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From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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faith (sraddha, xinxin): Confidence in your teacher that he or she can lead you to liberation, confidence that the dharma provides the path to achieve liberation; and confidence in yourself that you can do it. All three are very important in the practice of esoteric Buddhism.

See; “shraddha,”

Faith (saddhā) is the acceptance of the Truth of an idea that cannot be known at present or that cannot be known by other means. According to most theistic religions, faith has a metaphysical effect. God requires faith and those who have it are rewarded by being saved. In Buddhism faith is understood very differently. Faith is valued if it engenders a willingness, firstly, to be open to the Dhamma, next, to start practising it and then to persist until results come. If a person did not have at least some faith he or she would never even consider the Dhamma. The Buddhist Philosopher Nāgārjuna put it well when he said: ‘One associates with the Dhamma out of faith but one knows out of understanding. Understanding is the chief of the two but faith comes first.’ At a certain point, however, faith starts to be replaced by Knowledge based on personal experience.

Buddhism distinguishes between baseless faith (amūlikā saddhā) and reasoned faith (ākāravatī saddhā). Faith that is activated by a strong appeal to the emotions, by being impressed by supposed miracles or which leads one to accept the first thing one encounters, without having examined the alternatives, would be examples of the former. Reasoned faith grows out of a careful assessment of probabilities, inferences and facts. This attitude is well illustrated by an encounter between The Buddha and a man named Upāli who was a respected community leader and a follower of Jainism. After a long discussion with The Buddha, Upāli decided to become his Disciple ‘from this day onward for as long as Life lasts.’ But rather than accept Upāli’s avowal of faith The Buddha urged him to take time to consider carefully before making such an important decision: ‘Make a careful Investigation, Upāli. It is appropriate for well-known people like yourself to make a careful Investigation first.’ At this time in India there was considerable competition between the various sects to get disciples and Upāli was surprised by this unexpected advice: ‘I am even more pleased by what you say. If another sect had secured me as a Disciple they would have paraded a banner through the town to let everyone know. But you ask me to make a proper Investigation first.’ Knowing that Upāli had been a Jain The Buddha then asked him to continue supporting his former Religion: ‘For a long time your family has given alms to the Jains. Continue giving them alms when they come.’ (M.I,379).
According to The Buddha, rational faith is ‘rooted in understanding, strong, not to be shaken by any teachers or preachers, devils, gods, God, or by anyone in the World’ (M.I,320) and thus does not need to be buttressed by close-mindedness or a partisan attitude to other religions.


(Skt shraddha; Pali saddha; Jpn shin )

    A basic attitude emphasized in both early Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. Faith constitutes the first of the five roots, or the five elements of practice conducive to Enlightenment, expounded in early Buddhism. The five roots are faith, exertion, memory, Meditation, and Wisdom. Mahayana Buddhism likewise emphasizes the importance of faith. The Flower Garland Sutra says, "Faith is the basis of the way and the mother of Blessings." The Mahaparinirvana Sutra says, "Although there are innumerable practices that lead to Enlightenment, if one teaches faith, then that includes all those practices." In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni addresses Shariputra, who was known as foremost in Wisdom, as follows: "Even you, Shariputra, in the case of this Sutra were able to gain entrance through faith alone. How much more so, then, the other voice-hearers." The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom attributed to Nagarjuna (c. 150-250) reads, "The great ocean of Buddhism can be entered through faith." In Great Concentration and Insight, T'ient'ai (538-597) states, "Buddhism is like an ocean that one can only enter with faith." Another Sanskrit word for faith is adhimukti, which means confidence and is rendered in Chinese Buddhism as "belief and understanding." It means faith based on understanding; it also means to first take faith in The Buddha's teaching and then to understand it. Adhimukti is the Sanskrit title of the "Belief and Understanding" (fourth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra translated by Kumarajiva. The "Distinctions in Benefits" (seven-teenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra says, "Ajita, if there are living beings who, on hearing that the Life span of The Buddha is of such long duration, are able to believe and understand it even for a moment, the benefits they gain thereby will be without limit or measure." In The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, Nichiren (1222-1282) states: "Belief represents the value or price we attach to a jewel or treasure, and understanding represents the jewel itself. It is through the one word belief that we are able to purchase the Wisdom of the Buddhas of the three existences. That Wisdom is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo." See also faith, practice, and study.


