O bhikshus and wise men, just as a goldsmith would test his gold by burning, cutting, and rubbing it, so you must examine my words and accept them, but not merely out of reverence for me.
– ghanavyuha sutra (Sutra of Dense Array)
The Buddha encouraged analyzing his words, just in the same way as one would analyze any other sciences – by critically examining, testing out and accepting them after seeing its validity. That is the only way we can make sure that we understand the intended meaning. Only then can we use it effectively to transform our minds. His is not a religious theory or a set of social rules, but a means to cultivate deeper wisdom.
The only difference from other sciences is that it needs to be verified in our first person experience and not in the outside world. It does not need big laboratories or complex mathematics. Laboratory is our own mind. Validation is by simply watching one’s own experiences. Anyone can do it.
After all, what the Buddha taught is Dharma (Pali: Dhamma). The word Dharma / Dhamma means,
- whatever is knowable,
- whatever we can experience (phenomena),
- its actual way (truth) of arising and vanishing,
- the body of knowledge about understanding experiences
- the methods (paths) of clearing confusions about experiences,
- the teaching regarding those methods,
There is nothing religious about it.