Philip Kapleau brought the reality of Zen practice to the American public with his ground-breaking book, The Three Pillars of Zen. The three pillars are great faith, great doubt, and great determination. You don’t have to be a Zen Buddhist, however, to understand and apply this process to your daily life. I’d like to share how these pillars can support and empower you in both your personal and career life.
Let’s examine the first pillar: great faith. A dictionary defines faith as “unquestioning belief.” That’s not quite what faith means in Zen; as we will see when we take up the second pillar, doubt; the zen student is encouraged to question everything. My own teacher prefers to substitute “trust” for faith. Trust is defined as “confident expectation.” We trust in the teaching and practice handed down over 2500 years from the historical Buddha to the present day.
We may believe in God, Buddha mind, the Divine Feminine, or the Source of All Things. We may believe in the literal truth of the Bible or believe in a more liberal interpretation. However, these beliefs are focused on something or someone outside ourselves.
How often, especially when we are faced with adversity, do we have faith or trust in ourselves? It’s certainly human to question ourselves. It’s my experience, however, that if we are to move past or through adversity, we need to trust in ourselves, in our inner wisdom, or our innate capacity to weather the storms of life and come through empowered and more resilient than ever before. This may require that we place our trust in something greater than ourselves, so that, paradoxically, we can trust ourselves. However we manage this challenge, we must do so, if we are to not only survive but experience true fulfillment.
Do you have faith? How would you define your faith? Let me hear from you!