To learn Buddhism, one must go through four stages: “faith, understanding, practice, and realization.” Faith is the first stage, which means accepting Buddhism. If one has doubts and disbelief in something, they will not study it. Even if they study it, they may misunderstand it due to their preconceived ideas and criticism. Buddhism is profound, and it is difficult to understand its meaning and benefit without faith and in-depth study. Therefore, the first step in learning Buddhism is to have faith.
The second stage is understanding. After having faith, one must understand the contents of Buddhism, how it can help people turn ignorance into enlightenment, and how it can help people escape from the cycle of birth and death. Only by understanding the true meaning of Buddhism can one’s faith be strengthened. The Buddhist scriptures say, “Follow the Dharma, not people.” We should believe in the truth of the Dharma, not in people, gods, or idols. This is a rational decision, not an emotional impulse. Only by exploring the truth with the correct attitude, developing wisdom, and avoiding obstacles can we continue to learn and develop our faith.
After having faith and understanding, the next stage is practice. In society, some people recognize the profundity of Buddhism but do not believe it. Some people study the scriptures but do not practice them. Only by practicing Buddhism and following its teachings, can we correct our behavior, eliminate delusions, and gain spiritual insights. In this way, we can turn ignorance into enlightenment and achieve the benefits of learning Buddhism.
The final stage of learning Buddhism is realization. In the world, if one has faith, understands fully, and practices persistently, one will eventually achieve the desired result. This is also true for learning Buddhism. If one has faith, understands the teachings, and practices according to them, they will gain spiritual insights and realization. However, the actual experience of realization is subjective, and only those who experience it personally can truly understand it.