mean faith in society, faith in goodness, faith in your partner, faith in yourself. Because of that, there is a lack of rest. There's a lack of being able to find that metaphorical comfort in one mother's arms where I can truly relax and be at peace  knowing that everything is okay.  So this is a meeting of faith. Even in the way I've read the ancient Buddhist texts, the word for faith, which I'm looking at here, for those of you who know any part of Buddhism sambasadama, it carries with it the sense of delight. Delighting in something, finding happiness in something, having faith in that thing. It's. And I've already mentioned some of the areas where our modern society lacks faith. You can see that so many problems in our society arise because people lack faith in goodness  as if there is no such thing as goodness. This is if this is a dog eat dog world, which is all very well if you're a Doberman but not very good if you're Chihuahua.  Unfortunately, too many Chihuahuas in this world and I'm not sure which particular type of dog you relate to, but I think a lot of women think that a small Chihuahua has always been barked at and bitten by the bigger dogs in our world and people who believe it's a dog eat dog world. Eventually you'll find one dog bigger than you who will bite and hurt and harm you. And unfortunately the many people have got so little faith in human goodness but that's the way they live their lives and that seems to me just so sad. It does create so much pain in other people's lives and mostly in their own.  But if you have faith in goodness, there is such a thing as goodness and that goodness is something which gives happiness for yourself and other beings, then you're beginning to be on the right track  which will lead to a better a world both inside of you, around you and beyond you. That faith in goodness in Buddhism is simply a faith in karma.  Faith in karma knowing that there is a difference between a good act and a bad act. There is a difference between good speech and bad speech. There's a difference between good thoughts and bad thoughts.  Namely, that which is good leads to happiness, leads to harmony, leads to harmlessness in the world, that which is that leads to the opposite.  Do you have faith in that? Because when you look at the causes of your happiness in life, you can find that it's not just the whim of a person upstairs somewhere. It's not this chance. If you look carefully, whatever is happening in your life, you're responsible for it. You've made it. You deserve it. You've. It's a law of commerce. You get what you deserve.  Hard law. Because sometimes that which is called pain, that is called difficulty. And I like, sometimes we think it's somebody else's fault. You blame. And my parents would blame our teachers. I was reading in United States the child who flanked his high school because he hardly ever studied, he never did his homework, was always playing with the girls or with the boys. He flung his exams at high school so they couldn't graduate.  He took his teachers to court. He sued them for incompetence, saying, and I grew. You should have made me work harder.  That's what they do in the United States. It wasn't his fault for being lazy. It's his teacher's fault for allowing him to be lazy. That's where he's arguing about, and it should have made him work harder. Isn't it the case that sometimes in our victim society, as it's called these days, we blame other people for the problems of our life?  Rather than looking to see if we've contributed there, rather looking to see if there's something we have done and if we can look to see if it's something which we have done, which has contributed to our harm, our own pain, our own difficulty,  then we can point out our own,  amend them, do something about it. It's hard to change another person. It's so difficult to tell someone else what to do. But can't you tell yourself what to do? Surely you have the ability to change yourself.  But faith in goodness, the faith in karma is a faith that you can be good. The faith that you can create happiness in your life and happiness around you. When we lose that faith that we are in control of our destiny, he gives rise to the hopelessness of despair.  People commit suicide because they've lost hope for future happiness.  They get depressed when they cannot see an avenue to escape from their pain. They've lost their faith in goodness. They've lost their faith in karma, their ability to rise out of the depths of pain or anguish through their own ability  to rise up about above the pain and to be happy, inspired and all that's happened to them. My life as a monk, I've seen many people  are born and raised in horrendous circumstances who rise up above those circumstances because they got faith in goodness. They work hard to become wonderful people.  The one here was just handed me a script of their life, what happened till them during the second World War in England. They just told me if I came in here that I could use any of that story. It wasn't copyright. I hope I get it right.  