Peter continues discussion on “evidence-based” precepts. The Kalama Sutta reminds us that in order for the precepts to have an impact on our life, they must be validated within our personal experience. Peter encourages us to look closer at the concept of “doing harm” within our daily routine.
Beginning with a long excerpt from the Kalama Sutta, Peter emphasized the Buddha’s teaching on personal validation of the concepts within Buddhism. The Kalamas were a tribe of critical thinkers who enjoyed challenging priests and philosophers regarding their presentations to the tribe. The Buddha exhorted them to not take anything on face value, but instead to validate or invalidate a particular self-state through mindfulness, organized around the ethics described in the Five Precepts: not to kill, steal, misbehave sexually, speak deceptively or hurtfully, and to not intoxicate the body/mind. The group was challenged to examine carefully how they can assess in their own experience how, for example, hostility toward an insect might be acceptable–but then, where does one draw the line? What is it about your direct, immediate experience that forms your response? The dialogue was so engaging and lively that it was agreed to continue the discussion at the next meeting.