Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

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Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby starter » Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:26 am

I came across the following quote and couldn't find which sutta it's from. Would someone kindly help me with the sutta?

"The Buddha said: "Do not believe in anyone just because he is a teacher, he speaks eloquently or is otherwise impressive. Do not even believe in my words - just because I said them, but try to experience everything by yourself. Only if you experience the Dhamma by yourself does it become your wisdom. Belief is only belief, not knowing, not wisdom. If you experience things yourself then no-one can tell you that it is not like that, because you know it from your own experience.""


Thanks and metta!
Last edited by starter on Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The sutta for a quoted teaching by the Buddha?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:35 am

Image

Kalama Sutta [big] misquote.

Here is the real one: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: The sutta for a quoted teaching by the Buddha?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:30 am

This blog is rather illuminating: http://www.fakebuddhaquotes.com/

Here's a Kalama Sutta quote from there: http://www.fakebuddhaquotes.com/believe ... u-read-it/
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

:anjali:
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Re: The sutta for a quoted teaching by the Buddha?

Postby starter » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:14 pm

Hello David and Mike,

Thanks for the clarification. Since the misquote is somehow widespread, and even some famous teacher(s) taught it that way, I think it's necessary to quote the real teaching here and hope this thread can be read/known by those teacher(s).

AN 3.65 Kalama Sutta:

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unwholesome; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said."

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are wholesome; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them."

Metta to all!

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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby starter » Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:11 am

I came across the following description of Theravada Buddhist Chaplin at the University of British Columnbia website:

http://students.ubc.ca/livewell/spiritu ... t-chaplain

"... Broadly speaking, one of the peculiarities of this tradition is that it encourages all the people in the world to try out its practices and goal without leaving their own religion.

The following statements of the Buddha clarify what Theravada Buddhism is all about:

-- Do not believe anything on mere hearsay.
-- Do not believe in traditions merely because they are old and have been handed down for many generations and in many places.
-- Do not believe anything on account of rumors or because people talk a great deal about it.
-- Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage.
-- Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because it is extraordinary, it must have been inspired by a god or other wonderful being.
-- Do not believe anything merely because presumption is in its favor, or because the custom of many years inclines you to take it as true.
-- Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and priests.
But, whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it."

Metta to all!
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby mal4mac » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:53 am

Is the misquote a reasonable summary of the teachings? If not, why not?
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:03 am

"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Heraclitus


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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby binocular » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:33 am

mal4mac wrote:Is the misquote a reasonable summary of the teachings? If not, why not?

Seconded.
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:00 pm

binocular wrote:
mal4mac wrote:Is the misquote a reasonable summary of the teachings? If not, why not?

Seconded.

As David said, what's in the OP is a serious misquote of the Kalamasutta. Read the links already provided by Ben to find out what's wrong with it.
And the Kalamasutta as a whole is not representative of the dhamma any more than your toenail is representative of your whole self. It is true, valid, genuine and occasionally useful but is not at all central to the teachings, which centre on the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Noble Path and continue with Dependent Origination, the Brahmaviharas and lots more stuff that's more important than the Kalamasutta.

:namaste:
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby binocular » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:45 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
binocular wrote:
mal4mac wrote:Is the misquote a reasonable summary of the teachings? If not, why not?

Seconded.

As David said, what's in the OP is a serious misquote of the Kalamasutta.

Sure. For quite some time, I have been one of those making an effort to correct people when they produce this particular fake Buddha quote.


Read the links already provided by Ben to find out what's wrong with it.

They don't address my concerns about what's wrong with it.

More importantly, while it's easy enough to spot a fake Buddha quote, it's not always so easy to figure out why exactly it is fake - other than, of course, that it is not verbatim from the Pali Canon.
There are many summaries, rephrasings and interpretations around, provided by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, and it can be quite a challenge to figure out whether they are adequate or not, and justify why.

I once had an interesting conversation with a nice lady who had used a fake Kalama sutta quote to support her case, and I pointed out to her that it's not what the Buddha said, and provided her with the real quote. But she was able to defend her case well.
She used this one -
“Believe nothing because a wise person said it. Believe nothing because it is generally held. Believe nothing because it is written. Believe nothing because it is said to be Divine. Believe nothing because someone else believes it. But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.”

In a recent thread, several posters argued quite convincingly that all one has to go by is one's experience, which makes the misquote in the OP not look like such a misquote after all.
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:04 pm

binocular wrote:In a recent thread, several posters argued quite convincingly that all one has to go by is one's experience, which makes the misquote in the OP not look like such a misquote after all.

I think that's a rather different issue. That thread was about whether or not there was a real world "out there". My comment was that "all we have to work with is our experience", by which I meant that I think that Dhamma practice is about understanding and working with our experiences. It wasn't intended to be a dismissal of the importance of clearly understanding what the Buddha taught in order to do that work.

