Increase Confidence in an Uncertain World
What is confidence?
All living beings wish to find lasting happiness and freedom from suffering. We can only fulfil these wishes if we improve our inner human qualities by practising Buddhist meditation. To start, progress along, and complete this inner path of development requires us to increase confidence and strength, otherwise we are quickly overcome by inner and outer obstacles. True confidence is a joyful, energetic and hopeful mind that possess clarity and understanding. When we think “I am going to fulfil my wishes” based on a realistic understanding of our own potential and the path we need to follow, then we possess true confidence. All the Lamrim meditations such as those in the New Meditation Handbook are methods to increase confidence.
What are the benefits of confidence?
Confidence gives us the courage and energy to change. Finding true happiness and permanently overcoming all our suffering necessitates deep changes – overcoming all our negative habits of mind and growing positive qualities. The energy and commitment to do this comes from self belief and a realistic understanding of the path we need to follow. Confidence overcomes the laziness of discouragement.
If we do not apply ourself to our spiritual practice no one can grant us liberation from suffering.
If we do not apply energy and effort to our spiritual practices all the hopes we have for happiness will be in vain.
If you have only effort you have all attainments, but if you have only laziness you have nothing.
In these times there are many things that can make us feel discouraged and give up hope of fulfilling our wishes. Confidence is like an armour that protects us from our inner enemies of discouragement. It will prevent us being overwhelmed or depressed by the difficulties we encounter.
How to increase confidence
In general studying and meditating on Buddha’s understanding and teachings is the best method to increase our self-confidence. In particular if we understand Buddha’s teaching on the second Noble Truth we gain insight into the true nature and causes of our problems and suffering. Problems and suffering do not exist outside the mind but are painful feelings arising in dependence upon our karma and delusions. If we permanently abandon our delusions such as attachment, anger and self-grasping ignorance we will definitely be freed from our suffering. This teaching is a great source of confidence.
Happiness is a state of mind so its main cause can not be found outside the mind. The real source of happiness is inner peace. If our mind is peaceful we shall be happy all the time, regardless of our external conditions. We should therefore cease searching for real happiness in external conditions where it does not exist. Searching outside ourself for happiness only brings frustration and failure.
By studying the Lamrim teachings we will gain confidence knowing the complete path is still available for us to follow and that we have all the necessary conditions to complete this path in one short human life. We will know how to integrate all our practices into our normal daily life without abandoning our family and friends. By taking all of Buddha’s teachings as personal advice we shall increase confidence and then confidently apply our self to the path to enlightenment.
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