1. INTEREST Upon seeing the teacher and the qualities evinced by spiritual practice, and by hearing the Dharma, you naturally become aware of how nice it feels. There is a calm, soothing vibration which is very special. Effortlessly, you feel attracted and drawn closer. This state is known as interest. You are moved in a direction that nobody forced or pushed you into. Simply contacting the presence of the Three Jewels through seeing their qualities and hearing the teachings brings a very peaceful feeling and an intimation of something beautiful. You might feel like you're coming home.
2. LONGING The initial interest becomes intensified into strong motivation in this second step. In Tibetan gö-pa means longing. This is when you think, 'I really should do this.' You feel you must finish the journey home, walk through the door and step inside. You have a joyful feeling about getting inside. This leads to a strong practice and a meaningful response to the teaching. Having opened oneself, one becomes intimate with the Dharma, continually deepening and maturing in that understanding.
3. CONFIDENCE This comes from practical acquaintance with the Dharma, like the familiarity experienced when you arrive home. You feel very relaxed and have certainty regarding what is true. When you were initially interested, you simply thought, 'How nice...' then through inspiration, you became determined to move in that direction. The level of confidence is when you've really come home for good. You no longer have any doubt or hesitation. You've settled into your own space and reached the point of relaxed confidence. No longer do you have to search and wander, driven by feelings of poverty or insufficiency. You are at peace. You feel full and comfortable, finally able to enjoy the wealth and riches within your own home.
Confidence is very important. Without it you're not going to attain enlightenment or be able to help other beings. Confidence encourages you to settle down, to relax into the fullness of what you already have so that you can see what is still to be realized or accomplished. You are able to feel at ease while learning to work with the whole situation, to creatively participate in the world and be of benefit to others. This effort is sustained by meditation.
Realization comes through meditation, not just by studying and analyzing. Too much thinking and intellectual analysis only leads to more conceptions, following one upon another to the point where you're merely hovering over the actual experiences of life, carried away by endless mentalizing.
Dwelling in conceptions is an inherently unstable condition. You won't find anything there. Eventually the imbalance of an overly intellectual approach gives rise to more doubt. The energy of your initial interest and longing is lost in the proliferation of abstraction and analysis. By clinging to conceptions, we end up in doubt. There is a saying in Tibet, 'Expertise can become another form of stupidity.'
By over-indulging in intellectual analysis and conceptualization, we will be constantly plagued by doubt and hesitation. In clinging to concepts, we merely skim across the surface of knowledge and life-experiences, obscuring the original qualities of meaningful, participatory awareness. This prevents us from being of benefit to either ourselves or other beings.
To have confidence in the Dharma and faith in the wisdom of love and compassion is wisdom itself......http://www.turtlehill.org/khen/devo.html