June 14, 2022

What’s the point of faith? - Ayya Santussika

What’s the point of faith? - Ayya Santussika

On this episode of Sage Advice we have as our return guest, Venerable Santussika, the abbott of Karuna Vihara in northern California to offer sage advice on what role, if any, does faith play in the Eightfold Path of Buddhist practice.
Ayya Santussika wa...


On this episode of Sage Advice we have as our return guest, Venerable Santussika, the abbott of Karuna Vihara in northern California to offer sage advice on what role, if any, does faith play in the Eightfold Path of Buddhist practice.

Ayya Santussika was born in Illinois in 1954 and grew up on a farm in Indiana. While being a single mother, she received BS and MS degrees in computer science. She worked as a software designer and developer for fifteen years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her search for deeper meaning and ways to be of service led her to train as an interfaith minister in a four-year seminary program that culminated in a Masters of Divinity degree. She began traveling in Asia from 1999, learning from master teachers, particularly in Thailand. It was these experiences, along with time spent at Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in California that caused her faith to develop to the point of choosing to live and practice as a Theravadan nun.

Ayya Santussika entered monastic life as an anagarika (eight-precept nun) in 2005, then ordained as a samaneri (ten-precept nun) in 2010 and a bhikkhuni (311 rules) in 2012 at Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles. She has trained in large and small communities of nuns, including Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries of the Ajahn Chah tradition in England.

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May you be happy!

Sol

Transcript

Robot generated transcription - expect errors!

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56:29.37
sol_hanna
Welcome to Treasure Mountain the podcast that inspires and guides people to find the treasure within human experience before we get started on this interview I wanted to thank all our listeners for joining and remind everyone that you can find out more about treasure mountain. By going to the treasuremountain info website or by clicking the link in the description below where you can contact me by leaving a message sign up to the mailing list and find out about other activities coming up in future I'd really like to hear from you in particular who do you think. Should be interviewing on future episodes of Treasure Mountain and what topics and questions. Do you have that you'd like direct to our guests on our next sagevisd episode. Maybe you've got a particular person a monk a nun a layman a laywoman that you would like to hear on treasure mountain and you've got particular questions. You'd like to ask. If so get in contact with me via the treasure mountain info website and I'll see what we can done to make what can be done to make it happen if you enjoy this podcast. You can subscribe by loading your favorite podcast app on your mobile device for instance Apple Podcasts the pod be an Apple stitcher and then. Search for treasure mound once you found it hit the subscribe or join button to get the latest episodes and don't forget to tell your friends about treasure mount I'll have more inspiring guests and exciting opportunities in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned as we seek for the treasure within. On this episode of sage advice. We have our returned guest venable San Tuica the abbot of Karovva Buddha fahara in Northern California to offer her sage advice on what role if any does faith play in the eightfold path of buddhist practice. Let's find out. As we seek for the treasure within welcome to Treasure Mountain venerable thanks for joining us on this episode of sage advice today's topic is the role of faith for westerners in particular I've noticed.

58:29.34
Ayya Santussika
Um, thank you.

58:41.58
sol_hanna
There are a great many that are interested in Buddhism but are very wary about anything to do with faith so much so that they may be practicing meditation keeping precepts and reading buddhist books but still won't refer to themselves as buddhists because that might. Of because of what that might imply venerbil what's going on here. Why are westerners so reluctant or even wary when it comes to faith.

59:07.18
Ayya Santussika
I think it's trauma. I mean when we've probably encountered some pressure to go along with something we didn't really feel right about or in some way feel hurt or. Inhibit or disregarded or something with regard to faith or maybe just suspicious. No sometimes people say 1 thing but they're doing something else and it can cause us to be quite.

59:46.29
sol_hanna
A.

59:51.60
Ayya Santussika
Skeptical. So I think people really are drawn and people say it often. They're drawn to Buddhism because it's logical because the buddha said himself don't take things on blind faith. Don't just. Believe something because someone tells you and you're not expected to believe anything here just because someone tells you this is how it is and so I think that's what draws people.