During the Second World War in East London. The government decided that to save the young people, they would evacuate them out to the countryside  where the bombs weren't falling. It was similar to the stolen children, the aboriginal generation, some time ago, with good motives and he's seemingly good motive. But they can question them afterwards. The five year old child was separated from his parents with older brothers, sent to a distant town in the Wales. I think it was sent first to a kind person and then someone who was far from kind, who was immoral and cool, even sadistic. The five year old child separated from his brother, separated from all his family. Alone, afraid, scared, beaten.  Beginning of an upbringing where the person decided the only way to protect themselves.  Was to learn how to be aggressive, violent, to be able to stand up for yourself, to be stronger than the others. And learning after much pain in their life, there was another way to live. And now a beautiful person. My own father who used to tell me about my grandfather. I never knew in Liverpool, in the north of England, who, before the Second World War in England used to come home every night drunk, used to take off his belt, beat whatever child who came across his path and then set up beating up his mother, his wife, my grandmother.  My father saw that  and he decided that when he had shut children, he wasn't going to do the same. Which is a very lucky decision for me.  Even though he'd been hurt and traumatized as a young man, as a boy, as a child growing up in poverty in Liverpool,  He decided that he wasn't going to be evicted of child abuse. He had faith in goodness. The faith in the ability that even with such a very hard upbringing he could still become a good person and he could still create goodness in the world.  There's many other stories which I'm sure that you know of a person who, because of their faith in something better, no matter what happens to them, could rise above.  Karma  is something which gives you full opportunity. No matter what happens to you in your life, no matter what difficulties and problems in your life, if you know the law of karmas, your faith in that law,  you can use whatever happens to you  as fertilizer for your heart. What I used to call it any difficulties and problems, any pain, any disappointment fertilizer. That's what it is.  Dung. Dung is offensive. It's problematical. It's smelly. If you get any dung on your hands, you wash them off. And sometimes it takes a lot of soap to wash off the smell. It's excellent for growing flowers and trees. The more smelly it is, the more powerful it is. The more painful and difficult your experience,  the more you can learn from it. This is how the Buddha taught the law of karma. It's difficult when you have painful experiences in the past,  when you've been abused physically, sexually, when you've been disadvantaged. But I'm sure that you can understand, you can have faith. Even so, it is possible other people do it. Why can't we, when we have faith in that goodness? It gives us hope no matter what we're we have to deal with in life. It gives us hope that we can succeed for our own happiness. But not just for our own happiness. For other people's happiness as well. Every time a person rises,  From difficulty the amount what other people think is impossible to the faith in goodness, the faith in calm, the faith that they are in control, that they can make happiness occur through their own hard effort, through the leaping of their wisdom 4s if you can forgive false, you're wise.  One of the stories I haven't told for a while one of the people who used to come to our meditation group came to me one day, said she had a problem.  Big problem. Huge problem. She found her husband had been sexually abusing her 211 year old twins, boy and girl. That's called a big problem there's who think you've got problems? So that's huge.  She loves her husband.  It was a great shock that he could do such a thing. Eventually, he was sent to jail.  The family sort of split. But fortunately, because she didn't meditate, because she had faith in goodness,  she could forgive.  She forgave her husband, for the abuse which he had done to her own children.  She gave very quickly. It's a very beautiful thing she did, because she forgave quickly. She had a lot of trouble with the psychiatrist or the psychologist, the counselor, as many of you might know, anyone in that situation, it's mandatory. You've got to go to your counselor. She was going to see the counselor. Counselor, you're angry at him, aren't you? Said no. I'm not angry at him. I forgive him. You're angry, aren't you? I said no. I forgiven him. You're in denial.  If you don't agree with the counselor, it's called denial.  And eventually she came to complain to me about her counselor, and I had to write a letter about Buddhist ethics and Buddhist ideas of karma and how they let go. And she did let go. And eventually the counselor accepted that because she let go, her children let go. Because she forgave. She helped her children forgive children, follow parents.  