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Faith and Belief

Updated on October 8, 2015

Difference between Faith and Belief

Faith to a Christian or to a Mohammedan or to a Hindu is nothing but another word for belief, and a belief is never anything but a repressed doubt.

Every belief has behind it a doubt.

To repress the doubt you believe more and more ... but the doubt goes deeper and deeper into your unconscious.

Faith in the world of Gautam Buddha's experience is not belief.

It has nothing to do with doctrines and philosophies, theologies, ideologies.

It has something to do with trust, something to do with love, something to do with being at ease with the world, however it is.


There is an ancient story of a Zen monk ...

Every night, the king used to go on a round of his capital in disguise, to see whether things were alright or there was some trouble which he was not allowed to know. Is somebody miserable? -- if he could do something, he wanted to know it directly, not through so many mediators and bureaucracies. He was always puzzled by a very beautiful, very silent man, always standing under a tree. Whatever time of the night he went, the man was always standing there silently, just like a marble statue.

Naturally, curiosity arose, and finally he could not resist the temptation to ask this man what he was guarding. He could not see that he had anything ... in fact he was standing naked. The young man laughed and said, "I am guarding myself; I don't have anything else. But guarding itself -- being alert and aware and awake -- is the greatest treasure. You have much, but you don't have the guard."

The king was puzzled, but intrigued by the beauty of the man and by the authority of his words. Every night they used to talk a little bit, and slowly, slowly a great friendship arose. The naked monk never asked, "Who are you?"

The king asked him, "I have been asking so many questions of you -- who you are, from where you have come, what you are doing, what is your discipline -- but you have never asked me, 'Who are you?'"

The young man said, "If you knew who you were, you would not have been asking all these questions. I don't want to humiliate you -- I simply accept whoever you are. I never asked the trees, I never asked the animals, the birds, I never asked the stars -- why should I ask you? It is perfectly good that you are, and I am perfectly at ease with you and with everything."

The question is an uneasiness, it is a tension; it arises deep down from fear. One wants to know the other, because the other may turn out to be an enemy, may turn out to be mad. The other has to be made predictable, then one feels at ease. But can you make anybody predictable?

The young man said, "Nothing can be predicted. Everything goes on moving into more and more mysteries, and I am perfectly at ease; whatever is happening is a joy. Each moment is so sweet and so fragrant, I cannot ask for more. Whoever you are, you are good. I love you, I love everybody ... I simply love. I don't know any other way to relate with existence."

This is faith: not knowing another way to relate with existence except love, except a total acceptance -- the one suchness. The king was so impressed. He knew well that a man who has renounced the world, even renounced his clothes, and in cold winter nights goes on standing alone in his silence, is bound to refuse his invitation -- a simple expectation of any human being.

But he said, "I have fallen in so much love with you that the whole day I wait for when the night comes and I go on my round. I am always afraid that some day you may not be here. I want you to be closer to me. Can I invite you to my palace? I will arrange everything as you want."

There was not even a single moment's hesitation and the man said, "This is a good idea." The king was shocked. One expects from a saint that he has renounced the world, he cannot come back to the world -- and the saint would have risen in honor and respect in his eyes.

But the man said, "This is a perfect idea! I can just go with you right now. I don't have anything to carry with me, no arrangements have to be made."

The king was in doubt -- perhaps he has been befooled. Perhaps this man is not a saint; he has only been pretending and must have been waiting for this moment. But now it was very difficult to take the invitation back. So sadly, reluctantly, he had to take the man whom he had desired so much, loved so much, his company, his presence, his eyes, his every gesture ... He gave him the best palace where his guests, other kings and emperors, used to stay.

He was hoping that the saint would say, "No, I don't need these golden beds and marble palaces. I am a naked monk, more in tune with the trees, with the wind, with the cold, with the heat." But instead of this, the man became very interested. He said, "Great! This is the right place!"