01:00:21.53
sol_hanna
Those things are all very positive so being logical having a critical thinking capacity. These are valuable attributes from a buddhist perspective. But if we. Don't have faith. Oh are we missing something is it is do we have the whole package without faith.

01:00:46.30
Ayya Santussika
We definitely need to have faith but you might also call it confidence and sometimes people have an easier time with that word and so.

01:00:53.40
sol_hanna
Right.

01:01:02.11
Ayya Santussika
It's important to distinguish the meaning of faith and the role of faith and buddhism as opposed to what we might refer to as faith-based religions where the goal in a faith-based religion is that you have faith in what is not a what you cannot see. What you cannot verify and that's not the role of faith in the in the Buddha's teachings or in the dharma the role of faith in in the buddhist teachings is is too as. Establish an understanding of the way things work through direct experience where faith comes in. It's more of a a means to an end It's not the end. It's not the goal. It's it's a means to an end. And where we need to apply it use it is when we are coming to understand. We're being. We're learning intellectually at first we'd come to understand something about the doma but we're not we don't have the. Skill the experience the tools to actually see it for ourselves at least not yet something like past lives this is one of the places where people have a lot of trouble with the idea of rebirth. And therefore with a real understanding of how karma works and so if someone talks about remembering their past lives people are pretty skeptical. Maybe they're open to it. But. Feel like well I'm never gonna be able to know that directly for myself. It's unlikely that I'll remember my own past life. So I'm just gonna I can't take that take that on board I'm I'm just gonna um. Continue to feel agnostic about that perhaps or disbelieving what the Buddha said is it's important to hold a have a provisional acceptance of what he described as his direct experience. Another important aspect here that the Buddha was reporting on experience. He didn't make up a philosophy. He didn't learn it from someone else he experienced it himself and he experienced it so completely that he could he could communicate.

01:03:46.60
Ayya Santussika
To all of us about this complete system of Dama that's not something he created. It's just something that exists for anyone to recognize if they if they're able to go that deep.

01:04:00.83
sol_hanna
Right? right? and I guess on a related question from a buddhist perspective. What should we have faith in I mean one sense, you know as a buddhist you would have faith in the Buddha Dhar and sangha but. Do we need to have faith in our teacher. Do we need to have faith in ourselves. What should we have faith in and on what's the basis upon which we should have faith I think yeah I guess you kind of already implied that it's not so much that it's a faith of something we can't verify. It's just like a provisional. We need to have confidence that whilst we don't know it yet that we can is that is that right? what.

01:04:42.24
Ayya Santussika
Yeah, it is. It's and it doesn't necessarily mean that we're gonna have the psychic powers eventually to see things exactly the way the buddha did we might go the route of venerable Sari Puta who didn't have psychic powers in that way and he. Being understood through wisdom so there are different ways that this complete confidence can come about but to answer your your question. We yes faith in the buddha that the Buddha awake was awakened but the buddha.

01:05:01.88
sol_hanna
Um.

01:05:10.16
sol_hanna
M.

01:05:21.12
Ayya Santussika
Realized Nibana that Nibana is a realization that is actual you know, um that the dma is the truth of the of the way things are and and we can.

01:05:29.40
sol_hanna
A.

01:05:40.32
Ayya Santussika
Can come to know it directly and that there are enlightened people since the Buddha and still today and so how does that faith develop how does that um I would rather. Almost call it an understanding. How does that come about and the most important way that it comes about is by seeking out people who already know this for sure who you can observe how they're living.

01:06:02.21
sol_hanna
In.

01:06:17.44
Ayya Santussika
That they're actually living it. It's not someone who comes and teaches and then disappears and you don't know what they're doing with the rest of their life. It's probably a monastic where you can go stay in the monastery and watch them. You know when they get up in the morning and when they're eating their food and. When they go in and out of the bathroom and you just like see them interacting with people all the time and you know they're really living this and when you have the opportunity to be in the presence of someone who's really really advanced perhaps known among the supporters to be.

