Today I would like to refer to is the Buddha’s teaching on the importance of verification through experience. This point is made clearly in His advice to the Kalamas contained in the Kesaputtiya Sutra.
The Kalamas were a people very much like us in our modern day when we are exposed to so many different teachings. They went to the Buddha and enquired that as there were so many different teacher, how were they to know who was telling the truth. The Buddha told them not to accept anything out of authority, not to accept anything because it happens to be written down; not to accept anything out of reverence for their teacher; or out of hearsay; or because it sounds reasonable. But to verify and test what they have heard in the light of their own experience.
When we know for ourselves that certain things are harmful then we should abandon them. When we know for ourselves that certain things are beneficial, that they lead to happiness and calm, then we should follow them. The Buddha gives this advice that one has to verify what one hears in the light of one’s experience.
In the context of the Buddha’s advice to the Kalamas, I think what the Buddha is saying is to use your own mind as a test tube. You can see for yourself that when greed and anger are present, they lead to suffering, pain and disturbance. And you can see for yourself that when greed and anger are absent from your mind, it leads to calm, to happiness. It is a very simple experiment which we all can do for ourselves. This is a very important point because what the Buddha has taught will only be effective, will only really change our life if we can carry out this kind of experiment in our life, if we can realize the truth of the Buddha’s teachings through our own experience and verify it through our own experience. Only then can we really say that we are making progress on the path towards enlightenment.
Peace and Love, Jim