Author Topic: Kalama sutra  (Read 1018 times)

Offline Arkena

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Kalama sutra
« on: November 08, 2018, 01:13:07 pm »
So im going to start a blog on my experiences with buddhism, spirituality, social issues,meditation etc, im hoping as well that this will become a practice to diminish my ego, sense of self importance etc, so in a way it will be a substitute for a good wholesome job...I have autism and dont work currently/for the medium term (could be years away).

Im writing notes for an article where im essentially saying the sutras and words of wisdom of the buddha etc are like a finger pointing to reality and to a truth or something the author is trying to convey. Words cannot convey truth directly.
To accept on faith the words of the buddha is like looking at his finger when he is pointing out the moon. Examining his words as discussed in kalama sutra is like following what he is indicating to look at the moon eventually. Hence in the end you are looking at the truth he is pointing at...and no longer his finger.

Are there other famous sutras that i should research about how to read the buddhas words apart from the kalama sutra? (i dont know of any).

Thank you :)

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2018, 05:58:28 pm »
Other than the Kalama Sutra?  Yes there are many sutras and most are far more important than the Kalama Sutra.

Access to Insight is an excellent resource.

Far more important is practice.  Learn to meditate and practice it.


Offline Arkena

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2018, 08:09:52 pm »
Can you list some sutras on how to interpret the buddhas words etc and on free enquiry please?

The only one i know of that does that is the kalama sutra...

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2018, 03:44:39 am »
Can you list some sutras on how to interpret the buddhas words etc and on free enquiry please?

The only one i know of that does that is the kalama sutra...

I feel the term "free enquiry" as used when discussing the KS is something of a misnomer.  To me, "free enquiry" means you can look into the Dharma in any way you want.  This isn't what the Buddha taught.  The Buddha taught very specific criteria by which teaching can be evaluated.  So, we're not really free.  Rather, we are limited in our options.

That said, you can still evaluate things anyway you want.  Don't let the Buddha stop you  :) :) :)

As far as I know there aren't any other teachings that address this issue, nor are there any guides to interpretation  in the suttras.

Offline Arkena

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2018, 08:14:34 am »
Free enquiry doesn't mean you are free to interpret something anyway you want. That's a misunderstanding of the term enquiry which is not correct.

Enquiry comes from enquire which means to investigate

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/enquire

So free enquiry means something is open to investigation. It is not dogma that is meant to be taken on faith. It is meant to be investigated, explored and proven as true.

Free enquiry is the difference between to think (belief) and to know (truth).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquiry-based_learning   

It's a shame there aren't any more suttras on interpretation etc

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2018, 09:58:16 am »
Free enquiry doesn't mean you are free to interpret something anyway you want. That's a misunderstanding of the term enquiry which is not correct.

Enquiry comes from enquire which means to investigate

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/enquire

But even as a form of investigation there are, according to the KS certain questions to be asked in evaluation. These are those criteria -

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[...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.[/i]'

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It is not dogma that is meant to be taken on faith.

There are things you will, eventually, have to take on faith.  The act of taking refuge - the most important action a Buddhist can make - in one such example.  As you study, you will find many references to faith and what that means on the Path.  It's not a bad thing.


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It's a shame there aren't any more suttras on interpretation etc

Why?  That's what we have our own intelligence and our teachers for.

Offline Arkena

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2018, 01:43:35 pm »

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It is not dogma that is meant to be taken on faith.

There are things you will, eventually, have to take on faith.  The act of taking refuge - the most important action a Buddhist can make - in one such example.  As you study, you will find many references to faith and what that means on the Path.  It's not a bad thing.


Faith can help us, like faith in something we dont understand having value, that we put aside until we can understand it. Faith that a doctor can save us. Or faith in the value of the buddhas teachings when we have no clue what they mean or how they can help us.

Taking things said in sutras on faith and just believing them because the buddha said them is definitely advised against in the KS and a naive thing to do, i think faith has its place within its proper context.

Believing things in the sutras or because a teacher has said them without "testing" the words is definitely not the thing to do or wise...which is what i am trying to address, faith in its wrong context...not faith in general which is too broad a thing to analyse.

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So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture

My understanding of why this is the case is because truth cannot be imparted by words it can only be pointed at. So without testing them how do you know you have understood the truth behind the words? How do you not know you have simply interpreted them wrongly thinking you have understood them. Testing and enquiry into what the buddha says is like the fire in the furnace that burns away all the impurities of ignorance.

Do you see what i mean about faith in its wrong context meaning taking the buddhas words and just believing in them cause he said them. This would be to treat the dharma like dogma...dharma points to reality...dogma does not.


Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2018, 02:58:51 pm »

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It is not dogma that is meant to be taken on faith.