:anjali:
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Re: The sutta for a quoted teaching by the Buddha?

Postby daverupa » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:20 pm

The Buddha said: "Do not believe in anyone just because he is a teacher, he speaks eloquently or is otherwise impressive. Do not even believe in my words - just because I said them, but try to experience everything by yourself. Only if you experience the Dhamma by yourself does it become your wisdom. Belief is only belief, not knowing, not wisdom. If you experience things yourself then no-one can tell you that it is not like that, because you know it from your own experience."

---

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unwholesome; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said."

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are wholesome; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them."


It seems to me that the underlined portion is key, and missing from the misquote.

A generous interpretation sees the underlined bits as wrapped up in the term 'Dhamma" in the misquote, but that renders a rather gnomic paraphrase - anemic, even, since it makes the passage a mere comment on appeal to authority rather than taking it as grounds for a Dhammic phenomenology.

Experience being all we have to go on is a trenchant observation, but there are ways to attend appropriately and ways to not so attend as a result of this. The original sutta contains the relevant frame of reference - wholesomeness - while the misquote does not.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby Coyote » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:23 pm

Binocular makes a good point. If a quote is an accurate summery of a teaching, I don't think it matters if it is word-for-word out of the Pali Canon.
Though it would be nice if people afforded the same courtesy to Buddhism as they do to other religious teachings, like Christianity, and Islam. They, at least, are more often correctly sourced.

I saw another "fake" quote on the weekend, and I think it was this one:

Let go of anger,
hatred and negativity.
Maintain pure thoughts of loving-kindness
and positivity

Although my mind instantly reacted as I did not recognise it as genuine, it does form a nice summary of the teachings on metta.

However with the Kalama sutta misquotes, as others have shown, they are often misleading.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby binocular » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:35 am

mikenz66 wrote:
binocular wrote:In a recent thread, several posters argued quite convincingly that all one has to go by is one's experience, which makes the misquote in the OP not look like such a misquote after all.

I think that's a rather different issue. That thread was about whether or not there was a real world "out there". My comment was that "all we have to work with is our experience", by which I meant that I think that Dhamma practice is about understanding and working with our experiences. It wasn't intended to be a dismissal of the importance of clearly understanding what the Buddha taught in order to do that work.

I didn't write the above with you in mind. Some do argue that since experience is all we have to work with, experience is all there is, and can even provide canonical sources to support this.

Anyway, I think a key problem here is that we, as Westerners, may be operating with some specifically Western terms, or specifically Western understanding of terms, without even noticing this, and then reading Eastern sources using those terms can become really tricky.
Usually, as Westerners, we operate out of (a version of) the Correspondence Theory of Truth. But there are many theories of truth. Which one did the Buddha operate out of? Or does the question not apply to begin with?



daverupa wrote:
The Buddha said: "Do not believe in anyone just because he is a teacher, he speaks eloquently or is otherwise impressive. Do not even believe in my words - just because I said them, but try to experience everything by yourself. Only if you experience the Dhamma by yourself does it become your wisdom. Belief is only belief, not knowing, not wisdom. If you experience things yourself then no-one can tell you that it is not like that, because you know it from your own experience."

---

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unwholesome; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said."

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are wholesome; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them."


It seems to me that the underlined portion is key, and missing from the misquote.

Not unless by "experience" we understand 'When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are wholesome; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness /etc./'.

The term "experience" can be used to have a wide range of meanings - anything from simply 'experincing a sensation in the body' to 'lessons learned from life'. Which is why it's a delicate term to use.


Experience being all we have to go on is a trenchant observation, but there are ways to attend appropriately and ways to not so attend as a result of this. The original sutta contains the relevant frame of reference - wholesomeness - while the misquote does not.

There's another issue with analyzing misquotes: Are we trying to establish whether a particular statement is line with the Dhamma, or are we trying to establish whether it is in line with the truth, with "how things really are"?
Note that this very dichotomy may be seen as false by some people, but perfectly justified by others.

So some people may say that a particular statement is in line with the Buddhist teachings, but that it is not true or wholesome. Typically, that stance can be expected from someone who seems knowledgeable of Buddhism, but himself is not a Buddhist, or is a Buddhist "with reservations." For these, the dichotomy is justified.
For some devoted Buddhists, the dichotomy is a false one, because they believe that the Dhamma is the way things really are.

Often, misquotes come from non-Buddhists. Their intention probably wasn't to wrongly represent the Buddha. It seems like they wanted to state how "things really are" as such and adapted or interpreted a scriptural source to help them a bit with the phrasing.
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby binocular » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:48 am

Coyote wrote:Though it would be nice if people afforded the same courtesy to Buddhism as they do to other religious teachings, like Christianity, and Islam. They, at least, are more often correctly sourced.

Absolutely!
Given all the free-style "quoting", one can easily come away with the impression that Buddhism is pretty much "anything goes."


