Saddha (confidence) OR attachment? How to tell

Just a few reflections on the nature of saddha and what can be mistaken for saddha.

Saddha is a sobhana (beautiful) cetasika (mental factor) hence it arises only with alobha, never with lobha (attachment).

One can have much confidence in the Buddha’s teaching and this may be saddha.

However, people of other systems may have great confidence in their teachers wrong ideas. Or a scientist might be sure of his theories that life ends after physical death. Someone may have confidence in some wrong Buddhist path/technique.
These examples may seem like saddha - to the person holding them- but are actually only wrong view, miccha-ditthi, associated with lobha. No saddha at all.

These wrong ideas can be, and often are held very strongly, even all the life.


According to the many modern dictionaries available:
Saddhā = faith, devotion, confidence, belief
Saddahati (verb) = (saṃ + dhā + a) To believe, to have faith

PTS: [Vedic śrad – dhā, only in impers. forms grd. śrad – dadhāna; pp. śrad – dhita; inf. śrad – dhā; cp. Av ƶraƶ – dā id.; Lat. cred – (d)o (cp. “creed”); Oir. cretim to believe. Fr. Idg. *kred (=cord˚ heart)+dhe , lit. to put one’s heart on] to believe, to have faith

In the Abhidhamma and majority Suttas, the term Saddhā is used to mean “faith in the real truth (Buddha/Dhamma/Sangha)” which is the “Buddhist meaning” of the term.

But in several other Suttas, the term Saddhā is used to mean “any kind of faith” which is the “common meaning” of the term.

‘pañca kho ime, āvuso nigaṇṭhā, dhammā diṭṭheva dhamme dvidhāvipākā.
Katame pañca? Saddhā, ruci, anussavo, ākāraparivitakko, diṭṭhinijjhānakkhanti—

‘These five things can be seen to turn out in two different ways.
What five? Faith, preference, oral tradition, reasoned contemplation, and acceptance of a view after consideration.

nanu evaṁ sante brāhmaṇānaṁ amūlikā saddhā sampajjatī”ti?

Api ca, bhāradvāja, susaddahitaṁyeva hoti, tañca hoti rittaṁ tucchaṁ musā;
no cepi susaddahitaṁ hoti, tañca hoti bhūtaṁ tacchaṁ anaññathā.

This being so, doesn’t the brahmins’ faith turn out to be baseless?”

Even though you have full faith in something, it may be void, hollow, and false.
And even if you don’t have full faith in something, it may be true and real, not otherwise.


The mind is by nature attaches to everything it encounters, in terms of perception. We perceives according to our nature. We cannot perceive according to 'yatha-bhuta-nana-dassana, which is the nature of arahants. In this case, we have two choices: to let the mind attach to kusala dhamma or to attach to akusala dhamma. By nature, our minds attach to both kusala and akusala in terms of perception.

Whatever we see, hear, touch, smell, think about and/or taste, we perceive - with greed or anger. When we like something, the mind is lobha. When we dislike something, the mind is dosa. We’re supposed to get alobha, adosa, and amoha. But our untrained minds tend to be at the state of greed, anger and delusion. These three keep recurring constantly.

In this situation, we must try to attach our mind to kusala objects to have kusala citta all the time.


Thanks, very interesting that sometimes saddha is used in this way.


I guess I am lucky in this life to put my bet on Lord Buddha. And it works.


There are reasons to arise the confusion, because Saddha and Lobha have some shared characteristics.


Herein, one of faithful temperament is parallel to one of greedy temperament because faith is strong when profitable [kamma] occurs in one of greedy temperament, owing to its special qualities being near to those of greed. For, in an unprofitable way, greed is affectionate and not over-austere, and so, in a profitable way, is faith. Greed seeks out sense desires as object, while faith seeks out the special qualities of virtue and so on. And greed does not give up what is harmful, while faith does not give up what is beneficial.

Even the temperament-types also share many characteristics.

  • The step of one of greedy nature will be springy.

  • The stance of one of greedy temperament is confident and graceful.

  • By the action: also in the acts of sweeping, etc., one of greedy temperament
    grasps the broom well, and he sweeps cleanly and evenly without hurrying or
    scattering the sand, as if he were strewing sinduvára flowers.