01:06:42.75
sol_hanna
And.

01:06:54.27
Ayya Santussika
Fully awake. You get a chance to recognize for yourself to really see you know that this person really isn't operating out of grief hatred or delusion and yet in answer to your question I would say it's not so much then we put our. Faith in a teacher we can. We can develop confidence in a teacher if we follow what the Buddha said about observing them carefully if if they would would ever be obsessed. By some state of greed or hatred or delusion that would cause them to lead someone the wrong way we have to develop the confidence over time and experience that they would not do that. But you still don't put full faith in the teacher because.

01:07:36.83
sol_hanna
M.

01:07:43.60
Ayya Santussika
Can't know for sure and when someone does put faith in a teacher and they do go the wrong way. It can be so devastating instead we put our faith in the dama.

01:07:55.85
sol_hanna
Yes, so it's not necessarily just a personal faith but also a faith in the dharma or the nature of things and that that this there is this possibility for awakening which is always there at all times I want to just briefly. Um, Hark back to something you said in the previous episode I can't remember exactly how you said it but it was a very beautiful statement about our own potential to achieve awakening. Um because I feel that. You know in the west. We've got this strong sense of individual ego and we get pumped up by the school by community and so forth that we should have self-confidence because there's something special about us. But perhaps the thing to note about, um. You know I see the flip side of that is that often people have you know they often have a lot of self-doubt. Um, but 1 of the ways perhaps around that self doubtubt is to know that you can do this not because you are special but because you're not special. You're a human being. Did you want to? maybe just talk a little bit about the role of confidence in oneself as a human being and this potential for awakening.

01:09:14.90
Ayya Santussika
Um, yes, yes, so the the and I'll I'll just cite the buddha on this in a way because the buddha talked about being clear about when we're doing things that are wholesome and when we're doing things that are unwholesome we're doing good things or when we're not and to go remind ourselves of our goodness remind ourselves that well today I didn't intentionally kill any living beings. Today I didn't intentionally take anything that wasn't given and so on through the precepts you know today I I had this kind thought about someone or I did this generous thing and to really remind ourselves of our own virtue of our own generosity we can remind ourselves of the things we actually absolutely feel confident about in our knowledge of the dhamma because we experience it. You know and and when we do that we gradually build a confidence in our. Selves when we keep preces and we realize we're keeping precepts and the good in that and anything else that we're doing that's good. The buddha really emphasized looking at what we do looking at what we've learned. Looking at what we know for sure and reminding ourselves of those things and recognizing that that's where the confidence is it's not in a personal self I have this characteristic or I have this ability or I'm you know liked her. Whatever it is all those things are are just incidental and not really that important. But how we live in virtue wisdom as the buddha described it is knowing the difference between what's good and what's not good and then he said.

01:11:19.97
sol_hanna
And.

01:11:22.38
Ayya Santussika
Bring up the energy to do the good and avoid what's not good and and these powers of wisdom and energy and living blamelessly. These are the things that help us to develop Confidence. We can hold our head up high in any group Any situation. We know we're okay and and we have to kind of tell ourselves this because there's so much strong conditioning that says we're not good enough or we Um. We're only good enough if we can prove ourselves to be. You know the top salesperson or the best. Whatever we're liked by certain people or something like that fame. All those things that don't last so but those virtues.

01:12:06.40
sol_hanna
Yeah.

01:12:16.14
Ayya Santussika
Those things that the Buddha praised they go with us even after we die, they're developing our character that stuff stays when the body dies so it's really valuable to begin to learn how to look at things and and.

01:12:25.21
sol_hanna
And.

01:12:34.24
Ayya Santussika
To Really acknowledge that and people often ask doesn't that make you make a person kind of egotistical as like no it has the opposite effect I think it really is humbling as we develop those characteristics we see that it's not personal. But it is a matter of choice which is so Refreshing. We actually have choices and we can and the Buddha said all a time you know make those choices think you know develop the mind. That's our response.