However with the Kalama sutta misquotes, as others have shown, they are often misleading.

I think we can say that those quotes are misleading only if
1. We mean that they are not in line with the Buddhist teachings and can show why they aren't,
2. We are enlightened and can judge whether a line of reasoning is conducive to enlightenment or not.

As I've gathered from the conversation I've had with the nice lady who used a fake Kalama sutta quote, she wasn't interested in being a Buddhist or in presenting a Buddhist argument (she even introduced it with "Perhaps we can all learn from what the Buddha purportedly said about belief:"). She was only interested in making a point, and used the misquote for convenience (see here), and I think she used it very well.

So in that sense, it's important to consider for what purpose a misquote was used.
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby mal4mac » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:34 am

binocular wrote:Given all the free-style "quoting", one can easily come away with the impression that Buddhism is pretty much "anything goes."


Surely only the very ignorant would make that inference. Most people know that the Web is Wild, and *anything* goes on the Web. So Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Einstein,... anyone and everyone gets misquoted. Surely it's better to spread that message than to try and stop Buddhist misquotes on the web? That's the sort of activity King Canute might attempt*...

* In the "popular" myth about King Canute. Which is actually wrong, showing that school teachers and top politicians can be as bad as the Web in spreading misinformation... and at least the Web may have the correct information somewhere!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13524677

Sound like one of the wisest kings ever. Why are the good so often made out to be fools?

"Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless...," (King Canute, Historia Anglorum, ed D E Greenway).
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby BlackBird » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:10 am

The Kalama sutta is frequently removed entirely from it's context and used as a carte blanche to chop and change anything one wants and only accept what agrees with one's own beliefs. That couldn't be further from what message the Buddha was trying to put across. The Kalamas were a group of people that had been visited by one holy man after another each of which had torn down the previous holy man's teachings and rubbished them. They had said no teaching is true but mine, all other teachings are false. This left the Kalamas with a lot of doubts about holy men and their Dhammas. They were naturally as a result, quite confused. Thus when the Buddha came, they asked him what kind of Dhammas they were to believe - How were they supposed to discern what the truth was? The Buddha gave a tailor made teaching to them that would allow them to arrive at the Buddha-Dhamma, he was able to read the Kalama's minds and see what exactly it was he needed to say to them to get them to arrive at an acceptance of his teaching.

There are some people in today's world whom the Kalama sutta applies to, as they too have been in the Kalama's position, but it important that they remember the the boundaries of the Kalama sutta and do not take it as a blank cheque to be skeptical about the Buddha's teachings.

So to say
The following statements of The Buddha clarify what Theravada Buddhism is all about
...
-- Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage.
...


That does not always apply to everyone's situation. For example, I have enough confidence in the Buddha from my own practice of his Dhamma to accept many things he has taught, on faith alone. I certainly do not think that the above teaching is what the Buddha's Dhamma is "all about" - I think it's all about suffering and the way to put and end to it.

metta
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby fig tree » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:27 am

I think the fact that plausible inference and "pondering of views" can go wrong is very important here. The sutta implies that there is such a thing as knowledge, but it seems to me that we nearly always only reach a point where some notion is highly credible to us. The unfortunate paraphrases often seem to give the impression that this usual process is good enough so long as we don't bow too easily to authority instead. But it seems to me we're called upon to do better than content ourselves with just the kind of understanding we usually get.

I think it's good to read this sutta together with the Apannaka sutta, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.060.than.html, which argues for using certain views without making excessive claims to know that they are the only correct views.

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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby manas » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:43 pm

I wonder if there is anyone else so frequently misquoted (in the sense of, not accurately quoted, or misrepresented) as the Buddha. Anyway my eldest daughter found a 'quote' while on 'Tumbler' like this:

A man once said to the Buddha, "I want happiness", and the Buddha replied, "First remove "I", which is ego; then take away "want", which is desire; and you are left with "happiness".


Very clever and kind of in tune, but...did he actually say that?? Or was this little quote made up by someone else, and attributed to the Buddha?

metta
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Re: Are these the teachings of the Buddha?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:49 pm

manas wrote:I wonder if there is anyone else so frequently misquoted (in the sense of, not accurately quoted, or misrepresented) as the Buddha. Anyway my eldest daughter found a 'quote' while on 'Tumbler' like this:

A man once said to the Buddha, "I want happiness", and the Buddha replied, "First remove "I", which is ego; then take away "want", which is desire; and you are left with "happiness".


Very clever and kind of in tune, but...did he actually say that?? Or was this little quote made up by someone else, and attributed to the Buddha?

metta
:anjali:

My feeling is that that phrasing is very recent - last ten years? - and Western. But it is neat and I've had it on my desktop for a while in cartoon form.
:namaste:
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2012-08-02-happiness.jpg
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