Author Topic: Kalama sutra  (Read 1424 times)

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2018, 11:56:29 am »
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.

Tell me, have you tested everything you believe to be true in science?   IOW when your high school science teacher told you the speed of light was 299,792,458 meters/second did you go out and test the value with your own calculations, or perhaps since?

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2018, 05:25:37 pm »
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.

Tell me, have you tested everything you believe to be true in science?   IOW when your high school science teacher told you the speed of light was 299,792,458 meters/second did you go out and test the value with your own calculations, or perhaps since?


It's obviously not possible to test things that are beyond our skills and capacity. I would interpret the Buddha's view on the existence of a Creator God as consistent with that.

If I were an advanced Physicist or Astrophysicist, then, of course, testing the speed of light, and confirming (or refuting) that the 'effective' speed of light varies depending on the medium it is passing through, and that it has a maximum speed in a vacuum, would be standard practice. However, I'm not a Physicist and don't have the tools and means to test the speed of light.

Another very relevant aspect of testing things for oneself, is the time available to do so. One has to prioritize in life. No-one has the time to test everything, regardless of the availability of the tools and his/her potential skills.

A degree of faith or trust is often required, and that's fine as long as one does not become blind to evidence that implies the trust might not be justified.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2018, 05:40:34 pm »
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.

Tell me, have you tested everything you believe to be true in science?   IOW when your high school science teacher told you the speed of light was 299,792,458 meters/second did you go out and test the value with your own calculations, or perhaps since?


It's obviously not possible to test things that are beyond our skills and capacity. I would interpret the Buddha's view on the existence of a Creator God as consistent with that.

If I were an advanced Physicist or Astrophysicist, then, of course, testing the speed of light, and confirming (or refuting) that the 'effective' speed of light varies depending on the medium it is passing through, and that it has a maximum speed in a vacuum, would be standard practice. However, I'm not a Physicist and don't have the tools and means to test the speed of light.

Another very relevant aspect of testing things for oneself, is the time available to do so. One has to prioritize in life. No-one has the time to test everything, regardless of the availability of the tools and his/her potential skills.

A degree of faith or trust is often required, and that's fine as long as one does not become blind to evidence that implies the trust might not be justified.

So, it seems there are exceptions in a scientific/secular view where capacity, capability, and resources come into play and in some cases you are left with nothing but having to take someone's word for it and rely on faith that the information you're given is correct.

Right?

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2018, 09:00:47 pm »
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.

Tell me, have you tested everything you believe to be true in science?   IOW when your high school science teacher told you the speed of light was 299,792,458 meters/second did you go out and test the value with your own calculations, or perhaps since?


It's obviously not possible to test things that are beyond our skills and capacity. I would interpret the Buddha's view on the existence of a Creator God as consistent with that.

If I were an advanced Physicist or Astrophysicist, then, of course, testing the speed of light, and confirming (or refuting) that the 'effective' speed of light varies depending on the medium it is passing through, and that it has a maximum speed in a vacuum, would be standard practice. However, I'm not a Physicist and don't have the tools and means to test the speed of light.

Another very relevant aspect of testing things for oneself, is the time available to do so. One has to prioritize in life. No-one has the time to test everything, regardless of the availability of the tools and his/her potential skills.

A degree of faith or trust is often required, and that's fine as long as one does not become blind to evidence that implies the trust might not be justified.

So, it seems there are exceptions in a scientific/secular view where capacity, capability, and resources come into play and in some cases you are left with nothing but having to take someone's word for it and rely on faith that the information you're given is correct.

Right?

Maybe right during the times of the Buddha, but not right in our modern society where one has access to a multitude of research evidence, and opinions of the 'so-called' wise, or experts in the field.

If you visit a doctor because of some serious ailment, you don't have to accept the doctor's advice. You can get a second, third, or fourth opinion, and if not satisfied with the consensus recommendation, explore the alternative options of natural cures, herbal remedies, change of diet and lifestyle, and so on.

The overall message of the Kalama Sutta is, 'Think for yourself and don't become a puppet'. If someone recommends that the cessation of all thinking has benefits, as in Buddhist meditation, then consider why that might be the case. Think about the possible benefits of 'no thinking for a period of time', and the great relaxation it might produce. Even during sleep, the mind is active when dreaming. An awareness without mental activity could be very beneficial and profound.

The message I get from the Kalama Sutta is that logic and rationality should be used in conjunction with the advice from the wise (experts in the field).

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2018, 02:30:36 am »
The overall message of the Kalama Sutta is, 'Think for yourself and don't become a puppet'.

Sort of, but we also find phrases like:  "...nor upon a bias toward a notion that has been pondered over.." which means developing some insight into our own subjectivity, recognising our beliefs and biases.   

To me the main message of the sutta is "suck it and see", ie try out particular approaches to practice and assess the results:  "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."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.065.soma.html
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Chaz

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2018, 05:42:17 pm »
The message I get from the Kalama Sutta is that logic and rationality should be used in conjunction with the advice from the wise (experts in the field).

Really.  Where in the KS is that revealed?  Remember - up with specifics and down with cryptic.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Kalama sutra
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2018, 09:44:21 pm »
The message I get from the Kalama Sutta is that logic and rationality should be used in conjunction with the advice from the wise (experts in the field).


Really.  Where in the KS is that revealed?  Remember - up with specifics and down with cryptic.