01:12:54.75
sol_hanna
A.

01:13:07.34
sol_hanna
Yeah.

01:13:13.10
Ayya Santussika
These.

01:13:14.25
sol_hanna
Um, um, previously you said that in Buddhism Faith is provisional. It's not an end. It's a means I'd like to question you about that based on not on the theory but on your personal experience either your personal experience or. Um, people you've practiced with or taught what is faith for why is it valuable.

01:13:41.10
Ayya Santussika
Well,, there's the faith that is provisional that you you let me put it this way you hold an open mind and you have enough confidence in the Buddha enough faith that there is a way out of suffering. Know people in deep suffering who read about the foreignable truths and they immediately get it. There's a way out as soon as we recognize there is a way out of suffering that's already. Ah, that's already faith and there's a joy a relief that comes with that and so that.

01:14:13.35
sol_hanna
And.

01:14:20.46
Ayya Santussika
Provides a basis for the mind to become more happy for the body and mind to relax. This is the way to meditation to samadhi and then samadhi is the gateway to deeper wisdom so it starts with that kind of level of faith. And then as we develop as we experience more on all the aspects of the no playful path then we have a faith that is grounded or sometimes I say my faith was developed brick by brick. You know to really investigate each thing hold in mind what is the edge of my understanding of the dumo. What if I still don't don't get and how am I gonna like just just open my mind to to experiencing that or learning that. Seeing that for myself and you can't make it happen but you put in the causes and conditions you practice and you open your mind to the possibility instead of closing it off like oh yeah, I don't believe in rebirth or whatever you know it's 6 instead. Okay. Buddha said this is how it is he saw I'm gonna open my mind. How can maybe how can that become clear for me and then that's when things are more likely to happen whether through the development of wisdom or. Of some other kind of insight and when that does then then the faith that comes eventually that faith in the buddha the dam and the sangha really is not provisional at all. It's really solid.

01:16:10.41
sol_hanna
And.

01:16:12.44
Ayya Santussika
Faith and that doesn't mean you know everything about the dama. It's not like we're our hunts at that point. But we've come such a long way. There's no real falling back after that.

01:16:26.35
sol_hanna
I really like the way you describe it as brick by brick because um, it kind of implies that it's not a black and white thing. It's not like you go from 0 to 100 in 1 step you can you just need to have enough faith to try it out and. Get to the next milestone kind of thing and then over time it can grow and I think that's a very hopeful but also a gradual way of going about things but I want to ask especially for some people who may find the concept of faith or confidence still a little bit scary. How can we go about cultivating this faith.

01:17:05.79
Ayya Santussika
Um, well it is helpful to find teachers that you respect and you feel like you can trust and build that trust by observing them so that's very helpful. And and even if they say well I'm only part way along the path and this is still something I struggle with that's also useful and and more trustworthy and acting like you know it all, you know so having people like that in your life. And being able to check out things with them is really useful and giving yourself an opportunity to be happy to really see that the Buddha emphasized joy a lot joy and happiness.

01:17:45.41
sol_hanna
And that.

01:18:00.53
Ayya Santussika
And when we're happy It's also easier to um to have the mind open and for wisdom to arise from inside because we I don't know if I would really say we know it already. In a way that's true I think but the realizations really come from deep inside. So I think that it is paying attention to each aspect of the noble 8 full path. And being willing to say okay, this part I don't really get yet. But this part here that I see I see that happening in my life and in the way things work and sometimes we don't even realize what we know and what we don't know. But even if we don't feel like we know anything much There are some things you know and go okay I know that apart I know start there and just keep keep building. It. Solid though. Not not a fantasy, not a.

01:19:04.56
sol_hanna
And.

01:19:09.85
sol_hanna
Ah.

01:19:15.92
Ayya Santussika
Nodded jumping to some conclusion.

01:19:20.10
sol_hanna
That's a really really beautiful answer. Thank you very much. Ah, final question and on a personal note what is faith meant to you on your spiritual journey.

