Pristine Theravada

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:43 am

Ben wrote:Hi Bodom
bodom wrote:Hi Ben. Could you explain further to me what it is exactly you dont agree about Buddhadasa's statement.

My apologies in the delay in responding. The article by Bhikkhu Bodhi that Cooran has graciously provided an extract from and a link, is what I had in mind. With regards to the suttas, and this one in particular, context is everything.
metta

Ben


Hello Ben,

I think the quote which Bodom attributes to Buddhadasa is in accord and supported by the Kalama Sutta. I have reread the Sutta It seems to me to give this kind of advise. Here is a quote from the Bikkhu Bodhi article.

Thus the discourse to the Kalamas offers an acid test for gaining confidence in the Dhamma as a viable doctrine of deliverance. We begin with an immediately verifiable teaching whose validity can be attested by anyone with the moral integrity to follow it through to its conclusions, namely, that the defilements cause harm and suffering both personal and social, that their removal brings peace and happiness, and that the practices taught by the Buddha are effective means for achieving their removal. By putting this teaching to a personal test, with only a provisional trust in the Buddha as one's collateral, one eventually arrives at a firmer, experientially grounded confidence in the liberating and purifying power of the Dhamma. This increased confidence in the teaching brings along a deepened faith in the Buddha as teacher, and thus disposes one to accept on trust those principles he enunciates that are relevant to the quest for awakening, even when they lie beyond one's own capacity for verification.


Here is the quote Bodam gave us...

Buddhadasa said "Regardless of whether the Tipitaka is exactly the original or a newly composed one as perceived by some people nowadays, actual cessation of dukkha always exists uniquely in accordance with idappaccayata. This is why the Buddha suggested in the Kalama Sutta that we not take anything as true just because it is referred to in a pitaka."


So I would say there is a big difference between being "disposed to accept on trust" and "taking something as true". For example I am disposed to accept that the Tripitika is a very well intended transmission of the Buddha's teaching in part based on my confidence in the Sangha transmitting it and partly based on my exploration of those teachings. All Bodoms quote is suggesting is that we look to these as ways of increasing our confidence and not automatically take something as absolutely true just because it was written by people who who we have some trust in. Confidence is not knowledge. Truth can only be established by knowledge. The kind of argument that Bikkhi Bodhi is dismissing is referred to in this question by him.

Now does the Kalama Sutta suggest, as is often held, that a follower of the Buddhist path can dispense with all faith and doctrine, that he should make his own personal experience the criterion for judging the Buddha's utterances and for rejecting what cannot be squared with it?


Bodoms quote does not make any such suggestion. If you would like to show us how the Kalama Sutta says anything which is not in line with that quote I think you should point it out because Bikkhu Bhodhi does not address it in his essay. I would agree that it is always best to have all the context in order to understand more precisely what is being said. Your assertion that "I don't think the Kalama Sutta actually says that." Is a far cry from saying something like "I think that bit of the Kalama sutta is best understood when we keep in mind the context which is...."

With Metta

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby meindzai » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:06 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:Bodoms quote does not make any such suggestion. If you would like to show us how the Kalama Sutta says anything which is not in line with that quote I think you should point it out because Bikkhu Bhodhi does not address it in his essay. I would agree that it is always best to have all the context in order to understand more precisely what is being said. Your assertion that "I don't think the Kalama Sutta actually says that." Is a far cry from saying something like "I think that bit of the Kalama sutta is best understood when we keep in mind the context which is...."



I'll bite. I think that bit of the Kalama sutta is best understood when we keep in mind the context which is that the Buddha is speaking to a confused group of wanderers who have not taken refuge in the triple gem.

-M
meindzai
 
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:29 pm

meindzai wrote:I'll bite. I think that bit of the Kalama sutta is best understood when we keep in mind the context which is that the Buddha is speaking to a confused group of wanderers who have not taken refuge in the triple gem.

-M


Hi Meindzai,

Just to clarify who the Buddha is speaking to here are a few quotes from Bikkhu Bodhis essay.

This advice can be dangerous if given to those whose ethical sense is undeveloped, and we can thus assume that the Buddha regarded the Kalamas as people of refined moral sensitivity.


The Kalamas, citizens of the town of Kesaputta,


Of course I think it is clear that at least generally these are not people who have taken refuge in the Buddha. Although I dont think the Budhha wants us (who go for refuge) to take things as true without knowing for ourselves. Its my opinion that the Buddha wants us to know what confidence is and know as precisely as we can why we have it and how we can cultivate it to our benefit.

