Analysis Of Kalamas's Parable Of The Poisoned Arrow

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Unfittingly, the most popular portrayal of Buddha’s attitude towards philosophy is illustrated by his “Parable of the Poisoned Arrow”. The parable is a response to the skeptic’s enquiries into the Buddha’s metaphysical views. To summarize this parable; a poisonous arrow wounds a man. His companions and relatives wish to provide him with a surgeon. But, the man says, “I will not have the arrow removed until I know who it was that wounded me.” He goes on fruitlessly, asking his companions several irrelevant, pointless questions about the physical characteristics of the person who wounded him, his assailant’s hometown and even goes on to question the make-up of the arrow. Buddha with this parable is allegedly trying to highlight the futility…show more content…
To study philosophy is to learn to think carefully and critically about complex issues. It is not necessarily to learn the 'answers ' that the discipline has arrived at.” (Sideritis 1.1) to the ideas expounded by the Buddha in the Kalama Sutta: “So in this case, Kalamas, don 't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher. '” This comparison should give us clarity about the Buddhist attitude towards what we can broadly label ‘philosophy’. The Buddha is more concerned with the method rather than the content. The Buddha wants the us to “know for ourselves” before accepting something. The quote in the Kalama Sutta shouldn’t be interpreted as Buddha rejecting logical conjecture and inference as the grounds for accepting the validity of a teaching. He is simply stating that these aren’t sufficient grounds for accepting a teaching. Instead, the Buddha is asking us to rely on our experience and rationale before accepting any teachings. Using this technique, he posits one will eventually find the truth and be on the right path. This summarization can be likened to Conze’s assertion that Buddhist thinkers loved paradox and contradictions. With this, he associates Buddhist thought with…show more content…
Another way to look at the parable interpretation would be not to think of it as a Buddhist distaste of discourse, rationale, and logic. Instead one should consider the undesirable role of personal identity or the ‘self’ when philosophizing. Any philosophy that doesn’t contribute to achieving liberation is meaningless. The detrimental element of philosophy is the false identification with the self and the ego. Identification and attachment with the “I” is a common sight in contemporary philosophy. Seen with the Cartesian idea of ‘I think, therefore I am” which is alarmingly a prevalent and an established belief in philosophy. But upon further inspection, the proposition “I think, therefore I am” is something that we could make sense of within a Buddhist framework. Assume Descartes’ ‘I’ is the five skandhas, the ‘I’ (or the fives skandhas) are causing an illusory effect which lead to the assumption of transient, tentative existence. Using radical reductionism, we cannot assume the existence of the world as we know it because the world as we know it is a product of the five skandhas. Therefore, any concept of “I’ we hold is illusory in nature, caused by the five

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