Kalama Sutta

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Kalama Sutta

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:14 pm

Hi All Here are a couple of links to the Kalama Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.engaged-zen.org/Liturgy/Kernel.html
the second one I mentioned in another thread!

I have heard that this sutta is about trusting our own judgements of what is true and false, Kamma, and the Four Divine Abidings, the last one I think is wrong and reading into the sutta too much! what do you all think about this sutta and how has it affected your practice, if at all!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:13 pm

Greetings Manapa,

I like the Kalama Sutta but there's a lot of dodgy "generic Buddha quotes" floating around which misrepresent it and posit it to mean something it doesn't mean at all. For me the highlights are:

* Showing the connection between the Three Wholesome/Unwholesome Roots and resultant consequences... showing the wholesome to be skilful
* Basing the evaluation of any given Dhamma on the above, rather than conjecture or views
* The four assurances, showing that following the above will bring benefit regardless

What a wonderful sequence of logic for teachings those who are skeptical.

Another related article:

The Right to Ask Questions by Larry Rosenberg
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... toask.html

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby Ben » Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:13 am

Hi Manapa and Retro

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote an excellent essay on the Kalama Sutta:

A Look at the Kalama Sutta by Bhikkhu Bodhi: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_09.html

Personally, I think its important to understand the context in which different suttas were uttered. I tend to agree with Bhikkhu Bodhi that the sutta was not meant to be interpreted as "the Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry", and that the advice given to the Kalamas was specific to their situation.

Having said that, as a young thing many moons ago while escaping the grasp of Catholicism, the words of the Kalama Sutta had a powerful effect on me.
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby stuka » Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:47 am

In any case he did not leave them wholly to their own resources, but by questioning them led them to see that greed, hate and delusion, being conducive to harm and suffering for oneself and others, are to be abandoned, and their opposites, being beneficial to all, are to be developed.


Although Bodhi tried to downplay this point, this is the most important statement in his essay. The Buddha taught his transcendent, Noble teachings of discernment to householders in this Sutta, and pointed out the irrelevance of speculative and superstitious views ("right views with taints (asavas)" to these same householders in this Sutta. It's sort of laughable, but predictable, that Bodhi, an admitted die-heard "No Rebirth, No Buddhist" believer, would claim "limited allotted space" for this essay.
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Jan 04, 2009 2:11 am

stuka wrote:The Buddha taught his transcendent, Noble teachings of discernment to householders in this Sutta

He did not teach the four noble truths nor the noble eightfold path nor anything regarding arahantship or nibbana.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 04, 2009 2:24 am

Peter wrote:He did not teach the four noble truths nor the noble eightfold path nor anything regarding arahantship or nibbana.


That is quite correct Peter. And the reason he did not teach those things is because the Kalamas had not taken refuge in the Buddha.
Kind regards

Ben
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby appicchato » Sun Jan 04, 2009 3:14 am

Question time...in the Kalama Sutta the Buddha advised the Kalamas 'not to rely on....collections of texts'...to me this seems to imply the written word...if so, why weren't the Buddha's words 'laid' down at the time?...
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:38 am

Ben wrote:
Peter wrote:He did not teach the four noble truths nor the noble eightfold path nor anything regarding arahantship or nibbana.
the reason he did not teach those things is because the Kalamas had not taken refuge in the Buddha.

Yes, but my point was that he did not in fact "[teach] his transcendent, Noble teachings of discernment to householders in this Sutta".
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby Jason » Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:01 am

Manapa,

As Thanissaro Bhikkhu points out in his note to AN 3.65, the Kalama Sutta not only suggests that any view or belief should be tested by the results it yields when put into practice, but — to guard against the possibility of any bias or limitations in one's understanding of those results — they must further be checked against the experience of people who are wise. Personally, I think that this is fabulous advice, and regardless if it was meant for those who have yet to take refuge in the Dhamma, that is how I approach the practice myself. Although, to be honest, finding people who are (or at least seem to be) wise can be rather difficult.

