Is Buddhism true?

Is Buddhism scientific? Is Buddhism “true?” Does Buddhist meditation reveal “the way things really are”? Is the self an illusion? 

– from a Cheeta House announcement about a reading/discussion group

What comes up for me with these questions?

Is Buddhism scientific? It depends. It depends on what aspect of Buddhism you are talking about and what you mean by science. Buddhism is diverse, and there are many valid ways of doing science. Within Buddhism, some approach it in a sincere, sober, and grounded way, which makes it more aligned with science. Some go more into beliefs, which makes it less scientific.

Is Buddhism true? Again, it obviously depends. In my experience, the essence of it has much that seems valid. The way they point to and talk about our true nature fits my experience. The essence of how they describe the dynamics of the mind often seems accurate. Other things in Buddhism are more cultural and peripheral.

Does Buddhist meditation reveal “the way things really are”? As far as I can tell, with the right guidance and sincere exploration, it can. It can reveal our nature to ourselves. We can find ourselves as that which our field of experience happens within and as. We can find ourselves as capacity for all of it. That’s what it can reveal, and it can reveal some of the dynamics of the mind that distracts attention away from this. That’s about it. It cannot reveal the nature of all of existence or anything else, really. See articles tagged small and big interpretations of awakening for more on this.

Is the self an illusion? Again, it depends. I would talk about it in two ways. (a) There is a self here in a conventional sense. This is a self with a passport, a biography, and so on. The illusion is more that this is what we fundamentally are. We are what this self and everything happens within and as. Our more fundamental nature is what it all happens within and as. Even more essentially, we are capacity for all of it. So I would say that the self is not an illusion, but that it’s our fundamental nature is an illusion. (b) The other side is that the experience of this self is created by and within consciousness. The consciousness we are forms itself into the experience of this self and anything else. More specifically, it’s created by the mind associating different stories and appearances in the sense fields. It’s a kind of virtual creation that the consciousness we are creates for itself to function in the world. It’s a useful creation in a practical sense.1 See articles tagged who and what we are for more on this.

Even what’s phrased as statements are questions. They point to something to explore here and now.

(1) The self can take many different forms, from this human self to a doer, observer, or something else. In reality, any time the mind identifies with the perspective of a story or identity, a self with an Other is created. It perceives itself to be that view and anything else becomes Other.

Image by me and Midjourney


INITIAL DRAFT

Is Buddhism scientific? Is Buddhism “true?” Does Buddhist meditation reveal “the way things really are”? Is the self an illusion? 

I saw a Cheeta House announcement on Facebook about a reading/discussion group on these topics.

What comes up for me with these questions?

Is Buddhism scientific? It depends. It depends on what aspect of Buddhism you are talking about. It’s very diverse. Some approach it in a sincere, sober, and grounded way, which makes it more aligned with science. Some go more into beliefs, which makes it less scientific.

Is Buddhism true? Again, it obviously depends. In my experience, the essence of it has much that seems valid. They way they point to and talk about our true nature fits my experience. The essence in how they describe the dynamics of the mind often seems accurate. Other things in Buddhism is more cultural and peripheral.

Does Buddhist meditation reveal “the way things really are”? As far as I can tell, with the right guidance and sincere exploration, it can. It can reveal our nature to ourselves. We can find ourselves as that which our field of experience happens within and as. We can find ourselves as capacity for all of it. That’s what it can reveal, and it can reveal some of the dynamics of the mind that distracts attention away from this. That’s about it. It cannot reveal the nature of all of existence or anything else, really.

Is the self an illusion? Again, it depends. There is a self here in a conventional sense. This is a self with a passport, a biography, and so on. The illusion is more that this is what we fundamentally are. We are what this self and everything happens within and as. Our more fundamental nature is what it all happens within and as. Even more essentially, we are capacity for all of it. So I would say that the self is not an illusion, but that it’s our fundamental nature is an illusion. (At the same time, the self is kind of an illusion in that it’s created by the mind putting together different stories and appearances in the sense fields to create an experience of the self. It’s created by the mind, and it’s a very useful creation.)

Is the self an illusion? Again, it depends. I would talk about it in two ways. (a) There is a self here in a conventional sense. This is a self with a passport, a biography, and so on. The illusion is more that this is what we fundamentally are. We are what this self and everything happens within and as. Our more fundamental nature is what it all happens within and as. Even more essentially, we are capacity for all of it. So I would say that the self is not an illusion, but that it’s our fundamental nature is an illusion. (b) The other side is that the experience of this self is created by the mind. It’s created by the mind putting together different stories and appearances in the sense fields to create an experience of the self. It’s created by the mind, and it’s a useful creation in a practical sense. See articles tagged who and what we are for more on this.

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