One of the parents is angry, really angry that their partner, the children, will follow. They look for the parents.  They imitate them. So this was a case where this beautiful lady in difficult situations, her life could have been completely collapsed. She could have been traumatized the rest of her life. She could have been scarred emotionally and with her children as well as he chose her faith in goodness to forgive. That's what forgiveness means, her faith in goodness. But no matter what that person has done,  there's something more to them than their crime and their abuse, and they're hurt. That faith in the goodness of another human being is so important because sometimes there's been people which have hurt you, have abused you, have treated you violently  cruelly.  And sometimes if we can't see any goodness in that person, there's no way we can forgive. There's no way we can let go. We want revenge. And that revenge will burn us and hurt us in the same way that revenge  keeps the walls of the world going between ethnic communities, between nations, between people who spend eternity settling their schools. And the balance is never settled. On and on and off. When we have the faith in the goodness of another person, we can say, I can see something in my enemy, my worst enemy, the one who's hurt and abused me. I can see something in them which is a seed of goodness enough for me to forgive, to see that there's more to them than that terrible act which they have committed. Only when you can see some goodness in the other person.  Can you truly forgive once you see that goodness in the other person, when you have faith in that goodness, faith that a person can change.  And people do change.  People do become good. When I used to go into a prison of Western Australia, I learned very quickly not to go in a prison and see criminals, but to see human beings. To be able to go in there and not to see a murderer or a rapist, but to see a human being, to see someone who is more than a crime they committed.  Unfortunately,  those people in jail who have committed bad crimes are reminded of that act every moment of their lives by the bars on the wall, by the uniform of the occult officers,  by the fact that they know they're in jail, always reminded of that one stupid, selfish, cruel act or many acts.  When I went into those jails, I made a point of not looking at the prisoner, but looking at the human being. To see that there was even in the worst offenders, something good.  Looking at that, noticing. It's amazing. Think how that grew.  Even this morning.  Just one of the monks went into the local prison last night to teach some meditation.  They gave them fruit, they gave some bananas. And I ate a banana from a prisoner this morning from my diner, from onion. It tasted delicious, so I knew where it came from.  Even a prisoner making merry with a monk, offering them a banana really made me happy. Very delicious banana. When I knew how hard it was for them to give that to the monks.  When you got faith in that goodness, it's amazing how it grows. And some of those prisoners have been in jail because you have faith in that goodness, you forgive them, because you trust them.  Isn't that what faith is? Trust? It's amazing how often they live up to that trust  perhaps with prisoners in a jail. What about your partner? Your children, your parents? Back to your partner? Have you got of faith in them? Full trust. Trust enough to forgive their faults.  That's faith in their goodness. This is where we learn how to live with other people.  If you don't have faith in the goodness of your partner, then you will not be able to live with them.  Sometimes people make mistakes and that those who never made mistakes.  I've made my mistakes in the past. One day my biography of me and they say all my mistakes tell all by other people if I come famous. That's what I thought was a big famous.  All my mistakes. I think I told a lot of them here anyway.  But anyway, everyone has made mistakes. But if you focus on those mistakes, you see nothing else, that you get depressed. Use your selfish. Do you have no painting yourself? Focus on anything good in your yourself. Restores your faith in yourself and other human beings. If you focus on that faith,  you trust  you can live with another person. Not by having faith in yourself.  To be able to trust in yourself, to be able to forgive your fault  because you, like a prisoner in a jail, have also done many crimes. The difference between you and the prisoners they got caught, you didn't 4s because of that.  If we can have that faith and confidence in ourselves, we can trust ourselves and that's when we start to grow. That's where we can start to feel at peace with ourselves. That's when we can start to.  Have a sense of loving kindness towards ourselves, a sense of self acceptance  then maybe, just like a child in a mother's arms can completely relax and be at peace then perhaps that you in your own arms can completely relax and be at peace. Having full confidence in yourself.  