The Kalama Sutta – Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry (Animation)

Kalama Sutta
The Kalama Sutta

The Kalama Sutta is part of the Anguttara Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka. The Buddha expounded this sutta to a group of people known as the Kalamas. To this day, it is interpreted as a pro-skeptic, pro-rationalist text. In this sutta is a famous passage in which the Buddha argues for a rigorous questioning of religious teachings. Because of this celebrated passage, the text as a whole has been interpreted as advocating the rejection of anything that contradicts rational thought or empirical understanding, even the Buddhist teachings. Or, reframed, anything that is unseen and that cannot be empirically verified is incompatible with the Buddha’s free thinking. Therefore, teachings of the afterlife or karma are superstitious baggage that go against the “original spirit” of the Buddha’s inquiring mind.

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