  • And by seeing and so on: when one of greedy temperament sees even a slightly pleasing visible object, he looks long as if surprised, he seizes on trivial virtues, discounts genuine faults, and when departing, he does so with regret as if unwilling to leave.

  • As with sweeping, so too with any action such as washing and dyeing robes, and so on. One of greedy temperament acts skilfully, gently, evenly and carefully.

  • Also one of greedy temperament wears his robe neither too tightly nor too loosely, confidently and level all round.

  • By eating: One of greedy temperament likes eating rich sweet food. When eating, he makes a round lump not too big and eats unhurriedly, savouring the various tastes. He enjoys getting something good.

  • And by seeing and so on: when one of greedy temperament sees even a slightly pleasing visible object, he looks long as if surprised, he seizes on trivial virtues, discounts genuine faults, and when departing, he does so with regret as if unwilling to leave.

  • By the kind of states occurring: in one of greedy temperament there is frequent occurrence of such states as deceit, fraud, pride, evilness of wishes, greatness of wishes, discontent, foppery and personal vanity.

Those of faithful temperament should be understood in the same way as those just described, since they are parallel.

In one of faithful temperament there is frequent occurrence of such states as free generosity, desire to see Noble Ones, desire to hear the Good Dhamma, great gladness, ingenuousness, honesty, and trust in things that inspire trust.


It is clearly difficult these days to know who is teaching correctly and who is not.

Numbered Discourses 5.88
Aṅguttara Nikāya 5
9. Senior Mendicants
9. Theravagga
Senior Mendicants
88. Therasutta
“Mendicants, a senior mendicant who has five qualities is acting for the hurt and unhappiness of the people, for the harm, hurt, and suffering of gods and humans.
“Pañcahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato thero bhikkhu bahujanaahitāya paṭipanno hoti bahujanaasukhāya bahuno janassa anatthāya ahitāya dukkhāya devamanussānaṁ.

What five?
Katamehi pañcahi?

They are senior and have long gone forth.
Thero hoti rattaññū cirapabbajito;

They’re well-known, famous, with a large following that includes both laypeople and renunciates.
ñāto hoti yasassī sagahaṭṭhapabbajitānaṁ bahujanaparivāro;
Variant: sagahaṭṭhapabbajitānaṁ → gahaṭṭhapabbajitānaṁ (bj)

They receive robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicines and supplies for the sick.
lābhī hoti cīvarapiṇḍapātasenāsanagilānappaccayabhesajjaparikkhārānaṁ;

They’re very learned, remembering and keeping what they’ve learned. These teachings are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased, describing a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. They are very learned in such teachings, remembering them, reinforcing them by recitation, mentally scrutinizing them, and comprehending them theoretically.
bahussuto hoti sutadharo sutasannicayo, ye te dhammā ādikalyāṇā majjhekalyāṇā pariyosānakalyāṇā sātthaṁ sabyañjanaṁ kevalaparipuṇṇaṁ parisuddhaṁ brahmacariyaṁ abhivadanti, tathārūpāssa dhammā bahussutā honti dhātā vacasā paricitā manasānupekkhitā diṭṭhiyā appaṭividdhā;
Variant: appaṭividdhā → suppaṭividdhā (bj, sya-all, pts1ed)

But they have wrong view and distorted perspective. They draw many people away from the true teaching and establish them in false teachings.
micchādiṭṭhiko hoti viparītadassano, so bahujanaṁ saddhammā vuṭṭhāpetvā asaddhamme patiṭṭhāpeti.

People follow their example, thinking that the senior mendicant is senior and has long gone forth. Or that they’re well-known, famous, with a large following that includes both laypeople and renunciates. Or that they receive robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicines and supplies for the sick. Or that they’re very learned, remembering and keeping what they’ve learned.
Thero bhikkhu rattaññū cirapabbajito itipissa diṭṭhānugatiṁ āpajjanti, ñāto thero bhikkhu yasassī sagahaṭṭhapabbajitānaṁ bahujanaparivāro itipissa diṭṭhānugatiṁ āpajjanti, lābhī thero bhikkhu cīvarapiṇḍapātasenāsanagilānappaccayabhesajjaparikkhārānaṁ itipissa diṭṭhānugatiṁ āpajjanti, bahussuto thero bhikkhu sutadharo sutasannicayo itipissa diṭṭhānugatiṁ āpajjanti.
A senior mendicant who has these five qualities is acting for the hurt and unhappiness of the people, for the harm, hurt, and suffering of gods and humans.
Imehi kho, bhikkhave, pañcahi dhammehi samannāgato thero bhikkhu bahujanaahitāya paṭipanno hoti bahujanaasukhāya bahuno janassa anatthāya ahitāya dukkhāya devamanussānaṁ.