01:19:31.65
Ayya Santussika
Well I had a lot of faith in god I think I mentioned that in the previous time we met and it was helpful because I recognized that I could just. Let go I go of trying like a being something and as I did that and I was exposed to the duma and people who were so diligent kind good examples. I could pick that up gradually and it's experience after experience really with those wonderful teachers and good friends on the path that helped that face develop it really was. Powerful to. Open up to the influence of of really well-practiced teachers and and it was. You can tell the difference. Between a teacher who wants something for themselves recognition or anything and the ones that don't care at all about that. They're just sharing a dumb 1.

01:21:05.95
sol_hanna
Wow, that's um, really beautiful answer and I appreciate that and I think that could be really valuable to our listeners. That's all the questions we have time for today aya I really want to thank you for taking the time to share your sage advice. Yeah, on the treasure man podcast. Thank you very much.

01:21:28.26
Ayya Santussika
You're welcome. Thank you for having me here.


Robot generated transcription - expect errors!
sol_hanna
Welcome to Treasure Mountain the podcast that inspires and guides people to find the treasure within human experience before we get started on this interview I wanted to thank all our listeners for joining and remind everyone that you can find out more about treasure mountain. By going to the treasuremountain info website or by clicking the link in the description below where you can contact me by leaving a message sign up to the mailing list and find out about other activities coming up in future I'd really like to hear from you in particular who do you think. Should be interviewing on future episodes of Treasure Mountain and what topics and questions. Do you have that you'd like direct to our guests on our next sagevisd episode. Maybe you've got a particular person a monk a nun a layman a laywoman that you would like to hear on treasure mountain and you've got particular questions. You'd like to ask. If so get in contact with me via the treasure mountain info website and I'll see what we can done to make what can be done to make it happen if you enjoy this podcast. You can subscribe by loading your favorite podcast app on your mobile device for instance Apple Podcasts the pod be an Apple stitcher and then. Search for treasure mound once you found it hit the subscribe or join button to get the latest episodes and don't forget to tell your friends about treasure mount I'll have more inspiring guests and exciting opportunities in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned as we seek for the treasure within. On this episode of sage advice. We have our returned guest venable San Tuica the abbot of Karovva Buddha fahara in Northern California to offer her sage advice on what role if any does faith play in the eightfold path of buddhist practice. Let's find out. As we seek for the treasure within welcome to Treasure Mountain venerable thanks for joining us on this episode of sage advice today's topic is the role of faith for westerners in particular I've noticed.


Ayya Santussika
Um, thank you.


sol_hanna
There are a great many that are interested in Buddhism but are very wary about anything to do with faith so much so that they may be practicing meditation keeping precepts and reading buddhist books but still won't refer to themselves as buddhists because that might. Of because of what that might imply venerbil what's going on here. Why are westerners so reluctant or even wary when it comes to faith.


Ayya Santussika
I think it's trauma. I mean when we've probably encountered some pressure to go along with something we didn't really feel right about or in some way feel hurt or. Inhibit or disregarded or something with regard to faith or maybe just suspicious. No sometimes people say 1 thing but they're doing something else and it can cause us to be quite.


Ayya Santussika
Skeptical. So I think people really are drawn and people say it often. They're drawn to Buddhism because it's logical because the buddha said himself don't take things on blind faith. Don't just. Believe something because someone tells you and you're not expected to believe anything here just because someone tells you this is how it is and so I think that's what draws people.


sol_hanna
Those things are all very positive so being logical having a critical thinking capacity. These are valuable attributes from a buddhist perspective. But if we. Don't have faith. Oh are we missing something is it is do we have the whole package without faith.


Ayya Santussika
We definitely need to have faith but you might also call it confidence and sometimes people have an easier time with that word and so.


sol_hanna
Right.


