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Kalama Sutta

Kalama Sutra

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Reference: Book: What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

The Buddha once visited a small town called Kesaputta in the kingdom of Kosala. The inhabitants of this town were known by the common name Kalama. When they heard that the Buddha was in their town, the Kalamas paid him a visit, and told him:

‘Sir, there are some recluses and brahmanas who visit Kesaputta.  They explain and illumine only their own doctrines, and despise, condemn and spurn others’ doctrines. Then come other recluses and brahmanas, and they, too, in their turn, explain and illumine only their own doctrines, and despise, condemn and spurn others’ doctrines. But, for us, Sir, we have always doubt and perplexity as to who among these venerable recluses and brahmanas spoke the truth, and who spoke falsehood.’

Then the Buddha gave them this advice, unique in the history of religions:

‘Yes, Kalamas, it is proper that you have doubt, that you have perplexity, for a doubt has arisen in a matter which is doubtful.  Now, look you Kalamas, do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not led by the authority of religious texts, nor by mere logic or inference, nor by considering appearances, nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea: ‘this is our teacher’. But, O Kalamas, when, you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome (akusala), and wrong, and bad, then give them up… And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome (kusala) and good, then accept them and follow them.’

The Buddha went even further. He told the bhikkhus that a disciple should examine even the Tathagata (Buddha) himself, so that he (the disciple) might be fully convinced of the true value of the teacher whom he followed.

According to the Buddha’s teaching, doubt (vicikiccha) is one of the five Hindrances (nivarana) to the clear understanding of Truth and to spiritual progress (or for that matter to any progress). Doubt, however, is not a ‘sin’, because there are no articles of faith in Buddhism. In fact there is no ‘sin’ in Buddhism, as sin is understood in some religions. The root of all evil is ignorance (avijja) and false views (micchd ditthi). It is an undeniable fact that as long as there is doubt, perplexity, wavering, no progress is possible. It is also equally undeniable that there must be doubt as long as one does not understand or see clearly. But in order to progress further it is absolutely necessary to get rid of doubt. To get rid of doubt one has to see clearly.

There is no point in saying that one should not doubt or one should believe. Just to say ‘I believe’ does not mean that you understand and see. When a student works on a mathematical problem, he comes to a stage beyond which he does not know how to proceed, and where he is in doubt and perplexity. As long as he has this doubt, he cannot proceed. If he wants to proceed, he must resolve this doubt. And there are ways of resolving that doubt. Just to say ‘I believe’, or ‘I do not doubt’ will certainly not solve the problem. To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political, and not spiritual or intellectual.

NOTE: This blog refers to ‘doubt’ as ‘inconsistency’.

The Buddha

Reference: Book: What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula

The Buddha, whose personal name was Siddhattha (Siddhartha in Sanskrit), and family name Gotama (Skt. Gautama), lived in North India in the 6th century B.C. His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the kingdom of the Sakyas (in modern Nepal). His mother was queen Maya. According to the custom of the time, he was married quite young, at the age of sixteen, to a beautiful and devoted young princess named Yasodhara. The young prince lived in his palace with every luxury at his command. But all of a sudden, confronted with the reality of life and the suffering of mankind, he decided to find the solution—the way out of this universal suffering. At the age of 29, soon after the birth of his only child, Rahula, he left his kingdom and became an ascetic in search of this solution.

For six years the ascetic Gotama wandered about the valley of the Ganges, meeting famous religious teachers, studying and following their systems and methods, and submitting himself to rigorous ascetic practices. They did not satisfy him. So he abandoned all traditional religions and their methods and went his own way. It was thus that one evening, seated under a tree (since then known as the Bodhi- or Bo-tree, ‘the Tree of Wisdom’), on the bank of the river Neranjara at Buddha-Gaya (near Gaya in modern Bihar), at the age of 35, Gotama attained Enlightenment, after which he was known as the Buddha, ‘The Enlightened One’.