A teacher may be teaching Dhamma in diverse ways - almost all of it in line with the Saddhamma (true Dhamma) but still be wrong. . In fact this was the case even in the Buddha’s time.

Apparently even Devadatta taught Dhamma quite well in some aspects.

Once 500 young monks followed him after he created a schism.
The Buddha sent Mogallana and Sariputta to bring them back. And after Devadatta had spent the night preaching Dhamma he retired with a sore back leaving the 2 chief disciples to preach- despite his acolyte Kokalika warning him of Mogallana’s and Sariputta’s “evil” intent.

The 500 monks listened to them and became sotapanna, and, now knowing truly what was right and wrong Dhamma, followed them back to the Buddha - leaving Devadatta with a heavily depleted following.
[ *see Culavagga, Sanghabhedaka-khandaka, Sanghabhedaka-katha. also DhA.i.143 and J.i.491]

We see that even Devadatta could fool those 500 bhikkhus who had the basis to become enlightened.

I think the right path must be very narrow - so while it is easy enough to accept the general gist of Dhamma, it is another few steps to distinguish the subtle path.
We really need to rely on the Dhamma and our own efforts this far from the time of the Buddha.

Therefore, Ānanda, dwell as a lamp unto yourself,
Refuge unto yourself, seeking no other refuge;
With Dhamma as your lamp,
Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

-Mahaparinibbana sutta

[tasmātihānanda, attadīpā viharatha attasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā,dhammadīpā dhammasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā.]


That is so true. For me, I often use this benchmark for differentiation: Sassataditthi & Ucchedaditthi.

Quite effective to set aside the bad teachings by monks away from others.


Just like I have said before about Bhikkhu Bodhi and his comments which have led away people from the Abhidhamma and Commentaries. But, The Buddha said it better than me.


Yes bhante, while his one-to-one-translated text portions were helpful to understand the Dhamma, his commenting style and many of his comments has led people away from the Abhidhamma and Commentaries.


In a similar way the teaching of anatta is my touchstone. Does the teacher really believe that all elements are utterly anatta, or do they think some are under their control in a subtle way.


On this subject of the Four Great Authorities, the Commentary draws the attention of the reader to miscellaneous points touching on it.

(1) The Four Great Authorities as taught in the Suttanta Piṭka

(Mahāpadesa sutta, Mahāparinibbāna sutta)

(2) The Four Great Authorities as taught in the Vinaya Piṭaka

(Mahāvagga - Bhesajjakkhandhaka )

(3) Four Types of Answer

(Ekamsavādī, Vibhajjavādī, Paṭipucchā, Ṭhapanīya)

(4) The Four Vinayas

( Sutta, Suttānuloma, Ācariyavāda, Attanomati)

(5) The Three Great Buddhist Councils.

( Headed by the Venerables Mahā Kassapa, Mahā Yasa and Mahā Moggaliputta)


From the Cariyaapi.taka A.t.thakathaa, A Treatise on the Paaramiis (this is in Bh. Bodhi’s Brahmajaala Sutta and its Commentaries, p. 271), regarding the perfection of patience:

The footnote by Bodhi:

“Dhammanijjhaanakkhanti. The word khanti, ordinarily used to mean patience in the sense of forbearance of the wrongs of others and the endurance of hardships, is sometimes also used to signify the intellectual acceptance of doctrines which are not yet completely clear to understanding. Patience thus becomes a virtue not only of the will but of the intellect as well. It is a ‘suspension of disbelief’ born of trust, a willingness to acquiesce in propositions baffling or even scandalous to the rational understanding in the confidence that the growth of wisdom will transform this acquiescence into clear and certain knowledge. The compound dhammanijjhaanakhanti seems to indicate an intermediate stage in the process of transformation, where the understanding can accept by way of reflection the article initially assented to in faith, without fully
grasping it by immediate insight

