To learn who rules over you,
simply find out who you
are not allowed to criticise.
– Source uncertain
At a Buddhist bookshop, I encountered a customer who asked what is a particularly unique feature (among many others) about the Buddha’s teachings. I replied that it is against dogmatic following of scriptures without question. He next asked where this teaching was found, to which I pointed to the Kalama Sutta. Yes, a Buddhist scripture! For a moment, he thought he caught me contradicting what I just said. Well, the teaching that ‘we should not simply adhere blindly to scriptures’ also implies that we should not adhere blindly to this teaching itself, by also questioning if it makes sense!
But of course, it always makes great sense to intelligently question, both this and all other scriptures (Buddhist or not). This is the foolproof double insurance of the Kalama Sutta! This charter of free enquiry is a self-insured teaching that insures all Buddhist teachings, and against other possibly false teachings! The Buddha never commanded blind acceptance of his words. He is so confident of his teachings that he actively invites all to test them rationally and practically. Historically, he seems to be the only spiritual teacher of a major world religion who teaches this way.
I wished I had added this piece of advice… If you are on a time-limited quest for truth, which is this life itself, and come across countless schools of thought, each of which claims to be the only true path, except one, which confidently and openly welcomes you to doubt and question it, which school of thought would you learn from first? The answer is obvious. You should choose the exceptional one as the quest for truth begins with free enquiry, not blind faith. Paradoxically, the charter of free enquiry makes the Buddha’s teachings much easier to cultivate proper faith in!
It is impossible to truly negatively criticise
those open to receiving negative criticism
for resolving it with compassion and wisdom.
The Twin Criteria For Rejection & Acceptance
How Do We Recognise The Wise?