Kalama Sutta

The Buddhist Charter of Free Enquiry


We believe that most of the main religions in this century teach all their followers how to live rightfully and harmoniously, to respect, to love and to trust their fellow human beings as well as those around them i.e. the animals and the environment.

Nevertheless there is one question that has always stayed deep inside us, which of them is the “ Right Religion - which is universal, which is supreme, etc. etc.

And so doubts arise in us, we start to question the credibility of our own religion. Sometimes we are forbidden to question because it has thus been laid down all the time in this way....., and because my teacher and their teachers said so....., etc. etc.

In this first chapter of coming in contact with Buddhism, you shall be served with an appetizer on how and when to accept what is true and what are not. The nature of the Buddha’s teachings is such that none of his followers is expected to believe in him without having Right Understanding in his teachings.

The Buddha encourages you to test the truth he preached as the wise test the gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it against a piece of touchstone. So to say : you are to accept his words after examining them and not merely out of regards for him.

In this chapter of the Buddhist Charter of Free Enquiries ( Kalama Sutta ), the Buddha answered to some very controversial and self-trap questions of the Kalamas. It is with Right Understanding that the questions were answered in such a manner that today it has becomes the most important guide for us to teach and follow in pursuing the knowledge of wisdom.


Kalama Sutta

Once the Buddha was staying in a certain town in northern India named Kesaputta where the Kalama clan lived. The Kalamas visited the Buddha and asked him this question :

"There are some holy men and priests, Venerable Sir, who come to Kesaputta and claim that only their religion is right and others are wrong. As a result, doubt has come to us. Which of these holy men and priests spoke the truth?"

The Buddha replied :

"It is proper to doubt in things that are doubtful. Come, O Kalamas, do not accept anything :

" through repeated hearing,
through mere tradition,
through rumors,
through mere correspondence with the scriptures,
through mere thinking deeply,
through logical reasoning,
through mere apparent reason,
based on mere agreement with your own opinions,
based on a person who seemingly possess abilities,
thinking this person is our teacher."

"Kalamas, when you yourselves know what are immoral, blameworthy and censured by the wise, when performed and undertaken, conduce to unprofitable things, conduce to suffering ( to oneself as well as others ), abandon them."

"Kalamas, when you yourselves know what are moral, not blameworthy and praised by the wise, when performed and undertaken, conduce to benefit, conduce to well being and happiness ( to oneself as well as others ), then do you live and act accordingly."

"Kalamas, what do you think, the presence of Greed, Hatred and Delusion occurring within a man, does it conduce to benefit or to unprofitable things?"

"A Covetous, a Furious and a Deluded man who is overwhelmed with greed, hatred and delusion respectively resorts sometimes to killing, sometimes to stealing, sometimes to committing adultery, sometimes to lying, sometimes induce others to be like that too.

Whatever conduces to unprofitable things, conduces to the suffering of oneself and others, a covetous man, a furious man and a deluded man advise others in that very thing. Is it so or not?"

"Kalamas, what do you think, the absence of Greed , Hatred and Delusion occurring within a man, does it conduce to benefit or to unprofitable things?"

A man rid of Greed, Hatred and Delusion, refrains from killing, refrains from stealing, refrains from committing adultery, refrains from lying, sometimes induces others to be like that too.

Whatever conduce to benefit, conduce to happiness of oneself and others, a man rid of greed, hatred and delusion advice others in that very thing. Is it so or not?"

The noble disciple is without greed, without hatred and without delusion, but self-controlled and of discerning mindfulness, with a heart composed of :-

radiating these four kinds of infinite good-will ; that is wide spread, grown great and boundless, free from enmity and oppression, untainted and made pure ; suffusing the whole world ; the noble disciple being thus attains four kinds of comforts ;

1. if the hereafter exists, results of good and bad deeds committed exist ;
    therefore I shall reborn in a blissful heavenly world,

2. if the hereafter does not exist, fruit or ripening of deed do not exist; 
    I shall enjoying only the happiness in this very life, 
    do I hold myself free from enmity and oppression, sorrowless and well.

3. if evil is done, evil is there to befall ( on the evil-doer ), 
    I have not designed evil against anybody, 
    how can sorrow befall me who has done no evil,

4. if evil is not done by an evil-doer ( nor myself ), 
   
I have considered and find myself pure in both respects ( inadvertently and intentionally ).

When the Blessed One had finished this discourse, the Kalamas acknowledged the truth of it and praised it and took refuge in the Triple Gem as lay disciples.

- Anguttara Nikaya, Tika Nipata, Mahavagga, Sutta No. 65