By Nhat Quan
Generating faith, according to the Buddha's teachings, body and mind practice is one of the basic practices of Buddhist followers. However, not everyone can do these things. Many people believe that those who practice Buddhism are turning their backs on the world, and only taking care of their bodies. However, according to the Buddha's teaching, the meaning is very different from the thoughts of people. To study in the spirit of the Buddha's teachings, first to confine body and mind, to live a peaceful life, then to sympathize with the sufferings of others, vowing to do useful things to save lives and help people.
So if you follow the Buddha, you have been learning to open up your heart to become vast and deep, not only for humans and animals but also for plants, flowers, trees, invisible beings, or sentient beings who are suffering exile in the hell realm of suffering.
In the Pali Canons, the Buddha often mentioned four types of people who are living an ordinary life, but because they practice and study according to the Buddha, they lead a noble life, so they are respectable people. According to a sutta belonging to the Southern tradition, it says:
- At one time Buddha was in the country of Savatthi, in the Jetavana forest, in the Jetavana monastery. At that time the World-Honored One said to the bhikkhus: There are four kinds of respectable and precious people who are the field of merit in the world. How is four?
- Maintain trust,
- Believe in the Dharma,
- Self-cultivation and
- Seeing things come to an end.
1- The Keeper of the Faith
As a person who is willing to put himself in the framework of being taught by others, he has faith and no doubt. Having faith in the Tathagata is an enlightened being. They also believe in the Tathagata's teachings, not holding on to their own wisdom. That's called the keeper of the faith.
Belief is the basis of all religions, but in Buddhism, belief must go hand in hand with the right perception. Belief in Buddhism is the right faith, that is, that belief must be righteous and have the right views.
You believe in Buddhism and practice Buddhism because you see the practical benefits of the Buddhadharma for human life and society, and you see that what the Buddha taught is the truth. You realize that Buddhism is not simply a religion but includes science, philosophy, ethics, and the art of life... You admire the Buddha's personality not because of the response to the majority, or because of the ancestors, Your grandparents are Buddhist. The Buddha taught that you should only believe in what brings peace and happiness to you, and to people in the present and in the future, that is true and wise faith.
The belief of Buddhists, who have taken refuge in the Three Jewels. Returning to the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, upholding the five precepts, and practicing the religious life at home, is absolute faith in the Buddha, the Buddhadharma, and the Sangha. Buddhists believe that the Buddha is fully enlightened in three respects:
- Self-realization, enlightenment for others, and perfect enlightenment.
Such faith is faith with wisdom and skillful means. The Buddha can lead you out of the cycle of ignorance and confusion, to peace, to Nirvana. You believe that the Buddhadharma is the truth that the Buddha personally witnessed, the method to end suffering, the way to peace and liberation. You believe that the Sangha is a group of people who follow in the footsteps of the Buddhas on the path of enlightenment and liberation and guide sentient beings. The Mahayana Treatise on Origin of Faith says that there are four types of faith:
- One is the original faith, that is, always thinking of the Dharma as True.
- Second, believe that the Buddha has immeasurable merits, so he often remembers, reveres, makes offerings, and generates a good heart to seek the One-pointedness of wisdom.
- The third is that believing in the Buddhadharma has many benefits, so you often remember to practice to the end.
- Fourthly, believe in the Sangha or practice the conduct of self-benefit for the benefit of others, so you often get close to the Bodhisattvas who seek to learn real conduct.
The Buddha again taught:
- If you have faith but do not understand the teachings, it is easy to grow ignorance and delusion. If you understand the teachings without faith, it is easy to grow wrong views.
Therefore, faith and understanding must be together enough to be the root of spiritual practice. Seeing the beneficial value of the Dharma for life, you generate faith, and by maintaining that belief, you strive to practice the Dharma.
