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Realism and Reason than Speculative Theories and Dogmas

On several occasions, the Buddha declined to get involved in speculative debate or aimless discussion. The Supremely Self-Enlightened One did so for good reason. The Buddha’s primary concern was to enable humankind to progressively minimize dukkha (life’s unsatisfactoriness, suffering or aversion) in life and to ensure sukha or sustainable happiness and inner peace. A discourse that decisively underpins the unspeculative but practical thrust of the Buddha Dhamma is the Buddha’s response to the hypothetical questions once raised by a young monk named, Malunkyaputta.



As recorded in the Anguttara Nikaya, out of sheer curiosity, Samanara (novice monk) Malunkyaputta inquired from the Buddha about the origin of the world and raised several speculative questions relating to several related theoretical aspects pertaining to his primary speculative inquiry.


In response, the Buddha used the graphic simile of the poisoned arrow to highlight the futility of Samanara Malunkyaputta's speculative indulgence. The Enlightened One responded by employing the parable of the poisoned arrow which had pierced a person who was about to die as a result. He pointed out that instead of insisting on answers to pointless questions such as the description of the man who shot the arrow, the make-up of the arrow and the type of twine of his bowstring and so on; it would be prudent for the fatally injured man to immediately remove the arrow and prevent the poison from spreading in his body. The Buddha concluded that the injured man would surely die without obtaining the answers to any of the extraneous questions he had insisted upon before the poisoned arrow was to be removed from his breast.


The simile underlines that life's challenges cannot be overcome or avoided by conjectural or hypothetical inquiry. He advised us that it is by practising the Sublime Dhamma with shradda (confidence or faith based on a Right Understanding of life and Nature) and viriya (positive effort) will a person effectively address the many and varied challenges in life. The Buddha added that that this realistic spiritual approach would simultaneously ensure one’s personal self-development, well-being, happiness and inner peace.So instead of indulging in speculative theorising of abstract, hypothetical propositions, we should focus on a Right Understand and the practise and practical application of the Buddha Dhamma.This universal insight wisdom applies not just to the Buddha Dhamma but all belief systems.