In many religions it is common to say: "Have faith in God" or Jesus or Allah...

In Buddhism we believe in Kamma, meaning that what happens to us is due to our past actions and it is usually not (or never) influenced by an external being. (It can change from school to school, some may pray and ask for things)

So if there is something I want, something I judge important, should I have faith that it will come true? Or should I just do what I think is right and forget about it? What is the best way for a Buddhist to act in this situation?

PS: Please ignore the fact that I want something, I know this could be questioned in Buddhism as the wrong way to happiness, but that would be a different question :)

  • 2
    Are you asking if buddhist, in general, should have faith (in buddhist doctrine, in the Buddha, etc.), or if buddhism supports the idea that merely having faith in an outcome turns the outcome into reality?
    – user382
    Apr 16, 2015 at 8:02

8 Answers 8


In the Kalama Sutta, the Buddha is reported as saying that Buddhist principles should not be accepted without evidence, and that 'it is proper ... to doubt'. Confidence/trust (sraddha) in the teachings is important, but 'blind' faith is actively discouraged. Here's what he is reported as saying:

"It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them...
Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.

Kalama Sutta: The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry


Well, not to get too academic in one's understanding, but it would be advisable to check out The Five Strengths

Which are also known as The 5 Powers, The 5 Spiritual Powers. Edward Conze calls them The Five Spiritual Faculties.


This article by Sarah Doering from 1999 is really awesome from what I can tell so far

Such faith is born in experience. It can’t be given. It arises spontaneously, out of seeing and knowing for oneself. From it flow devotion and gratitude and commitment. It’s a natural self-giving. It stems from knowing the problematic nature of life, from realizing that human existence is very imperfect. Because of this one is sensitive to what else might be, to some other way of being. Faith may arise from hearing the Buddha’s words that say there’s a cause for suffering, a cause that can be removed so that suffering comes to an end. It may arise from seeing someone whose presence, whose manner or words, are so compelling, that they suggest possibilities not at all understood. It may come from reading something that suddenly reveals a meaning that speaks to the heart. It may dawn through music or art or, as happened to me, from a glimpse of something seen in nature.

more at http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma7/5powers.html

So, in a way, faith is very foundational to Buddhism. Reasoned faith is stronger than blind faith, but both are good if they are genuine, because the path actually works.

People born in places where Buddhism is the norm might not have looked very much at the teachings at all and still be living a life very in accord with Dhamma. For people where the teachings appear later (in life) it's natural and good to reason and weigh things. Eventually confidence is born, and with great faith come great blessings.


The Brahmajala Sutta lists 62 confused views or categories. These views are reduced to the "causes" of Nagarjuna's epic Mulamadhyamakakarika; Chapter 1.1 which "causes" he then disproves. With careful examination and contemplation there is the realization that all "-isms", "-ologies", "-ocracies", and so forth can be reduced to one of these 62 confused views and subsequently to one of the four erroneous "causes" which Nagarjuna disputes. "Faith" and "belief" have no basis in experiential and/or empirical knowledge which is the foundation that leads to becoming thus gone. Since dhamma-vinaya does not fit into any of these views or categories, dhamma-vinaya is not a "belief system" or a religious faith. It is the human science of living in the world while becoming liberated from dispositions that are the causal conditions and effects of karma and samsara. Nibbana does not depend on faith or belief but the effort utilized to appease those dispositions of greed, hatred and delusion. I hope this is of some benefit and comfort. Shanti.

  • thanks, very good answer from a good mahayana's point of view. IMHO I would just be more carefoul with the word "science" as it can confuse people.
    – konrad01
    Mar 10, 2015 at 11:50
  • bad answer IMHO, it may be that some traditions frown on it but that simply is NOT always the case
    – user2512
    Mar 10, 2015 at 21:12
  • Religion is a system of beliefs not founded on anything but faith in metaphysics. Dhamma-vinaya is a science founded on empirical knowledge that anyone can verify by experience and observation of the mental processes of meditation and concentration. This was the teaching of the Enlightened One. As for traditions, I put little value in them.
    – J. Schibik
    Apr 3, 2015 at 2:40

So if there is something I want, something I judge important, should I have faith that it will come true?

I think it depends on what you want.

If you want to win the lottery then, probably not. I mean, maybe having such a faith might help you psychologically somehow, but there's no real reason to assume that faith is justified i.e. that you will in reality win the lottery.

Conversely if you want to follow the Buddha's teaching, then maybe that faith is justified. The Buddha said that he taught suffering and the end of suffering, and there's probably reason to believe that if you learn what he taught then the outcome may be as predicted.

According to answers to this topic which, describe faith in Buddhism i.e. śraddhā, having 'faith' will help you to begin to practice even before you have a complete/perfect knowledge/wisdom.


