Faith and Renunciation in Early Buddhism: Saddhā and Nekkhamma

Giuliano Giustarini


As a part of a study on faith and renunciation in the Buddhist Nikāyas, this article focuses on the dyad saddhā-nekkhamma. Through a semantic investigation, it is possible to see that the quality of saddhā, being strongly related to wisdom and mindfulness, is considered in the Pāli formulas as a support of the whole meditative path. It is not a matter of belief in a dogma, but indeed an ability to recognize the dangers of defilements and the opportunity to overcome them through the development of the mind. Nekkhamma is the active side of saddhā. By trusting the wider perspective taught by the Buddha, the individual can let go of the fetters that condition the mind: nekkhamma is renunciation of the habitual structure of self.

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