A. I’m sure that we all would agree that awareness comes in countless degrees. All sentient beings surely have it to some extent, however faint. We humans are different though, because we make the profound leap from having awareness to having self-awareness – a unique characteristic that is the precious gift that can unlock the door to eternal freedom. Unlike animals and other forms of life, forever trapped by their instincts and karmic outflows, we, having precious self-awareness, have the ability to resist our habits and change our karmic outflows. We possess the potential to break the wheel of becoming.

For us Dharma practitioners this deeply profound state of self-awareness is the centre of our practice. Through training, we ‘polish’ our self-awareness – it becomes brighter and brighter as we understand more deeply who and what we are, what makes us this way, and how we can change. Through commitment to practice our awareness becomes so shiny and bright and alert to the present moment, it eventually shakes itself free, letting go completely the mind-made world that hitherto created the suffering and the dullness that blinded it to the truth of life. This we call enlightenment or awakening.

On this journey of purification we employ many skilful means, one being the nurturing of faith. Faith brought into our awareness helps us to let go of our attachments, so that awareness can cleanse itself of the deluded mind still further. When finally our awareness is totally cleansed and freed, we can say it is pure. In that pure-awareness no thing whatsoever can abide, not even a Buddha – and certainly not faith.