Editor's Foreword

Kalama Sutta, Help Us!

Two Kinds of Language

Looking Within

Happiness & Hunger

The Dhamma-Truth of Samatha-Vipassana
For The Nuclear Age

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Kalama Sutta, Help Us!



A scientific world such as today's will be able to accept gladly all ten tenets of the Kalama Sutta as being in line with the scientific method and approach. There is not the least contradiction between the principles of science and those of the Kalama Sutta. Even the eighth item, which states that one should not accept something just because it agrees with one's own preconceived theories, does not contradict scientific principles. True scientists emphasize experimental verification, not their own concepts, opinions, and reasoning, as their main criterion for accepting something as true. Due to these standards of the Kalama Sutta, Buddhism will meet the expectations and needs of true scientists.

If one follows the principle of the Kalama Sutta, one will have independent knowledge and reason with which to understand the meaning and truth of ideas and propositions heard for the first time. For example, when one hears that greed, hatred, and delusion are dangerous and evil, one understands thoroughly and instantly, because one already knows through personal experience what these things are like. One believes in oneself rather than in the speaker. The way of practice is the same in other cases. If a statement is about something one has never seen or known before, one should try to understand or get to know it first. Then one can consider whether or not to accept the newly received teaching or advice. One must not accept something just because one believes in the speaker. One should take one's time, even if it means dying before finding out. The Kalama Sutta can protect one from becoming the intellectual slave of others, even on the highest levels.

There's a problem every time a new kind of medicine comes out and gets advertised up and down all over the place. Should we offer ourselves as guinea pigs to test it, out of belief in the advertisements? Or should we wait until we have sufficient reason to try just a little of it first, to see if it truly gives good results, before fully relying on it? We should respond to new statements and teachings as we respond to new medicines, by depending on the principles in the Kalama Sutta as a true refuge.

The Kalama Sutta requires us to have wisdom before having faith. If one wants to have faith come first, then let it be the faith which begins with wisdom, not faith which comes from ignorance. The same bolds true in the principle of the Noble Eightfold Path: Take wisdom or right understanding as the starting point, then let faith grow out of that wisdom or right understanding. That is the only safe approach. We ought never to believe blindly immediately upon hearing something, nor should we be forced to believe out of fear, bribery, and the like.

The world nowadays is so overwhelmed by the power of advertising that most people have become its slaves. It can make people pull out their wallets to buy things they don't need to eat, don't need to have, and don't need to use. It's so commonplace that we absolutely must offer the principle of the Kalama Sutta to our human comrades of this era. Propaganda is much more harmful than ordinary advertising or what is called paratoghosa in Pali. Even with ordinary advertising, we must depend on the principle of the Kalama Sutta, to say nothing of needing this principle to deal with outright propaganda , which is full of intentional deceptions. So we can say that the kalama Sutta is beneficial even in solving economic problems.

I ask you all to consider, investigate, and test whether there is found anywhere greater spiritual freedom than is found in the kalama Sutta. If someone says that Buddhism is sa religion of freedom, can there be any reason to dispute or oppose that statement? Does this world which is intoxicated with freedom really know or have freedom in line with the principle of the Kalama Sutta? Is the lack of such freedom caused by blind ignorance and indifference regarding the Kalama Sutta? Some people even claim that it teaches us not to believe or listen to anything. Moreover, some actually say that the Buddha preached this sutta only for the Kalamas there at that time. Why don't e open our eyes and take notice that people nowadays have become intellectual slaves, that they have lost their freedom much more than those Kalamas in the time of the Buddha? Human friends, fellow worshippers of freedom, I ask you to consider carefully the essence and aim of the Kalama Sutta and the Buddha's intention in teaching it. Then, your Buddhist quality of awakening will grow fat and robust, rather than skinny and weak. Don't go foolishly hating and fearing the Kalam Sutta. The word "Thai" means 'freedom." What kind of freedom are you going to bring to our "Thainess"? Or what kind of Thainess is fitting and proper for the Thainess of Buddhists, the disciples of the Buddha?

