1. Today, we have many different religions, world views, cults, and even different versions of the Buddha Dhamma: Theravada, Mahāyāna, Zen, Vajrayaṃa (Tibetan), etc. Actually, Zen and Vajrayaṃa both originated from Mahāyāna (see, “Historical Timeline of Edward Conze“); thus Theravada and Mahāyāna are the two main categories. How could one decide which one to choose?
2. Here is a good example of an obvious inconsistency:
In Mahāyāna Buddhism, one is supposed to take a vow as to not to attain Enlightenment (Nibbāna) until ALL BEINGS are ready to attain Nibbāna. Whoever came up with this idea did not understand that there are an infinite number of beings.
- On this Earth alone, scientists estimate that there are 10 trillion of just ants (million ants for each human being!). It also displays a lack of understanding that most beings are incapable of attaining Nibbāna, until a human or deva birth is attained, which are rare events; see, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma“.
- As the Buddha advised in the Kalama Sutta, everyone needs to examine the different options and choose the one that is without any contradictions.
3. In Buddha’s time, there was of course no “science” that educated the masses about the physical world. Even though the Buddha referred to the innumerable world systems and innumerable beings in them, people just had to believe those only based on faith. Today we are fortunate to have a well-established scientific method to rule out “bad theories” and to focus on “good theories”.
- This method cannot match the Buddha’s method of deciding by EXPERIENCE that he advised in the Kalama Sutta as mentioned above, but it gives a filtering mechanism to weed out the stuff that is clearly not worth pursuing. Thus the scientific method can be used as “pre-screening” to get rid of obviously unsuitable paths or “theories”.
4. What is the “scientific method”?
An acceptable “theory” must have,
- power (ability) to explain as many things that we experience in this world,
- consistency, i.e., not one explanation can be inconsistent with another within the same theory,
- the power to predict, i.e., point out things that are still unknown but could be verified in the future.
5. If one would want to read more about the scientific method, I can recommend two books: “The structure of scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn is a classic; “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch is a recent and more easy-to-read book which also discusses infinity which is a key concept in Dhamma.
6. Thus explanatory power, consistency, and the power of prediction are the three measures of the validity of a scientific theory. Buddha Dhamma is a theory about existence for someone who has not yet “seen” its validity.
- My goal with this website is to present the Dhamma as a scientific theory. I will try to point out the explanatory power of the Dhamma, that there are no inconsistencies in Dhamma, and that many things in the Dhamma that were so far ahead of the times and only now are being confirmed by science.
- In the following video Dr. Deutsch explains the start of the scientific revolution on a few hundred years ago.
- As explained above, science proceeds via conjectures (theories) that are continually tested. There are no conjectures in Buddha Dhamma. The truths revealed in Dhamma are still being re-discovered by science. The vagaries of life can only be explained in terms of Buddha Dhamma; see, “Complexity of Life and the Way to Seek “Good Rebirths”.
7. Buddha Dhamma is not a religion in the normally accepted sense of the word “religion”. The Buddha never said that he can take someone to “salvation” if someone believed in him. One attains Nibbāna by purifying ONE’S OWN mind. The Buddha just showed WHY one should strive for Nibbāna and HOW to purify one’s mind by following the Noble Eightfold Path.
- Buddha Dhamma is a complete description of existence, or nature. A Buddha discovers the laws of nature appears by his own mental efforts. It is for us to decide whether that world view makes sense to us, and then to use the Path he showed to attain Nibbāna, the state of unconditioned, permanent happiness.
- One could start on the Path of the Buddha in a gradual manner, verifying for oneself the benefits at each step; see, “Living Dhamma“.