After his Enlightenment, Gotama the Buddha delivered his first sermon to a group of five ascetics, his old colleagues, in the Deer Park at Isipatana (modern Sarnath) near Benares. From that day, for 45 years, he taught all classes of men and women—kings and peasants, Brahmins and outcasts, bankers and beggars, holy men and robbers—without making the slightest distinction between them. He recognized no differences of caste or social groupings, and the Way he preached was open to all men and women who were ready to understand and to follow it.

At the age of 80, the Buddha passed away at Kusinara (in modern Uttar Pradesh in India).

Today Buddhism is found in Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tibet, China, Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Formosa, in some parts of India, Pakistan and Nepal, and also in the Soviet Union. The Buddhist population of the world is over 500 million.


Song of Mahamudra


 Tilopa’s Ganges Mahamudra Oral Instructions

Translated by Daniel Brown, Ph.D.

NOTE (11/23/19) : Each verse is followed by my comment (in color). ~ Vinaire


 1.    Out of respect for the lineage,

Who developed these instructions,

To counter an ocean of suffering in Samsara,

Let me pour this view into your mind, my friends.

The purpose of these instructions is to counter an ocean of suffering in this world. 


2.     Although Mahamudra isn’t anything I can really explain.

Just let go, and hold this vantage point of mind,

Without artificial meditation strategies, and freshly

[without conceptualization]

Just as space has no substance to it,

Likewise, the real nature of the mind, Mahamudra,

Has no substance that can serve as a support to focus on

The mind has no substance that can serve as a support to focus on. So, don’t visualize any such substance. Simply let go.


3.    Cling to nothing as I speak, and there is no doubt, liberation will come.

Take this view as if you were looking directly into awareness itself,

Like space, in such a way that you aren’t trying to see,

Because from this vantage point, awareness sees itself by itself.

And when all attempts to conceptualize cease,

You will attain perfect awakening.

Have no fixations. Become aware of awareness itself. Cease all attempts to conceptualize. 


4.    Clouds float through space,

But don’t go anywhere, or stay anywhere.

In the same way conceptualization arises in the mind,

But from the vantage point of the real nature of the mind,

Thought is like waves that become calm.

Conceptualization, or thought, appears in the mind, floats around and then disappears. It has no real permanence.


5.    Just as space has no color. It has no form.

It has no darkness. No light. It is changeless.

Likewise, the real nature of the mind has no color, no form,

Nor is it tinged by the darkness of bad,

Nor the light of virtuous actions.

Mind has neither color nor form. In other words, it has no quality, such as, being good or bad. It has no preconceptions. It is totally empty.


6.    For thousands of aeons, the sun that shines everyday day

Has never been clouded by darkness.

Likewise, the real nature of the mind’s clear light of awareness

Has never been clouded by the cycle of Samsara.

The real nature of mind is the clear light of awareness that has never been clouded.


7.    You’ll probably conceptualize about the mind in so many ways,

Calling it “empty space’ or ‘clear-light’

But you can’t really explain it in words.

This mind is…insubstantial, and words won’t make awakening happen.

The description of mind as “emptiness” or “clear light of awareness” still falls short of true understanding that cannot be explained.


8.    The real nature of the mind is always right here,

Beginningless, endless,

Like vast space that saturates everything!

So my dear friends, now stop doing anything

To set up your body posture,

Shut your mouth, be quiet, and don’t think

About anything whatsoever.

Simply take this vantage point,

As the teaching beyond all practices.

To experience the mind, sit quietly and do not think about anything whatsoever. 


9.    The body has no substance,

Like the hollow inside of a bamboo stalk.

And the mind, like space itself,

Is beyond any intended meditation ob­ject.

So let go of any artificial strategies of meditating.

Let go of meditating.

And when this mind reflects itself to itself,

Right here is Mahamudra awakening.

The body is a conceptualization. It has no real substance. Mind is the form of conceptualization. There is no real object to meditate upon. Therefore, go beyond meditating even.


10.  You will not see the clear-light of Mahamudra

By chanting mantras,

Reading the wisdom texts or sutras on emptiness,

Or, by practicing ethical precepts.

