Kālāma Sutta – Part 15

Continuing from previously,

“Now Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — thus devoid of greed, devoid of ill will, undeluded, alert, & resolute — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with good will. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

Previously, the Buddha was advising the Kalamas on how to differentiate between good and bad influential messages. In ancient times, communication was inconvenient. There was no publication like now. There was no internet, there wasn’t even a telephone.

The religious or spiritual people were the influencers! They went around sharing their thoughts, philosophies and beliefs. Trying to convince people that they were “special” to derive an answer for profound questions such as “What is the meaning of life?”, “Where did we come from?” etc

Naturally, such messages were derived from the 10 sources that Buddha pointed out.

[1] Reports, [2] legends, [3] traditions, [4] scripture, [5] logical conjecture, [6] inference, [7] analogies, [8] agreement through pondering views, [9] probability, [10] the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’

And to expand on [10]. it also refers to spiritual lineages. For example, my teacher teaches thus, that is because his teacher, taught him thus, and his teacher’s teachers taught thus, and so on and so forth. But ultimately, we are blindly believing that the 1st teacher must be enlightened or wise or holy. When in fact we have never met that person before?

So the Buddha’s emphasis is to examine the messages that we received and objectively examine if the influences from those messages are beneficial to us, whether they are for the welfare of ourselves and others. In our modern time, there are more and more Influencers (As written in ancient scriptures – False prophet, Mara in guises, etc) each of these influencers, shared their thoughts, and beliefs based on the 10 sources of information mentioned above.

In the light of the Kālāma Sutta, what the Buddha did next, was to shine the light unto ourselves, the Buddha defined the quality of a Sangha (Buddhist preachers and teachers, monastics or laity). With this information, it is good for fellow Buddhists to examine the qualities of our teachers.

According to the Buddha, disciples of Buddha should have the following qualities. It is important to note that our emphasis is on personal qualities. Not ritualistic qualifications, Not academic qualifications, Not appearance (ie. wearing monastic notes), so let us see what Buddha said.

Now Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — thus devoid of greed, devoid of ill will, undeluded, alert, & resolute

The first 3 points will mean that a Buddhist is supposed to be

  1. not greedy for material gains (wealth), fame, relationships, and authoritative power.
  2. not hateful and free from ill-will.
  3. Undeluded means not delusional, not having ignorance

If we expect the above from a Buddhist, it is obvious that we would hold our teachers accountable for a higher standard of conduct. While we are familiar with 1 and 2, it is more challenging to define 3.

But fundamentally, all Buddhists, regardless of sects or schools of thought would agree that the basic tenets of Buddhism lie in the 4 Noble Truths and the 8 Noble Eightfold Path. In that manner, we should expect that all Buddhist teacher live their life accordingly.

Moreover, there are plenty of scriptural records of how Buddha conducted himself under various situations. While Buddha encouraged his lay disciples to engage in charitable work and philanthropic causes, Buddha forbade his monastics from TOUCHING MONEY. I think the implication is clear.

Last but not least, we should also have some basic common sense. For example, if your teacher says ” Let’s all commit suicide and I guarantee you will go to heaven or Buddha land after that” We should know better to cut all ties with such a crazy guy? Or if our teacher advised us to avoid healthcare and simply chant some mystical verse; we should just walk off. Using our common sense, we ought to know that such a person is delusional.

To be continued.

May all be well and happy.

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