Monday, 28 March 2011

The Buddha Instruction as Listening to the Dhamma and Dhamma Discussions


According to the SuttanipAta the discussion of the dhamma in proper time (kAlena dhammasAkacchA) and listening to the dhamma (kAlena dhammasavanaM) improper times are given as auspicious activities for Buddhist. Therefore it is important to know how these two methods are applicable in teaching dhamma. The PaTisanthArasutta of AN says that there are two kinds of conversations in the worlds. They are

1.   ĀmisapaTisanthAra – conversation on material things
2.  ∂hammapaTisanthAra – conversation on the truth or morality.

The Buddha says of the two dhammapaTisanthAra to be the noble. Hence then, the Buddha recommended to speak what is good or to be silence in the monks function in verbal action.

Once, Ven. Nandaka was giving an explanation of the dhamma to some other monks in the attending hall. The Buddha who wanted to come into attending hall came near to main entrance and was listening to the dhamma explanation of Ven. Nandaka from outside. After long preaching of Ven. Nandaka the Buddha knocked the door and entered the attending hall. Then the Buddha says “O Nandaka! Your explanation was well done and the monks understood it well but my back is paining for I was standing outside for a long time”. Then Ven. Nandaka was astonishing at the word of the Buddha he said the following in ñandakasutta of AN.

ßAdhu sAdhu ñandaka, evaM kho ñandaka tumhAkaM paTirUpaM kulaputtAnaM agArasamA anagAriyaM pabbajitAnaM, yaM tumhe dhammiyAkthAya sannisIdeyyAtha sannipatitAnaM vo ñandaka dvayaM karanIyaM, dhammi vA kathA ariyo vA tumhibhAvo

=O Nandaka! Good like this, O Nandaka! It is suitable to you the sons of families who ordained home to homelessness if you stay with righteous talk, O Nandaka! When you come together one of the two things should be done, talk what is righteous or observe noble silence. 

Then to the monks headed by Ven. Nandaka five good results of preaching and discussion were explained.

1.   YathA yathA Avuso bhikkhu bhikkhUnaM dhammaM deseti, tathA tathA so satthu piyo ca hoti manApi ca, gara ca bhAvanIyo ca as the monks preaches the doctrine to the monks so he becomes dear pleasant honoured and respected by the Buddha.
2.   dhamme atthapatisamvedI ca hoti dhammapatisamvedI he becomes the noble of the doctrine and its meaning
3.   dhamme gambhIraM addhA ayamAyasmA patto vA pacchati vA,ti he sees through the deep meaning of the dhamma with wisdom
4.   uttaraM sambhAventi, atthapadaM paJJAya ativijjha passati he is respected in the time to come as these on highest states or will attain them
5.   anuttaraM yogakkhemaM pattayamAno viharanti, viriyaM Arabhanti, diTThadhamma sukhavirAnaM anuyuttA viharati they live wishing the noble state of arahant-hood (if not yet attain) they begin with courage (to attain saint hood) and they live with the happiness of attainment (if they have attained saint hood)
                                                                                                       (ñandakasutta, AN)

This discussion in the Nandaksutta shows significance and practical value of preaching and discussion on the dhamma. To achieve these aims one should associate either with the Buddha or well-discipline knowledgeable monks. Association this sense means meeting on time to time in order to clarify knotted point. When thus the questions are put to them then they are.

1.   Clarify what is not clear (avivataM vivaranti)
2.   Explain what is un-comprehended  (anuttAnI kataJca uttAnI karonti)
3.   Establish truth in many of the doubted points (aneka vihitesu kankhaniyesu dhammesu kankhaM pativinodenti)
                                                                                       (ĀdibrahmacariyapaJJAsutta, AN)

With regard to the communication of the dhamma, the Buddha has often encouraged his disciples. In the Cullavedallasutta of the µajjhimanikAya, the Buddha declared his encouragement on the disciples’ proper teaching of the doctrine. It is a discussion between therI ∂hammadinnA and lay devotee Visakha.  The lay devotee Visakha questioned on some philosophical topics in Buddhism from bhikkhunI ßhammadinnA. She explained them in so clear term to Visakha and he became fully convinced in the dhamma. The bukkhinI further asked her listener he the Visakha to meet the Buddha and established in what he heard.  When the Buddha met Visakha declared as follows.

