Good Explanations – Key to Weeding Out Bad Versions of Dhamma

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    • #14728

      This post said, “As the Buddha advised in the Kalama Sutta, everyone needs to examine the different options and choose the one that is without any contradictions.” I don’t understand Pali, so forgive my ignorance, but of the English translations of the Kalama Sutta I’ve read (linked at the end), one seems to contradict this, and the other doesn’t mention contradictions. The translation from Access To Insight reads, “don’t go […] by logical conjecture, by inference.” Very few people will directly contradict things they previously said, so presumably some inference is necessarily to come to that contradiction. The translation from BuddhaNet does not contradict what the post said, but also doesn’t support it. Rather, the criterion for acceptance are “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.”

    • #14731

      Welcome to the forum, Peter!

      Kalama sutta actually does not have any deep meanings than what is actually stated. But it is critical one for one to get to started on the Path.

      I was just giving the gist of it. But I don’t think what I stated is in contradiction with either of the translations you quoted. Both translations give the basic idea. The Access to Insight translation could have been better, if they did not try to just translate word-by-word.

      In the sutta, the Buddha kept asking the Kalamas to put themselves in the “receiving end” and to see how they would feel if such immoral actions are done to them: This is to basically to make them understand why one needs to stay away from dasa akusala. His questions were mostly on the obvious ones: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, etc.

      Then he asked them to compare those conclusions with various teachings to come to one’s own conclusions, not just because even the Buddha says they are bad. That is the way to decide which teaching is correct. He said not to just accept teachings via oral transmission, lineage, testament, canonical authority, etc. If one uses the above technique, one does not need to “buy into” any one of such teachings.

      This is what I always try to emphasize. One HAS TO start practicing Buddha Dhamma with a focus on dasa akusala. That is the foundation.
      At the end of the sutta the Buddha emphasizes that if one avoided those akusala (immoral deeds), one would be safe in all four possible situations regarding wrong views.

      Even if one did not believe in kamma vipaka or paralowa or paro loko (of gandhabbas) –which belong to the 10 types of micca ditthi – one would not be in peril. But IF THEY WERE TO HOLD, then one would fine too. This is an important point especially today, because there are many who do not believe in rebirth or even kamma vipaka.

      However, the key point that is not specifically stated in the sutta is that, when one starts abiding by those obvious “good actions”, at some point one will start realizing that kamma vipaka have to be experienced in future lives. Then at some point one would be getting rid of such wrong views like not believing in rebirth (10 types of micca ditthi).

      Only when one has removed all ten types of wrong views that one will be able to go deeper and understand concepts like Tilakkahana (anicca, dukkha, anatta).

      Many people try to understand deeper concepts like Tilakkhana without paying much attention to avoiding those basics. Mind is a very complex entity. It is contaminated by dasa akusala, and that leads to an agitated mind. Of course, one cannot even see how agitated one’s mind is, until one sees the relief (niramisa sukha) that is gained by staying away from dasa akusala.

      The bottom line is that Kalama Sutta is actually one of the simplest suttas. It helps one to get started on the mundane eightfold path, before starting on the Noble Eightfold Path; see, “Buddha Dhamma – In a Chart“. But it is a critical sutta, because without that foundation, one will be wasting one’s time just reading about deeper concepts.

      Deeper concepts need to be COMPREHENDED not just MEMORIZED, and that REQUIRES a mind relatively free of dasa akusala, especially the 10 types of micca ditthi.

      I really don’t know how many people actually “get this point”, but I keep emphasizing it at every opportunity.

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