(C) To Establish Right Belief

“Buddhism is not a superstitious faith but a rational belief derived from wisdom”, said the late Mr. Liang Chi-Chao, a veteran celebrated Chinese scholar. By Buddhist belief it is meant that the essence of a theory, though not yet verified by oneself, can be inferred by reasoning to be valid truth; in this sense it is at variance with the beliefs of other religions which enter on entirely different objects. What Buddhists believe is this: because Buddha-nature is inherent in every one, all sentient beings can become Buddha; Buddha-nature may manifest itself in everything, and neither becoming nor annihilating, is fundamentally pure and intrinsically immutable; inasmuch as every thing or every incident is dependent on combined causes and conditions, it has no self-nature of its own, is nothing but manifestation of the mind and is subjected to transformation by consciousness. The fundamental objective of Buddhism is to attain Complete Perfect Enlightenment, which is Wisdom evolving at the highest level of mental development, and also is the most progressive and the highest evolution of mankind. However, the belief held by some religion that God, the Omnipotent, is the Creator and “Father” of all humanity, and as such, has absolute authority over every one and should be absolutely obeyed by everyone, is in striking contrast with the Buddhist Belief and in effect, cannot but detrimentally undermine one’s own individuality, one’s own freedom of will and also the freedom to evolve one’s potential wisdom. As far as belief is concerned, evidently there is a world of difference between Buddhism and other religions. Buddha tells us the fundamental message: “Buddha’s virtues and Wisdom are immanent in all of you. This cannot be verified by you, because you are defiled by the Five Desires and egoistic thoughts; consequently, as long as you cannot deliver yourself from the bondage of delusion, you would be subjected to endure infinite sufferings.” Once this fundamental truth that we are at par with Buddha is realized, a sense of self-respect would be enhanced, and every effort to practise spiritual cultivation to attain Complete Perfect Enlightenment would be exerted diligently. On the contrary, some religion has this to say: “God is our Creator, and has the power of rewarding or punishing us, therefore we should serve him like a master, and if we are absolutely obedient to him, we would be called his worthy children, and, after death, would be blessed to go to the Paradise.” Granted ahtat as a reward for one’s own good deeds, one would go to the Paradise, but as long as he remains to be absolutely obedient to the Paternal Authority in question, how can one enjoy true equality and true freedom over there?

Apparently, intelligence – not belief – is stressed in learning science, but on closer examination, we can see that belief is an important requisite for studying science. The amount of lab. work of Physics and Chemistry, compared with the number of untested theories and principles, is said to be in the ratio of 1 to 1000, now the question arises: regarding those untested theories, should we first experiment with every one of them before we take for granted that they are all valid?, or, under the circumstances, should we accept all of them to be valid before testing them, one by one, ourselves? In fact, we can only choose the second alternative, for two reasons: firstly, because we know well enough from our study that not only those theories can stand to reason but also they are applicable and experimental; secondly, because in the history of science, neither a theory nor a scientist has ever been found to be a fraud, thus we have implicit confidence in the validity of those untested theories. From this, it can be seen that Belief is also essential to scientists: if a theory is deduced from commonly recognized principle, it should be accepted as valid. Again, as long as it is applicable to the present conditions, the validity of a theory holds good, unless contradicted by new discovery. Also, scientists firmly believe that all phenomenal transformations are subjected to the operation of the Law of Cause and Effect, and that none of them is uncaused, or cause by a Creator, or controlled by an unseen Power at all.

Similarly, Buddhists establish their belief in the same way. If, under critical study, no Buddhist principles are found to be illogical, impractical and deceptive, their validity should be accepted, despite the lack of their verification. Take the question of Buddha-nature, for example. Although in most cases Buddhists have not experienced what Buddha-nature is, nevertheless they all accept the validity of this theory, because of their belief in Buddha’s words, so the way to tackle the question of Buddha-nature is this: belief first and to follow up with practice till Buddha-nature is realized by self-experiencing. Once Buddha-nature is verified by oneself, it is immaterial whether to believe it or not. Again, the truth that one eats to satisfy hunger is known to everybody and needs no belief or persuasion. However, if some say that some kind of vitamin pills appease hunger, we should not believe then until we have learnt such effects of the pill from books or from their own experience. If no pill is available on hand or if no one has ever tried it, belief is still possible provided there are good reasons for believing. But to say that one would not go hungry merely by watching others eating, but without eating oneself, is so nonsensical that no amount of reasoning can dismiss its absurdity. Similarly, what some religionists say that thousands and thousands of sinners would be redeemed by a martyr’s death is exceedingly difficult to believe, and to believe it is nothing but superstition.