How can we know the truth? Who and what can be relied upon?
So many bizarre claims are out there! Even famous and seemingly reputed figures are making outrageous claims! How can we know the truth? Who and what can be relied upon?
Once Buddha passes through a village and its people ask him: Many monks, priests and holy men pass through, expounding their teachings and criticizing the teachings of others. So there is doubt in us. Whose teachings should they follow? As Buddha acknowledges that it is proper for them to be doubtful, he points out a direction. As Buddha advised, we don't have to believe something just because: we heard it repeatedly, or it comes from tradition or a scripture, or told by a famous person, etc.
We live in a complex world. The best way we can move towards the truth is by proper investigation, making sensible hypotheses and verifying with data. Whether it is Einstein's opinion, or a Nobel laureate's outrageous claim, or a priest, guru or politician's arrogant statement, or an ayurvedic or siddha doctor's extraordinary claim, it doesn't really matter. What really matters is the hard evidence! Our sanity depends on our critical thinking – and cultivating proper tools and methods towards it. As long as we are fools, we will continue to be exploited. Truth can set us free, but it has to come from our own understanding.