When you have a firm belief, the more you practice, the more you apply it to your life, the more peaceful and happy you will be, and the more your faith will grow and solidify. The Nirvana Sutra says:
- Faith is the cause for hearing the Dharma, and hearing the Dharma is the cause of faith.
You easily give up your religion and change your attitude or opinion just because your belief is not firm. The belief that you have not solidified cannot be maintained for a long time, so you are easily attracted, corrupted, run after false religion, fall into superstition, and do evil things because you do not have sustainable faith.
Another very important thing is your self-confidence. This is the most fundamental belief indispensable. Self-confidence is the belief in your own ability to become enlightened, believing that you will become a Buddha if you put in the effort to practice. Because enlightenment is self-enlightenment and no one can become enlightened for you, if you don't have self-confidence, you don't make effort. In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha taught:
- See yourself as your island. See yourself as your refuge. Do not seek refuge in anyone else.
And the Dhammapada 276 also teaches:
- You must make efforts on your own, the Tathagatas are the only teachers to guide the way.
2- One who self-obeys the Dharma
There are people who distinguish the Buddhadharma, do not believe in others, and contemplate whether the Dharma is present or not, whether it is real or not. Then he thought:
- These are the words of the Tathagata. These are the words of the divine. Knowing that this is the Dharma speech of the Tathagata, that person immediately worships it, and the words of the non-Buddhists immediately abandon it. That is called one who obeys the Dharma.
Considered a follower of the Dharma, a person with a clear view, a person who knows right from wrong, and once he has a right view, then it will definitely not change. True to the spirit of Buddha. You should not concur, like some followers of other religions, in pursuing a faith that lacks any corroborating basis. So the Buddha outlined the approach, and the attainment of the truth consists of 12 very basic and lucid steps. He said that wisdom or truth synonymous with enlightenment, liberation from suffering, or Arahantship does not come to people immediately, but comes from learning slowly, practicing slowly on the basis of thoughts scientific research, and experimentation. The method of approaching and realizing the truth proposed by His Holiness includes the following steps:
1- Initiation of faith: That is, the faith, or esteem, that arises through a full understanding of the guru's conduct and the teachings he teaches.
2- Get close: Contact, close to the teacher to learn the Dharma;
3- Show respect: Have a respectful attitude towards the teacher;
4- Listen: Pay attention to the teacher's advice;
5- Listen to the Dharma: Listen and fully memorize what the teacher teaches;
6- Uphold the Dharma: Receive and fully grasp what the teacher presents;
7- Think about the meaning of the dharmas: Consider the meaning of each teaching or method taught by the teacher;
8- Accepting the dharmas: Agreeing with the dharmas taught by the teacher;
9- Arousing a desire: Arousing a desire to practice or live according to the teachings that you have learned;
10- Effort: Organize your work and spend a lot of time practicing the Dharma you have received;
11- Consideration: Consider and select (investigate) the practice method that is suitable for your living conditions and your ability to develop your mind;
12- Diligence: Day and night ardently practice the Dharma that has been learned and absorbed. Indicates the concentration in practicing the meditation method to realize a liberated mind, and liberating wisdom.
According to the description in the Buddhist Sutras of the zealous and diligent will of a disciple who has established a firm belief in the Master's teaching and lives it up:
- Though only the skin, tendons and bones remain, and though the flesh and blood of the body have withered, may there be an effort to realize what has not been attained, by virtue of patience, by virtue of diligence, the virtue of diligence slender virtue.
Above is the path to realizing the truth consisting of 12 steps of effort. From faith comes diligence or single-pointed obedience, and practice of the teachings taught by the master. It is noteworthy that this process also begins with faith, that is, confidence in the conduct of the teacher, and in the teachings preached by the teacher. But what follows is a whole series of other endeavors that require you to seek the truth, follow the instructions of the Dharma, and do it yourself. It seems that faith is only the first step in your elaborate practice while studying Buddhism because besides faith there are other steps of effort that you as a Buddhist practitioner need to perfect. The Buddha spoke of faith as the basic condition for the operation of the multi-step process of striving for truth. And so, if you just stop at faith, it is not enough to experience or realize the truth. In other words, in addition to faith, you must absolutely obey the instructions in the Dharma and then make a lot of effort to practice and study to achieve the ultimate goal of attaining the truth or liberating suffering.