From the Sammohavinodanii:

Anulomika.m khanti.m (‘conformable acceptance’) and so on are all synonyms for understanding. For that is in conformity since it conforms by showing non-opposition to the five reasons for the aforesaid sphere of work and so on. Likewise, it is in conformity since it conforms with behaviour beneficial to beings, it conforms to the Truth of the Path and it conforms owing to conforming to the highest meaning, nibbaana. And it accepts (khamati), bears, is able to see all these reasons, thus it is acceptance (khanti). ‘It sees’ is di.t.thi (‘view’). ‘It chooses’ is ruci (‘choice’). ‘It perceives with the senses’ is muti (‘sensing’). ‘It observes’ is pekkho (‘observance’). And all these things (dhamma) called the five aggregates on being studied (nijjhaayamaanaa) again and again in accordance with impermanence, suffering and no-self, accept (khamanti) that study (nijjhaana); thus it is dhammanijjhaanakkhanti (‘acceptance of study things’).

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“First it has to be seen by inference according to the texts. Afterwards it gradually becomes to be known by personal experience when the knowledge of development gets stronger” Pm Vis. xx n.13)(Vism-mhþ 790).

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@ekocare wrote on another forum and I replied:

Eko Care wrote: Thu Apr 27, 2023 7:11 pm

It is true, but it demands the belief of the text beforehand. I mean how could we validate a given belief? what kind of evidences are needed for a belief to be a reasoned-belief?
> Eg: What are the Evidences and Inferences for the belief of Rebirth/Discrete-mind-moments …etc? Are the reasoning given by many sufficient? Do we need to keep such reasons always with us?

Robert: A great point:

na sīlabbatamattena, bāhusaccena vā pana |
atha vā samādhilābhena, vivittasayanena vā ||

phusāmi nekkhammasukhaṃ, aputhujjanasevitaṃ |
bhikkhu vissāsamāpādi, appatto āsavakkhayaṃ ||

Not merely by virtuous conduct and vows, nor, again, by much learning, nor by the attainment of samādhi, nor by sleeping in seclusion, do I attain the happiness of absence of desire, not attained by worldlings. Nor has a bhikkhu obtained assurance, as long as he has not attained the destruction of the āsavas.
(Dhp. 271-2)
Notice even bahusutta ( much learning) is included in the “not merely by…”
So no guarantee that learning will transpose into direct experience…

Yet at the same time the considering is needed:

The Grouped Sayings of the Buddha. Samyutta Nikaya.
Book [V: 95-6] section 46: The Links. 38: Unhindered.

When, Bhikkhus, a Noble Disciple listens carefully to the Dhamma,
alert with keen ears,
attending to it as a matter of crucial concern, as something of vital
importance, directing
his entire mind to it, in that very moment the Five Mental Hindrances
are absent in him.
On that occasion the Seven Links to Awakening develop towards
complete fulfilment…>
So how does this confidence develop …
I wrote to Sam Vara a while back :

This Dhamma is not easily realized
by those overcome
with aversion & passion.
What is abstruse, subtle,
hard to see,
going against the flow —
those delighting in passion,
cloaked in the mass of darkness,
won’t see.
That pretty much describes me (delighting in passion, cloaked in the mass of darkness), so I have no issue with seeing the path as being rather narrow and only clear to those with sufficient parami.

On the possibility of barking up the wrong tree: a perennial problem for all spiritual adventurers, I think.

Venerable Sunnakhata was the Buddha’s attendant before Ananda. He listened to Dhamma and attained
Jhana, even to the degree of having special powers of hearing.
But he eventually left the Buddha, spoke badly of the Dhamma, and followed ascetics who used to live a life of severe ascetism, copying dogs(dog-duty ascetics). Why, when he had all this going for him? The commentary says that this man had lived many consecutive past lives as an ascetic and had these tendencies. Even the Buddha’s teaching couldn’t overcome them.
And so we see how dependent past factors are in conditioning behaviour. Of course Sunnakhata made choices, he had conventional volitional control over what he did but what he couldn’t see was that ditthi (wrong view)and lobha were underlying all his choices.