You should have some faith in the Buddha, the practice the Buddha taught (the way out of unsatisfactory nature of existence) and your teacher and the spiritual community you rely on.

If you do not have some faith in any of the above you will not learn the technique properly or practice in earnest.

The ultimate faith would be gained when you experience the results of the practice. If faith is not backed by experience then it can be very dangerous as you can develop confidence in erroneous concepts and hold on to them.


The faith follower basically has faith in the Buddha as the teacher of the path to the end of suffering, the Dhamma (teachings of the Buddha) and the Sangha (the 8 types of individuals on the path). This faith will eventually drive him towards making progress on the path.

The Kitagiri Sutta defines a faith follower as follows:

“What kind of person is a faith-follower? Here some person does not contact with the body and abide in those liberations that are peaceful and immaterial, transcending forms, and his taints are not yet destroyed by his seeing with wisdom, yet he has sufficient faith in and love for the Tathāgata. Furthermore, he has these qualities: the faith faculty, the energy faculty, the mindfulness faculty, the concentration faculty, and the wisdom faculty. This kind of person is called a faith-follower. I say of such a bhikkhu that he still has work to do with diligence. Why is that? Because when that venerable one makes use of suitable resting places and associates with good friends and nurtures his spiritual faculties, he may by realising for himself with direct knowledge here and now enter upon and abide in that supreme goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the home life into homelessness. Seeing this fruit of diligence for such a bhikkhu, I say that he still has work to do with diligence.

Also from the Vinnana Sutta (and other suttas from SN25):

"One who has conviction & belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.



"Monks, I do not say that the attainment of gnosis is all at once. Rather, the attainment of gnosis is after respectively training, respectively action, respectively practice. And how is there the attainment of gnosis after respectively training, respectively action, respectively practice?

  1. There is the case where, when conviction (faith) has arisen, one visits [a teacher].
  2. Having visited, one request to be his attendant (see vinaya mahāvagga mahākhandhaka, and CH. III TAKING A MEDITATION SUBJECT of Visuddhimagga)
  3. Having been attendant, one listen carefully.
  4. Having listened carefully, one hears the Dhamma.
  5. Having heard the Dhamma, one memorizes it (dhatā=sutadharo).
  6. Having remembered by memorizing, one ponders the meaning of the teachings.
  7. Having pondered the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings.
  8. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, wish-to-do arises.
  9. When wishing-to-do has arisen, one exerts.
  10. When one exerted (an effort), one meditates insight.
  11. Having meditated insight, one dedicates his life.
  12. Having dedicated his life, one realizes with the mind (discernment's body) the ultimate truth and, having penetrated, enlightened, it with discernment, sees it.

"Now, monks, there hasn't been that conviction, there hasn't been that visiting, there hasn't been that attending ... that listening carefully ... that hearing of the Dhamma ... that memorizing ... that penetration of the meaning of the teachings ... that agreement through pondering the teachings ... that wishing-to-do ... that effort ... that meditating insight ... that dedicating his life. You have lost the way, monks. You have gone the wrong way, monks. How far have you strayed, foolish men (moghapurisa), from this Dhamma & Discipline!

I have edited many part of the translated sutta follow to many pali of many sutta and commentaries. I wish the editing makes easier for the reader to connect the sequence of steps.


If not having faith in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, such would not valid allow the use of "Buddh(a)ist" per definition of the Buddha.

"Should I have faith that it will come true?" vs. "Or should I just do what I think is right?"

If seeing that there is not different, than one has actually faith, but just to the amout of the quality of "think that is right". Now for more better than used, one has to open ones faith in doing good more than used.

There is not a single action, all of the time, that does not require faith at first place, that expected results will come by it. Each step, each word, each taken on thought. Only an Arahat acts on knowing as he has no more what he desires to gain.

As for wishing to be a Buddhist, better do Buddhist, it requires min. faith into Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

Saddha increases and gets firm only by practice, doing and by no other way: Dana, Sila, Reflecting the Dhamma. And without faith, doubt (one of the 5 hindances), no progress or even worse.

Nothing is more importand as to associate with people of less to no doubts to gain required faith. Something that is surely hard to gain if under people who didn't left home.

Faith, Saddha (meaning willing to sacrifices toward skillful) is the primare cause of the "depending co-disappearing", e.g. gaining path and fruit.

joy has conviction/faith as it's prerequisite...concentration...release has dispassion as its prerequisite, knowledge of ending has release as its prerequisite."

More on the huge importance of faith: - "For a lay person, there are these five rewards of conviction. Which five? - Respect, Confidence and Patient - Faith In Awakening - Refuge: An Introduction to the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha - The Truth of Rebirth: And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice or - A Look at the Kalama Sutta

(Not given for trade, exchange, stacks or what ever binds, is for bounds, but as a tiny door for an exit from the wheel)

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