Ayya Santussika
It's important to distinguish the meaning of faith and the role of faith and buddhism as opposed to what we might refer to as faith-based religions where the goal in a faith-based religion is that you have faith in what is not a what you cannot see. What you cannot verify and that's not the role of faith in the in the Buddha's teachings or in the dharma the role of faith in in the buddhist teachings is is too as. Establish an understanding of the way things work through direct experience where faith comes in. It's more of a a means to an end It's not the end. It's not the goal. It's it's a means to an end. And where we need to apply it use it is when we are coming to understand. We're being. We're learning intellectually at first we'd come to understand something about the doma but we're not we don't have the. Skill the experience the tools to actually see it for ourselves at least not yet something like past lives this is one of the places where people have a lot of trouble with the idea of rebirth. And therefore with a real understanding of how karma works and so if someone talks about remembering their past lives people are pretty skeptical. Maybe they're open to it. But. Feel like well I'm never gonna be able to know that directly for myself. It's unlikely that I'll remember my own past life. So I'm just gonna I can't take that take that on board I'm I'm just gonna um. Continue to feel agnostic about that perhaps or disbelieving what the Buddha said is it's important to hold a have a provisional acceptance of what he described as his direct experience. Another important aspect here that the Buddha was reporting on experience. He didn't make up a philosophy. He didn't learn it from someone else he experienced it himself and he experienced it so completely that he could he could communicate.


Ayya Santussika
To all of us about this complete system of Dama that's not something he created. It's just something that exists for anyone to recognize if they if they're able to go that deep.


sol_hanna
Right? right? and I guess on a related question from a buddhist perspective. What should we have faith in I mean one sense, you know as a buddhist you would have faith in the Buddha Dhar and sangha but. Do we need to have faith in our teacher. Do we need to have faith in ourselves. What should we have faith in and on what's the basis upon which we should have faith I think yeah I guess you kind of already implied that it's not so much that it's a faith of something we can't verify. It's just like a provisional. We need to have confidence that whilst we don't know it yet that we can is that is that right? what.


Ayya Santussika
Yeah, it is. It's and it doesn't necessarily mean that we're gonna have the psychic powers eventually to see things exactly the way the buddha did we might go the route of venerable Sari Puta who didn't have psychic powers in that way and he. Being understood through wisdom so there are different ways that this complete confidence can come about but to answer your your question. We yes faith in the buddha that the Buddha awake was awakened but the buddha.

 

01:05:21.12
Ayya Santussika
Realized Nibana that Nibana is a realization that is actual you know, um that the dma is the truth of the of the way things are and and we can.


Ayya Santussika
Can come to know it directly and that there are enlightened people since the Buddha and still today and so how does that faith develop how does that um I would rather. Almost call it an understanding. How does that come about and the most important way that it comes about is by seeking out people who already know this for sure who you can observe how they're living.


sol_hanna
In.


Ayya Santussika
That they're actually living it. It's not someone who comes and teaches and then disappears and you don't know what they're doing with the rest of their life. It's probably a monastic where you can go stay in the monastery and watch them. You know when they get up in the morning and when they're eating their food and. When they go in and out of the bathroom and you just like see them interacting with people all the time and you know they're really living this and when you have the opportunity to be in the presence of someone who's really really advanced perhaps known among the supporters to be.


Ayya Santussika
Fully awake. You get a chance to recognize for yourself to really see you know that this person really isn't operating out of grief hatred or delusion and yet in answer to your question I would say it's not so much then we put our. Faith in a teacher we can. We can develop confidence in a teacher if we follow what the Buddha said about observing them carefully if if they would would ever be obsessed. By some state of greed or hatred or delusion that would cause them to lead someone the wrong way we have to develop the confidence over time and experience that they would not do that. But you still don't put full faith in the teacher because.


