Buddha: How to Recognize Truth

Three things cannot remain long hidden; the sun, the moon, and the truth.
~Buddha

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We live in a world drowning in information and starving for wisdom. Many have compared the flow of information into our lives to "drinking from a firehose." Seeing through all the nonsense to glean the truth requires patience and discernment. It turns out people 2500 years ago had a similar challenge. That story is captured in Buddhist texts. In my opinion, the Buddha's solid advice holds true for us today.

During a visit to the town of the Kalamas, the Buddha was asked a crucial question.

“Reverend Gautama, many teachers enter our midst teaching that their way and their way alone is the path to salvation. They extol the virtues of their own doctrines while tearing down the doctrines of other teachers. This creates doubt in our minds about all their teachings. For how are we to know which speaks the truth and which speaks falsehood?”

Buddha replied, “Kalamas, you have doubt in circumstances where doubt is understandable. Where doubt thrives uncertainty is born.” The Buddha proposed a test against which to measure any teaching including his own.

  • Do not believe something because it has been passed down and believed for many generations.
  • Do not believe something merely because it is a traditional practice.
  • Do not believe something because everyone believes it.
  • Do not believe something because it is written in a book and has been recited over and over.
  • Do not believe something solely on the grounds of logical reasoning.
  • Do not believe something because it fits your preconceived notions.
  • Do not believe something because you trust who is saying it.
  • Do not believe something only because your teacher says it is so.

“Kalamas, when you yourselves know directly something is unskillful, unwholesome, blameworthy, rejected by the wise, harmful to yourselves or others, leads to poverty or unhappiness, you should give it up.”

“On the other hand, Kalamas, when you know directly that something is skilled, wholesome, blameless, praised by the wise, and leads to well-being, prosperity, and happiness, you should accept it and practice it.”

We all need to examine the beliefs that are driving our actions in this world. When we look at the state of the world we must conclude that there is more each of us can do to make a difference. It all begins with questioning age-old beliefs. Even beliefs based in truth can become clouded by generations of unexamined hatreds, fears, and prejudices.

Every change, personal or global, begins with the courage to question.

Keep seeking, keep searching, my friends.

Ray Davis
for 6 Sense Media