Confidence Beyond Doubt
We need confidence that is beyond belief and wishful thinking. Confidence must be without conceit. True confidence is unshakeable, which leads to unshakeable compassion. This is not for the faint hearted!
Although we have much to learn (or rather refine), we can still have confidence beyond doubt.
Once we understand, or get even a glimpse of the essential nature of a subject, we know that we are heading in the right direction. “I am looking in the right direction, and therefore my life is fruitful.”
We have to bear in mind that different spiritual traditions express the same essential nature differently, which can cause doubt. And then again, in Buddhism, there are the nine levels, each saying the same thing but with a different meaning. This can be very confusing. Compassion could mean compassion for the few we like, or compassion for the many, none excluded. This is not for the faint hearted!
Part of the Dharma says, “There is no I,” and another part says, “May I be reborn in Dewachen (Buddha realm)”. Comprehension depends on our understanding, and we have to remember that there is literal expression and expedient expression. Understood in the right context, there can be no doubt.
Even though, in Buddhism, there is much to learn and discuss, it all comes down to the awareness of awareness – pure awareness. Anything else is merely the “Emperor’s new clothes”; the passing-by of naked appearances. We can have total confidence in our own awareness, as this can be recognised and therefore proven. Nothing can destroy pure awareness, but it can be – and is – easily distracted.
The importance of having confidence beyond doubt may even mean that we might not totally agree with our teacher. We can accept what is said, but may not see it quite that way. This may be because a teacher may be using expedient speech at a certain level, at a certain moment….or it’s time to move on!
Eastern teachers may say (and quite often do) that westerners use the mantra, “I know, I know!”, meaning “I’ve heard that all before.” It is also possible to say that all sentient beings do know: they are pure knowingness, awareness, perception but do not recognise it. The teacher is there to help us see this. The student may say, “I know, I know!” for one reason…they have acquired answers before they had questions, and as a result, they lack confidence in what they think they know. They’ve heard and acquired the theory…and just want more theory!
We go to teachers to learn, and unfortunately, we merely collect answers to questions that have not arisen in our own lives as a result of personal suffering.
True confidence comes about by experiencing and admitting suffering, and discovering the cause of that suffering. This is tough, and not for the faint hearted! Through this empirical experience, we can truly empathise with others’ suffering, and show that we care: it is beyond theoretical discussion, which only makes matters worse. Unfortunately, many Buddhist cannot do this as they are stuck in re-education, rather than experiencing, which is where confidence comes from.
Perhaps to keep going to teachings just keeps us wanting more, when we have enough. Much learning is for scholars: genuine experience is beyond words, for simple practitioners. It is refinement, and it is through this that confidence is gained. The answer is within…and without.
Confidence beyond doubt
The more we refine,
the finer we get.