on March 21, 2004
Faith in a theological context for many people is an act of belief in what one cannot prove. It has been used as a line drawn between those who "believe" and those who do not in a Christian context. But Salzberg's intent in this wonderful text drives at providing us all with a fresh perspective of what faith really is; a definition unassociated with doctrine and theology. A kind of faith in oneself, emphasizing a love and respect for ourselves. This kind of faith unearths our connection to all people, not a faith used as a tool of making you or I a separate entity. Faith doesn't necessarily require belief, it is a trust. A trust in ourselves through a waking up to who we really are. It does not necessarily denote a God, or even no God.
In the book Salzberg discusses her painful youth; she lost her mother very early on and her father was mentally ill. In 1968, Sharon came across Buddhism in a course on Asian philosophy, where she learned of the teachings of the Lord Buddha. She remembers feeling instantly drawn to his messages, in particular the Four Noble Truths. A few years later she was in India at Bodh Gaya doing her first meditative retreat. From that point on for a number of years, Sharon studied with teachers in Burma, Tibet, and India; experiences that ultimately affected her view on just what faith truly means in her life.
This book is the absolute best out there on the subject of faith, and I say that for people of any religion. Salzberg relies on both her years of experience and impressive array of teachers that always challenged her in bringing us this magnificent book.
Salzberg: "Faith is the ability to offer our heart to the truth of what is happening, to see our experience as the embodiment of life's mystery, the present expression of possibility, the conduit connecting us to a bigger reality."
on March 14, 2004
I purchased this book wanting to see someone else's spiritual journey and while there is an element of that journey the book is more about looking for your own personal truth. I think that is a hard thing for most American's to grasp, the idea that a spiritual journey is not just about finding a "God" but really about finding yourself.
Very enjoyable read with nice insights. Well worth the read.
on March 5, 2003
This is a deeply authentic spiritual biography of some historical significance in American Buddhism and a volume on faith that should be added to every stack of soothing bedside books. In a childhood of emotional isolation and unanswered forbidden questions, Buddhist meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg suffered sudden abandonment by her beloved father at age 4, the bleeding death nearly before her eyes of her mother at age 9 and the lifelong institutionalization of her mentally ill father at age 11. Entering college at age 16, she was chosen early in her Buddhist studies in India to teach meditation in America not because of her scholarship but because "You really understand suffering." Chapter 5 (of 7), Despair: The Loss of Faith, is a candid existential leap by a both grounded and luminous spiritual teacher who has mentored students who have suffered "childhood beatings while hanging, childhood physical and sexual abuse, betrayals, illnesses, depression, loneliness, oppressive relationships, oppressive secrets, exhausting moral dilemmas"; knowing she was not alone was "a good qualification for a life of practice." "Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic orders?" Sharon Salzberg, for one. She does a masterful job of communicating the paradoxes in the Buddhist practice of "taking refuge" -- taking refuge in freedom and the burden of the authentic self. Highly recommended.
on August 14, 2002
Sharon's book is BEAUTIFUL! The narrative of her personal faith journey is compelling and tremendously moving. Into her story are woven astute and profound thoughts on the nature of faith, as well as its place in the Buddhist path. The work is highly polished, flowing, and in a way, through the thread of her journey, suspenseful.
I was raised by counterculture, slightly-post-hippie Zen parents who, like their peers, were not keen on institutional religion. Thus, "faith" was not one of the words I immediately thought of when someone said "Buddhism." This book has convinced me that faith plays a critical role in one's development in the dharma.
As a young, twenty-something Buddhist, I really want to encourage my peers to pick up this book and give it serious attention! This is important stuff.
And, as an observer of Buddhism¡¯s unfolding in the America, I believe that this book, along with Joseph Goldstein¡¯s recent "One Dharma,¡± signifies a maturing in understanding of the dharma among Westerners. I think these books are the developing of a contemporary Buddhist theology from these dharma teachers and others.
Maybe someone would think, ¡°Another Buddhist book! How many do we need?!¡± But, ¡°Faith¡± is unique among them and entirely worth reading. The guidance is enduring, and I think you¡¯ll find passages coming back to you, with greater appreciation every time, for years to come.
on August 17, 2002
Lustrous, totally lustrous... glowing with honesty and compassion.
"Faith" is a word so abused in our times. If you regard faith as mere wishful thinking, rigid ideology, a divisive divine favor bestowed upon an elite few, or (to paraphrase Mark Twain) deciding to believe what you know ain't true, then prepare to shed those lack luster preconceptions.
This is Sharon's personal story. Her losses, her pain, her awakenings, her love and richly earned peace. When I took a workshop on faith with Sharon two years ago, I found her to be warm, candid, and down to earth. These splendid qualities radiate from every page of "Faith." She is a natural teacher, and this book teaches so much.
So, what is "faith?" Open to the present moment, clinging neither to pain nor pleasure, entrust yourself to the boundless compassion that lies at the heart of your spiritual center. Trust what you know about unconditional love, what your own experience teaches you when you do not flinch from it, but compassionately embrace it. And discover through clarity and compassion your interdependent connections with all beings.
Am I close, Sharon? :-)
Namu Amida Butsu... may you be well and happy, and may all of you read this lustrous book.
on November 12, 2002
Imagine that you are in a dark room where nothing can be seen. Yet even in the darkness you know there is a light switch. You find the walls and move about groping with your hand convinced the ligth is there. This is the image of faith I gathered from Sharon Salsberg's book. Faith as the conviction to keep looking. Faith as both the memory and the hope of light. Now, the conviction of light's existence is both something that is given and something that is found. The search requires an acceptance of the darkness (don't panic but don't get used to it either). The beauty of this book is that it transcends belief systems and directs us to the common loving energy that propels our fundamental search. This is a book of encouragement. If your search is sincere and if you live in harmony with your search - you too are part of the world's faithful.
on February 25, 2004
What a no-nonsense, perfectly logical and spritual definition of faith and how to implement it in daily life.
She also makes a clear distinction between bright faith--which is what one would aspire to--and blind faith, which is the kind of faith that disappoints ultimately and leads to the kind of religious messes that we encounter over the years.
To boot: a quick read, less than 200 pages. A perfect companion if you're studying Buddhism, and a good follow-up/companion to books like "Awakening the Buddha Within."
on May 13, 2014
Salzberg's book on Faith is an exploration of faith from the Buddhist perspective. It's a very moving and inspiring read because she includes many of her own experiences of faith and how she has worked with faith in her meditation practice. Salzberg offers the reader an understanding faith that is founded in experience and how deeply faith can heal our pain. It's an inspiring book, not only for Buddhists, but for those who practice mediation and lead a contemplative life.
on June 22, 2003
How often do you read a book written by an orthodox Jew that converted to Buddism? Well, this one is! Within the first four pages, Ms. Salzberg grabs you with the events of her early childhood. She experienced such tradegy that she was forced into a journey of faith. She describes her journey in a realistic and practical manner. This is a quick read, but offers great principles to take away. Well worth it!
on August 14, 2002
Sharon Salzberg's book Faith is a flawless, compassionate guide to trusting faith, the deepest experience in yourself. What I especially love about this book are the touching, powerful personal stories seamlessly interwoven with practical wisdom you can apply to your life. In this world of so much spiritual hype, Sharon is a great breath of fresh air, someone to unreservedly trust in your journey of the heart.