That self confidence has been used by American motivational psychologists to make a lot of money. So anyone of you is looking for a job, just listen to this. Talk very carefully. Just repeat it on the circuit and you can make thousands. Have confidence in yourself. Faith in yourself. It's all the same. It's amazing what you can do. It's like riding a bicycle. Do you remember the time when you rode a bicycle for the first time because you thought you were going to fall off? You did.  So lack of confidence. After a while, you can get on a bicycle and go peddling down the roads without falling off because you're so confident. You don't fall off most of the time anyway.  But it certainly is a lack of confidence which makes you fall off in the same way. It whatever you do in this world, whether it's studying for a degree or working in an office or even being a senior monk and giving a talk in front of 300 400 people every Friday night. Confidence is what makes you succeed or which makes you feel bad if you've got laughs in  even told the young man causing girls, if you're confident, then you get lots of girlfriends. You get that your confidence. You're wasting your time, mate.  Isn't that true? Confidence. But of course,  here we're not talking about worlds, things here we're talking about  that which is going to lead to your peace and your happiness.  When you're going to do well. Let's just think a little bit more on wealthy things. If you're going to be successful in life, develop that confidence. That's also once a day was worried about the success in the university career. Get up in the morning and just say, I can.  It's possible. Say that to yourself and what you're doing is you're conditioning yourself. You're brainwashing yourself to succeed. I can. I will. It will happen.  If you don't do that, then what happens? You waste so many hours worrying, I'm not going to do this. It's not going to work. I'm going to fail. How much time is wasted worrying? That's why my confidence succeeds. Instead of wasting time worrying, you just get to the task you put all the time  in doing what you should be doing. Confidence leads to energy, leads to focus.  Lack of confidence. When you give up, you just haven't got the energy. You just can't get yourself motivated. What's the .16? Confidence gives rise to energy, and because of that energy, you will succeed soon.  So the secret to success in life starts with his confidence, with his faith in your own ability to succeed. And that comes in meditation. I usually give one talk in every meditation retreat, long retreat on faith and confidence, basically telling the meditators that you can succeed. You can get all the way into the deepest jar, into enlightenment itself.  If they didn't believe that, there would be no hope at all. The confidence which opens the doors even to enlightenment, even. There are some traditions in Buddhism which say that you can't become enlightened anymore. I'm not quite sure where this tradition originated from, but some of you may have come across it. They say for the first 500 years after the death of the Buddha that people can become, I'm enlightened and fully enlightened with all the psychic powers.  After 500 years to 1000 years they can still become enlightened but no psychic powers. From 1000 to 1500 years they can become non returners. The next stage now for enlightenment. Very close, but not quite. From 1500 years to 2000 years after the death of the Buddha, you can become a once returner from 2000 to 2500 years after the Buddha you can become a stream enter the lowest part of enlightenment. But after 2500 years I'm sorry, you just missed the boat  because the budget died just over 2500 years ago. Oh, what a shame. Very close for too late. Sorry  that's what some people teach and because of that some nuns even don't even try the nuns don't even bother to develop a meditation I think it's impossible and because of that there's not as many enlightened, monks, nuns, people in the world.  Because of that one idea. Because they've got no faith and confidence, they think it won't work.  Fortunately, I came from a tradition where they were living in might being.  Straight away we knew no matter what anyone said, it's possible, it can happen.  That's one of the most wonderful things about being in such a powerful tradition in monasteries which were living in just the same way as the Buddha was living. I was meditating the same way the Buddha and the great monks and duns of that time meditated for living in Saxon the same way, doing the same thing, eating the same results. It gave enormous faith to see things happening.  When you got that faith,  you know that these people can become enlightened. You think, Why not me? You have faith and confidence that it can happen. And so you develop that faith and confidence in all stages of the practice. You have faith and confidence that you can keep five precepts. Not killing, not stealing, not committing adultery, not lying, not taking alcohol and drugs. I can do that. I can live up to that, no matter how hard you think it is.  