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February 24, 2011


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Bodhi, I think The Zennist was trying to say the Kalama S is for the profane/puthujjana. In this sense it is not the Buddha's highest teaching and it would be a mistake to use this Sutta as a standard for authentic Buddhism.

This author has confused the issue of the kalama sutta (how to decide between alternative teachings), with ithe issue of puthagjana (ordinary follower), and those who have crossed the stream and become "sovan", or attained a higher level. If you are already a 'sovan", you probably do not need Kalama sutta, or much of the Dhamma. The Buddha said that the Dhamma is ilke a raft, and once you cross the stream, you don't need it.
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Although I’m not astute enough (yet) in Zen Buddhism to put forth a germane comment, I find this a great post because it gives rise to thoughts comparing these observations/conclusions about Kalama Buddhism as being remarkably comparable to the paradigm shifts that are occurring in Mormonism (the belief system of my parents in which I was raised). Hence, Kalama Mormonism -- LOL -- too funny! “Pop Buddhism” (right on!) just like new-agey, what-the-heck-is-it-or-has-it-become-now ‘pop Mormonism’ (“new Buddhism vs. an old Buddhism” -- new Mormonism vs. an old Mormonism).

Batchelor’s quote was spot-on for Mormonism as well. Interestingly, I was just listening to a podcast that was discussing how Mormonism‘s beginnings had some Buddhistic nuances and theology, but over time has changed to become so much more like main-stream Christianity. I am intrigued that Zen Buddhism (although much more ancient of course) is affected with differing views and change as well. I have to wonder what both ‘religions’ will be like in another few hundred years.

Again, it was a good post for me.

What the Kalama sutta says to me is that we need to get a lot clearer than most of us are on what we know and what we only think we know (because we heard someone say it, trust a teacher who says it, or whatever), and to do this we need to not only check our facts, but check in with our own prejudices, as well as get balance through fostering a relationship with "the wise." The checking in with ourselves to get very clear on what we have actually experienced is very beneficial to our practice; the development of wise friends is, too.

In the end the Kalama sutta clearly says that the wisdom that comes from such a practice is going to be beneficial regardless of whether we believe in a particular cosmological moral system or not, and regardless of whether it's true or not. That teaching is not only NOT reflective of any kind of High School Buddhism that's going to hold a person back on the path, it is the very essence of what the Buddha taught as leading to full liberation: that clinging to views of any kind will ultimately hold a follower back.

In the spirit of the Kalama Sutta's suggestion that we begin by sorting out what we know from what we just think we know, I wonder if you can provide some evidence (rather than just opinion) that anyone who adopts any particular form of Buddhism with a view different from what you understand Buddhism to be about is "really about tearing down the Buddhism"?

"What we need to keep in mind about the Kalama Sutta is that for anyone who might follow the Buddha’s advice, this doesn’t make them a noble disciple (ariyasavaka), a Bodhisattva or an Arhat. In the case of the Kalamas of Kesaputta, we learn at the end of this Sutta that they became lay Buddhists. This certainly implies that they were also puthujjanas, that is common-run-of-the-mill followers. They were not automatically stream entered, holy persons (ariyapuggala) or on the path to nirvana. A way to conceive this is to imagine that you’ve entered a good high school. This means that you have not graduated from a university, nor do you have a PhD in philosophy!"

Granting Kalama Buddhism its right to exist, it is more like high school Buddhism, its followers being incapable of grasping what it really takes to become, for example, a real noble disciple, a Bodhisattva or a real Arhat. But then this is not what Kalama Buddhism is really about in my estimation. It is really about tearing down the Buddhism of noble disciples, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats until there is only Kalama Buddhism left."

Grant Kalama Buddhism it's right to exist? I'm very thankful people that believe they know the perfect, wholesome, complete way of Buddhism allow another person's idea's of Buddhism the right to exist. Hasn't Buddhism been changing since it started? Hasn't it changed for each culture that embraced it? Buddhists have been fighting over who said what and if some things were even said at all for a long time and it seems kind of ridiculous. A real Arhat? A real noble disciple? Where are these people? Do they get official cards that show that they have attained some mystical insight that should make all "common" Buddhists abandon any attempt to understand things themselves?

I have a hard time reading your blog post, because it's like you are spitting on people you consider "lesser buddhist's". I also leave the reading feeling like I'm some kind of Buddhist terrorist, Hell bent on the destruction of the TRUE compassionate Buddha's way. Nothing could be further from the truth. These articles are good for me because I really need to work on my equanimity.


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