The Antidote to Doubt

Read article and listen to dharma talks about the many faces of doubt by Phillip Moffitt. Deepen your understanding of the different kinds of doubt that manifest in your spiritual practice and life and discover why faith is the antidote to doubt.


We may not recognize doubt’s presence because it is so interwoven into our experience. If it is so strong that we’re caught in it, we are frozen in place. Doubt is so precluding that it just stops us. Reactive mind doubt, or the doubt of uncertainty, plagues most of us most of the time.
Doubt takes three forms: skepticism, chronic cynicism, and doubt of the reactive mind. We would do well to be mindful of the interplay between fear and doubt. Doubt, which is a mental factor, is difficult enough to deal with. But when fear, which triggers a physical reaction, enters the picture, our system may shut down and keep us from moving. Sometimes one elicits the other, sometimes they arise together. Discerning the components of doubt and of fear is helpful. It is particularly important to practice compassion and loving-kindness during these times.

For Your Reflection:

1. Begin to use mindfulness to detect how pervasive doubt is in your life. Notice how often you doubt yourself, others, institutions, or even life itself. Note the suffering in all this doubt.

2. Without judging, start to observe people you know who are afflicted with doubt. What do you notice about how it affects their lives? Do they freeze up when making decisions? Do they constantly second guess themselves? Do you find yourself being impatient with them?

3. For a few weeks, experiment with cultivating “don’t know mind.” This requires noticing when you have a fixed view about something in your life and then releasing that view. Consciously say to yourself, “It is impossible for me to know all the implications for good or bad of any particular thing. I just don’t know.” This does not mean that you give up having preferences; you just give up being attached to them.

4. Choose one area of your life in which doubt comes up a lot and make it an object of your mindfulness. Cultivate compassion and loving-kindness for that part of you that falls into doubt. What would you be feeling if you weren’t feeling doubt in this moment?

5. One effective way to work with doubt is what I call “and” practice. To do this practice, whenever doubt arises first feel the doubt in your body, become mindful of how it’s manifesting in your mind, and then say to yourself, “I feel doubt strongly, and I am going ahead.”

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