There are things you will, eventually, have to take on faith.  The act of taking refuge - the most important action a Buddhist can make - in one such example.  As you study, you will find many references to faith and what that means on the Path.  It's not a bad thing.


Faith can help us, like faith in something we dont understand having value, that we put aside until we can understand it. Faith that a doctor can save us. Or faith in the value of the buddhas teachings when we have no clue what they mean or how they can help us.

Taking things said in sutras on faith and just believing them because the buddha said them is definitely advised against in the KS and a naive thing to do, i think faith has its place within its proper context.

Perhaps, but still, even if you take the Buddha's advice regarding the evaluation of a teaching, we must admit that there is a certain level of subjectivity involved there.

You have to take things with a certain amount of faith and let go of the need for certainty.

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Believing things in the sutras or because a teacher has said them without "testing" the words is definitely not the thing to do or wise...which is what i am trying to address, faith in its wrong context...not faith in general which is too broad a thing to analyse.

Sure, you should test them and the Buddha has provided a path to that understanding.

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My understanding of why this is the case is because truth cannot be imparted by words it can only be pointed at.

Actually you can find truth though words.  Read about the Buddha's first sermon.


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So without testing them how do you know you have understood the truth behind the words? How do you not know you have simply interpreted them wrongly thinking you have understood them.

You can always change your mind.  You can read sutras over and over and continue to find new or different meaning.  But no problem.

What  you have to do is get down to the business of study and practice.  Especially practice.  Remember the Buddha became enlightened by the practice of meditation.  But regardless, you have to start doing and stop talking about it. 

Like I said about the Kalama Sutra, while it's a valuable lesson, it's nowhere near as important as other sutras.  I would start with the 4 noble truths, 8-fold noble path, the Skandhas,  the nidannas, and the 4 foundations of mindfulness.  The scriptures are available freely as are numerous articles and commentary.



Offline Arkena

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2018, 09:43:05 pm »
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Perhaps, but still, even if you take the Buddha's advice regarding the evaluation of a teaching, we must admit that there is a certain level of subjectivity involved there.

You have to take things with a certain amount of faith and let go of the need for certainty.

When you go to university you realise certain things...

Faith in what a teacher says just because they have said it is the path of the unthinking and of ignorance. Its the path of those who will never find the reality behind a teaching because its only in testing something that we find the actual meanings and dispel our ignorance. Your intentions are good but faith wont lead you to knowledge.

 Faith is never a substitute for knowledge...i would of thought that hundreds of years in the west of religious wars by a religion that promoted faith would of shown how true my point is.

Scientists came along and questioned things about christianity and showed how wrong and naive taking things for granted just because they are written in a holy book is...

I will stop here because if we cannot agree that to take the words of a teacher like the buddha on faith without testing them is naive and fruitless...then we will never agree. Especially as the buddha advises against taking things on faith just because they are in scripture as is said in the KS.

I feel most buddhists are guilty of taking things on faith and not using reason, experience etc to understand and hence are ignoring the important lessons in the KS.

So to take things on faith in scripture is to go against the buddhas words...hence why i think its a shame there are not more sutras on how to interpret them...to prevent people with good intention of falling into the trap of using faith.

Faith in the sutras does not lead to the dharma or truth only knowledge does that.

To recap, faith has its place but using faith in the sutras instead of an enquiring mind is a trap and is advised against explicitly in the KS...to do this is to go against the buddhas recommendations...

Im sorry if i come across as patronising etc, i have troubles with disagreements because of my autism.

I will stop now as we have reached an impass...

Peace

« Last Edit: November 09, 2018, 09:58:43 pm by Arkena »

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2018, 11:11:46 pm »
Rereading the Kalama Sutra -- I was struck by the Buddha’s apparent equivocation regarding rebirth and the consequences of karmic actions ripening in a future life. He seems to saying that maybe there is rebirth or maybe not, but regardless, one should still do good because it can be seen as conducive to benefit and happiness, here and now. Likewise, doing evil results in harm here and now.

In other words it’s better if folks can see that good behavior is worthwhile simply because it is good, because it works better for themselves and the rest of this world – not because of a promised reward or threat of punishment in some future life.

I wrote more on this subject here – http://www.frogzen.com/uncategorized/eternal-life/

BTW Arkena you said –

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So im going to start a blog on my experiences with buddhism, spirituality, social issues,meditation etc, im hoping as well that this will become a practice to diminish my ego, sense of self importance etc…

Writing a blog is likely to have the opposite effect, but hopefully in a healthy way. Creating something gives one a satisfying sense of accomplishment. Even if no one reads what you write you'll benefit from it.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Arkena

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2018, 02:32:41 am »
Read your link zafrogzen...yes those with faith do not like questions that shed light on their assumptions.