Jason
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby Will » Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:29 am

This is from Soma Thera's translation:

The criterion for acceptance
10. "Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias toward a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.


Although the words are not there, I have always thought that the non-rational items, ie tradition, rumor, scripture etc. need not be totally ignored, if one's knowledge of the three criteria are applied to them. In other words, our knowledge of a scripture's goodness, praise from the wise about it & future benefit when its teachings are practiced are known by us as certain, then acceptance of the scripture is fine.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby appicchato » Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:07 am

appicchato wrote:Question time...in the Kalama Sutta the Buddha advised the Kalamas 'not to rely on....collections of texts'...to me this seems to imply the written word...if so, why weren't the Buddha's words 'laid' down at the time?...

Where's all our 'scholars?... :lol: '
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:07 am

Hi Bhante,

appicchato wrote:Question time...in the Kalama Sutta the Buddha advised the Kalamas 'not to rely on....collections of texts'...to me this seems to imply the written word...if so, why weren't the Buddha's words 'laid' down at the time?...


The term used is piṭaka-sampadā, meaning what has been handed down in texts, but the term isn't limited to written texts, and in the Buddha's day probably didn't include written texts at all. Note the use of the same term in the Sandaka Sutta (MN. 76):

    “Again, Sandaka, here some teacher is a traditionalist, one who regards oral tradition as truth; he teaches a Dhamma by oral tradition, by legends handed down, by what has come down in scriptures (piṭaka-sampadā). But when a teacher is a traditionalist, one who regards oral tradition as truth, some is well remembered and some is wrongly remembered, some is true and some is otherwise.

    “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘This good teacher is a traditionalist … some is true and some is otherwise.’ So when he finds that this holy life is without consolation, he turns away from it and leaves it."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby stuka » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:14 pm

Peter wrote:
Ben wrote:
Peter wrote:He did not teach the four noble truths nor the noble eightfold path nor anything regarding arahantship or nibbana.
the reason he did not teach those things is because the Kalamas had not taken refuge in the Buddha.

Yes, but my point was that he did not in fact "[teach] his transcendent, Noble teachings of discernment to householders in this Sutta".


...and what part of "of discernment" is not clear to you here, Peter...?

:?


Another example of the Buddha teaching Noble Right View of discernment to householders is the Discourse to the People of the Bamboo Gate:

Veludvareyya Sutta Discourse to the People of the Bamboo Gate http://dharmafarer.googlepages.com/1...Ss55.7piya.pdf (the following is Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation)
Samyutta Nikaya (Connected Discourses of the Buddha), Book V, The Great Book (Mahavagga), Sotapattisamyutta SN 5.55(7) CDB 1796
-
7 (7) The People of Bamboo Gate
...

"I will teach you, householders, a Dhamma exposition applicable to oneself. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak."

"Yes, sir," those brahmin householders of Bamboo Gate replied. The Blessed One said this:

"What, householders, is the Dhamma exposition applicable to oneself? Here, householders, a noble disciple reflects thus: 'I am one who wishes to live, who does not wish to die; I desire happiness and am averse to suffering. Since I am one who wishes to live, who does not wish to die; who desires happiness and am averse to suffering, if someone were to take my life, that would not be pleasing and agreeable to me. Now if I were to take the life of another -- of one who wishes to live, who does not wish to die, who desires happiness and is averse to suffering-that would not be pleasing and agreeable to the other either. What is displeasing and disagreeable to me is displeasing and disagreeable to the other too. How can I inflict upon another what is displeasing and disagreeable to me?' Having reflected thus, he himself abstains from the destruction of life, exhorts others to abstain from the destruction of life, and speaks in praise of abstinence from the destruction of life. Thus this bodily conduct of his is purified in three respects.