Ayya Santussika
Can't know for sure and when someone does put faith in a teacher and they do go the wrong way. It can be so devastating instead we put our faith in the dama.


sol_hanna
Yes, so it's not necessarily just a personal faith but also a faith in the dharma or the nature of things and that that this there is this possibility for awakening which is always there at all times I want to just briefly. Um, Hark back to something you said in the previous episode I can't remember exactly how you said it but it was a very beautiful statement about our own potential to achieve awakening. Um because I feel that. You know in the west. We've got this strong sense of individual ego and we get pumped up by the school by community and so forth that we should have self-confidence because there's something special about us. But perhaps the thing to note about, um. You know I see the flip side of that is that often people have you know they often have a lot of self-doubt. Um, but 1 of the ways perhaps around that self doubtubt is to know that you can do this not because you are special but because you're not special. You're a human being. Did you want to? maybe just talk a little bit about the role of confidence in oneself as a human being and this potential for awakening.


Ayya Santussika
Um, yes, yes, so the the and I'll I'll just cite the buddha on this in a way because the buddha talked about being clear about when we're doing things that are wholesome and when we're doing things that are unwholesome we're doing good things or when we're not and to go remind ourselves of our goodness remind ourselves that well today I didn't intentionally kill any living beings. Today I didn't intentionally take anything that wasn't given and so on through the precepts you know today I I had this kind thought about someone or I did this generous thing and to really remind ourselves of our own virtue of our own generosity we can remind ourselves of the things we actually absolutely feel confident about in our knowledge of the dhamma because we experience it. You know and and when we do that we gradually build a confidence in our. Selves when we keep preces and we realize we're keeping precepts and the good in that and anything else that we're doing that's good. The buddha really emphasized looking at what we do looking at what we've learned. Looking at what we know for sure and reminding ourselves of those things and recognizing that that's where the confidence is it's not in a personal self I have this characteristic or I have this ability or I'm you know liked her. Whatever it is all those things are are just incidental and not really that important. But how we live in virtue wisdom as the buddha described it is knowing the difference between what's good and what's not good and then he said.


Ayya Santussika
Bring up the energy to do the good and avoid what's not good and and these powers of wisdom and energy and living blamelessly. These are the things that help us to develop Confidence. We can hold our head up high in any group Any situation. We know we're okay and and we have to kind of tell ourselves this because there's so much strong conditioning that says we're not good enough or we Um. We're only good enough if we can prove ourselves to be. You know the top salesperson or the best. Whatever we're liked by certain people or something like that fame. All those things that don't last so but those virtues.


sol_hanna
Yeah.


Ayya Santussika
Those things that the Buddha praised they go with us even after we die, they're developing our character that stuff stays when the body dies so it's really valuable to begin to learn how to look at things and and.


Ayya Santussika
To Really acknowledge that and people often ask doesn't that make you make a person kind of egotistical as like no it has the opposite effect I think it really is humbling as we develop those characteristics we see that it's not personal. But it is a matter of choice which is so Refreshing. We actually have choices and we can and the Buddha said all a time you know make those choices think you know develop the mind. That's our response.


sol_hanna
Yeah.


Ayya Santussika
These.


sol_hanna
Um, um, previously you said that in Buddhism Faith is provisional. It's not an end. It's a means I'd like to question you about that based on not on the theory but on your personal experience either your personal experience or. Um, people you've practiced with or taught what is faith for why is it valuable.


Ayya Santussika
Well,, there's the faith that is provisional that you you let me put it this way you hold an open mind and you have enough confidence in the Buddha enough faith that there is a way out of suffering. Know people in deep suffering who read about the foreignable truths and they immediately get it. There's a way out as soon as we recognize there is a way out of suffering that's already. Ah, that's already faith and there's a joy a relief that comes with that and so that.

 


Ayya Santussika
Provides a basis for the mind to become more happy for the body and mind to relax. This is the way to meditation to samadhi and then samadhi is the gateway to deeper wisdom so it starts with that kind of level of faith. And then as we develop as we experience more on all the aspects of the no playful path then we have a faith that is grounded or sometimes I say my faith was developed brick by brick. You know to really investigate each thing hold in mind what is the edge of my understanding of the dumo. What if I still don't don't get and how am I gonna like just just open my mind to to experiencing that or learning that. Seeing that for myself and you can't make it happen but you put in the causes and conditions you practice and you open your mind to the possibility instead of closing it off like oh yeah, I don't believe in rebirth or whatever you know it's 6 instead. Okay. Buddha said this is how it is he saw I'm gonna open my mind. How can maybe how can that become clear for me and then that's when things are more likely to happen whether through the development of wisdom or. Of some other kind of insight and when that does then then the faith that comes eventually that faith in the buddha the dam and the sangha really is not provisional at all. It's really solid.


