Faith in Reason

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

     “On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night.  If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.”

–Kalama Sutra from the Anguttara Nikaya (Numerical Discourses of the Buddha)

 

At first, I found the above quote somewhat contradictory. The first paragraph seems to say that one should not have blind faith in knowledge/concepts, yet the second paragraph states explicitly that “faith is nourishment”. So I looked up the definition of the word faith.

faith (noun) – trust or confidence in someone or something

Being more of a logical than an emotional thinker, I reread the quote from the Kalama Sutra. The second time through, the quote seemed less contradictory. The  sentence But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it is what caught my eye during the reread. “Agreeing with reason” really resonated with my rational brain. I realized that faith in reason, gained through experience might be what the Buddha was talking about when he said “faith is nourishment”.

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