Whatever the Buddha taught came from self knowledge (attanâ va jâneyyâtha) or personal higher knowledge (sâmam yea dhammam abhiññâya). In this regard, we are not asked to believe in a special creed. We are invited by the Buddha to share in his experience. The Buddha said:
“Well explained has been the Dhamma by the Blessed One, the Dhamma that bears fruit here and now, not subject to time [for results], that invites every man to come and see for himself, leading to the highest good, to be experienced by the wise in their very self (paccattam veditabbo viññûhi)” (M. i. 265).
Western Buddhist can't help but see the above as an ancient species of modern empirical verification or the same, verificationism. But nowhere does the Buddha say that his knowledge is based upon sensory evidence which is at the heart of modern empirical verification. In fact, the modern principle of verification excludes personal knowledge or personal higher knowledge.
"According to the 'Verification Principle' we must exclude from language all propositions which cannot, at any rate in principle, be verified by sense experience--by what is seen, heard, touched, tasted and smelt. Restrict ourselves to propositions of sense experience and all will be well” (Ian T. Ramsey, Religious Language: An Empirical Placing of Theological Phrases, ed. Alasdair MacIntyre and Ronald Gregor Smith, 12).
When we look into the canon of Buddhism, the words of the Buddha resist being empirically verified as to their truth or falsity. This is because the knowledge the Buddha attained went beyond the nets of the sensory.
When we read the following from the Sutta-Nipata, we have to keep in mind that the Buddha is coming from his own personal knowledge—not empirical verification.
"The old is destroyed, the new is not arising. [Those whose minds are disgusted with future existence, their seeds (of rebirth) have been destroyed (and) they have no desire for growth.] The wise are quenched like this lamp. This outstanding jewel too is in the Order; by this truth may there be well-being" (235).
If we wish to know this for ourselves, the Buddha invites us “to come and see” (ehipassika) and experience the knowledge he experienced in our very self. This is not a call to a belief or a dogma; nor is it a call to empirical verification.
It is regrettable that Western Buddhists are skeptical about rebirth (punarbhava). We might conclude from this that they do not understand rebirth from personal knowledge but are skeptical of it based on empirical verification. Ironically, the instrument of their verification are the Five Aggregates from which no self knowledge can possibly come.