The Buddha is quoted in the Kalamas Sutra:
for long generations and in many countries. Do not believe a thing
because many repeat it. Do not accept a thing on the authority of one
or another of the sages of old, nor on the ground of statements as
found in the books. Never believe anything because probability is in
its favor. Do not believe in that which you yourselves have imagined,
thinking that a god has inspired it. Believe nothing merely on the
authority of the teachers or the priests. After examination, believe
that which you have tested for yourself and found reasonable, which is
in conformity with your well being and that of others.
It's about a monk named Malunkyaputta who one day was meditating, and in the midst of his meditation he got really mad. He started thinking, "Gee, you know, the Buddha never said anything about who made the world. And the Buddha never said anything about whether the world is eternal or not. And the Buddha never said anything about what happens to Buddhas after they die." And a whole bunch of other things like that that the Buddha never said anything about. He said, "I want to know about those things, and I'm really pissed that the Buddha didn't say anything about that. Now if the Buddha didn't know anything about that, that's one thing, then he could just admit it, and that would be fine. But he didn't say that either, so I'm really angry about this , and I don't feel like I can go on with this meditation period until I get to the bottom of it."
Well, the Buddha said, "Malunkyaputta, did I ever promise you when you came that I was going to tell you about these things?" Malunkyaputta said, "No, actually, you didn't." The Buddha said, "You know, it really doesn't have anything to do with whether I know the answer to these things, or I don't know the answer to these things. Imaging someone who gets shot with an arrow, and who is lying there mortally wounded, with the last moments of life ebbing away. A surgeon comes along to pull the arrow out, and the man weakly looks up at the surgeon and says: 'Before you pull the arrow out can you tell me to what clan belongs the person who shot this arrow? Would you find out for me, please, before you pull the arrow out, whether the person who shot me was a tall person or a short person? Would you mind inquiring, before you pull this arrow out, the colour of skin of this person: was it light skin, dark skin, medium skin? What was the profession of the person who shot this arrow? Could you tell me, please, was it an artisan, or a physician, or a scholar? And furthermore, what sort of arrow is this anyway? Was it made from a cherry tree, or an oak tree, or a pine tree? And what about the feathers on the end of this arrow? Were they made from goose feathers, or are they eagle feathers, or vulture feathers? And what about the tip of the arrow, how is that made?'"
The Buddha said, "If the person who was shot were to seek the answers to all these questions, definitely, he would be dead before he found the answers to these questions. So Malunkyaputta, it's not that I know the answers to these questions and I'm not telling you, or that I don't know the answers to these questions. It's just that I know for sure that speculating on these questions does not help to live the life that we want for practice. Malunkyaputta, I have not been silent. There is something that I have told you. I have spoken of suffering, and the cause of suffering, and the end of suffering, and the path. Suffering and the end of suffering, that is what's important. About that I have spoken."
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