When the [ordinary] mind [incessantly reacts]

By moving away from practices it dislikes

And moving toward practices it likes

You stay obscured and will not see

The clear-light of Mahamudra-awak­ening.

Mahamudra is not accessible through practices that the mind is traditionally conditioned to, or it reacts to through likes and dislikes.


11.  Having ideas about how you routinely keep your vows,

Trying to concep­tualize how you might [awaken],

Just makes to stray from this truth.

This truth is beyond the reactivity of the mind

Moving away or moving toward anything.

Don’t particularize anything,

And whatever seems to arise by itself,

Immedi­ately becomes calm by itself,

And so the mind remains like a still pool of water.

The truth cannot be conceptualized, not even how you might awaken. You just have to let it happen.


12.  Never leave That-ness, but don’t stay in it either,

And don’t try to repre­sent it.

Simply vow never to leave it,

And nothing will obscure the flames [of awakening!].

Beyond the reactivity of the [ordinary] mind

Moving toward and moving away,

Not trying to stay, not even trying to see it,

Then you will see everything there is to see!

There is neither being nor not-being. Mahamudra is beyond mind. The mind came later. Realize this.


13.  Conduct an examination-meditation right now on the Truth,

And you will become liberated from the prison of Samsara.

Then, in you samadhi-meditation, right now,

The flames of this Truth will burn up

All the bad karma and obscurations.

Those who are unable to appreciate this Truth

Toss about in the sea of Samsara.

As you examine the truth and meditate upon it, you become liberated from the concerns of this existence, as all your doubts, perplexities and confusions are resolved.


14.  Those foolish beings who continuously get caught up

In negative states of misery and sorrow.

All these sorry folks who wish to be free,

Need only depend on the teacher’s pointing out instructions.

Freedom does not come from wishing, postulating or making efforts toward it. Freedom comes from following the natural evolution. Natural evolution is the invisible teacher.


15.  So my friends, everything that exists within Samsara

Is only the cause of suffering, not the cause of Truth.

The essence of this teaching is: to do nothing,

Other than taking the vantage point of what is the essence of Truth.

The cause of suffering is the existence itself because it does not provide the vantage point of Truth. You have to let go of the conditioning of this world and simply seek that vantage point.


16.  The King of Views is: Going beyond subject/object duality

The King of Meditation is: Holding this vantage point uninterruptedly.

The King of Practice is: Do nothing. Do not search for anything.

Be without any expectation of gain or fear of failure,

And your realization will directly come to fruition.

The duality simply represents the two ends of a scale that extends to infinity on both sides. Meditate on the whole scale rather than on either end. Do nothing. Just let your awareness straighten itself out.


17.  So now move beyond any intended meditation object

To the real nature of the mind’s awareness

Self-illuminating itself to itself.

There is no path to walk….

and you are already facing Buddha-mind as your mind.

And when you are familiar with what it’s like meditating in this way,

Without any intended meditation object,

And it is perfect, now you awaken!

Ultimately there is no object to meditate on, there is no path to walk. The mind is simply immersed in its own awareness. Now you are awaken.


18.  So my friends, please understand me well.

Everything that seems to ex­ist in this world is impermanent,

Like a mirage or a dream,

And as such, mirages and dreams are not the Truth.

Everything that we see, feel and experience are appearances. They are projections of our mind. They are impermanent. The truth is much deeper.


19.  So at least for now put aside everyday activities,

Break connection with [ordinary] sensory experience.

It only generates more desire and aversion.

Dwell in the forests or mountains and meditate.

Yet, [above all] stay in this vantage point of non-meditation,

And when you don’t try to attain it,

You will attain Mahamudra-awak­ening.

Realize that ordinary sensory experience is simply a reaction to something much deeper. Desire and aversion are part of this reaction. When you go beyond this reaction, you attain Mahamudra.


20.  The leaves and branches of a tree

Wither and wilt when its roots are cut.

