Saddha has been referred to as the confidence towards the understanding of Lord Buddha (Saddhahati Tathagatassa Bodhin). All of us must endeavour to at least come to Saddha in this life. Why? If we come to Saddha it will enable us to get all the improvements. There can be no improvement or progress without Saddha.
Therefore we must generate the will to develop Saddha (This does not imply that you do not have or have Saddha). Although we accumulate a lot of things, we cannot receive the benefits from Dhamma without Saddha.
If a person comes to Saddha he is referred to as one who has come to Samma Ditthi (right understanding). A worthy person. So it is a very delicate matter. We must understand that this is something which cannot be done easily. A person has to be very fortunate for this.
If we instill Saddha in us and develop it, our Sakkaya Ditthi (the idea of self) leaves us. It is a very delicate matter. That is why Lord Buddha preached that it is more delicate than shooting one seventh of a horse hair with another seventh part of a horse hair face to face.
Why was a horse hair taken for this simile? Because a horse hair is thinner than a human hair. Then how difficult is shooting like this? It is said that breaking Sakkaya Ditthi is even more difficult. It is true that it is very difficult. But it does not imply that it is impossible.
If one thinks that it is impossible to come to it, it actually becomes impossible. The same thing happens when one thinks that I can. I understand or I have understood. If one thinks that he cannot do it, he will not be able to do it. When one keeps on getting entangled in these thoughts the rare opportunity that has come our way gets thrown away from us.
We must try as much as possible to come to Saddha. If not we are likely to go astray. There are many avenues that can lead us astray. But for Nibbana there is only one road. Only one guide.
That single road is thinking that “Lord Buddha knows. I do not know” (Keetagiri Sutta). The only guidance we get is from the sincere friend.
The idea that “I know” nurtures our mind with several things. Finally even the Dhamma we study may be taken in that way. Without allowing that to happen try to come to the view “I do not know. Only Lord Buddha knows. I will accept it that way”.
We come here after learning many things. We think that “I am the one who knows”. Finally we call ourselves as knowing the Dhamma well. Why? We are in the opinion that “I am the one who knows”.
It is like this. There is a bush of thorns at the bottom of a hill. When it rains fertile soil settles down round the thorn bush after getting washed down from the hill. The soil is fertile but what gets nurtured is the thorn bush.
Like this it is the fertile soil of Dhamma that we gather round us. But what gets nurtured is the thorn bush called “I am the one who knows”. When the thorn bush grows up even an animal does not approach it. Will not go even passing it. In the same way the biggest danger to a person on arriving at the view “I know”. “I understand” is his becoming a person who does not listen.
He loses his sincere friend. He loses listening to Dhamma. (He loses both external sources of help). Then what is he left with? Only with the notion “I know” and “I understand”. He keeps on repeating this. Finally he will say “No one taught me. I studied on my own. I do not need anyone now. I will become solitary now”.
This is a big danger. Therefore you always think “Whatever Lord Buddha taught I will do it in that way”. Think that you are the listener. What we want is to get released from Sansaric Sorrow. That is why Lord Buddha preached to king Kosala as follows.
“Oh Maharaja. This is how you must discipline yourself. I will become a person with sincere friends. I must get inclined to having sincere friends”.
(Kalyana Mitta Sutta – Sanyutta Nikaya 01)
You also think this way. Then you will not be in the position of “I know”. When you think that way the idea “I know” will wear off. Then association with sincere friends becomes delightful for him. He will not be able to be without sincere friends. He gets the opportunity to listen to Dhamma. Yonisomanasikara (thinking wisely as mentioned in Dhamma) arises in him. He develops the Noble Eight Fold path. This happens solely due to association with sincere friends.
The individual without that idea develops the notions “I know”, “That person cannot understand”. Lord Buddha has explained how we can come to Saddha straight away. We must be humble enough to do so.
To do so we frequently practice “Lord Buddha knows…….” I am a person with sincere friends….”. We must practice these things fearlessly. If we practice these, no one can prevent us from getting onto the path leading to Nibbana. Why? Because Lord Buddha preached. So it will never change. Look at this discourse.
Chakku Sutta (Okkanthi Sanyutta – Sanyutta Nikaya.03)
Oh monks, Eye is an impermanent object. A changing object. Something that transfers to another form. Ear is an impermanent object……. Nose…….. Tongue…….. Body……. Mind is an impermanent object. A changing object. Something that transfers to another form.
