Faith, Determination, Doubt | Video

Great Faith, Great Determination, Great Doubt. These are called the Three Essentials of Practice. So Sahn said that a practice that is missing any of these is like a table missing a leg.


The text I reference in the video is “Mirror of Zen”. You can get my commentary on this wonderful text by clicking here:

Mirror of Zen



4/20/19: 11am-Noon

Fountain City Meditation: Meditate For Our Lives at Unity Southeast

Unity Southeast KC

3421 East Meyer Boulevard

Kansas City, MO

This is a public event. We’re meditating outside of a church. I’m going to give a short talk and a bit of guidance, then we will sit together. Tell all your friends.


My Newsletter:








The Three Essentials

There are three essentials of Zen practice. 

These are considered some of the greatest and most important virtues.

They are great faith, great doubt, and great determination.

Great faith means having faith in our mind’s ability to recognize our Buddha Nature. This is clearly very different from what other religions usually mean when they suggest that we should have faith.

In Zen Buddhism faith means faith in yourself.

It is holding on to the belief that the Buddha nature is present within us.

Great doubt is like the scientific method. It means don’t believe in anything unless we can demonstrate the truth for ourselves. All of our beliefs should be examined and re-examined often. Beliefs should be accepted or rejected based on our judgment. Any ideas that are found to be unhelpful, should be rejected.

In Zen we do not follow our religious teachers and leaders blindly. We check every belief against our own knowledge and experience.

It’s about having a healthy amount of skepticism. It might seem like great doubt and great faith are at odds.

The truth is we need a healthy dose of skepticism to temper our faith in ourselves.

Great determination is a firm resolution to go forward in our practice. It’s about staying on the path and avoiding discouragement. It’s about cultivating patience and self-discipline.

Zen is not always easy and it’s important to remember that there are no shortcuts.

These are important virtues in life and we should cultivate them.

Three States of Mind for Awakening

This is a list of three states of mind that are helpful in our study of the history and practice of the Awakening.

1)Use Faith

Not faith in the sense of blind faith in something external. This is more like confidence. In a college course we have to have faith that our teacher isn’t teaching us false things and that the class will lead to a greater understanding of whatever we are learning. This is the same. We should have confidence that we have the ability to walk this path.

2)Use Doubt

Doubt is important because we have to test the teachings for ourselves. If we take everything blindly, then our understanding and confidence will be shallow. As we doubt and question things, our conviction will grow. It is through doubt that we can learn new information.

3)Use Your Awakened Mind

The process of self transformation is a mixture of slow and fast. Slowly we study and practice the Dharma, getting a little better all the time. Then we have transformational experiences where we feel we start to gain intuitive understanding of the Dharma, then we start accumulating more information through study and practice again. Every time we have an experience of awakening we bring a little more of it back with us. The slow transformation is a process of learning and the fast process is when something stirs within us that penetrates our being and prepares us for awakening. It is this awakening mind that really helps us advance on the path. Teachers and books can help us, but real transformation needs our awakened mind.