The Kalama Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya, I. 188) has always been a special inspiration to me in that it is not an encouragement to doubt, but an encouragement to wise faith. In traveling our own spiritual paths we listen to a variety of teachers and teachings which are not always compatible. There are teachers who claim to have a hotline to truth, teachings which are presented as being owners of the “Truth”. We listen to a variety of authorities who seem to hold the answers we seek, and we use our minds to evaluate and compare looking for the right answers and the right path. In the midst of this, we are encouraged to let go and to cultivate faith, even to surrender. Often we find ourselves in valleys of confusion and paralyzed by doubt.
This sutta is a timeless reminder of the importance of listening inwardly, of learning from our own experience and resting our faith upon the bedrock of wisdom that emerges through our own practice. It is not a denial of authority or of the richness derived from listening to others, but a clear reminder that insight is the heart of this practice. After all, the only valid measure of a teaching is whether or not we can live it, and in living it, whether it leads to well-being and the end of suffering.