Wow, it is encouraging to see the conviction and trust that others have in the Dhamma.
It certainly inspires me to work harder.
In recent years, I too have developed more and more trust in the Dhamma. As Ben suggests, a certain degree of my trust in the Dhamma has been strengthened by non-Buddhist works that arrive at similar conclusions. I have learned much from them and am curious to learn more. This doesn’t mean that I am about to take refuge in them. The Buddhadhamma has so far proven to be the only real refuge for me.
But does this then mean that all other approaches—scientific, philosophical, artistic, or otherwise—will always pale in comparison with Buddhism? Does that mean that I can say ‘objectively’ that they offer no true refuge for anyone, anywhere?
I don’t know. My experience with the Dhamma has taken me where I am, and based on where I have come to I feel
convinced that the Buddhadhamma is my one true refuge. My experience gives me that much grounds to make that claim. But I wonder if it allows me to claim anything more than that without it being anything but a speculation.
It might indeed be the case that all other approaches--when compared to the Buddhadhamma--would always fall short. Maybe. I can’t say for sure. But I’m just not prepared to take the leap out of the grounds of my present experience (if such a leap were possible at all) to assert that claim.
This is not to say that we cannot engage in comparison with other approaches, making distinctions
here and there and calling out flaws and inconsistencies where we find them. It is important to do so, in order to develop greater clarity about our own position and other people’s positions--this, I would add, is an ethical obligation
But even as I develop greater clarity, I don’t think it allows me to ever leap out of my position, as if I could detach myself from the conditions that have brought me to where I am and establish a free-floating, aerial 'God's eye' view to unambiguously pass judgements about the different positions--this acknowledgement of one's situatedness
, I would say, is also an ethical obligation.
So even as I engage with different approaches, I’m also trying to be mindful about how I make distinctions between them. Distinctions are unavoidable. But I want to be cautious about how I make them because distinctions have the tendency to exclude, establish hierarchy and isolate
. With my limited experience of the Buddhadhamma, I’m not too sure about the skilfulness of that. Distinctions, as we are taught, are the great 'worldly winds
This is of course what I understand from my position at the moment. To the extent that the Buddhadhamma is a path
, my position will very well change. But even if my position changes, I still don't see how I could levitate above the ground on which the path unfolds.