Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kalama Sutta

The people of Kalama asked the Buddha who to believe out of all the ascetics, sages, venerables, and holy ones who, like himself, passed through their town. They complained that they were confused by the many contradictions they discovered in what they heard. The Kalama Sutta is the Buddha's reply.

The following is a reader's digest version. This applies to martial study as deeply as it does any other course of spiritual endeavor.

– Do not believe anything on mere hearsay.
– Do not believe in traditions merely because they are old and have been handed down for many generations and in many places.
– Do not believe anything on account of rumors or because people talk a a great deal about it.
– Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage.
– Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because it is extraordinary, it must have been inspired by a god or other wonderful being.
– Do not believe anything merely because presumption is in its favor, or because the custom of many years inclines you to take it as true.
– Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and priests.
– But, whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it.

The same text, said the Buddha, must be applied to his own teachings.

– Do not accept any doctrine from reverence, but first try it as gold is tried by fire.


  1. I agree this should apply to any kind of study, teaching, or life, but for some reason, it seems extraordinarily poignant when mentioned within Buddhism. You have this religion named after "the Buddha", everything is "the Buddha", we all want to become enlightened "Buddhas", and after so many doctrines of asking one to follow "the Buddha", that same character or entity or whatever tells you you shouldn't believe it all without testing it yourself ... or that the Buddha is not "it."

    Cool montage too by the way in your last post ... but I don't see any demonstrations of beeru-do ??????

  2. Fantastic! Thanks for introducing me to something of which I was previously unaware.