How to Validate the Dharma

Phakchok Rinpoche here asks the questions that we all ask about the teaching. How do we know that the Dharma is true, or correct? How has it held up over such a long history? Are these teachings relevant here and now in the 21st century?

Validating the Dharma: Examination of Teaching

Rinpoche reminds us that we are all undergoing difficulty and challenges. This is an important truth to acknowledge. There is suffering in life. The Buddha challenges us to face that fact. And once we see that truth clearly—then we will naturally want to learn how to overcome our suffering. The Buddha’s teachings are one way to respond—a way that emphasizes the importance of mind. By seeing the power of mind, we can transform our suffering—and that is something that we can all experience.

Validating Dharma

Validating the Dharma: Practice Experience

We need to test the Dharma through our own experience. That means that we actually take up the training and follow the instructions. Buddha taught that no one should simply accept the Buddhist teachings on blind faith. Whatever is explained should be validated through one’s personal experience.

How does one check the validity of the Dharma? Is the Dharma true or not? Is the Buddhist path still relevant today? We need to conduct an experiment—does the teaching make a difference in our life? If so—if it provides the answers we search for—then, it is a valid path.

  • Validating truth is a contentious issue these days. Think about how you normally investigate truth claims. Do you rely on a few friends, or the opinions of large groups? Do you prefer to find a few experts and take their word as valid? If you think of yourself as a rational, intelligent, scientific person—then how do you go about discovering truths? Can you think of a few examples where you tested theories or opinions yourself? Did that give you a different level of trust or confidence than relying on others’ arguments?
SEE ALL Add a note
Add your Comment

Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.