<kalamaIt depends on who you ask. Each school has taken time to assert its superiority by virtue of its “authenticity.” In the last issue, Tricycle editor-at-large Andrew Cooper took a historical look at such claims:

Traditionally in Buddhism, for a school or doctrine to be regarded as authentic, it must be traceable back to the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. Most often this has been done through scripture: schools or movements based themselves on particular texts said to be the Buddha’s teachings. This was seldom only a matter of establishing legitimacy; it was usually tied as well to sectarian polemics about superiority.

The best way, the fastest way, the truest way, higher teachings and  lower, each school has its story. But with all manner of schools taking root in the same place, the historical view can help us to understand what it is that we do believe and why, and how others have arrived at different and equally valid conclusions.

For helpful historical perspective, read Andrew Cooper’s What the Buddha Taught? And if you’re trying to sort out competing truth claims, you can always rely on the Buddha’s advice to the Kalamas.

Image: Standing Buddha Shakyamuni in a mudra dispelling fear. Found in China in the eighteenth century. Lineage unknown. © 2010 Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. Photographed Image © 2004 Rubin Museum of Art