Your argument is:
What the BuddhaDharma teaches is true,
BuddhaDharma tells about Mount Meru,
Therefore, what the BuddhaDharma teaches about Mount Meru is true.
So, you have to look at the foundation of your argument
What the BuddhaDharma teaches is true
(in your words, "Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma,")
and determine if that itself is a true statement, and if so, why.
It is possible that everything presented as Buddha Dharma is true.
It is possible that only some of it is true, because some of it might have been made up by somebody who was not the Buddha and who was not enlightened. As you say, none of us were in India that long ago.
it is possible that what the Buddha taught is true but was misconstrued or misunderstood
and it is possible that some statements represent truth on a profound level but taken literally are not factual.
Sometimes myths convey a level of truth which cannot be ascertained by mere empirical observation.
There are a lot of possibilities, even more that these.
We believe that the Buddha told his followers
not to believe something simply because someone says it is true,
but to test it out for oneself.
And this is a reliable method, whether the Buddha actually said it or not, because in the end,
it all comes down to one's personal experience,
and what my be true for one person may not be true for another.
For example, the idea of emptiness may calm the mind of one person
but may make another person become restless and agitated.
So, everybody in the world is not attracted to Buddhism.
It is not the right path for everybody.
Of course, there are a lot of things we cannot determine based on personal experience,
but there are other reliable methods.
For example, whether there is a Mt. Meru and whether the ancient Buddhist cosmology is accurate
cannot be determined by looking up at the night sky.
Since people are often not satisfied with being without answers,
Quite often any answer will do as long as it cannot be disproved.
The history of all religions has been the providing of answers, accurate or not, to questions people asked.
The problem is that just because someone has an answer to a question that there are no facts about,
doesn't make that answer accurate.
In ancient India, people only knew about the universe, including the Earth, from what they could see from India.
people thought the earth was flat, or surrounded by mountains they were unable to cross.
they thought that the Universe had the same directions as a compass.
They did not have all the facts.
Today, we have more facts, and we know that this is not true.
We can test theories out for ourselves and determine the truth, just as the Buddha advised.
When people asked questions regarding various topics to the Buddha, such as the nature of the universe,
he only answered regarding topics that had to do with the cessation of suffering.
So, he may have discussed various realms, and may have taught on the subject of Mt. Meru
or this may have been added by a Brahmin priest later on. We don't know.
But if he discussed Mt.Meru, then we can assume that it was in the context of a method for attaining liberation.
As you say, Truth is essential to BuddhaDharma,
and the Buddha is a manifestation of Dharmakaya,
the ultimate truth of the way things are.
Buddha only revealed the truth, he didn't make it up.
if likewise, science reveals the truth,
the truth is still the truth regardless of who reveals it.
In the early 1990's, I knew a lama, a person who had been very close to HH16th Karmapa
and we had the opportunity to look at Saturn through a very large telescope.
He had been living in the United States for many years.
He did not know that Saturn had moons, and he did not know that our moon merely reflected light from the Sun
and did not give off its own light.
There is still a lot about the universe that we do not know
But there is a lot that we do know, but that many people, including some lamas, do not know,
especially if their education is, or was, limited to religious training in a monastery
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba
on Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth. Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.