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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Anguttara Nikaya >> To the Kalamas

AN 3:65 To the Kalamas

Translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi


Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was wandering on tour together with a large Sangha of monks when he arrived at a town of the Kalamas named Kesaputta. Now the Kalamas of Kesaputta heard: “It is said that the ascetic Gotama, the Sakyan son who went forth from a Sakyan family, has arrived at Kesaputta. Now a good report about that master Gotama has been circulating thus: “That Blessed One is an arahat, fully enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of the world, unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One. He makes known this world with its devas, with Mara, with Brahma, this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, with its devas and humans, having realised it through his own direct knowledge. He teaches a Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end, with the right meaning and expression; he reveals a holy life that is perfectly complete and purified.’ Now it is good to see arahats such as this.”

Then the Kalamas of Kesaputta approached the Blessed One. Some paid homage to him and sat down to one side; some exchanged greetings with him and, after their greetings and cordial talk, sat down to one side; some saluted him reverentially and sat down to one side; some remained silent and sat down to one side. Then the Kalamas said to the Blessed One:

“There are, Lord, some ascetics and brahmins who come to Kesaputta. They explain and elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, debunk, revile and vilify the doctrines of others. But then some other ascetics and brahmins come to Kesaputta, and they too explain and elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, debunk, revile and vilify the doctrines of the others. For us, Lord, there is perplexity and doubt as to which of these good ascetics speak truth and which speak falsehood.”

“It is fitting for you to be perplexed, O Kalamas, it is fitting for you to be in doubt. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter.
Come, Kalamas.
Do not go by oral tradition,
by lineage of teaching,
by hearsay,
by a collection of scriptures,
by logical reasoning,
by inferential reasoning,
by reflection on reasons,
by the acceptance of a view after pondering it,
by the seeming competence of a speaker,
or because you think, ’The ascetic is our teacher.
’But when you know for yourselves, ’These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them.

“What do you think, Kalamas? When greed, hatred, and delusion arise in a person, is it for his welfare or harm?”—“For his harm, Lord.”—“Kalamas, a person who is greedy, hating and deluded, overpowered by greed, hatred, and delusion, his thoughts controlled by them, will destroy life, take what is not given, engage in sexual misconduct and tell lies; he will also prompt others to do likewise. Will that conduce to his harm and suffering for a long time?”—“Yes, Lord.”

“What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?“Unwholesome, Lord.”—“Blameworthy or blameless?”—“Blameworthy, Lord.”—“Censured or praised by the wise?”—“Censured, Lord.”—“Undertaken and practised, do they lead to harm and suffering or not, or how is it in this case?”—“Undertaken and practised, these things lead to harm and suffering. So it appears to us in this case.”

“It was for this reason, Kalamas, that we said:

Do not go by oral tradition,
by lineage of teaching,
by hearsay,
by a collection of scriptures,
by logical reasoning,
by inferential reasoning,
by reflection on reasons,
by the acceptance of a view after pondering it,
by the seeming competence of a speaker,

or because you think, ’The ascetic is our teacher.

’But when you know for yourselves, ’These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them.

“Come, Kalamas. 

Do not go by oral tradition,
by lineage of teaching,
by hearsay,
by a collection of scriptures,
by logical reasoning,
by inferential reasoning,
by reflection on reasons,
by the acceptance of a view after pondering it,
by the seeming competence of a speaker,
or because you think, ’The ascetic is our teacher.’

But when you know for yourselves, “These things are wholesome, these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should engage in them.

“What do you think, Kalamas? When non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion arise in a person, is it for his welfare or harm?”—“For his welfare, Lord.”—“Kalamas, a person who is without greed, without hatred, without delusion, not overpowered by greed, hatred, and delusion, his thoughts not controlled by them, will abstain from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct and from false speech; he will also prompt others to do likewise. Will that conduce to his welfare and happiness for a long time?”—“Yes, Lord.”

“What do you think, Kalamas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?“Wholesome, Lord.”—“Blameworthy or blameless?”—“Blameless, Lord.”—“Censured or praised by the wise?”—“Praised, Lord.”—“Undertaken and practised, do they lead to welfare and happiness or not, or how is it in this case?”—“Undertaken and practised, these things lead to welfare and happiness. So it appears to us in this case.”

“It was for this reason, Kalamas, that we said:

Do not go by oral tradition,
by lineage of teaching,
by hearsay,
by a collection of scriptures,
by logical reasoning,
by inferential reasoning,
by reflection on reasons,
by the acceptance of a view after pondering it,
by the seeming competence of a speaker,
or because you think, ’The ascetic is our teacher.

But when you know for yourselves, “These things are wholesome, these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practised, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should engage in them.

“Then, Kalamas, that noble disciple—devoid of covetousness, devoid of ill will, unconfused, clearly comprehending, ever mindful—dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving kindness, likewise the second quarter, the third and the fourth. Thus above, below, across and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving kindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, and without ill will.

“He dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion … with altruistic joy … with equanimity, likewise the second quarter, the third and the fourth. Thus above, below, across and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with equanimity, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, and without ill will.

“When, Kalamas, this noble disciple has thus made his mind free of enmity, free of ill will, uncorrupted and pure, he has won four assurances in this very life.

“The first assurance he has won is this: “If there is another world, and if good and bad deeds bear fruit and yield results, it is possible that with the breakup of the body, after death, I shall arise in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’

“The second assurance he has won is this: “If there is no other world, and if good and bad deeds do not bear fruit and yield results, still right here, in this very life, I live happily, free of enmity and ill will.

“The third assurance he has won is this: “Suppose evil befalls the evil-doer. Then, as I do not intend evil for anyone, how can suffering afflict me, one who does no evil deed?’

“The fourth assurance he has won is this: “Suppose evil does not befall the evil-doer. Then right here I see myself purified in both respects.’

“When, Kalamas, this noble disciple has thus made his mind free of enmity, free of ill will, uncorrupted and pure, he has won these four assurances in this very life.”

“So it is, Blessed One! So it is, Sublime One! When this noble disciple has thus made his mind free of enmity, free of ill will, uncorrupted, and pure, he has won these four assurances in this very life.

“Excellent, Lord!… (as in AN 3:60) … Let the Blessed One accept us as lay followers who have gone for refuge from today until life’s end.”