What is confidence-trust? It is a deep conviction, lucidity, and longing for those things which are real, have value, and are possible. It functions as the basis of sustained interest.
It is an awareness that counteracts lack of trust through three aspects of trust, namely, deep conviction, lucidity, and longing trust.
Confidence-trust is of three kinds:
1. Lucid confidence [dang ba'i dad pa]
2. Trusting confidence [yid ches gyi dad pa]
3. Longing confidence [mngon 'dod gyi dad pa]
Lucid confidence is a lucid mind. It is an attitude that comes when one has seen the worth of such valuables as the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). When one puts a water-purifying gem into murky water, it becomes limpid immediately. So when this confidence is born, the turbidities of the mind become limpid and all the values of real understanding can grow in one.
Trusting confidence is trust which arises from thinking about the connection that exists between one's action and its result as taught by the Buddha.
Longing confidence is the thought that, having pondered over the four truths, those of frustration and of its origin have to be given up, and those of the cessation and of the way to it have certainly to be realized. When we know that through our efforts these truths can be realized, we certainly will do so.
Here we have only touched upon the nature of the three kinds of confidence-trust, but they are not exhausted thereby.
At present, people lump pleasure and confidence-trust together. We may say that the pleasure in drinking wine is a trust in the wine, but the pleasure and trust certainly are not one and the same. Trust is a mental event which is essentially positive, but pleasure shares in what is positive and negative.
Moreover, in explaining these two in greater detail, we have four alternatives:
1. Liking something but not trusting
2. Trusting but not liking
The first, 'liking something but not trusting': you may like your son and wife (but not trust them), and you may like such activities as drinking wine and eating food at inappropriate times.
The second, 'trusting but not liking': you may have a strong conviction from a deep fear of the evils of samsara (and hence not like it).
Both liking and trusting is joyful trust that comes from a deep conviction after having pondered over the positive results deriving from positive actions and (from having pondered) on the value of spiritual friends.
Neither liking nor trusting is like anger and frustration.
Now then, are pleasures and personal feelings the same or different? We can say in some sense they are one and the same but actually they are not. To like a spiritual friend is a trust, but the personal feeling of respect regarding that spiritual friend is a distinct mental event which is produced in one's being. It is to feel humble and to cherish this feeling by thinking of what he has done for you. And these are two different mental events.
When someone in his individual awareness deeply questions this according to the great treatise [lam-rim], and when he analyzes how it grows in him when he turns the mind inward, then he can know what is meant. Mere words cannot explain this.
In view of this topic, the all-knowing (Tsong-kha-pa) has repeatedly stated that in order to experience this from the bottom of one's being, one has to associate with wise spiritual friends and become very familiar with what the teachings have to say. But, when these great treatises are explained, today's fools, poor in intelligence and low in their stock of merits,become frightened and turn away from them like a poisonous snake catching the smell of musk or like a small child running away upon seeing the surging ocean. Those who realize the works of the Sages and sublime persons of India as the very foundation of instructions are like stars in daytime.
The statement that the function of trust is to provide a basis for (sustained) interest means that the basis of all (positive) qualities is endeavor, and that for the birth of endeavor an interest which is involved with the problem is necessary. For the birth of such interest, there must be the vision of its qualities and a trusting confidence in all teachings and their commentaries; thus, confidence-trust has been said to be the foundation of all qualities.
Confidence must precede all things like a mother (her child).
It guards and increases all positive things.
It removes fears and rescues from the (four) rivers.
Confidence is the road sign to the citadel of happiness.
Confidence is not murky and makes the mind translucent.
It removes arrogance and becomes the root of devotion.
Confidence is wealth, treasure, and the best foundation.
Like the hand, it is the means for gathering what is wholesome.
Wherever one may arrive at by being led,
Confidence is the best vehicle.
Therefore, the intelligent person
Sticks close to confidence.
In people without confidence,
Positive qualities are not produced,
Just as a seed consumed by fire
Cannot become a green sprout.
-chos bcu pa
Thus, it has been stated that all bright qualities come in the wake of confidence-trust, and so the statement, 'where the root of confidence is made firm', in the bslab btus (Siksasamuccaya) explains that confidence-trust is the foundation of all the paths. The great personality and teacher Nagarjuna also states in the byang chub lam gyi rim pa's table of content,
The root is the development of confidence.
The root of everything happy is this trusting confidence.