Kālāma Sutta – Part 8

Continuing from previously,

As they sat there, the Kalamas of Kesaputta said to the Blessed One, “Lord, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. And then other brahmans & contemplatives come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them.

They leave us absolutely uncertain & in doubt: Which of these venerable brahmans & contemplatives are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?”

The scenarios above described the situations faced by the people of Ancient India. It seems like a vibrant society whereby everyone is entitled to their own opinions. These individuals then tried to win followers who agree with their views. It was quite aggressive because they also engage in verbal warfare.

they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them

That means claiming that the view of an opponent is unworthy or of lesser value. Let us examine if we, Buddhists are guilty of such conduct. If we claim our school of Buddhism as more accurate, more advanced, higher, or better than another; then we would be guilty of disparaging fellow Buddhists. Naturally, that can be very bad and it promotes enmity. Some of these habits were passed down for centuries within our Buddhist circles. Ancient teachers competing for followers would call each other names or disparage each other’s method of practice. Thus some of us might have picked up such expressions along the way. For example, the word Mahayana (Great Vehicle) versus Hinayana (Small Vehicle) actually contains disparaging intentions and elements.

revile them – To criticise harshly with abusive language. Similarly, the “Hinayana” would hit back and claim that the Mahayana doctrine is heresy.

I think the various schools of Buddhism are like different flavours of soda. They attract different people to drink from the stream of Dharma. We may be distracted by the flavours initially and even develop cravings towards our preferred flavour but at least we drink. Unless, someone just drink the flavours without drinking the water, that becomes poisonous?

From this verse, we can see how bickering can create doubts in people. Doubts can lead to bewilderment and we lose our sense of judgment. That can then result in verbal conflicts due to ego and it may escalate to physical violence. So, the bottom line is we need to be aware of how these conflicting messages are affecting us.

In the above situations, we need to applaud the Kalama for being aware of the confusion that was emerging in their social fabric. Similarly, we read many conflicting views and opinions on our social media nowadays. We also need awareness of the Kalama.

Is the consumption of information clouding our wisdom? Is conflicting information driving us apart from our loved ones? For example, if our children decided not to accept Buddhism, are we going to be angry? (by the way, we shouldn’t be angry) So let’s take some time to reflect.

May all be well and happy.

Categories: Articles

Tagged as: , , , ,

2 replies »

  1. Unfortunately I have seen this in every faith. So I know all too well what these disciples went through. The faith of my parents (Jehovah’s Witnesses) also disparaged other faiths and beliefs. And taught me to never think for myself. That’s part of what I love about the Buddha. Acceptance that is truly unconditional. Even for someone who has done something that most would deem beyond redemption.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If the follower of a faith needs a ‘Warrior’ to defend the faith, then the faith is weak… for the FAITH should have the STRENGTH within itself to withstand anything… not cower behind the feeble powers of mortal man… or their faith is akin to the wood, marble and stone gods of old…!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.