Question: How do we know that the Buddha’s teachings is the truth?
Answer: Through active learning, practising, testing and questioning the teachings. There is no world religion or philosophy that confidently advocates as much diligent intelligent doubting with clarifying, and personal experience as Buddhism. When there is deeper practice, the more it comes to light that the Buddha’s teachings are one with reality. But hey, don’t just believe; try and see. That’s what the Buddha calls ‘Ehipassiko’.
Question: As humans lack supernormal powers, how can we have faith in the existence of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and their teachings?
Answer: We know the historical Buddha walked the Earth from historians’ records. And there is absolutely no conceivable reason for the Buddha to lie about the existence of other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. There will by default be those who attain the highest possible compassion and wisdom. These beings are the perfectly spiritually evolved ones – Buddhas. Likewise, there will be beings striving to reach this state, who are Bodhisattvas.
As long as actual experience is not gotten yet, we can use learning, observing, reasoning and understanding to build up faith in the Buddha’s teachings. For instance, there might be a country we have not reached but hear about. We might not be sure it really exists, but based on sufficient reasoning, we believe it does. With sufficient faith, we thus visit it and indeed prove to ourselves that it is real. With more diligent practice, one will come to experience more insight into the reality of the Dharma first hand.
Question: Even if we have some 感应 (connection to and response from the enlightened), how do we know we are not just hallucinating?
Answer: If one is not sure if one is hallucinating, the experience can be ignored, as one might indeed be hallucinating. Some people have deluded experiences and live in denial, lacking honestly to themselves and others, imagining they had special experiences. Even when explained away, they cling foolishly. Their experiences must be able to stand scrutiny. A true connection to and response from the enlightened is so distinct and clear, inspiring and blissful, that one will know it is not concocted from one’s usual unenlightened mind.
When there is true certainty, it is clear and certain. It is hard to explain this certainty – it has to be experienced. For example, the Buddha proclaimed himself to be fully enlightened because he really knew he was, even after scrutinising through the universe, coming to recognise other Buddhas like himself. When we look around, we too indeed see no one who is more enlightened in compassion and wisdom.
Question: Other religions also have ‘supreme’ beings and ‘miracles’ too? What makes Buddhism different?
Answer: In the Buddha’s time, he personally looked deeply into the many religions of his time, some of which are similar to those around today, and realised that the so-called ‘supreme’ beings believed in and their ‘miracles’ are ultimately inadequate for the path to True Happiness. He taught in detail on why they are not supreme too. This is amazing as the Buddha is the first founder of a world religion who systematically compared belief and practice systems. Such is the breadth and scope of the Buddha’s fully enlightened mind and teachings. However, as above, there is no need to just believe him. Again, Ehipassiko!
This article is also found at http://moonpointer.com/new/2012/05/one-with-reality