PaNDitA Visakha ∂hammadinnA bhikkhunI mamaJcepi tvaM Visakha etamattaM puccheyyAsi, ahampi taM evamevaM byAkareyyaM yathA taM ∂hammadinnAya bhikkhuniyA byAkataM

=O Viskha! bhikkhunI ∂hammadinnA is wise. Even if Visakha, you would have questioned me this matter, I too would have explained this as was explained by bhikkhunI ∂hammadinnA.

This example shows how the Buddha evaluated the ability of his disciples.

For a preaching to be very successful Buddhist teachings say some qualities to be held by the listeners. ĀvaraNasutta of AN IV presents the following six short coming to be found in the listeners.

1.  kammA varaNAya ramannAyato hoti the listener is endowed with the hindrance of bad  kamma such as ånantariyapApakamma (The Irrecoverbles).

i.       µatugAatako hoti – killer of mother
ii.      PitughAtako hoti – killer of father
iii.     årahantaghAtako hoti – killer of arahant
iv.     ¬ohituppAdako hoti – blood shaker of Buddha
v.      ßaGghabhedako hoti – conflict maker among community
2.  KilesAvaraNena samannAgato hoti – the listener endowed with the hindrance of defilements.
3.  VipAkAvaraNena samannAgato hoti – the listen endowed with bad result of kamma.
4.  åssaddho hoti – the listener who has no faith
5.  åcchandiko hoti – the listener does not the will to listen
6.  ∂uppaJJo hoti – the listener who has less knowledge

Lectured on 12.04.2005
The ßussUsatisutta of åGguttaranikAya IV gives six more reasons with which listening to dhmma could be futile.

1.  ña sussUsati – not willing to listen
2.  ña sotaM odahati – does not listen well
3.  ña aJJaA cittaM upaTThapeti – does not establish the mind for knowledge
4.  ånatthaM gaNhAti – takes in wrong way
5.  åttaM riJcati – gives up proper meaning
6.  ånanulomikAya khantIyA samannAgato hoti – endowed with improper attention.
The PaThamasammataniyAmasutta of AN III includes five more factors that dhamma listening meaning less.

1.  KatthaM paribhoti insults the preaching
2.  KatthikaM paribhoti insults the preacher
3.  åttam paribhoti insults oneself
4.  Vikkhittacitto dhammaM sunAti listen to the dhamma with deformed mind
5.  åyoniso ca manasikaroti keeps the mind in improper way

The TatiyasammathaniyAmasutta of AN III gives five reasons for the above.
1.  µakkhI dhammaM suNAti, makkhapariyuTThito the ungrateful listens to the dhamma with ungrateful mind
2.  UpArambhacitto dhammaM suNAti randhagavesi listen to the dhamma with the idea of agreeing and searching deficiencies
3.  ∂hammadesake Ahatacitto hoti khilajAto he is rough on the preacher and wishes to clash with him
4.  ∂uppaJJo chalo elamUgo less wisdomed one, idiot, inborn senseless person
5.  ånaJJAte aJJAtamAni thinking as having knowledge on what he does not have knowledge.
The PaThamasaddhammasammosasutta of AN III gives another set of five reasons to make listening to dhamma improper.

1.  ña sakkaccaM dhammaM suNanti he does not listen to the dhamma well
2.  ña sakkaccaM dhammaM pariyApunanti they do not rhearse the dhamma well
3.  ña sakkaccaM dhArenti they do not hold the dhamma well
4.  ña sakkaccaM dhatAnaM dhammAnaM atthaM upaparikkhanti they do not examine the meaning of the dhamma well
5.  ña sakkaccaM atthamaJJAya dhammaJcaJJAya dhammAnu dhammaM patipajjanti they do not practice having known the meaning and philosophy well.

If listening to the dhamma is free from above mentioned deficiencies that would listening to doctrine fruitful and those are to known both by preacher and listener. Above given fact depicts the important fat of process of listening to the dhamma in Buddha’s own word. They show a pragmatic attitude towards teaching. The Buddha was a result oriented teacher. So he laid guide lines and gave instruction to make teaching listening process a fruitful one.

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