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Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?

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Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi all,

Context:

I'm a self-diagnosed Dark Night yogi, I think I first crossed the A&P about 15 years ago. I've been practising vipassana for only 6 months, which I learned on my first ever retreat (10 days, Goenka-style) although I started anapanasati using awareness of breath at the tip of the nostrils about 12 months ago.

I also practice daily pranayama (yoga) breathing for about 45 minutes. Intuitively, I look at pranayama as another form of concentration practice. This is based purely on the observation that it leads to temporary blissful states, same as the samadhi practices of Buddhism do. Also that one of the later "limbs" of yoga (there are eight in total) is called, intriguingly, samadhi.

Six weeks ago, I took a deliberate break from anapana and vipassana, but continued practising the pranayama daily. Due to "stuff" going on at the time, I didn't trust myself to stay out of content during my sitting, and for better or worse in terms of progress, decided that a period without meditation was a sensible solution.

Three weeks ago, I started daily sitting again, doing pure concentration meditation (anapana) for about 45 minutes daily. Adding in the pranayama (if you go along with my assertion that it is a form of concentration practice) gives a total of 1.5 hours daily concentration practice.

Not a huge deal, you'd think. In three weeks, I start a 21-day Mahasi Sayadaw-style retreat at the International Buddhism Centre, Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand (http://www.fivethousandyears.org/mos/).

The reason for my post:

In terms of the Five Spiritual Faculties, I feel like I have Energy in spades, Concentration is stuttering, Wisdom is maxing out (for me) and my Faith in the practice/teachings (usually quite strong) is the weakest of the four.

Continues ...

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/1/09 11:26 AM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
Continued from above ...

I got into a similar pattern on the 10-day retreat six months ago. I have since read (again in MCTemoticon that practising Mindfulness *is* a balancing force for the other four Faculties, and I have noticed this in my own practice. However, this pattern seems to be my current weak spot, because when Faith is lacking, the bottom drops out of my discipline and I am not *inclined* to practice Mindfulness. I don't know any other way to bring the Faith into balance, can someone help me?

Given that I am going to be on retreat again shortly, preferably tips that I can use in a meditation centre. I enjoy reading Buddhist scriptures if they are well translated (not too formal, I don't like preachy language). I have considered reading tales of the life of the Buddha, I think that could help remind me that I am incredibly fortunate to be receiving these instructions, and a bit of a towering, mythical figure could actually do me some good by providing something that even my incredible competitiveness can't possibly match emoticon

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/1/09 11:31 AM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
If it helps, below are some further descriptions of my current state.

Imbalanced Faith creates increasing cynicism towards the practice, overly analytical mindset, creating a lack of discipline. Stuttering Concentration I can handle (having so-called ADHD, I know how to ride the wide focus). The imbalance between Wisdom and Faith is my main problem. Having said that, the imbalanced Energy brings out a lot of arrogance, which on retreat I directed towards the other participants.

The result: some nasty kind of competitive-conceptual trip. On retreat this kicked in around day 6. I decided I didn't need this style of meditation, stopped all self-guided practice and developed an internal sneer for the slow trudge that everyone appeared (to my eyes) to use as their only gait. Eventually, I requested to leave the course (on day 8!). Luckily I had a very compassionate teacher who met with me at short notice and calmed me down (through talking about content, interestingly enough).

I'm burning up. Except for the Goenka retreat, today is the strongest I've ever felt this much Energy, like a furnace has opened somewhere. Could this be the A&P again? I think I cross it quite often, every few months or so, and have been for years, even without formal meditation practice. "Crossing it" for me is usually associated with an intense recurring dream, which did recur recently although it was the most gentle version of it I've ever had.

My spine feels like it's made of magma. I've slept 2-4 hrs last 4 nights, without stress or tiredness. Today during pranayama I felt like I was inhaling an ocean with each breath. Which was kinda fun emoticon

I've a close friend who's bipolar and the way I feel right now is how I imagine his episodes of mania would feel, except without any irritation at all. Ok, maybe there's a bit of irritation emoticon but I feel generally very happy and excited.

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/1/09 11:34 AM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
Let me rephrase the final sentence in para 1: can someone "please" help me emoticon

Huge infodump here, sorry.

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/1/09 12:54 PM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
Hi, this is a section of a message I sent to a friend who was having trouble with self confidence. It's worded a bit funky for your needs, but you seem bright enough to glean the implicit info out:

"A healthy substitute for confidence is faith. Have faith in the fact that your mind is fundamentally the same architectural structure as any other person on this planet. It is composed of the same essential "elements," layers, causality and so forth. Thus, have faith in your teacher-- they genuinely know first hand that anyone can do it. Have faith in your God; would he really give you the short end of the stick? Have faith in yourself, the path, the technique, and everything you can find to have faith in.

What is the worst alternative you can think of for ill-placed faith? Failure? Define it. What failure are you afraid of exactly? If you're afraid of not progressing, then check in with the fact that a lack of faith will actually end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy in this case.

If, after careful analysis, you feel your faith is not well placed in an individual or a technique or whatever, then simply get rid of whatever that is. If you don't have faith in something, the ability it has to serve you is limited."

The takeaway: faith takes many forms, one of which can be faith in all of the other faculties you mentioned. It doesn't have to necessarily be "faith in the dharma set forth by the buddha." That will grow through time.

Best,
Trent

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/1/09 2:40 PM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
Author: ccasey

Hi,
I'd encourage you to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha. Find ways to connect with the triple gem in your life. You can also chant this in Pali. Here is a link for some reading:
http://www.nalandabodhi.org/buddha_dharma_sangha.html
Here is a link to listen and/or participate in chanting:
http://www.buddhadhammasangha.com/SecondLevelSite/ThirdLevelSite/AudioAndVideo/Audio/BuddhistChanting.htm

with metta, CCasey

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/1/09 7:41 PM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
For me, a huge aid in the faith department has been simply looking over the threads in this forum. You'll be sure to find two or three credible types that look to be similar enough to you, who have attained to stream entry and beyond. Maybe you can tune into that, and into a sense of gratitude for their existence and their willingness to share their experiences here.

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/1/09 8:14 PM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
Author: AngelinaChan-Ong

Hi,
If you are already familiar with Vipassana, perhaps just note that they are imbalanced. Keep forcing through to enhance faith, and faith goes away even easier. Note that it is at this time at a low, with others high, and later you might suddenly realise that faith has become so much stronger as you progress in your meditation. It's always a yo-yo as nothing is permanent. And by remembering the truth that nothing is permanent, your faith would return as you see impermanence, and your suffering as you struggle to try getting that balance, and non-self as it is not self-afflicted but the faith seems to have gone low without your wishing it to be. Realise this, and know that the doctrine is true, that the Dhamma is the ultimate truth, the Lord Buddha has taught well, and you will find your faith stronger than it had ever been.

RE: Tips for bolstering Faith as a Spiritual Faculty?
Answer
6/3/09 11:16 AM as a reply to Cameron Wilding.
When I hit this problem on retreat, the teacher talked to me about self doubt. Yabaxoule, your succinct statement about examining the fear and defining failure really brings it back to earth.

I've just re-read some of the starred chapters from MCTB. They reminded me that good dharma is a rare and precious thing. I found that quite sobering.

Thankyou all for the very helpful tips.