The king could not sleep the whole night, although the monk slept the whole night perfectly well in those luxurious surroundings. From that morning the monk's respectability in the mind of the king went down every day, because he was eating luxurious food, he was no longer naked, he was using the costliest robes. He was not worried about women -- the most beautiful women were serving him and he was quite at ease, as if nothing had happened. He looked just the same as he did naked under the tree.

But it was too much; it was becoming a wound in the king's heart that he had really been befooled, cheated. Now, how to get rid of this man? He is not a saint ... One day he asked him, "I have been carrying a question in my mind for many, many days, but have not been courageous enough to ask."

The man said, "I know -- not many, many days, but from the very moment when I accepted your invitation."

The king was again shocked. He said, "What do you mean?" He said, "I could see that very moment the change in your face, in your eyes. If I had rejected your offer, you would have respected me, touched my feet. But I don't reject anything. My acceptance is total. If you are inviting me, it is perfectly good. When I said the palace is right, it is not the palace that is right, I am right wherever I am. I was right under the tree naked; I am right under these royal robes, surrounded by beautiful women, all the luxuries.

Naturally I know you must be very puzzled. You look tired, you look sad, you don't look your own self. You can ask me the question, although I know the question." The king said, "If you know the question, then the question now is that I want to know what is the difference between me and you?"

The young man laughed and he said, "I will answer, but not here because you will not understand it. We will go for a morning walk, and at the right place, at the right moment, I will answer."

So they both went on the horses for a good morning ride, and the king was waiting and waiting. It was a beautiful morning, but he was not there to enjoy the morning; only the young man was enjoying. Finally the king said, "Now this river is the boundary of my empire. Beyond the river I cannot go; that belongs to someone with whom we have been enemies for centuries. We have ridden miles, and now it is time enough. It is getting hot, the middle of the day."

The man said, "Yes, my answer is -- this is your robe, this is your horse" -- and getting off his horse, he took off the robe. He said, "I am going to the other side of the river, because I don't have any enemies. This robe was never mine, and this horse was never mine. Just one small question: Are you coming with me or not?"

The king said, "How can I come with you? I have to look after the kingdom. My whole life's work, struggle, fight, ambition is behind me in the kingdom. How can I go with you?" The man said, "That is the difference. I can go -- I don't have anything in the palace, I don't have anything to lose, nothing belongs to me. As long as it was available, I enjoyed the suchness of it. Now I will enjoy the wild trees, the river, the sun."

The king, as if awakened from a nightmare, could see again that he had been mistaken. That man had not been deceiving him; he was authentically a man of realization. He said, "I beg your pardon. I touch your feet. Don't go, otherwise I will never be able to forgive myself."

The young man said, "To me there is no problem. I can come back, but you will still start doubting, so it is better that you let me go. I will be just standing by the other side of the bank under that beautiful tree. Whenever you want to come you can come -- at least to the other shore -- and see me. I have no problem in coming back, but I am not coming back because I don't want to disturb your nights and days, and create tensions and worries."

The more he became reluctant, the more the king started feeling sorry and sad, guilty about what he had done. But the young monk said, "You could not understand me because you don't understand the experience of suchness: wherever you are, you are in a deep love relationship with everything that is. You don't have to change anybody, you don't have to change anything, you don't have to change yourself. Everything is as it should be; it is the most perfect world.

"This is my faith, this is not my belief. It is not that I believe it is so, it is that I experience it is so." So 'faith' in the world of Gautam Buddha and his disciples has a totally different dimension, a different significance. It is not belief. Belief is always in a concept -- a God, a heaven, a hell, a certain theology, a certain system of ideas. Belief is of the mind and faith is of your whole being. Belief is borrowed, faith is your own immediate experience. You can believe in God, but you cannot have faith in God. You can have faith in the trees, but you cannot believe in the trees. Faith is existential, experiential.

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Welcome to the Inner World...............

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    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 5 years ago

      Nice lens! Very different lens.

    • MikeRobbers LM profile image

      MikeRobbers LM 5 years ago

      wonderful writing.. meaningful article!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      difference can only know if you try

    • TemporaryTattoo1 profile image

      TemporaryTattoo1 5 years ago

      Very Inspirational lens thanks for sharing with us.