TravisGM wrote:That's a problem I feel Buddhism has. Buddha talks about how if t doesn't make sense to you don't believe it. Faith makes no sense to me, so should I believe arahats dot exist? I'd like to meet one to confirm that Buddha was in fact teaching thr right path to happiness.
Faith is a normal part of the Buddhist path. As much as any sutta might make sense on an intellectual level, this is not the same as insight, which is seeing a truth for yourself, seeing that it truly can't be any other way. Until such insight arises, even those teachings that make sense are a matter of faith. An informed faith, but faith nevertheless.
Consider this: suppose you met an Arahant, suppose that somehow you could have direct knowledge of their attainment, even this knowledge does not give you direct knowledge of the path and your ability to follow it. These matters remain faith until such direct knowledge arises at stream-entry. Of course, seeing an Arahant could increase your faith in the path, and it would be beneficial to meet one, but don't expect the impossible. Not even an Arahant can grant you direct knowledge, it is something you have to realize for yourself.
Personally, I consider the issue of attainment like this: Whether or not Arahants truly exist in this world is not very important to me. Far more important is having faith in the path and my ability to follow it. Having seen for myself that following the Noble Eightfold Ppath has reduced suffering, I trust that continuing to follow this path will continue to reduce suffering, until at some point there is none left. Seeing my continued progress on the path builds up my faith in the goal, Nibbana.
Sam Vega wrote:
To those that have not yet attained stream entry, even the possibility of Arahantship is a matter of faith.
I agree with your point so far as one's own chances of achieving Arahantship is this lifetime are concerned. But I am more optimistic about the possibility in general. Once we begin to see that Greed, Hatred, and Delusion are not what we are, it requires an act of metaphysical faith to say that beings will always and forever be conjoined to those qualities. Much more logical and easy to believe that beings can give up the taints, than there should be some inexplicable reason why they should not be able to. In this way, faith fulfills itself and develops.
I did not mean to imply that Arahantship might not be possible, or that we shouldn't believe in the possibility, this lifetime or otherwise. What I meant to say was that without the direct knowledge of the path that arises at stream-entry, the matter of whether or not the state of Arahantship is possible ultimately rests on faith. I also meant to imply that this is not a bad thing. As I wrote above, I consider faith to be essential on the path, at least until stream-entry. Since direct knowledge about the path and the goal are impossible before stream-entry, it is folly to try and attain this direct knowledge anyway. No matter how much we read about the subject, no matter how many Arahants we meet, faith remains a required part of the path. Therefore, we shouldn't avoid faith, but develop it and use it.
All the best,