Reprinted with permission from "The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus, Wisdom Publications

In the Buddhist tradition, we speak of three different types of faith. The first is faith in the form of admiration that you have toward a particular person or a particular state of being. The second is aspiring faith. There is a sense of emulation: you aspire to attain that state of being. The third type is the faith of conviction.

All three types of faith can be explained in the Christian context as well. A practicing Christian can have a very strong devotion to and admiration for Jesus by reading the Gospel. That is the first level of faith, the faith of admiration and devotion. After that, as you strengthen your admiration and faith, it is possible to progress to the second level, which is the faith of aspiration. In the Buddhist tradition, you would aspire to Buddhahood. In the Christian context you may not use the same language, but you can say that you aspire to attain the full perfection of the divine nature, or union with God. Then, once you have developed that sense of aspiration, you can develop the third level of faith, a deep conviction that it is possible to perfect such a state of being.

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