AN 10.83 Puṇṇiyasutta: With Puṇṇiya

Then Venerable Puṇṇiya went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, what is the cause, what is the reason why sometimes the Realized One feels inspired to teach, and other times not?”

“Puṇṇiya, when a mendicant has faith but doesn’t approach, the Realized One doesn’t feel inspired to teach. But when a mendicant has faith and approaches, the Realized One feels inspired to teach.

When a mendicant has faith and approaches, but doesn’t pay homage … they pay homage, but don’t ask questions … they ask questions, but don’t lend an ear … they lend an ear, but don’t remember the teaching they’ve heard … they remember the teaching they’ve heard, but don’t reflect on the meaning of the teachings they’ve remembered … they reflect on the meaning of the teachings they’ve remembered, but, having understood the meaning and the teaching, they don’t practice accordingly … they practice accordingly, but they’re not a good speaker. Their voice is not polished, clear, articulate, and doesn’t express the meaning … They’re a good speaker, but they don’t educate, encourage, fire up, and inspire their spiritual companions. The Realized One doesn’t feel inspired to teach.

But when a mendicant

  1. has faith,
  2. approaches,
  3. pays homage,
  4. asks questions,
  5. lends an ear,
  6. remembers the teachings,
  7. reflects on the meaning,
  8. practices accordingly,
  9. has a good voice, and
  10. encourages their spiritual companions,

the Realized One feels inspired to teach. When someone has these ten qualities, the Realized One feels totally inspired to teach.”



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AN 2.42–51 Parisavagga: 47—An assembly educated in fancy talk

“There are, mendicants, these two assemblies. What two? An assembly educated in fancy talk, not in questioning, and an assembly educated in questioning, not in fancy talk. And what is an assembly educated in fancy talk, not in questioning? It is an assembly where, when discourses spoken by the Realized One—deep, profound, transcendent, dealing with emptiness—are being recited the mendicants do not want to listen. They don’t pay attention or apply their minds to understand them, nor do they think those teachings are worth learning and memorizing. But when discourses composed by poets—poetry, with fancy words and phrases, composed by outsiders or spoken by disciples—are being recited the mendicants do want to listen. They pay attention and apply their minds to understand them, and they think those teachings are worth learning and memorizing. But when they’ve learned those teachings they don’t question or examine each other, saying: ‘Why does it say this? What does that mean?’ So they don’t clarify what is unclear, or reveal what is obscure, or dispel doubt regarding the many doubtful matters. This is called an assembly educated in fancy talk, not in questioning.

And what is an assembly educated in questioning, not in fancy talk? It is an assembly where, when discourses composed by poets—poetry, with fancy words and phrases, composed by outsiders or spoken by disciples—are being recited the mendicants do not want to listen. They don’t pay attention or apply their minds to understand them, nor do they think those teachings are worth learning and memorizing. But when discourses spoken by the Realized One—deep, profound, transcendent, dealing with emptiness—are being recited the mendicants do want to listen. They pay attention and apply their minds to understand them, and they think those teachings are worth learning and memorizing. And when they’ve learned those teachings they question and examine each other, saying: ‘Why does it say this? What does that mean?’ So they clarify what is unclear, reveal what is obscure, and dispel doubt regarding the many doubtful matters. This is called an assembly educated in questioning, not in fancy talk. These are the two assemblies. The better of these two assemblies is the assembly educated in questioning, not in fancy talk.”


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MN 33 From… Mahāgopālakasutta: The Longer Discourse on the Cowherd—Knowing the ford

…And how does a mendicant not know the ford? It’s when a mendicant doesn’t from time to time go up to those mendicants who are very learned—knowledgeable in the scriptures, who have memorized the teachings, the monastic law, and the outlines—and ask them questions: ‘Why, sir, does it say this? What does that mean?’ Those venerables don’t clarify what is unclear, reveal what is obscure, and dispel doubt regarding the many doubtful matters. That’s how a mendicant doesn’t know the ford.

And how does a mendicant not know satisfaction? It’s when a mendicant, when the teaching and training proclaimed by the Realized One are being taught, finds no inspiration in the meaning and the teaching, and finds no joy connected with the teaching. That’s how a mendicant doesn’t know satisfaction.…



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SN 42.7 Khettūpamasutta: The Simile of the Field

At one time the Buddha was staying near Nālandā in Pāvārika’s mango grove. Then Asibandhaka’s son the chief went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, doesn’t the Buddha live full of compassion for all living beings?”

“Yes, chief.”

“Well, sir, why exactly do you teach some people thoroughly and others less thoroughly?”

“Well then, chief, I’ll ask you about this in return, and you can answer as you like. What do you think? Suppose a farmer has three fields: one’s good, one’s average, and one’s poor—bad ground of sand and salt. What do you think? When that farmer wants to plant seeds, where would he plant them first: the good field, the average one, or the poor one?”

Sir, he’d plant them first in the good field, then the average, then he may or may not plant seed in the poor field. Why is that? Because at least it can be fodder for the cattle.”

To me, the monks and nuns are like the good field. I teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Because they live with me as their island, protection, shelter, and refuge.

To me, the laymen and laywomen are like the average field. I also teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Because they live with me as their island, protection, shelter, and refuge.

To me, the ascetics, brahmins, and wanderers who follow other paths are like the poor field, the bad ground of sand and salt. I also teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Hopefully they might understand even a single sentence, which would be for their lasting welfare and happiness.

Suppose a person had three water jars: one that’s uncracked and nonporous; one that’s uncracked but porous; and one that’s cracked and porous. What do you think? When that person wants to store water, where would they store it first: in the jar that’s uncracked and nonporous, the one that’s uncracked but porous, or the one that’s cracked and porous?”