3- The self-realized person
Here, there is a person who has attained self-realization, and they do not believe in other people, nor do they believe in the words of the Tathagata. They also do not believe in the teachings of the respected people, just go according to their nature. That's called self-cultivation. The following is the process of learning and realizing the truth of the Buddha. In a passage of the Suttas, the Buddha taught:
- Bhikkhus, I do not say that wisdom is accomplished immediately. But, bhikkhus, wisdom is accomplished through gradual learning, and gradual practice. And what, bhikkhus, is wisdom accomplished by gradual learning and gradual practice?
Bhikkhus, a person of faith approaches; after approaching, he pays respects; after paying homage, he stuck his ear; after plugging his ear, he listens to the Dharma; After hearing the Dharma, he receives and upholds the Dharma. After receiving and maintaining the dharma, he ponders the meaning of the dharmas that are upheld and maintained; After contemplating the meaning, the dharmas are approved. After the dharmas are approved, desire arises; after the desire arises, he makes an effort; after the effort, he considers; After pondering, he is diligent. Through diligence, he himself realizes the ultimate truth, and with wisdom penetrating that truth he sees.
The method of self-realization or liberation from suffering that the Buddha proposed is very specific and clear. That is the direction of true belief in the good direction associated with the effort to learn slowly, practice slowly, practice slowly about what you have been exposed to, listened to, learned, pondered, and weighed. Here, there is no dogma or gullibility in the practice of Buddhists. The Buddha spoke of faith but did not accept a lenient attitude in approaching and experiencing truth. In his scriptures, the Buddha once advised his disciples to examine his teachings, even his enlightened status, to be sure of the path they are following. His Holiness confirmed his teachings have the ability to cleanse the mind of defilements and advised practitioners to skillfully experiment step by step to achieve the ultimate goal of experiencing the truth for themselves or being free from suffering. Just like the goldsmith needs to be skillful in the stages of refining and smelting gold ore to finally get the refined gold bar.
Studying Buddhism, professor T. W. Rhys Davids appreciates this very scientific mental attitude of the Buddha when he said that you need to be mindful of its purpose and method. When you compare Buddhism with other religious systems, it becomes clear the role Buddhism has played in the religious history of India and the world at large. According to Rhys Davids:
- Buddhism is one of the scholastic religions. When you hear that it was founded about 500 years before the birth of Christ, you might think Buddhism is too classical, ancient, primitive, and elementary, like the arts and sciences of a distant era. Yet, strictly speaking, Buddhism is one of the newest products of the human mind.
In addition to the 12-step effortful approach and practice of truth, which Rhys Davids considered the newest product of the human mind, there are certainly many other profound and practical issues in Buddhist teachings. It is worth it for people to continue to discover, marvel at, and appreciate Buddha's teachings.
4- The seer arrives at the destination
In the scriptures it says:
- Here, there are people who cut off the three fetters and accomplished the practice of Entering Stream, without turning back. He has the view that there are giving, there is recipients, good and evil retribution, there is this life, the next life, there is a father, there is a mother, there is an Arhat... He has the knowledge, received teachings, and self-certification. That's called the one who sees the destination.
All religions on this planet, basically doctrinal philosophies, are externally oriented. Therefore, the founder of religion teaches followers to practice cultivation to reach certain realms, or even higher, to be integrated into someone that the founder of religion imagines. Only the Buddha said that seeing the Dharma means seeing the Tathagata. The Tathagata is one of the ten titles of the Blessed One. When you see the Tathagata, you are the one who has reached the destination. So what is the Buddhadharma and how to study to see the Buddhadharma?