Now let us look further to see the hidden benefits and advantages in the Kalama Sutta. The sutta can help us to avoid the tactless and narrow-minded talk which leads to violent clashes and disputes. For example it is foolish to set up an unalterable rule for all families regarding who, husband or wife, will be the front legs and who the hind legs of the elephant. It all depends on the conditions and circumstances of each specific family. According to the principles in the Kalama Sutta and the law of conditionality (idappaccayata), we only can say which roles are appropriate for whom depending on the circumstances of each individual family. Do not speak one-sidedly and go against natural principles.

Regarding abortion, people argue until black and red in the face about whether or not it should be done, without investigating to find out in which cases it should and in which cases it should not. Once we follow the principles of the Buddhist way of reasoning, each situation itself will tell us what is proper and what is not. Please stop insisting on one-sided positions.

In the case of meat-eating versus vegetarianism, people blindly argue for one extreme or the other. The problem is that people are attached to regarding food as either meat or as vegetables. For Buddhists, there is neither meat nor vegetables; there are only elements in nature. Whether the eater or the eaten, it's all merely natural elements. The situations where we should eat meat and the circumstances in which we shouldn't can be discerned by using the principle of the Kalama Sutta. For just this reason, the Buddha never decisively said to eat only meat or only vegetables, to not eat meat or not eat vegetables. To speak so carelessly is not the way of Buddhists.

To say that democracy is always and absolutely good is to speak with one's head in the sand. Those who insist on it haven't considered that a democracy of selfish people is worse than a dictatorship under an unselfish person who rules for the sake of Dhamma and justice. A democracy of selfish people means freedom to use their selfishness in a most frightening and awful manner. Consequently, problems drag on endlessly among those people who have a democracy of selfishness. Stop saying that democracy is absolutely good or that dictatorship is absolutely good. Instead, stick to the principle that both will be good if they are based in Dhamma. Each population should choose whichever system suits the particular circumstances which it faces.

To say that the Prime Minister exclusively must be an elected member of parliament, and never someone who the people haven't chosen directly, is to babble as if deaf and blind. Really, we must look to see how the situation ought to be and what the causes and conditions are, then act correctly according to the law of conditionality. This is the true Buddhist way, befitting the fact that Buddhism embodies democracy in the form of dhammic socialism. Therefore, the election of members of parliament, the establishment of a government, the structuring of the political system, and even the course of social and economic development should be carried out using the principle of the Kalama Sutta. Please consider each example. You soon will discover the fact that we must rely upon the principle of the Kalama Sutta.

More than ever the modern world needs the Kalama sutta as its basic operating principle. The world is spinning fast with the defilements of humanity. It is shrinking due to better transportation and communications. And it is about to self-destruct because proper awareness, intelligence, and wisdom are lacking. Under the power of defilement, the world is worshipping materialism, sex and luxury, because it lacks standards like that of the Kalama Sutta. No one knows how to make choices in line with its principle. Consequently, the world is wholly unfit for peace, while increasing in crime and other harmful evils every moment. Let's eliminate all these problems and evils by relying on the Kalama Sutta as our standard. So let's yell at the top of our lungs, "Help! Kalama Sutta, help us!"

In conclusion, the Kalama Sutta never forbids us to believe in anything; it merely implores us to believe with independent intelligence and wisdom. It never forbids us to listen to anything; it merely asks us to listen without letting our intelligence and wisdom become enslaved. Furthermore, it helps us to be able to think, consider, investigate, and decide with great subtlety and precision, so that we can find golden needles in haystacks as huge as mountains.

Please come, Kalama Sutta! Come invest yourself in the hearts and minds of all Buddhists, of all human beings, in this modern world.

Kalama Sutta, help us!

Kalama Sutta, Help Us! (1) Two Kinds of Language 1


Extract from "Keys to Natural Truth" - Buddhadasa Bhikkhu ,
translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu, Published and distributed by Mental Health Publishing, 14/349-350 M.10, Rama II Road, Bangmod, Bangkok,Thailand
Tel: 662-4152621, 662-4156797, Fax: 662-4167744