Thursday, August 30, 2007

What Buddha Said

One of my favorite quotes, found here.


2 comments:

Hokai said...

Actually, my friend, the Buddha, at least the one we find in the Buddhist canon, never said that. This quote went through several adaptations, obviously to suit what the people who adapted it believe in themselves, but the original goes more like this, all quotes from "Kalama sutta" -

First the criterion for rejection: ""It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. 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 bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them."

And then, the criterion for acceptance: ""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."

Anyway, the short sentence you quote is over-emphasized in the West, while the reliance on one's own experience and even the power of reasoning is present in many other instances in the Buddhist teachings, but on quite other grounds, not simply reason or common sense. This, of course, does not refer to all forms of Buddhist belief in Asia, but it should apply to critically opinionated Western Buddhists.

Godspeed,

Hokai

WH said...

Hokai,

Thanks for the clarification and the link. I've been pretty lax in reading the original suttas, and this demonstrates why I need to go back and do that -- which I will, starting with the one you linked to.

Peace,
Bill