I can do it, isn't it? That one of the most important things about giving up an addiction like smoking, like alcohol, or even the worst addiction like heroin or marijuana.  I can do this. It's possible.  And doesn't that help? Isn't that help? I think think other people who've done it,  other people who can keep five precepts and could be happy.  Well, that's trouble, isn't it? People say you keep five pre steps, you're going to be miserable.  I remember just going to a retreat in Safety Bay and hearing a couple of the people who are going to church close by after going to church, they partied and one of them said to the other, Be good. And the other one said,  if I'm good, I'm not going to have a good time. As if the only way to be happy in the world is to be bad and break all your precepts and rules of religion.  But I guarantee you that that is not true. The more moral and ethical you are, the more happy you will be, the more precepts you keep, the bigger the smile, because  bye. When I gave up things and I gave up being mischievous as a young student, I became happier  when I gave up drinking at parties I found out I enjoyed myself more. You could still joke and laugh and have a fun time. Sometimes I like to even tape some of the conversations we have at the monastery with celebrate monks about the tea time. Just howling with laughter. Sometimes  I'm sure people, if they came to our monastery between six and seven, we usually lock the doors before they think we're all drunk up there. The way we were cutting a cabin, but no alcohol up there. Just like pure kindness, friendship and community of your best friend you trust and have faith in  you have a lot of happiness. You have a lot of faith that keeping morality and virtuous leads to fun, leads to enjoyment.  I had the idea, I'm not quite sure about people these days when I was a young man that you were stupid to go to church or go to monasteries. That's boring. All the fun sort of happened to the nightclubs or the bars. I was wrong. All the fun happens when you're good.  I have that much faith that goodness sees the happiness. That's why the more rules I can keep, the better. Give me more.  And the same with meditation. To have faith in the present moment. Have faith in silence. Someone asks to me just the other day at the monastery I can't become quiet in my meditation. Whenever I try to meditate, some mind goes sinking or running all over the place. Why? They asked me. Because we haven't got faith in silence.  All your faith isn't thinking. 4s Do you believe that thinking is important?  That thinking is going to lead to solutions? You got no faith at all. That silence will lead to solutions, that silence to contest.  That's why a lot of people.  Have difficulty meditating. They haven't got faith in silence. Something good and worthwhile. If you truly have faith in silence,  if you believed in it, if you have confidence in it, and as soon as silence arose in your mind, it would be like meeting your mother, you would be able to relax in your mother's warm, safe, secure embrace. You can relax and embrace the silence. You would not need to struggle and move. If your mother is holding you, you're safe. You don't need to do anything.  It's because people haven't got faith inside and they do things. They've got no confidence, they cannot relax. A little bit of silence comes up and it's like riding a bike. You don't feel at ease and so you wobble and fall off. Silence.  Smarter to have that faith and confidence in silence. So much so you can rest in silence.  When you rest in silence without being in motherfucker, you can just go to sleep. You don't have to do anything. Your mother will look after you. Silence will look after you. Go deeper into the meditation. It needs more and more confidence and faith. The deeper you go, you're going to go some very profound places.  Sometimes people aren't sure where they're going. Sometimes you get into bliss in meditation. And it's fascinating for me, as a meditation teacher, having experienced lots of meditation myself, to see why on earth people are so stupid. They haven't got faith in bliss.  As soon as bliss comes up, this can't be right, and they go and move away. Wonderful bliss happening, alas, after all these years of meditating and sitting here and everything happens, wow. Marvel is wonderful. Sorry, I don't want this. It's a bit too powerful. It's a bit too much. This can't be right.  Bliss out in meditation. 4s I was very fascinated to read the Buddha. The old Buddha said on several occasions, even for his monks and his monks and nuns, do not be afraid of that bridge which occurs in deep meditation.  Don't be afraid of it. Make much of it, indulge in it, get into it, do it as much as you like. He said it's good for you. It leads to new balance.  You have to have confidence in those powerful states of mind. Have faith in them so that when they arrive, you can let go.  It's like a child in the arms of his mother. You can completely relax. Don't do anything. Then you can enjoy the grits.