“Do not be led by rumour, or tradition, or by the authority of religious texts, nor by false arguments, nor by appearances, nor by theories, nor even by reverence. But rather when you know through your own experience that certain things are wrong and unwholesome, do not lead to calm and happiness and are not beneficial, then give them up. When you know for yourselves that certain things are right and wholesome, lead to calm and happiness and are beneficial, then follow them.”
2 thoughts on “From the “Kalama Sutta”, in the Aṅguttara Nikaya”
This is one of my favorite Sutta’s. The people are confused by all the different teaching that they are exposed to and then they ask the Buddha how they can know which one is right. You immediately expect that his answer is that they should follow him, that his teachings are the right ones! But with an amazing twist he doesn’t do that at all but instead implores them to test the teachings themselves (even his) and that they can find out for themselves what is true! What other religious leader in all of history has responded to this sort of question in that way?
Indeed! It reminds me how Thich Nhat Hanh says that ‘buddhism is made of non-buddhist elements’. Or how the beginning of the very first of the (rightly revered) 14 Mindfulness Trainings states:
“Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as guiding means that help us develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.”
This ‘religion’ that denies having any doctrine or dogma leaves us with nowhere to abide; so that – right there, in that most irremediable loss of abode – we find home. [bows]