"Again [Furthermore], householders, a noble disciple reflects thus: 'If someone were to take from me what I have not given, that is, to commit theft, that would not be pleasing and agreeable to me. Now if I were to take from another what he has not given, that is, to commit theft, that would not be pleasing and agreeable to the other either. What is displeasing and disagreeable to me is displeasing and disagreeable to the other too. How can I inflict upon another what is displeasing and disagreeable to me?' Having reflected thus, he himself abstains from taking what is not given, exhorts others to abstain from taking what is not given, and speaks in praise of abstinence from taking what is not given Thus this bodily conduct of his is purified in three respects.

"Again [Furthermore], householders, a noble disciple reflects thus: 'If someone were to commit adultery with my wives, that would not be pleasing and agreeable to me. Now if I were to commit adultery with the wives of another, that would not be pleasing and agreeable to the other either. What is displeasing and disagreeable to me is displeasing and disagreeable to the other too. How can I inflict upon another what is displeasing and disagreeable to me?' Having reflected thus, he himself abstains from sexual misconduct, exhorts others to abstain from sexual misconduct, and speaks in praise of abstinence from sexual misconduct. Thus this bodily conduct of his is purified in three respects.


...




8-)
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:10 pm

stuka wrote:
Peter wrote:[The Buddha] did not in fact "[teach] his transcendent, Noble teachings of discernment to householders in this Sutta".


...and what part of "of discernment" is not clear to you here, Peter...?

I guess I don't know what you mean then. Could you explain? The only teachings which are transcendent and noble are those that lead to Nibbana, that being none other than the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path. You don't seem to be disagreeing with me that he did not teach these things to the Kalamas. You seem instead to be asserting that there are some other teachings which are transcending and noble?

Another example of the Buddha teaching Noble Right View of discernment to householders is the Discourse to the People of the Bamboo Gate:

Purified bodily conduct, while wholesome, is not transcendent. At most it will result in a good rebirth.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby stuka » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:10 pm

Peter wrote:
stuka wrote:
...and what part of "of discernment" is not clear to you here, Peter...?

I guess I don't know what you mean then. Could you explain?


You see that the Buddha describes to the householders of Bamboo Gate what a noble disciple does, right? And you see that the noble disciple comes to the conclusions outlined within the Sutta using reasoning and observation of direct experience to come to each conclusion that is presented in this discourse, right? This is discernment, as distinguished from blind belief in superstition and/or speculative view, which is what "right view with asavas" is grounded in. In this way, the Buddha is teaching the Noble way of discernment to the Kalamas (and to the householders of Bamboo Gate, as well).

The only teachings which are transcendent and noble are those that lead to Nibbana, that being none other than the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path. You don't seem to be disagreeing with me that he did not teach these things to the Kalamas. You seem instead to be asserting that there are some other teachings which are transcending and noble?


Your argument here is equivocal. The Buddha taught that the Noble Eightfold Path is one of discernment, and distinguished it from the eightfold path of "right view with effluents". He was very explicit about this in MN 117.


Purified bodily conduct, while wholesome, is not transcendent. At most it will result in a good rebirth.


You are focusing on the mere content or subject matter of the teaching, and I am illustrating the method of discernment that the Buddha is teaching by example to the Kalamas, and to the People of Bamboo Gate. The Buddha could have given these teachings to the Kalamas and the householders of Bamboo Gate just as easily and just as well using the Noble Eightfold Path as the subject matter, as the content, of his examples.


[Re-formatted, replacing text in excessive size with bold. — Dhammanando]
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby stuka » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:25 am

My apologies, I don't know if it is an anomaly inherent to this monitor, but from here, there seems to be no difference between regular and bolded text. Please advise.
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Re: Kalama Sutta

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:34 pm

Hi Stuka,

stuka wrote:My apologies, I don't know if it is an anomaly inherent to this monitor, but from here, there seems to be no difference between regular and bolded text. Please advise.


Hmmm. The difference is clear on mine, and I'm not sure what the cause might be. I'll have to confer with the more computer-literate mods.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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