For many followers of the Buddha Dharma, trust/faith, known as shraddha in Sanskrit, is the foundation of practice. In my case, it is a powerful phenomenon that is essential to spiritual maturity. To demonstrate its importance, I will discuss how trust prevails at the end of the Tournament of Power in Dragon Ball Super.
In the Tournament of Power, various fighters demonstrate different virtues. For instance, Vegeta demonstrates pride, Ribrianne demonstrates love, and Toppo demonstrates justice. All of these fighters eventually fall.
Jiren, Goku’s main rival in the tournament, reveals that he values strength above all else and trusts no one. He maintains this belief until he is confronted by the trust between two very unlikely allies: Goku and Frieza.
For those who are not familiar with the Dragon Ball series, Frieza is the last person one would expect to be an ally to Goku. In the Dragon Ball Z series, Goku what no other person had done to Frieza before, he challenged Frieza’s genocidal sense of superiority by defeating him in battle.
Unlike many of Goku’s former foes, Frieza has never really had a change of heart. He is still a despotic imperialist.
However, Goku may be the only person that Frieza has learned to trust. Before the tournament, Frieza was previously condemned to Earth’s Hell. In order to complete a fighting team for the tournament, Goku traveled to Hell to ask Frieza to join him. Frieza agreed on the condition that Goku was to use the Dragon Balls to summon the Eternal Dragon and wish Frieza back to life.
Before the final battle of the tournament, Frieza asks Goku if he remembered his promise. Goku responds by saying,
“So long as you don’t break your promise, I’ll keep mine. You know that better than anyone, don’t you.”
If there is anything to say about Goku, it’s that he stands by his word. He has, on repeated occasions, done what he said he would do, particularly when showing mercy to his foes. Frieza has witnessed this on many occasions and even tried to use that trust against him.
After some protest, Frieza acknowledges his trust in his own way,
“That naive part of you makes me want to vomit. But, right now, I am grateful for it.”
And so, despite his animosity toward the saiyan, Frieza has faith in Goku.
In turn, Goku has faith in Frieza. The two fighters become an unstoppable force against Jiren. Before being knocked out of the tournament, Jiren, witnessing the bond between the two fighters, remarks,
“So this is trust…”
At the end of the tournament, faith wins over pride, love, justice, and strength. It even prevails over hatred.
This has made me consider why much of the Buddhist tradition centers trust/faith as a foundation of practice. In the Pali Canon shraddha is one of the faculties one must have to properly develop. For Honen and Shinran, it helps pull one to the Pure Land.
The spiritual life, in my experience, can be an ocean of the unknown and unfathomable. It’s also a bumpy road, full of joy and sorrow. That’s why it’s my faith in the Buddhas that carries me along.
Namo Amida Bu
Image from Funimation and Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Super.
Note: I’m using subtitled translations from the original Japanese production.
Here’s the fight, if you are interested!