My take on karma is that if insulting a neighbour will only lead to them insulting you back then why do it?

I feel karma isnt just about good coming back to us its about inside us and tranforming ourselves into more compassionate, loving beings which is the ultimate source of happiness...how can you be happy if you are not at peace with the world? So the inner reward of being kinder is greater peace and joy but to do it for that reason is to get it wrong and not the path. Karma plants seeds inside us, that lead to peace and happiness or to our selfish isolation from the world and suffering no?

Take the thief who steals from others...how he must suffer inside being so heartless and lacking in empathy...he has cut off the most beautiful parts of his nature and will suffer because of his actions. The world will become cold and uncaring...

On a seperate note re: my difficulties with discussions because of autism...its like the hardware ie my brain is predispossed to struggle with certain social things like differences of oppinion..lits like i cling to my view or to being right more strongly which leads to suffering. Its attachment to my view and being right...and i suffer needlessly...

Its why i come off this site sometimes for a week or more at a time

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2018, 04:53:34 pm »
Faith in what a teacher says just because they have said it is the path of the unthinking and of ignorance.

It depends on what the relationship between you and the teacher happens to be.  I know you're new to Buddhism and I don't expect you will understand, but let me say that this relationship is one of deep trust and confidence - a relationship we call one of faith.  This is a relationship that can build over time, but classically, it is one that spans lifetimes.  That is the Guru - the person who is bound, by what is called samaya, to be your guide on the path to Buddhahood for as long as that.

It's not a matter of believeing in what the Guru teaches.  Rather it is to practice what you are taught.

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Your intentions are good but faith wont lead you to knowledge.

Knowledge is not what we seek.

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Scientists came along and questioned things about christianity and showed how wrong and naive taking things for granted just because they are written in a holy book is...

Dude that started happening long before "science" came along to question things.  Take Martin Luther as an example.  And he wasn't the first.

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I feel most buddhists are guilty of taking things on faith and not using reason, experience etc to understand and hence are ignoring the important lessons in the KS.

And you feel this way because ........?  Tell us about just what "most Buddhists" means.


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Faith in the sutras does not lead to the dharma or truth only knowledge does that.

No.  Knowledge won't do that.  Practice will.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2018, 11:48:26 am by Chaz »

Offline Pixie

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2018, 10:36:05 am »
Quote from: Arkena
I feel most buddhists are guilty of taking things on faith and not using reason, experience etc to understand and hence are ignoring the important lessons in the KS.


"Most Buddhists"?

According to Wikipedia there are 488 million Buddhists in the world......
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2018, 03:28:33 pm »
It occurs to me that many times when we see posts citing the KS they seem to forget just what was taght to the Kalamas.

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""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."

That covers what we should not do when evaluating a teaching.  Some look to what they call "reason", but if we really consider the above, "reason" is insufficient as well (logical conjecture, pondering views).


we are left with the following:

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When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; 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

The Kalamas asked,

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Which of these venerable brahmans & contemplatives are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?

The Buddha didn't really tell them how to determine if someone was lying, but he did give them guidance in the form of 4 criteria to help the determine what teachings were worthy of abiding in.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2018, 06:56:25 pm »


The Kalamas asked,

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Which of these venerable brahmans & contemplatives are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?

The Buddha didn't really tell them how to determine if someone was lying, but he did give them guidance in the form of 4 criteria to help the determine what teachings were worthy of abiding in.

Of course. The issue is not so much one of deliberate 'lying', but the promotion of various beliefs which cannot be justified by the application of rational thought, common sense and logic, to the observed evidence.

Rational thought and logic alone is never sufficient, just as a theoretical computer model isn't. It has to be applied to something, or some situation that is observed.

For those who already have a belief as a result of their conditioning and upbringing, which is the reason why most religious people are either Christians, or Buddhists, or Muslims, the process of questioning, as recommended in the Kalama Sutta, is generally avoided.

The Kalama Sutta basically addresses the concerns of those who have an agnostic approach to religion, which is why it's given more attention in the West and far less attention in countries that have embraced the religion of Buddhism. Who wants to undermine their belief?

However, the fact that the Kalama Sutta exists within the scriptures of Buddhism, advising skeptics not to unquestioningly accept what is written in the scriptures or promoted by some 'authority', is very remarkable, and is one of the teachings that attracts me to Buddhism.

I consider the Kalama Sutta to be consistent with the general guidelines of the 'methodology' of science. That is, don't accept something as being true merely because some teacher or authority claims it to be true. Examine the evidence for yourself. If the evidence is lacking, or inconsistent, then some degree of doubt is appropriate.

 


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