I have a hunch that it is not uncommon for those new to Buddhism to say that it agrees with them in some respects, although they don’t believe everything the Buddha taught, such as rebirth. For the beginner, picking Buddhism to be one’s main religion is somewhat like buying a used car. The engine runs okay. The gas mileage is good. It will need some work, eventually. I don’t like the color but it will suffice. I should be able to drive it for another hundred thousand miles or so. I suspect that what is really at the back of the beginner’s mind is that as long as the teachings of the Buddha are not too radical or opposed to materialism and empiricism (i.e., knowledge acquired by the senses), it can be accepted.
Surprisingly, what the beginner does not know is that for the Buddhist empirical knowledge is not privileged nor is third-person research (objective research). True science is first-person—not “I” but âtman (“I” and âtman are quite different). The Buddhist first-person is not the same as the West’s notion of the subject or subjectivity.
Is this starting to sound complicated? It is when we try to put the Buddhist mind under the scrutiny of the Western mind that things can begin to get complicated. For example, I have no trouble seeing objective research as being contained and understood within the framework of first-personhood which begins with comprehensive thinking which also lies beyond the ken of the senses. But can the Western mind understand what the Buddha means by “Mind-only, beyond which there is no external world”? Can it understand Buddhist consciousness by which beings transmigrate from one existence to another? Can it understand bodies made of spirit (manomayakaya)? The fact is, it can’t understand anything beyond the senses and their respective fields. Nor does science even know what the universe is made of. This is because they haven’t thought comprehensively and profoundly enough like the Buddha.
For the beginner to become a Buddhist he must want to engage in comprehensive thinking, rather than tarry in materialism and empiricism like a child delighted by new toy or a magic trick. Buddhism has something profound to offer the serious beginner. It is to know the substance or essence of the universe, thereby, becoming free from the great mirage of phenomena; this greatest of deceptions; the most profound of all illusions.