Blind Beliefs, Doubts and Rational Enquiry
Doubt brings about
lasting understanding; doubt is not an end in itself. What is true is
revealed only through doubt, through questioning-the many illusions,
traditional values, ideals.
of Talks and Answers...Adyar, India
If you doubt, that
is, if you desire greatly to find out, you must let go of those things
which you hold so dearly. There cannot be true understanding by keeping
what you have. You cannot say, "I shall hold on to this prejudice,
to this belief, to this ceremony, and at the same time I shall examine
what you say." How can you? Such an attitude is not one of doubt;
it is not one of intelligent criticism.
of Talks and Answers . . Adyar, India
The Buddha advises
seekers of truth not to accept anything merely on the authority of another
but to exercise their own reasoning and judge for themselves whether
a thing is right or wrong.
On one occasion
the citizens of Kesaputta, known as the Kalamas. approached the Buddha
and said that many ascetics and brahmins who came to preach to them
used to exalt their own doctrines and denounce those of others, and
that they were at a loss to understand which of those worthies were
"Yes, O Kalamas,
it is right for you to doubt, it is right for you to waver. In a doubtful
matter, wavering has arisen," remarked the Buddha and gave them
the following advice.
"Come, O Kalamas,
do not accept anything on mere hearsay (i.e. thinking that thus have
I heard it from a long time). Do not accept anything by mere tradition
(i.e., thinking that it has thus been handed down through many generations).
Do not accept anything on account of rumours (i.e., by believing what
others say without any investigation). Do not accept anything just because
it accords with your scriptures. Do not accept anything by mere supposition.
Do not accept anything by mere inference. Do not accept anything by
merely considering the appearances. Do not accept anything merely because
it agrees with your preconceived notions. Do not accept anything merely
because it seems acceptable (i.e., should be accepted). Do not accept
anything thinking that the ascetic is respected by us (and therefore
thinking it is right to accept his word).
- Anguttara Nikaya
I gradual sayings, Kalama Sutta