In this world there always have been, always will be, many challenges. The challenges may be simply the ups and downs of daily life or they may be seemingly intractable problems, such as the challenges of climate change. They may be more immediate threats to safety and security, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the face of some of these challenges we may be able to put our faith in the reasoned guidance of science; but we may not be able to have deep faith in science. Religion offers us something in which to have faith; and that deeper emotional trust can sustain us when life’s challenges and suffering ask much of us.
We can respond to the reality of suffering with all manner of negative responses, but faith can be the key to acting more creatively and wisely to challenging situations. For Buddhism, faith can be thought of as how a person, imbued with a feeling of loving kindness towards all, will respond to reality. Reality may be seeing the freedom gained by the Buddha or the reality of the suffering in what is always before us. We can respond with all manner of negative responses, but faith can be the key to responding more creatively and wisely to our situation.
Meditation is the mainstay of Buddhist practice. Through developing mindful awareness and loving kindness Buddhist practice helps build personal strength. It also provides a method of learning to reflect more deeply upon the nature of our existence, as human beings in an ever-changing world. One of its core tenets is the recognition that this kind of existence is inherently characterised by suffering or dukkha. Dukkha includes the pain associated with physical and emotional harm, changing circumstances, and illness, old age and death.
Faith in Buddhism draws from confidence that there is a way beyond all sources of dukkha, to final liberation and peace in a changing world. Buddhist meditation can guide us, through progressive reflections, to accept the realities of life that we call dukkha. More importantly it can lead us to an emotionally positive experience of the possibility of resolving life’s challenges. Here, compassionate faith looks beyond this life to solve its challenges.