Q: I'm a sophomore at the University of California in Berkeley. I started to learn Buddhism two years ago, and I know that in Buddhism, it's very important to have two kinds of faith. One is faith in the Buddha, and the other is faith in oneself. But I've found it difficult to have faith in myself. When I'm studying or doing things, I don't have enough self-confidence, and I doubt my own ability. I don't know if this is because I don't have enough samadhi power, or if there is any other reason?
Venerable Master: You shouldn't have the notion of a self, and you shouldn't have the notion of a Buddha. If you believe in the Buddha, you're seeking outside; if you believe in the self, you're seeking inside. Seeking outside or inside is not the middle way. So the Shurangama Sutra says, "It's not inside, it's not outside, and it's not in the middle." When studying the Buddhadharma, you shouldn't harbor doubts. The reason you have doubts is because you can't master yourself.
A cultivator's mind must be free of doubts. If you think something is right, then do it; if it's not right, then don't do it. Rely on the truth. You have to find the middle way.
Don't doubt the middle way. "A cultivator's mind must be free of doubt. Once doubt arises, it's easy to go wrong." Once you have doubt, then no matter what you think, it's wrong. You're only having discursive thoughts. Don't be so wavering. Be firm and decisive. When a problem comes up, consider whether it is reasonable or not. If something is unreasonable, then don't do it no matter how good it is. If it's reasonable, then do it even if you must take a loss. Doubting is of no use. Young people should have the genuine Dharma-selecting eye. If you have the Dharma-selecting eye, you won't have any doubts. Your name means "extensive." You should study extensively, and then you won't have any more doubts. Read more books, so that your knowledge won't be shallow and narrow in scope. Then you won't have doubts about this and that. When your learning is profound, your mind and energy will be calm, and you'll be free of doubts.