The Buddha was very clear that no one should accept what he said just because he said it. This brilliant essay explores this point further. Buddhism appeals to people who do not like having someone tell them what to believe or what to do, and/or who have noticed how often the self styled religious authorities in the modern world have failed miserably and do not look very trustworthy.
As the essay at the link above points out, to get very far on the Buddhist path, one likely does need to have at least the preliminary faith that the Buddha accomplished something extraordinary that we might want to emulate. From there, Buddhism requires what I call space shuttle faith. There is blind faith, in which you believe what you believe because some authority figure told you to. Space shuttle faith is the kind in which you choose to believe that some important achievement is possible if you believe in it enough and pursue it with enough determination. There was a time when most people thought reusable space vehicles would never happen. Other people believed in the idea enough and pursued it with enough determination that they created space shuttles.
Awakening as the Buddha did is possible. He said so. One is also taking on faith, to some extent, that we have a reliable record of what the Buddha said that has been reliably translated into English or whatever language you want to study them in, but that is true of any religion.
But the basic message of the Buddha is, “Here’s what I did. Now you do it.” It’s up to you to decide if you want to try it or not. I did. It works. For me. It might not work for you, although do persist for a while. You should start to see some effects from your meditation practice pretty quickly. But it takes time. This is not a quick fix. And it requires your choice and your effort.
When I started having realizations from my meditation practice, what I found particularly interesting, beyond the substance of the realizations, was that i felt very strongly that I knew what I had just realized more certainly than anything else I knew. I believe that the historical sources I have looked at for my research are accurate reflections of what was happening at the time of their creation, and that what I have written about the past is a reasonably accurate reflection of the events I wrote about.
But I am far more certain about the knowledge I have gained from my meditation practice.
That’s why I identify as a Buddhist and try to tell the world as much as I can about Buddhism.
Help spread the word.