With Metta

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:24 pm

I think that is a good summation Gabriel. However I am not sure that it corresponds to what Bodom said . Which was that we should not believe something simply because it is found in a Pitakas. But there were no Pitakas when the Buddha gave that address to the Kalamas. Certainly we should be prepared to examine the truth of things for ourselves, but fairly early on in our walking of the Buddhist path we need to come to a view concerning the Pitakas and whether we can give them at least some provisional credibility. If not then are going to depend on our ego driven speculative views in deciding how to proceed ? Or retreat to some view that says that if we sit in meditation some magic process takes over ? It doesnt. We always have to approach the Dhamma with Saddha, with perserverance and with Sila. which starts with faith in the fact that someone knew what he was doing. :anjali:
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:40 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I think that is a good summation Gabriel. However I am not sure that it corresponds to what Bodom said . Which was that we should not believe something simply because it is found in a Pitakas. But there were no Pitakas when the Buddha gave that address to the Kalamas. Certainly we should be prepared to examine the truth of things for ourselves, but fairly early on in our walking of the Buddhist path we need to come to a view concerning the Pitakas and whether we can give them at least some provisional credibility. If not then are going to depend on our ego driven speculative views in deciding how to proceed ? Or retreat to some view that says that if we sit in meditation some magic process takes over ? It doesnt. We always have to approach the Dhamma with Saddha, with perserverance and with Sila. which starts with faith in the fact that someone knew what he was doing. :anjali:


Hi Sanghamitta,

Yes.

Hopefully we can give them enough provisional credibility to explore them to the degree it takes for us to gain a level of progressively enhanced confidence. I think if we take an Idea as true we are in a sense undermining our ability to test it vigorously and it is the vigorous testing which builds the confidence. So in this way taking an idea as true undermines our confidence.

Metta

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:35 pm

It depends on what you mean of course by testing it rigorously. I think the best way to test Dhamma is to put it into action. To act for a while as though it is true and see what happens. In meditation, in relationships, in our attitude to the world. Many of us find that what the Buddha described 2500 years ago about the way things are, and about how to see that for ourselves, is still true and still accurate.
Last edited by Sanghamitta on Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby seanpdx » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:00 pm

"Doubting the Kālāma-Sutta: Epistemology, Ethics, and the 'Sacred'", Stephen A. Evans, Buddhist Studies Review v.24(1), 2007

ABSTRACT: The Kālāma-sutta is frequently cited as proof of the rational and empirical
spirit of early Buddhist epistemology, ‘The Buddha’s charter of free enquiry’, according
to Soma Thera. A close reading, however, calls that interpretation into question.
The Kālāmas do not ask what is the truth, and the Buddha does not tell them how to
find it. Rather the Kālāmas ask ‘Who is telling the truth?’ in what may have been the
pursuit of sacred or quasi-magical power through the person of a teacher. The Buddha,
in turn, encourages them to adopt a set of attitudes and actions, which includes
choosing a teacher. The method of evaluation that the Buddha gives, which includes
the famous ‘know for yourselves’ is found to be as least as much ethical as it is epistemological
and to invoke the opinion of authority and the public. The Buddha here
seems to call for a decision that is partly based on faith, and the Kālāmas respond not
with independent research, but with an act of faith in committing themselves to (and
being accepted by) the Buddha.

Good article, for anyone who has access to the BSR.
seanpdx
 
Posts: 281
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:03 pm

Nice.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby meindzai » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:06 pm

Ok, let everybody interpret the Kalama Suttas as they will. But let me say that I think that in general, discussions about the approach we should take to dhamma focus too much on that Sutta. Actually it's kind of ironic. If the Kalama sutta says not to rely too much on the Tipitaka, which itself is a part of, then why such a fierce defense of the Kalama Sutta? To get a more complete picture I would seriously advise people to read the Canki Sutta and the Apannaka Sutta as well.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... x.than.htm
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

-M
meindzai
 
Posts: 592
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:14 pm

It doesnt. How could it. There was no Tipitaka when the Kalama Sutta was uttered. You are correct though about people seizing on the Kalama Sutta to justify their own rationalistic conditioning. Rather than questioning that conditioning.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.
Sanghamitta
 
Posts: 1614
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:21 am
Location: By the River Thames near London.

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:28 pm

meindzai wrote:Ok, let everybody interpret the Kalama Suttas as they will. But let me say that I think that in general, discussions about the approach we should take to dhamma focus too much on that Sutta. Actually it's kind of ironic. If the Kalama sutta says not to rely too much on the Tipitaka, which itself is a part of, then why such a fierce defense of the Kalama Sutta? To get a more complete picture I would seriously advise people to read the Canki Sutta and the Apannaka Sutta as well.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... x.than.htm
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

-M


Hello Meindzai,

I take the Canki Sutta to be the best description I have read of how one deals with what is and is not true. I dont think anything I have put forth is out of line with that particular Sutta either.

Of course the Kalama sutta does not refer to the Tipitika. It refers to scriptures in a general way. The Tipitika is a scripture. It is a story about something which happened a long time ago.

Metta

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Pristine Theravada

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:58 pm

Thanks Sean
seanpdx wrote:"Doubting the Kālāma-Sutta: Epistemology, Ethics, and the 'Sacred'", Stephen A. Evans, Buddhist Studies Review v.24(1), 2007.

Its an excellent article and it underscores the central role of saddha.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16223
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Previous

Return to Open Dhamma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests