Striking the palms together in debate
Proudly making distinctions in the truth
Found in conflicting scriptures on obscure topics;
This does not adorn the king of reasoning’s teaching.
This poem reminds me of what the Buddha said in MN 95 Canki Sutta: With Canki
The Fortunate One, knowing what Kāpaṭika was thinking, did turn toward him, and Kāpaṭika issued this challenge: “Master Gotama, with regard to the ancient brahmanic hymns that have come down to us, preserved in our oral tradition, organized in the various collections, we brahmins have come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.’ What does Master Gotama say to that?”
“Now then, Bhāradvāja, is there even one brahmin who says, ‘I know this; I’ve seen this for myself: “Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.”‘?”
“Now then, is there even a single teacher, or a teacher’s teacher, back to the seventh generation of teachers, who says ‘I know this; I’ve seen this for myself: “Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.”‘?”
“No, Master Gotama.”
“Then, Bhāradvāja, go further back, to the ancient brahmin seers, the composers and compilers of the hymns, the hymns that were chanted and repeated then and that the brahmins are still chanting and repeating today. Go back to Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa & Bhagu: was there even one of those who said, ‘I know this; I’ve seen this for myself: “Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.”‘?”
“No, Master Gotama.”
“So, Bhāradvāja, it seems that none of them—not the most senior brahmins today, not their teachers or their teachers’ teachers, not even the most ancient creators of the hymns, who was able to say, ‘I know this; I’ve seen this for myself: “Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.”‘?
“Bhāradvāja, suppose there were a file of blind men, each holding the shoulders of the next; the first one does not see, the middle one does not see; the last one does not see. So too, Bhāradvāja, it seems, in regard to the statement, ‘Only this is true; all other doctrines are false,’ that the brahminsare like that file of blind men. The first one does not see; the middle ones do not see; the one at the end does not see. What do you think, Bhāradvāja? Does not the faith of the brahmins seem to be without foundation?”
“But the brahmins do no believe this just out of faith, Master Gotama; they also honour it as their oral tradition.”
“Bhāradvāja, first you took your stand on faith, yet now you speak of oral tradition. Let me tell you, Bhāradvāja, there are five things that may turn out in two different ways in the here and now. The five are faith, approval, oral tradition, a priori reasoning, and rationalization. A doctrine held as an item of faith may turn out to be empty, hollow and false. Another doctrine, not held as an item of faith, may yet turn out to be factual, true, and without mistakes. So, too, with doctrines accepted because of someone or other’s approval, a doctrine received through oral tradition, a doctrine worked out through pure reason, and a doctrine arrived at through rationalization. Any such doctrine may turn out to be empty, hollow and false. Contrariwise, doctrines opposed to those and held for entirely different reasons may still turn out to be factual, true, and without mistake. Given all that, it’s not proper for a wise man who wishes to preserve truth to state, as a definite conclusion, ‘Only this is true; all other doctrines are false.’”
“But Master Gotama, how then is it possible to preserve truth?”
“If a person has faith, Bhāradvāja, he preserves truth when he states, ‘My faith is thus….’ But he does not yet state, as a definite conclusion, ‘Only this is true; anything else is false.’ That’s how a person of faith can preserve truth. But it not yet a way to the discovery of truth.
“Similarly, a person who holds a view because of the approval of others, because of oral tradition, because of logical reasoning or rationalization, if he states, ‘I rationalize things in this way…’, then he preserves truth, and he does not go so far as to state, ‘Only this is true; all else is false.’ So he can preserve truth. But there is not yet a way to discovery of truth.”
“I see the sense in what Master Gotama says about the preservation of truth. But what is the way, Master Gotama, to discovery of truth. How does one discover truth?”
“Well, Bhāradvāja, let us suppose that there is a teacher somewhere living with the support of his village or town. And someone seeking the truth—a householder or householder’s son—goes to that teacher and investigates him in regard to three states: the state of greed, the state of ill will, and the state of delusion. First, he investigates the teacher in regard to greed: is there in this teacher any trace of greed so that, with his mind clouded by greed, he might, not seeing, still say ‘I see’; not knowing, he might still say ‘I know’? Or might he, misled by greed, urge others to act in a way that would lead to their harm and suffering for a long time? Conducting his investigation, he comes to know, there is no greed in this wise teacher; his actions and his words are not those of one affected by greed; the path that he teaches is profound, hard to discern and difficult to grasp; peaceful and sublime; unattainable by mere reasoning; subtle; to be experienced by those who have attained wisdom. That is not a path that would be easily traveled by one affected by greed.
“He then proceeds to investigate the teacher with regard to the states of ill will and delusion. He probes, is there any ill will in this teacher, or is he deluded in some way so that, not seeing, he might still say, ‘I see’; not knowing, he might still say ‘I know’? Or, with mind clouded by ill will or delusion, might he urge others to act in ways that are harmful to themselves or others? And conducting that investigation, he concludes, there is no ill will here, no delusion; this teacher’s actions and words are not those of one driven by ill will or misled by delusion. The path he proclaims is profound and difficult, peaceful and sublime, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. It is not a path that would be easily traveled by one affected by ill will or delusion.
“When has satisfied himself that the teacher is free of greed, ill will and delusion, then he places faith in him. with that faith to direct him, he visits the teacher and pays respect to him. Having paid his respect, he listens to the teacher. Having listened, he hears the truth that the teacher proclaims. Having heard the teacher’s dhamma, he memorizes it and examines the teachings he’s memorized. Examining them, he comes to accept the teachings; accepting them, zeal arises within him. Zealously, he applies his will, scrutinizing the deeper implications of the dhamma. Scrutinizing them deeply, he strives to realize them. Resolutely striving, he experiences for himself the full force of the dhamma and sees it in depth and detail, with penetrating wisdom. Bhāradvāja, this is the way to the discovery of truth; in this way, one discovers truth. But there is as yet no final arrival at truth.”
“I understand Master Gotama’s words regarding the discovery of truth and accept what he says. But in what way, Master Gotama, is there the final arrival at truth? How does one finally arrive at truth?”
“The final arrival at truth, Bhāradvāja, comes from the repetition, development and determined cultivation of those same steps. That’s how one finally arrives at truth.”
“But which of those many steps, Master Gotama, is the most important step for final arrival at truth?”
“Striving is the most important step for the final arrival at truth, Bhāradvāja. If one doesn’t strive, one will never get there. Striving, one may hope to arrive, finally, at the truth.”
“What is most important in the cultivation of striving.”
“Scrutinizing, Bhāradvāja, is most important for the cultivation of striving. If one does not scrutinize a teaching, one will not strive; striving follows scrutinizing.”
“But Master Gotama, what is most important for scrutinizing.”
“Application of will is most important motivation for analyzing a dhamma closely, Bhāradvāja. Without the application of will, one will not scrutinize a teaching.”
“And what is most important for the application of will”
“Zeal drives the application of will, Bhāradvāja. If one does not arouse zeal, he will not apply his will.
“And what is most important to stimulate zeal?”
“Acceptance of a teaching on reflection is what arouses zeal. Without accepting a teaching, one will not apply oneself zealously to it.”
“And what is most important to acceptance?”
“Examination of the meaning is what leads to acceptance, Bhāradvāja. Until one examines the meaning, one will not accept the teaching.”
“And what is most important for examining meaning?”
“Memorizing the teaching is most important for examining its meaning. If one has not committed the teaching to memory, one cannot examine its meaning.”
“And what is most important for memorization of the teaching?”
“Hearing it. If one does not hear the teaching, one cannot memorize it.”
“And what is most important for hearing the teaching?”
“Listening, Bhāradvāja. If one does not listen, one will not hear.”
“And what is most important for listening?”
“Paying respect to the teacher is most important for listening. If one does not pay proper respect, one will fail to listen.”
“And what is most important for paying respect to a teacher?”
“Visiting the teacher. If one does not visit the teacher, one will not accord him the proper respect.”
“And what is most important for visiting?”
“Faith, Bhāradvāja. If one does not have faith in a teacher, one will not make the effort to visit him.”
“We have asked Master Gotama about the preservation of truth, and he gave an answer that makes sense to us. We asked hinm about the discovery of truth, and again he gave an answer we could accept. We asked him how one finally arrives at truth, and he told us, and when we questioned him in detail about the path he laid out, he satisfied us at every step. Whatever we asked, he has answered, and we accept his answers.
“Master Gotama, we used to think, ‘Who are these bald-headed recluses, these dark-skinned offspring of god Brahma’s feet, that they could possibly understand the dhamma?’ But Master Gotama has inspired in me respect for those recluses, confidence in them, reverence for them.
“It is truly magnificent! It is as if Master Gotama set upright what had been overturned, revealed what had been hidden, showed the way to one who was lost, held up a light so that people stumbling in darkness could see what surrounded them. From today on, let Master Gotama consider me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge for life.”
source and complete Sutta 95 http://dharmastudy.org/suttas-2/canki/