Likewise, cut the roots of the mind,

And the leaves and branches of Sam­sara end.

The roots of the mind is its reaction to things. That generates all the experience.


21.  The smallest lamp can eliminate darkness

That has accumulated for thousands of eons.

Likewise, a single flame of the clear-light

Of the mind’s awareness self-illumi­nating itself to itself,

In a single instant,

Eliminates all the ignorance, obscurations, and defilements,

That have accumulated for eons.

It only takes a simple realization that reaction is at the root of all experience, to remove all accumulated ignorance in a single instant.


22.  So my friends, don’t conceptualize this,

Or you won’t see the Truth that is beyond all conceptualization.

Don’t engage in any artificial meditation strategies,

Or you won’t see the Truth that is beyond all doing.

So if you want this Truth,

It is beyond all conceptualization

And all artificial meditation strategies.

The truth is beyond all conceptualization and artificial meditation strategies.


23.  Use your sword of emptiness everywhere,

And cut to the root,

And hold the vantage point freshly.

Purify the muddy water of conceptualizing

Until it becomes clear.

Ease up so you let whatever arises

Come forth in its own right [self-con­tentedly].

Don’t do anything.

Do not make anything happen

Nor prevent anything from happening.


24.  Do not hold onto anything, nor let anything go,

And right here, is Maha­mudra-awakening,

And you are freed from Samsara.

All that obscures, even the subtlest propensities cease.

The awakened mind, always right here,

Self-illuminates the storehouse of all potential experience.


25.  Complete liberation from all extreme [views].

This is the Supreme View.

Wide and deep and limitless.

This is the Supreme Medita­tion.

Beyond any intention or cutting anything off.

This is the Supreme Practice.

Beyond all expectation of outcome or fear of failure,

The mind frees it­self.

This is the Supreme Fruition.


26.  At first awakening the mind is like a fast-moving waterfall.

Then, it flows gently like the vast Ganges,

And finally, it is a great ocean wherein

The infant of individual consciousness

And the dharmakaya mother consciousness

Flow into one another.


27.  For those less intelligent who can’t stay [continuously]

In the vantage point of awakened wisdom [once you taste it]

You can [once again] stay on the breath,

And distill the nectar of awareness

With many concentration practices,

[And when your concentration is strong again]

Above all learn to hold the vantage point of awareness-itself


28.  If you take that vantage point as your support,

Awakened Wisdom arises, its radiance, its emptiness.

Through empowerment, entering samadhi, then insight,

[The seeds of] this Awakened Wisdom

Are gently drawn into the mandala [in your heart],

Then manifest in various sites in your body,

Then saturate your entire be­ing.

When you don’t grasp for it,

Awakened Wisdom arises, its radiance, its emptiness.


29.  You will seem ageless and healthy like the waxing moon.

You become radiant.

You’ll seem to have the strength of a lion,

And all the ordinary [positive states]

And special powers of a Buddha will flourish.

This is my oral advice to you, my friends,

On the essence of Mahamudra-awakening.

Let it stay uninterruptedly in your heart,

And in the hearts of all sentient beings!


Tao Te Ching


Lao Tzu (6th century BC)

Do you have the patience to wait

till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

till the right action arises by itself?


What the Buddha Taught

What Buddha Taught

Book: What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula





The Buddha


Chapter 1: The Buddhist Attitude of Mind

Chapter 2: The First Noble Truth: Dukkha

Chapter 3: The Second Noble Truth: The Arising of Dukkha

Chapter 4: The Third Noble Truth: The Cessation of Dukkha

Chapter 5: The Fourth Noble Truth: The Path

Chapter 6: The Doctrine of No-Soul: Anatta

Chapter 7: ‘Meditation’ or Mental Culture: Bhavana

Chapter 8: What the Buddha Taught and the World Today



Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth

The Fire Sermon

Universal Love


Getting rid of All Cares and Troubles

The Parable of the Piece of Cloth

The Foundations of Mindfulness

Advice to Sigala

The Words of Truth

The Last Words of the Buddha