One cannot be a Buddhist if one doesn’t know the Dharma.
One who sees the Dharma, sees the Buddha.
The Buddha is a teacher of gods and man.
Therefore, it is important for us to know what exactly is the Buddha’s teachings.
If we have doubt in the teachings, then we will hesitate to practice them. When we do not practice the Dharma, we will not experience its good result. Consequently, it creates more doubt. It is a vicious cycle that is bad.
On the other hand, if we practice, we will know intimately, how the Dharma shape our mind and change our world positively. When that happen, our confidence strengthen and we progress on our path towards enlightenment.
How should we start believing in Dharma then? Why should we believe in the Dharma? Why believe the Buddha is enlightened?
All these questions were already asked during the Buddha’s time, more than 2500 years ago.
What Buddha said in reply became known as the Kalama Sutta.
In short, the Buddha advised man to think and analyse the various teachings and beliefs themselves. Not to take things at face value. Not to believe something because it is a long held traditions, or because it was stated in ancient text etc
Instead, we should use common sense and think critically,
Does the teachings or views or beliefs lead to happiness or sufferings? Is it beneficial to oneself and others? If it is good, beneficial and result in happiness for oneself and others, then we should accept.
If it promotes harm for oneself and others, then we should reject.
At that point in time, more than 2500 years ago, there was a consensus among the Kalama population that greed, hatred and ignorance results in harm and sufferings, not only for oneself but also for others.
In our modern times, we shouldn’t be missing such simple logic right?
Personally, this advice won me over to Buddhism.
So ironically, my faith in Dharma started off as a Doubt, just like the Kalama people!
Whenever, I encounter any teachings or teachers, I would think and analyse.
That is what Buddhism is about.
We shouldn’t believe someone simply because he or she has a large number of followers.
We shouldn’t believe a sutra or sutta simply because it is ancient.
We have to think and try to understand it from a common sense perspective.
If it doesn’t make sense or if it encourages blind faith then I should be wary.
Because the Buddhism that I have faith and take refuge in, advises people to think for themselves.
It encourages wisdom and not blind faith.
When we have the good fortune to encounter the Dharma, it will bring us an enlightened life.
May all be well and happy.