My fairly surface level reasons for confidence in the teaching of the Elders are 1: it all makes perfect sense to how the world appears to me;
2. it seems to all come from an incredible wisdom, much more sublime and detailed than all the other paths I have heard of.
Are there deeper reasons - like accumulations from past lives that make one lean towards say Abhidhamma rather than Tibetan Tulkus. Yes that fits in with the teaching and makes sense to me too, although I have no way of really knowing that(but it does explain a lot).

Yet I think it can’t be stressed enough how subtle the path is. Wrong view masquerades as right view and it comes with attachment that can be mistaken for the confidence that is associated with right view.

Now, 2023, is not so long after the Buddha’s parinibbana but wrong ideas and practices keep increasing…

Regarding the comment about "Rebirth/Discrete-mind-moments …etc? Are the reasoning given by many sufficient? Do we need to keep such reasons always with us".
We read, listen, consider, discuss, and critically, see - as much as conditions allow - how this is happening in daily life.

Seeing - does it arise and pass away. Is sound different from seeing? Can pleasant feeling arise at the same moment as unpleasant feeling?
We start to understand that the Abhidhamma is not just theory - it really focusses the mind on the very nature of the world- and so there begin to be glimpses into the world that underlies the conceptual world we are used to.

There can be growing understanding that realities must arise with the right conditions, and so the idea that upon death everything ceases despite one being full of ignorance and craving - the view of the materialists- is dismissed easily.

On the other hand trying hard to have confidence and understanding doesn’t work, that is subtle attachment wanting some result that can be held up as proof.


[Eko Care]
We can understand that realities must arise with conditions, but how do we be sure about one of the condition being Kamma?
How do we see “conditions for these realities are definitely Kamma/Avijja/Tanha”?
What are the reasons to believe it?

Robert: For example by learning the details of the Abhidhamma it becomes clearer what the jatis (akusala, kusala, vipāka, kiriyā) are as they arise in daily life.

Cakkhu vinnana - seeing consciousness - is vipaka jati. It can be known , to some degree , how this appears and that it is different from the akusala and kusala moments that follow.
The vipaka is the result of kamma (so the Dhamma says) and it appears, if there is attention to it, passive compared to the other jatis. Yet there must be a reason for it to arise …
So chance or some overlord making things arise looks more and more unlikely.

Only wisdom in conjunction with sati can truly understand these matters and that takes time to develop. Yet when there is reflection it is quite possible that this is associated with wisdom (at least some of the time). And that is wearing away, just a little, the wrong view. Khanti is the highest tapas.


I have heard even Venerable Maggavihari teaches that, if one passed Ditthi-vidusshi and began analysing causes of Khandas recommended for Khankavitarana-visuddhi, then there will be a time where the meditator understands “definitely there are past and future lives” (not by faith but by inferential-wisdom).

And he says it will be the Khankavitarana-visuddhi and the meditator becomes Culla-sotapanna.


Yes that is a summary of what is said in the Visuddhimagga XIV:

When he has thus seen by means of the round of kamma and the round of
kamma-result how mentality-materiality’s occurrence is due to a condition, he
sees that as now, so in the past, its occurrence was due to a condition by means
of the round of kamma and the round of kamma-result, and that in the future its
occurrence will be due to a condition by means of the round of kamma and the
round of kamma-result. […]
“Correct knowledge and right seeing and overcoming of doubt [605]—are
these things different in meaning and different in the letter or are they one in
meaning and only the letter is different? Correct knowledge and right seeing
and overcoming of doubt—these things are one in meaning and only the letter
is different” (Paþis II 62f.).
27. When a man practicing insight has become possessed of this knowledge,
he has found comfort in the Buddhas’ Dispensation, **he has found a foothold, he **
is certain of his destiny, he is called a “lesser stream-enterer.”

However we need to know that such insight is dependent on right intellectual understanding, and grows gradually. Then once the conditions are sufficient this profound can arise. Even the first stage of tender insight nama-rupa paricheda-nana can only appear if wisdom has been truly developed. This path is narrrow and subtle.


I was about to add that it is mentioned in the vsm too. However like Jhāna, it must be maintained until the end of the life for it to be immediately effective.


What is the meaning of Narrow?

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