Kalama - A Place To Review
Our leader, the venerable monk Giac Nguyen (Toai Khanh), had long thought of a title for the meditation center he and his group of Buddhist volunteers were planning to build in Myanmar. He came to a great title, "Parami", which means to overcome or get across. Parami or Paramita is two words combined. 'Pāra' means river bank, and 'i' means to reach. Thus Pārami means to reach the bank on other side of the river. The 'Viet' in Vietnam also means to overcome, to get over - which makes Parami a very interesting name of a Buddhist meditation retreat.
But by chance, our monk was taken ill with a cold and had to rest for long periods. During a very deep sleep he heard a voice whispering to him "Kalama - not Parami". It made no sense to him at first but soon after he again heard the words in his ears. On waking our monk pondered much about what the voice said in the dream.
Parami was a name he had given to the future meditation center in Myanmar.
But what about Kalama? He knew Kalama was the name of a very well-known sutta.
The Kalamas who were inhabitants of Kesaputta sitting on one side said to the Blessed One:
"There are some monks and Brahmans, venerable sir, who visit Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. Some other monks and brahmans too, venerable sir, come to Kesaputta. They also expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. Venerable sir, there is doubt, there is uncertainty in us concerning them. Which of these reverend monks and brahmans spoke the truth and which falsehood?"
The answer from the Blessed One:
"It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.
So though our monk Giac Nguyen had already spent some effort to promote the name Parami for the center, he felt compelled to change it to Kalama Tawya. He spoke to his friends and followers and after they heard the story they all were happy with the new meaningful name.
It is a great name because it reminds those who in the future come to the hermitage that, true understanding and believing only arrive after careful examination of the teaching with utmost scrutiny. In other words, to constantly review what you see, hear and re-examine your self.