Chaz,
Everything is revealed only in the human mind. The revelation might be stimulated by reading a text, or experienced whilst sitting on a cushion doing nothing, or worked out automatically in the mind during sleep.
Whatever the specific process, the one thing we can be certain of, is that everything we know, or think we know, is an interpretation of what we have read and experienced.

As I understand, the first 'comprehensive' Buddhist scriptures are the Pali Canon, written about 400 years after the Buddha passed away, and written in a language which is different to the language spoken by the Buddha.

There are therefore, understandably, many translation difficulties and problems.
Regarding the various translations of the Kalama Sutta, my interpretation is that the Buddha advises that logic and reasoning should not be used alone, in assessing the truth of any claims. If one is using something not alone, then it logically follows one must be using it in conjunction with something else.

However, some translations use the phrase 'specious reasoning'. 'Do not go upon specious reasoning', which is also very sensible.
If any translation of the Kalama Sutta implied the Buddha said one should not use reasoning or logic at all, in determining the truth for oneself, I would have to assume that either the translation was wrong, or that the Kalama Sutta is worthless.

Following is a detailed and scholarly article on the Kalama Sutta. I'll quote a few relevant sections.
http://www.jayarava.org/texts/talking-to-the-kalamas.pdf

The criterion for acceptance

Quote
"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 towards 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".

"This sutta has been called “the Buddha‟s Charter of Free Enquiry”. However this is overstating things somewhat. I will argue that the form is not so much a charter of free enquiry, but a demonstration that any thinking person will be a Buddhist.

The idea that the Kālāmā Sutta is a "charter for free enquiry‟ has, however, taken hold and been endlessly repeated in Western Buddhist circles. The idea plays to Western bias against authority and monolithic religious organisations – the roots of which are complex and deep, but include strands of Protestantism and Romanticism.
On the other hand the idea of “free inquiry” fits neatly with Post-Enlightenment values. So the idea has been accepted relatively uncritically."

"mā anussavena, mā paramparāya, mā itikirāya, mā piṭakasampadānena, mā takkahetu, mā nayahetu, mā ākāraparivitakkena, mā diṭṭhinijjhānakkhantiyā, mā bhabbarūpatāya, mā samaṇo no garūti."
Translation:
“don't use revelation, don't use lineage, don't use quotations, don't use tradition; don't use speculation, don't use inference, don't use signs, don't use understanding based on views, don't uncritically accept what seems likely; don't use respect for a toiler.”

Having dismissed tradition in its various manifestations, the Buddha then moves on to more intellectual criteria. Firstly takkahetu. PED (Pali English dictionary) gives "ground for doubt, or reasoning‟.
Hetu, of course, is "cause, reason, condition‟ and takka is literally "twist, turn‟ and metaphorically "to turn something over in your mind, to think about‟. For the Sanskrit tarka MW suggests "reasoning, speculation, inquiry‟ or "logic‟. The question then is: what kind of compound is this? A search on Pāli and Sanskrit compounds ending with –hetu suggests that compounds of this type are tatpuruṣa compounds with the sense "for the sake of, caused by, or by reason of) so in this case: "caused by thinking, by reason of logic‟.

Buddhaghosa glosses: takkaggāhenapi mā gaṇhittha "also don‟t grasp by seizing of reasoning‟. The sentence seems to be saying "don‟t reason‟; but I think we have to take this as referring to hypothetical reasoning in light of what comes after. That is, reasoning disconnected from experience and especially from emotions and values; what we might call speculation.

There's nothing wrong with reason per se, but one can't decide moral questions from pure reason, one must understand it from experience".


Using reasoning or logic alone reminds of the ancient Greek story, also repeated in the Middle Ages, about the number of teeth a horse has.

The Fable of Plato's Horse

Quote
One fine Grecian evening Plato and a group of his students were seated around a rock on the shores of the Aegean Sea. (They had taken an Awayday from Athens.) After a while the discussion centred round teeth — horses teeth in fact — and more specifically: “What do you consider to be the correct number of teeth for an adult, male horse to possess?”

Glaucon said that as a horse had such a small mouth it was obvious that there could be no more than fifteen teeth.
‘Nonsense!’ cried Thrasymachus ‘Any fool can see that a horse has a very long jaw bone so it must have forty-two teeth.’

By this time the discussion became very heated and Plato decided that it was time to control the pace of the discussion by summarising: ‘Glaucon has said that a horse has fifteen teeth because it has a small mouth, and Thrasymachus has said that a horse has forty-two teeth because of its long jaw.’ (Notice how careful Plato was not to put forward his own ideas on the subject. Plato was convinced that a horse has eighty-two teeth because of an image that he saw in the shadows of some cave or other.)

But this strategy didn't work. As soon as Plato had finished his summary, Aristophanes threw aside his pet frog, jumped to his feet and exclaimed that a horse must have twenty-three teeth because it takes 23 minutes to eat a bag of hay.
The discussion went on this vein for a further two days and nights. (They had to hitch-hike back to Athens because their Awayday had expired.)

Eventually Socrates who was not looking very well and had remained silent for the whole of the discussion (black mark to Plato for not bringing him in earlier) suggested that they should walk over to one of the horses, that were used for giving rides on the beach, open its mouth and count the number of teeth. The class was so amazed at the sagacity of the suggestion that silence reigned for the first time in three days."


Have I convinced you Chaz, or would you like me to go on and on? Anyway, thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify the issue in my own mind.  :wink1:

 


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