Ayya Santussika
Faith and that doesn't mean you know everything about the dama. It's not like we're our hunts at that point. But we've come such a long way. There's no real falling back after that.


sol_hanna
I really like the way you describe it as brick by brick because um, it kind of implies that it's not a black and white thing. It's not like you go from 0 to 100 in 1 step you can you just need to have enough faith to try it out and. Get to the next milestone kind of thing and then over time it can grow and I think that's a very hopeful but also a gradual way of going about things but I want to ask especially for some people who may find the concept of faith or confidence still a little bit scary. How can we go about cultivating this faith.


Ayya Santussika
Um, well it is helpful to find teachers that you respect and you feel like you can trust and build that trust by observing them so that's very helpful. And and even if they say well I'm only part way along the path and this is still something I struggle with that's also useful and and more trustworthy and acting like you know it all, you know so having people like that in your life. And being able to check out things with them is really useful and giving yourself an opportunity to be happy to really see that the Buddha emphasized joy a lot joy and happiness.


sol_hanna
And that.


Ayya Santussika
And when we're happy It's also easier to um to have the mind open and for wisdom to arise from inside because we I don't know if I would really say we know it already. In a way that's true I think but the realizations really come from deep inside. So I think that it is paying attention to each aspect of the noble 8 full path. And being willing to say okay, this part I don't really get yet. But this part here that I see I see that happening in my life and in the way things work and sometimes we don't even realize what we know and what we don't know. But even if we don't feel like we know anything much There are some things you know and go okay I know that apart I know start there and just keep keep building. It. Solid though. Not not a fantasy, not a.


Ayya Santussika
Nodded jumping to some conclusion.


sol_hanna
That's a really really beautiful answer. Thank you very much. Ah, final question and on a personal note what is faith meant to you on your spiritual journey.


Ayya Santussika
Well I had a lot of faith in god I think I mentioned that in the previous time we met and it was helpful because I recognized that I could just. Let go I go of trying like a being something and as I did that and I was exposed to the duma and people who were so diligent kind good examples. I could pick that up gradually and it's experience after experience really with those wonderful teachers and good friends on the path that helped that face develop it really was. Powerful to. Open up to the influence of of really well-practiced teachers and and it was. You can tell the difference. Between a teacher who wants something for themselves recognition or anything and the ones that don't care at all about that. They're just sharing a dumb 1.


sol_hanna
Wow, that's um, really beautiful answer and I appreciate that and I think that could be really valuable to our listeners. That's all the questions we have time for today aya I really want to thank you for taking the time to share your sage advice. Yeah, on the treasure man podcast. Thank you very much.


Ayya Santussika
You're welcome. Thank you for having me here.

 

Ayya Santussika Profile Photo

Ayya Santussika

Abbott of Karuna Buddhist Vihara

Ayya Santussika was born in Illinois in 1954 and grew up on a farm in Indiana. While being a single mother, she received BS and MS degrees in computer science. She worked as a software designer and developer for fifteen years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her search for deeper meaning and ways to be of service led her to train as an interfaith minister in a four-year seminary program that culminated in a Masters of Divinity degree. She began traveling in Asia from 1999, learning from master teachers, particularly in Thailand. It was these experiences, along with time spent at Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in California that caused her faith to develop to the point of choosing to live and practice as a Theravadan nun.

Ayya Santussika entered monastic life as an anagarika (eight-precept nun) in 2005, then ordained as a samaneri (ten-precept nun) in 2010 and a bhikkhuni (311 rules) in 2012 at Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles. She has trained in large and small communities of nuns, including Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries of the Ajahn Chah tradition in England.