Dharma is a word whose meaning is profound. So it is very easy to confuse the real and the false, between the means and the ends, between the existent and the non-existent, and generally between the two.
Dharma includes everything in the universe from visible to invisible, from having a mind to not having a mind, from having a form to having no form…etc. All are called Dharma. If you know that Dharma with the six senses, it's called knowledge. Dharma knowledge has two sides, conditioned and unconditioned. The productive Dharma is the dharma and the polluted is the worldly knowledge and understanding. The unconditioned dharma is pure, the dharma of the saints, who have practiced diligently to eliminate defilements. However, both are still in the circle of treatment, so you cannot see the real dharma.
Speaking of the real dharma, it's actually not outside the conditioned and unconditioned, mind or not mind, visible or invisible, polluted or pure... In general, what's in the Dharma Realm, from immeasurable time in the past, until the immeasurable time in the future and even in the present is also true dharma is suchness. The true dharma is such that it cannot be taken or given up, it is neither polluted nor pure, and it cannot be cultivated or studied. True dharma means that such truth is always visible and never hidden. It is neither young nor old, neither large nor small, neither coming nor going, neither old nor new, neither unity nor duality, no mind, no object, no reciprocity...
 Indeed dharma was like that. But from the past until now, not many people see it. Whoever sees the true dharma is the one who has seen it. In order to see the vision to the fullest, the Buddha affirmed that it must be due to diligence, i.e., diligent effort in practicing the Dharma that has been fully studied and absorbed or practiced many times with it, so a bhikkhu himself realizes the ultimate truth.
As you know four classes of respectable people. Respectable people first have faith. Right faith is unwavering faith in the Three Jewels. The Tathagata and the Saints, the holy ones are the enlightened ones, the virtues; are torches that light the way; is the field of ultimate blessing. The stronger the belief in the Three Jewels, the more efforts towards good, along with merit and blessings, will increase.
Not only believe in Buddha but also obey his teachings. Especially when the World-Honored One entered Nirvana a long time ago, obeying the Dharma is meeting the Buddha and listening to him preach. It is by following the Dharma that one should understand and practice the Dharma correctly, and not get lost in the heretical doctrines of non-Buddhists. This is the second class of respectable people.
The important thing is, when you have believed and understood the Dharma, then you have to practice to experience it yourself. That is why there are passages in which the Buddha says:
- Should not believe the Tathagata's words, not believe in the teachings of the respected ones, but only follow your own nature?
Because eating paper-shaped cakes can't be full, counting money to help people can't be rich. The enlightenment and liberation that the venerable ones speak of are theirs, not yours. Understanding and remembering a lot of what they realized does not mean you have realized. So if you study Buddhism to a certain extent, you have to let go to prove yourself, the mind is Buddha, according to your nature. This is the third class of respectable people.
Finally, there are those who reach the first Noble fruition, the Srota-àpanna fruition. Just setting foot in the Holy Order is considered to be irreversible. From the Preliminary Fruition, the sage ascends to the ranks of the saints and attains ultimate liberation.
In short, on the way to study, you are like a boat surfing on the sea, that is, you have to face many difficulties and hardships. But when the boat has a clear direction, knowing exactly where the shore is, it is only thanks to the effort and talent of the captain to steer the boat. You too, once you have a firm belief in the Three Jewels, in yourself, and have clearly seen the goal, with diligence and effort, you will quickly achieve your ideal. If your belief is not firm or believes without wisdom, then that belief is easily swayed by the influence of circumstances or outside religion, heresy. Therefore, the Buddha talked about four classes of people who are worthy of respect, and these are also the four stages you must go through in order to achieve liberation. If you want to succeed, you must follow the order of the layers, sequentially from low to high. You must first have faith, not leave the scriptures, and then personally attain the Saints. When you have penetrated into these four areas, the Blessed One calls you an honorable, precious person, in the field of merit in the world.
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