- The scrutiny and questioning which are the soul of Socrates’ ‘examined life’ are also fundamental to Buddhism. Buddhism has traditions of philosophical debate whose uncompromisingly logical approach to truth seeking mirror the dialectics of the Socratic Method. Though it ended badly for Socrates, it is this dynamic of critical thinking that has crystallized and clarified Buddhist doctrine through the centuries. That is why even today, Buddhism has an open canon. The following quotes champion the faculty of reason and the spirit of investigation.
- “Oh monks and wise men,
Just as a goldsmith would test his gold
By burning , cutting, and rubbing it,
So must you examine my words and accept them.
But not merely out of reverence for me.” -Buddha
- “This means that, in the Buddhist investigation of reality, at least in principle, empirical evidence should triumph over scriptural authority, no matter how deeply venerated a scripture may be.” -Dalai Lama from Science-at-the-Crossroads.
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.“ -Buddha
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” -Benjamin Franklin
“Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.” - Thomas H. Huxley
“The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.” -Dalai Lama
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” -Buddha
“We must not be attached to a view or a doctrine, even a Buddhist one. .. . The Buddha said that if in a certain moment or place you adopt something as the absolute truth, and you attach to that, then you will no longer have any chance to reach the truth. Even when the truth comes and knocks on your door, and asks you to open the door, you won’t recognize it. So you must not be too attached to dogma–to what you believe, and to what you perceive.” -Thich Nhat Hanh