Kālāma Sutta – Part 2

Continuing from previously,

And of that Master Gotama this fine reputation has spread: ‘He is indeed a Blessed One, worthy, & rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, a knower of the cosmos, an unexcelled trainer of those persons ready to be tamed, teacher of human & divine beings, awakened, blessed.

He is indeed a Blessed One – This verse should be understood that Buddha is someone who embodify blessings. (Bhagavato, or Bhagavan). He was born with a good physical body that is pleasing to behold. His mind was healthy and intelligent. His family background was reputable and wealthy. All the factors and perhaps more are like background assessment. Not that we discriminate against people of poorer birth conditions but practically, the aforesaid factors mitigate the probability that Buddha was a religious scammer with ulterior motives of gaining riches, fame, or relationships. This is because he already had all of that as a potential crown prince.

Also, do note that these descriptions were ancient terms that were commonly used to describe people of great achievements. It will not be surprising to see such a term appearing in non-Buddhist ancient texts too. However, in our Buddhist context, it is important to understand that being Blessed is dependent on our own karma (actions) and not dependent on an imaginary god-like being. Therefore, it mustn’t be confused or misinterpreted that Buddha was someone who was blessed by the divine.

Worthy – As Buddha’s teachings deny the role of god(s) or higher power, being worthy does not refer to being worthy in the eyes of a divine power too. In accordance with Buddha’s teachings, the worthiness of a holy person depends on whether his/her actions are worthy of respect and veneration in society. Let us shift our focus attention on Buddha. He attracted many donations and admiration from people but He did not abuse any of that trust. Imagine the number of title deeds to land and building that were offered to Him. Imagine the faith of powerful people. Buddha did not leave material possession to his wife, child, and family. Buddha did not abuse the faith of powerful men and women to His advantage. Buddha was showered with love and adoration by women and sometimes, even men. But Buddha did not abuse any of that. In that manner, Buddha had proven Himself to be worthy of respect and veneration. This point is very important because we have to apply the same principles to determine if anyone is worthy of our respect and veneration. For example, a reputed “holy” man/woman mustn’t be greedy, angry, lustful, etc. Otherwise, they are not “holy”, right? Yet, many people fall victim to religious scammers. A real Buddhist is actually taught how to objectively gauge whether someone is worthy of our respect and veneration. We adjust our expectations and responses accordingly. It is a dynamic art of human interaction. In that manner, a Buddhist has no qualms about bowing down to respect a mischievous 10-year-old novice monk and in the same breath, he/she will not hesitate to point out the fault of a misbehaving monk/nun for appropriate actions.

Until here, there are already a lot of things for us to contemplate and reflect. For example, is our interaction with holy man/woman flawed? How should we honour those who are worthy? Who is worthy of our trust, donation and respect? Are we interacting with the religious figures as if they are god/goddess or treating them as “specially” appointed representatives of these imaginary entities in our minds?

To be continued.

May all be well and happy.

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