A cry for clarification


As always, it is with a profound sense of respectful interest that I read and re-read Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi’s article titled ‘From Views to Vision’ in The Island of 10th April. He is the most authoritative and lucid exponent of Early Buddhist Teachings I am privileged to know personally. I write this to seek clarification of a particular confusion which arose in my mind consequent to reading his article.

At one point in the article, with a clarity that leaves nothing to be desired, Ven BB asks: "…doesn’t the Buddha enjoin us in the Kalama Sutta to judge things for ourselves and let our own experience be the criterion for deciding what we will accept?" Even as I found myself answering that seemingly innocent question with a resounding "yes", Ven BB hastened to warn with reference to the question that this "kind of slippery reasoning provides… a convenient excuse for adhering … to ideas which are fundamentally antithetical to the Dhamma…"

Earlier in the article, concerning the dangers inherent in clinging to possessions, pleasures, people and even views, Ven BB avers that the Buddha went so far as to declare that "we should not cling even to his teachings". Ven BB fears that such limitless freedom of thought granted to his followers may be "self-destructive" to the founder of Buddhism himself. The staggering truth, however, is that the Buddha did grant such freedom, and for me, that is precisely the compelling intellectual appeal of this unique Teacher. The enjoyment of such freedom does not inhibit me at all from accepting wholeheartedly his teaching that the three roots of suffering are greed, hatred and delusions, and that eliminating them will liberate me from suffering.

In that context, I should indeed be much obliged to any knowledgeable reader who would tell me what sort of "cherished assumptions" on the part of a follower of the Buddha might possibly interfere with the acceptance of the essentials of the Dhamma such as the Four Noble Truths, and the anathema (no soul) doctrine.

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