KALAMA SUTTA: Teaching of Lord Buddha

1. Thus have I heard: Once the Exalted One, while going on his rounds among the Kosalans with the great company of monks, Kesaputta came to him from the district of the Kosalans.

Now, the Kalama of Kesaputta heard that Gotama the recluse, the Sakyans’ son who went forth as a wanderer from the Sakyan clan, had reached Kesaputta.

And this good news was heard about Gotama, that Exalted One: It is He, the Exalted One, Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One, perfect in knowledge and practice, Welfare, World Knower, Unsurpassed charioteer of men to be tamed, Teacher of deva and mankind, having himself come to know it thoroughly for himself. He teaches Dhamma that is lovely in the beginning, lovely in the middle, lovely in the ending, both in letter and spirit; in all its fullness He preaches the holy life that is utterly pure. Well indeed for us if we could get the sight of arahants such as these.

Then the Kalamas went to where the Blessed One was. On arriving there, some paid homage to Him and sat down on one side; some exchanged greetings with Him and after a cordial and memorable talk, sat down on one side; some saluted Him raising their joined palms and sat down on one side; some announced their name and family and sat down on one side; some, without speaking, sat down on one side.

2. Seated there, the Kalamas said to the Blessed One: “There are some monks and brahmins, Venerable Sir, who visit Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines, they despise, revile, and pull to pieces the doctrines of others. (Likewise) some other monks and brahmins, Venerable Sir, come to Kesaputta. They also expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. When we listen to them, Sir, we have doubt and wavering as to which of these worthy ones are speaking truth and which speak falsehood.

3. “It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; in a doubtful matter, by revelation; uncertainty does arise. Come, Kalamas. Do not go by revelation; do not go by tradition; do not go by hearsay; do not go no the authority of sacred texts; do not go on the grounds of pure logics; do not go by a view that seems rational; do not go by reflecting on mere appearances; do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it; do not go along on the ground that the person is competent; do not go along because (thinking) the recluse is our teacher. Kalamas, when you know yourselves: These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them.

4. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Does greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm?’ ‘For his harm, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Kalamas, being given to greed, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by greed, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another to do likewise. Will that be for his harm and ill for a long time?’ ‘Yes, Venerable Sir.’

5. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Does hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm?’ ‘For his harm, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Kalamas, being given to hate, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by hate, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts and ill for a long time?’’ ‘Yes, Venerable Sir.’

6. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Does delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?’ ‘For his harm, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Kalamas, being given to delusion, and being overwhelmed and vanquished mentally by delusion, this man takes life, steals, commits adultery, and tells lies; he prompts another to do likewise. Will that be for his harm and ill for a long time?’ ‘Yes, Venerable Sir.’

7. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?’ ‘Unwholesome, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Blameworthy or not?’ ‘Blameworthy, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Censured or praised by this wise? ‘ ‘Censured, Venerable Sir.’ ‘When undertaken and observed, do these things lead to harm and ill or not? Or how does it strike you?’ ‘Undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill. It is just so, Sir.’

8. This is why I said, Kalamas, ‘Come, Kalamas. Do not go by revelation; do not go by tradition; do not go by hearsay; do not go on the authority of sacred texts; do not go on the grounds of pure logics; do not by a view that seems rational; do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it; do not go along on the ground that the person is competent; do not go along (thinking) because the recluse is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you know yourself: ‘These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill’, abandon them. Such was my reason for uttering those words.

9. ‘Come, Kalamas. Do not go by revelation; do not go by tradition; do not go by hearsay; do not go on the authority of sacred texts; do not go on the grounds of pure logics; do not go by a view that seems rational; do not go by reflecting on mere appearances; do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it; do not go along on the ground that the person is competent; do not go along (thinking ) because the recluse is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you know for yourselves: ‘These are wholeseome; these things are not blameworthy; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness’, having undertaken them, abide in them.

10. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Does absence of greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm?’’ ‘For his benefit, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Kalamas, being not given to greed, and being not overwhelmed and not vanquished mentally by greed, this man does not take life, does not steal, does not commit adultery, and does not tell lies; he prompts another to do likewise. Will that be for his benefit and happiness for a long time? ‘ ‘Yes, Venerable Sir.’

11. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Does absence of hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm?’ ‘For his benefit, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Kalamas, being not given to hate, and being not overwhelmed and not vanquished mentally by hate, this man does not take life, does not steal, does not commit adultery, and does not tell lies; and he prompts another to do likewise. Will that be for his benefit and happiness for a long time?’ ‘Yes Venerable Sir.’

12. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Does absence of delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?’ ‘For his benefit, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Kalamas, being not given to delusion, and being not overwhelmed and not vanquished mentally by delusion, this man does not take life, does not steal, and he prompts another to do likewise. Will that be for his benefit and happiness for a long time?’ ‘Yes, Venerable Sir.’

13. ‘What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?’ ‘Wholesome, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Blameworthy or not blameworthy?’ ‘Not blameworthy, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Censured or praised by the wise?’ ‘Praised, Venerable Sir.’ ‘Undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness.’ ‘It is just so, Venerable Sir.’

14. Therefore, this is why I said, ‘Come, Kalamas. Do not go by revelation; do not go by tradition; do not go by hearsay; do not go on the authority of sacred texts; do not go on the grounds of pure logics; do not by a view that seems rational; do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it; do not go along on the ground that the person is competent; do not go along (thinking) because the recluse is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you know yourself: ‘These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill’, abide them.

15. The Noble Disciple, Kalamas, who in this way is devoid of coveting, devoid of ill will, undeluded, clearly comprehending and mindful, dwells pervading, with thoughts of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, towards one quarter (of the world), likewise the second, the third and the fourth. And in like manner above, below, across, everywhere, for all sorts and conditions, he abides suffusing the whole world with a heart possessed by thoughts of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity that is widespread, grown great and boundless, free from enmity and oppression. By that, the Ariyan disciple, whose heart is thus free from enmity, free from oppression, untainted and made pure, in this very life four consolations are attained. These are thus:

16. ‘Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, a result, of deeds done well or ill, then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall be reborn in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss’. This is his first consolation.

‘Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result of deeds done well or ill then in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound and happy, I keep myself’. This is his second consolation.

‘Suppose evil (results) befall an evildoer, if I think of doing evil to none, then, how can suffering affect me who do no evil deed?’ This is his third consolation.

‘Suppose I do no evil, both in this world and the next, I shall see that I am pure.’ This is his fourth consolation.

Thus, Kalamas, the Ariyan disciple whose heart is free from enmity, free form oppression, untainted and made pure, in this very life attains these four consolations.

17. So it is Blessed One. So it is, Well Farer. The Noble Disciple, Venerable Sir, whose heart is free from enmity, free from oppression, untainted and made pure, in this very life attains these four consolations.

‘Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, a result, of deeds done well or ill, then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall be reborn in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss’. This is his first consolation.

‘Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result of deeds done well or ill then in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free form malice, safe and sound and happy, I keep myself’. This is his second consolation.

‘Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer, if I think of doing evil to none, then, how can suffering affect me who do no evil deed?’ This is his third consolation.

‘Suppose I do no evil, both in this world and the next, I shall see that I am pure.’ This is his fourth consolation.

Marvellous, Venerable Sir! Marvellous, Venerable Sir! It is as if, Venerable Sir, a person turns face upwards what was upside down, or reveals what was concealed, or points the way to one who was lost, or holds up a light in the darkness thinking, ‘Those who have eyes will see visible objects’, even so in diverse ways have Dhamma been set forth by the Blessed One. We, Venerable Sir, go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma for refuge, and to the Order of Monks for refuge. Venerable sir, may the Blessed One accept us as followers, who have gone for refuge, from this day forth while life lasts.