Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

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Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby phil » Sun Dec 27, 2009 3:54 am

Hi all

I was just listening to Bhikkhu Bodhi's talk on Chapter 3 of his general anthology on the Buddha's teaching (I forget the title at the moment) and he pointed out something about the Kalama Sutta that I found very helpful. It's probably something most of you already realize, but the sutta in questions was addressed to people who were not (or not yet) followers of the Buddha, so the advice included about not believing a teaching based on lineage, tradition etc was helpful for them because they were getting bombarded by conflicting teachings from the ascetics passing through town. But I've always found it confusing how a disciple of the Buddha could/should take that. If we are not to accept the Buddha's teaching on faith, how can we call ourselves discpiples, the faculty of faith must be developed by accepting some teachings that cannot be proven through one's personal experience. So I think I understand the Kalama Sutta a little better now. Has anyone else dealt with the difficult I had/am having? (Probably almost everyone!)


Metta,

Phil
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Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:11 am

phil wrote:Hi all

I was just listening to Bhikkhu Bodhi's talk on Chapter 3 of his general anthology on the Buddha's teaching (I forget the title at the moment) and he pointed out something about the Kalama Sutta that I found very helpful. It's probably something most of you already realize, but the sutta in questions was addressed to people who were not (or not yet) followers of the Buddha, so the advice included about not believing a teaching based on lineage, tradition etc was helpful for them because they were getting bombarded by conflicting teachings from the ascetics passing through town. But I've always found it confusing how a disciple of the Buddha could/should take that. If we are not to accept the Buddha's teaching on faith, how can we call ourselves discpiples, the faculty of faith must be developed by accepting some teachings that cannot be proven through one's personal experience. So I think I understand the Kalama Sutta a little better now. Has anyone else dealt with the difficult I had/am having? (Probably almost everyone!)


Metta,

Phil


or maybe it is by not accepting it we are given the chance to see for ourselves?
the Buddha didn't want blind faith, he wanted people to develop faith based on what was verifiable to them, by them, not verifiable through mearly accepting something was the case because he said it! and yes.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:17 am

Greetings Phil,

phil wrote:But I've always found it confusing how a disciple of the Buddha could/should take that.


Well, it wasn't really address to existing Buddhists, so perhaps you needn't take it at all?

Just a link for anyone interested in reading it...

Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas (AN 3.65)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If we are not to accept the Buddha's teaching on faith, how can we call ourselves discpiples, the faculty of faith must be developed by accepting some teachings that cannot be proven through one's personal experience.


Saddha is better defined as conviction or confidence, than by the term faith. In this sutta, the Buddha demonstrates the means by which confidence in his teachings naturally grow for the beginner who decides to put them into action.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby phil » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:27 am

Hi all (and thanks Manapa and Retro for your feedback)

Just as a kind of p.s to what I wrote above, in the same talk (and the chapter in question is about how to approach the Dhamma) Bhikkhu Bodhi lays out a helpful schema of what he calls "the horizontal axis and vertical axis" with the former referring to knowledge about past lives and lives to come, and that knowledge is obviously severely limited for us, to say the least. So more most be taken on faith. And the vertical axis about investigating our experience, and here of course is where the saddha is developed through understanding in ways that it can't be on the so-called horizontal axis.

Metta,

Phil
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 27, 2009 6:00 am

Hello Phil,

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote an essay on the Kalama Sutta and how it should be viewed:

EXCERPT from Bhikkhu Bodhi's "A Look at the Kalama Sutta"
Partly in reaction to dogmatic religion, partly in subservience to the reigning paradigm of objective scientific knowledge, it has become fashionable to hold, by appeal to the Kalama Sutta, that the Buddha's teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify. This interpretation of the sutta, however, forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired. It offers instead the most reasonable counsel on wholesome living possible when the issue of ultimate beliefs has been put into brackets.
What can be justly maintained is that those aspects of the Buddha's teaching that come within the purview of our ordinary experience can be personally confirmed within experience, and that this confirmation provides a sound basis for placing faith in those aspects of the teaching that necessarily transcend ordinary experience. Faith in the Buddha's teaching is never regarded as an end in itself nor as a sufficient guarantee of liberation, but only as the starting point for an evolving process of inner transformation that comes to fulfillment in personal insight. But in order for this insight to exercise a truly liberative function, it must unfold in the context of an accurate grasp of the essential truths concerning our situation in the world and the domain where deliverance is to be sought. These truths have been imparted to us by the Buddha out of his own profound comprehension of the human condition. To accept them in trust after careful consideration is to set foot on a journey which transforms faith into wisdom, confidence into certainty, and culminates in liberation from suffering.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_09.html

metta
Chris
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Re: Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby catmoon » Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:55 pm

Great doubt - great enlightenment
Small doubt - small enlightenment
No doubt - no enlightenment
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Re: Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby alan » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:34 pm

Thanks Chris.
I'd read that chapter a month or so ago and had been thinking about it.
Good link!
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Re: Kalama Sutta and disciples of the Buddha

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:25 pm

I started out developing confidence through experience.. and with time as the Buddha and his teachings have proven to be true again and again I am developing faith- the power to take that extra leap intellect alone cannot provide. I believe this kind of faith is required to go even higher up the path- to devote completely and wholely to the path. It is said that the five faculties sadda, viriya, sati, samadhi, panna develop the higher one goes in the path. The reason seems that it is because the challenge become greater (in terms of defilements). This is my experience in the matter.
With Metta

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