Oh monks, if someone believes these principles in that way, gets immersed in Saddha he is referred to as Saddhanusari. He will not die until he attains the fruit of Sotapanna (the first stage on the path to deliverance)
What is meant by “in that way” It means in the way explained. What is meant by “having confidence?” Accepting what Lord Buddha has preached as correct is confidence. This confidence will in time to come will turn out to be something clear to the person. The belief will transform into an understanding within us.
Lord Buddha knows that the person with defilements is wrapped up in the idea of the ego. Also that he is wrapped up in the concept “I know”. Therefore Lord Buddha is well aware of this idea being doubted. Some people struggle to understand this in depth. Lord Buddha did not preach it that way. He wanted us to accept that these principles (eye is impermanent…….). He wanted us not to doubt them.
Why does he preach so much about this? If we accept this, from that moment we start getting released from the Sansara. Lord Budda preaches it with great compassion. (see..Chakku Sutta…..Saddhanusari).If someone accepts these principles he immediately becomes Saddhanusari. A clever person does not take much time.
We must read these preachings even hundreds of times and try to understand and come to that level. Think and retain in your memory the following “I will obey Lord Buddha and conduct myself in the way he wanted us to conduct ourselves. I will not do anything else”.
Getting back to the simile about the thorny bush. When it rains fertile soil comes down to the bush of thorns and it grows up in a couple of days. Ultimately it becomes too big to be pulled out. Sin is also like that. So we must pull out this thorny bush and plant a good tree on that fertile soil. The biggest thorn bush we have is the notion “I know”.
The good tree we plant after uprooting the thorny bush is “Lord Buddha knows. I don’t know”. These thoughts lift up the man to a noble level. If he arrives in the idea “We know” it amounts to our tightening our own necks. We read what Lord Buddha has preached. Then we assume “I know”. How low? Wish that such a thing will not happen to even an enemy.
Therefore if we become humble in that manner we would have done something very much beneficial to our lives. The instant we start having confidence that way, Kammic actions, causing rebirth in the fourfold hells will not get performed by us.
Form the discourse:-
“He is not capable of performing any Kamma which results in birth in hell, world of Petas or in the world of animals. He has no ability to die without attaining the fruit of Sotapanna”.
So haven’t we come to the correct track? So, you must try to arrive at this stage even after trying all your life time. Form the discourse:-
“Oh monks, if someone has a sufficient understanding of these principles through wisdom, he is referred to as Dhammanusari”.
If someone believes that these principles are like this and starts practicing, he starts understanding them as time goes on.
From the preaching;-
“Oh monks, If someone understands these principles in that way, sees them that way, he will not fall into hell, he will definitely have the refuge of Nibbana”
The understanding in such a person will one day turn out to be a realization. To achieve this big thing, the thorn bushes that have to be got rid of are “I am the one who knows”. “I can” “I have memorized. The other fellow cannot”. “I understand well. I can speak well”. You must not have room for these and discipline this mind saying “I will do whatever the Lord Buddha preaches and whatever my sincere friend tells me to do”.
This immense benefit has come to us. It is a pity if we let go of it. Therefore let us all try our best not to leave room for those immature thoughts. It is because we do not have confidence that we say “this is impossible” etc.
These can be broken only by the person who is associating with sincere friends. If somehow or other we step into Saddha we will be able to end our Sansaric journey at most in seven births. But if we become impatient it will be like trying to see the same dream again.
Therefore do not take trouble to see a dream seen once. Attaining Nibbana is not a dream. Think of establishing Saddha in these principles and think of getting liberated from this sorrowful Sansara.
It is the nature of the person who has developed Saddha in respect of these principles to endeavour to do it with mind, word and body. Then delight arises in him. Why? Because all his doubts leave him. When there are doubts he thinks “I do not understand. I do not know whether it will be possible” etc.
The hindrances develop in him. Pleasant words, thoughts, deeds do not arise in him. His sense organs are not pleasant. Even the face is unpleasant. If the doubts are to be removed develop Saddha in these principles. Then he will think of the principles. Then he will live in delight. His thoughts, words and deeds will be beautiful. Even the facial expressions will be delightful. There will be no remorse, worries or difficulties in him. He will be inclined to help others. Such a group of people would be like flowers in a flower garden.
He thinks of the good qualities of those who helped him. ‘Ingratitude’ will leave him.
The instant he arrives in Saddha, gratitude arises. He meditates without difficulty. He attains concentration. When he thinks of these principles while in concentration he understands “this eye is impermanent….” It becomes a realization to him. Then where did we start? After pulling out the thorn bush called “I know” and instilling Saddha.
Dr Padmaka Silva
(Compiled with instructions from Ven Nawalapitiye Ariyawansa Thero)
This article has been taken from DailyNews online edition.