So I was talking about the logic behind whether or not God exists, but someone in Doylestown asked me, “How do we know that Buddhas exist?”
This is an important subject for me, because one of the classical reasons for studying logic is to prove the existence of things that we cannot see, but need to understand, such as: whether Buddhas exist, is it possible to reach Nirvana, and/or is the Buddhist conception of emptiness true?
I always tell my story about Green Dragon Kung fu; how someone made up a style called “Green Dragon Kung fu,” because they didn’t want to pay the franchise fee to their kung fu teacher. So they changed some things, made up some new kung fu forms, and viola! Green Dragon Kung fu.
The problem with practicing Green Dragon Kung fu is, does it work? If someone just made it up, we’re not talking about something that has worked for thousands of years: are you going to spend your time studying something that might or might not work when you need to defend yourself?
How important then is it that what you study for your spiritual life is true? Should what you believe in be true or not? Are you going to spend the little amount of free time you have studying something that isn’t true?
If you consider yourself a Buddhist, do you believe that Buddhas exist? If not, how are you a Buddhist? If so, how do you know Buddhas exist? Have you seen one?
If not, then do you believe in Santa also? What’s the difference between believing in Santa or believing in Buddhas, if you don’t have a reason for believing in one or the other?
In Doylestown we covered a couple of different proofs for why Buddhas exist; I’ll do the easiest one first:
Because the Dalai Lama says so.
So run the tests; the important test is going to be is it true that if the Dalai Lama says Buddhas exist, must they exist?
This is the concept in Tibetan Buddhism that they call “valid authority.” Of course you’re not supposed to believe something just because someone says it; if you do that then I have a bridge to sell you. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t believe what people tell us; we do this all the time. How much do you know about quantum physics? If not much, would you accept what a scientist tells you as true about quantum physics? Why or why not?
Whether you accept this syllogism or not depends on two things: whether you believe the Dalai Lama would lie to you or not and whether or not you consider the Dalai Lama to be able to possess such knowledge. If you believe the Dalai Lama wouldn’t lie to you, then the only thing left is to prove that he has the ability to know whether Buddhas exist or not. So we’ll cover that in the next post.