What can we take on faith? And what do we need to see directly for ourselves? Ultimately, the Buddha taught that we need to see the entire path directly. But that isn’t really possible at the beginning. How can we see nibbana directly when we have trouble enough meditating in peace for 30 minutes.
Any time we learn something new, we have to take some things on faith from a trusted teacher. Weird as it feels at first, you have to choke up on that bat when you’re doing batting practice for the first time. Strange and boring as it seems, you have to practice the scales on the piano in order to improve.
Here the Buddha teaches the practice of generosity and explains why some results are obvious, and some just have to be taken on faith, at least at first.
Once General Siha went to visit the Buddha at Vesali. He asked the Buddha, “Are the good results of being generous obvious here and now?”
The Buddha replied, “Yes, Siha. The public admires a generous person. Wise, good people admire a generous person. The reputation of a generous person spreads far and wide. A generous person can confidently associate with any group of people: warriors, priests, lay people, or monks.
“In addition, when a generous person dies, they can be confident that they will be reborn in a heavenly realm.”
Gen. Siha said, “As for the first four reasons, I don’t need to have any faith in the Buddha to see that this is true. But when the Buddha claims that after death a generous person will be reborn in a heavenly realm, I can’t see this for myself. I have to take it on faith.”
The Buddha agreed.
-Siha Sutta, AN 5.34