śraddhā (f.) faith; devotion.

saddhā: faith, confidence. A Buddhist is said to have faith if "he believes in the Perfect One's (the Buddha's) Enlightenment" (M 53; A.V, 2), or in the Three Jewels (s. ti-ratana), by taking his refuge in them (s. ti-saraṇa). His faith, however, should be "reasoned and rooted in understanding" (ākāravatī saddhā dassanamūlikā; M. 47), and he is asked to investigate and test the object of his faith (M. 47, 95). A Buddhist's faith is not in conflict with the spirit of inquiry, and "doubt about dubitable things" (A. II, 65; S. XLII, 13) is admitted and inquiry into them is encouraged. The 'faculty of faith' (saddhindriya) should be balanced with that of wisdom (paññindriya; s. indriya-samatta). It is said: "A monk who has understanding, establishes his faith in accordance with that understanding" (S. XLVIII, 45). Through wisdom and understanding, faith becomes an inner certainty and firm conviction based on one's own experience.
Faith is called the seed (Sn. v. 77) of all wholesome states because, according to commentarial explanations, it inspires the mind with confidence (okappana, pasāda) and determination (adhimokkha), for 'launching out' (pakkhandhana; s. M. 122) to cross the flood of saṃsāra .
Unshakable faith is attained on reaching the first stage of holiness, 'stream-entry' (Sotāpatti, s. ariyapuggala), when the fetter of sceptical doubt (vicikicchā ; s. saṃyojana) is eliminated. Unshakable confidence (avecca-pasāda) in the Three Jewels is one of the characteristic qualities of the Stream-winner (Sotāpannassa aṅgāni, q.v.).
Faith is a mental concomitant, present in all kammically wholesome, and its corresponding neutral, consciousness (s. Tab. II). It is one of the 4 streams of merit (puññadhārā, q.v.), one of the 5 spiritual faculties (indriya, q.v.), spiritual powers (bala, q.v.), elements of exertion (padhāniyaṅga, q.v.) and one of the 7 treasures (dhana , q.v.).

See Faith in the Buddha's Teaching, by Soma Thera (WHEEL 262). "Does Saddhā mean Faith? by Ñāṇamoli Thera (in WHEEL 52/53).

Saddhā. An upāsikā of Sāvatthi. Thinking that to allow a monk to have intercourse with her would be the highest gift, she accosted a monk and offered herself. The offer was, however, refused. Vin.iii.39.

Saddhā. This Pali term (Sanskrit sraddhā) is translated "faith" and plays an important role in the Buddhist scheme at all stages. It may take several forms, some with more intellectual, others with more emotive content, but it is taken to be an essential element in all forms of Buddhism. In some forms of Mahayana Buddhism (especially the Amida sects) a doctrine of salvation by faith has been developed in a way that seems to approximate to some understandings of the role of faith in popular Protestant [[Wikipedia:Christianity|Christianity]].

Saddhā (f.) [cp. Vedic śraddhā: see saddahati) faith (on term cp. Geiger, Saŋyutta trsln ii.452) D i.63; iii.164 sq.; S i.172=Sn 76; S v.196; Dh 144; A i.150, 210; iii.4 sq., 352; iv.23; v.96; Dhs 12; Miln 34 sq.; Tikp 61, 166, 277, 282. -- instr. saddhāya (used as adv.) in faith, by faith in (acc. or gen.) Vin ii.289 (āyasmantānaŋ); J v.176 (pabbajita); PvA 49 (kammaphalaŋ s.); or shortened to saddhā ( -- pabbajita) M i.123; A i.24; J i.130. The same phrase as saddhāya pabbajita at S i.120 is expld as "saddahitvā" by Bdhgh (see K.S. i.321), thus taking it as ger.
   -- ânusārin walking according to faith M i.479; A i.74; Pug 15; Nett 112, 189. -- indriya (saddh˚) the faculty, i. e. the moral sense, of faith D iii.239, 278; A ii.149; S v.193, 377; Dhs 12, 62, 75; Nett 19. -- cariyā living in faith Vism 101. -- deyya a gift in faith D i.5; Vin i.298; iv.30; DA i.81. -- vimutta emancipated through faith M i.478; A i.74, 118 sq.; Pug 15; Nett 190. -- vimutti emancipation through faith Pug 15.

Faith (Skt. श्रद्धा, śraddhā, Pron.: shraddha ; Tib. དད་པ་, dépa; Wyl. dad pa) —

  1. the gateway to taking refuge, which is of three kinds: vivid faith, eager faith and confident faith.[1]
  2. the third antidote for laziness in the practice of meditation. See the eight antidotes.
  3. one of the eleven virtuous states among the fifty-one mental states of Abhidharma classifications.

Alternative Translations


  1. See Patrul Rinpoche, The Words of My Perfect Teacher (Boston: Shambhala Publications, Revised edition, 1998), pages 171-176, for more details.