Sir, they’d store water first in the jar that’s uncracked and nonporous, then the one that’s uncracked but porous, then they may or may not store water in the one that’s cracked and porous. Why is that? Because at least it can be used for washing the dishes.”

“To me, the monks and nuns are like the water jar that’s uncracked and nonporous. I teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Because they live with me as their island, protection, shelter, and refuge.

To me, the laymen and laywomen are like the water jar that’s uncracked but porous. I teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Because they live with me as their island, protection, shelter, and refuge.

To me, the ascetics, brahmins, and wanderers who follow other paths are like the water jar that’s cracked and porous. I also teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Hopefully they might understand even a single sentence, which would be for their lasting welfare and happiness.”

When he said this, Asibandhaka’s son the chief said to the Buddha, “Excellent, sir! Excellent! … From this day forth, may the Buddha remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”


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Thag 17.3 From Ānandattheragāthā: Ānanda

“82,000 from the Buddha,
and 2,000 more from the monks:
84,000 teachings I’ve learned,
and these are what I promulgate.”

“A person of little learning
ages like an ox—
their flesh grows,
but not their wisdom.

A learned person who, on account of their learning,
looks down on someone of little learning,
seems to me like
a blind man holding a lamp.

You should stay close to a learned person—
don’t lose what you’ve learned.
It is the root of the spiritual life,
which is why you should memorize the teaching.

Knowing the sequence and meaning of the teaching,
expert in the interpretation of terms,
they make sure it is well memorized,
and then examine the meaning.

Accepting the teachings, they become enthusiastic;
making an effort, they weigh up the teaching.
When it’s time, they strive
serene inside themselves.

If you want to understand the teaching,
you should befriend the sort of person
who is learned and has memorized the teachings,
a wise disciple of the Buddha.

One who is learned and has memorized the teaching,
a keeper of the great hermit’s treasury,
is a visionary for the whole world,
learned and honorable.

Delighting in the teaching, enjoying the teaching,
contemplating the teaching,
a mendicant who recollects the teaching
doesn’t decline in the true teaching.”


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AN 5.153 Tatiyasammattaniyāmasutta: Inevitability Regarding the Right Path (3rd)

“Mendicants, someone with five qualities is unable to enter the sure path with regards to skillful qualities even when listening to the true teaching. What five?

They listen to the teaching bent only on putting it down.
They listen to the teaching with a hostile, fault-finding mind.
They’re antagonistic to the teacher, planning to attack them.
They’re witless, dull, and stupid.
And they think they know what they don’t know.

Someone with these five qualities is unable to enter the sure path with regards to skillful qualities even when listening to the true teaching.

Someone with five qualities is able to enter the sure path with regards to skillful qualities when listening to the true teaching. What five?

They don’t listen to the teaching bent only on putting it down.
They don’t listen to the teaching with a hostile, fault-finding mind.
They’re not antagonistic to the teacher, and not planning to attack them.
They’re wise, bright, and clever.
And they don’t think they know what they don’t know.

Someone with these five qualities is able to enter the sure path with regards to skillful qualities when listening to the true teaching.”



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AN 4.133 Ugghaṭitaññūsutta: One Who Understands Immediately

“Mendicants, these four people are found in the world. What four?

One who understands immediately,
one who understands after detailed explanation,
one who needs education,
and one who merely learns by rote.

These are the four people found in the world.”


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AN 1.338–345 Catutthavagga: Few and Many

338

“Just as, mendicants, in India the delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds are few, while the hilly terrain, inaccessible riverlands, stumps and thorns, and rugged mountains are many; so too the sentient beings who get to see a Realized One are few, while those who don’t get to see a Realized One are many.

339

… so too the sentient beings who get to hear the teaching and training proclaimed by a Realized One are few, while those sentient beings who don’t get to hear the teaching and training proclaimed by a Realized One are many.

340

… so too the sentient beings who remember the teachings they hear are few, while those who don’t remember the teachings are many.

341

… so too the sentient beings who examine the meaning of the teachings they have memorized are few, while those who don’t examine the meaning of the teachings are many.

342

… so too the sentient beings who understand the meaning and the teaching and practice accordingly are few, while those who understand the meaning and the teaching but don’t practice accordingly are many.

343

… so too the sentient beings inspired by inspiring places are few, while those who are uninspired are many.

344

… so too the sentient beings who, being inspired, strive effectively are few, while those who, even though inspired, don’t strive effectively are many.

345

… so too the sentient beings who, relying on letting go, gain immersion, gain unification of mind are few, while those who don’t gain immersion, don’t gain unification of mind relying on letting go are many.


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Snp 2.8 Dhamma (nāvā) sutta: The Boat

Honor the person from whom you would learn the teaching,
as the gods honor Inda.
Then they will have confidence in you,
and being learned, they reveal the teaching.

Heeding well, a wise pupil
practicing in line with that teaching
grows intelligent, discerning, and subtle
through diligently sticking close to such a person.

But associating with a petty fool
who falls short of the goal, jealous,
then unable to discern the teaching in this life,
one proceeds to death still plagued by doubts.

It’s like a man who has plunged into a river,
a rushing torrent in spate.
As they are swept away downstream,
how could they help others across?

Just so, one unable to discern the teaching,
who hasn’t studied the meaning under the learned,
not knowing it oneself, still plagued by doubts,
how could they help others to contemplate?

But one who has embarked on a strong boat
equipped with rudder and oar,
would bring many others across there
with skill, care, and intelligence.

So too one who understands—a knowledge master,
evolved, learned, and unflappable—
can help others to contemplate,
so long as they are prepared to listen carefully.

That’s why you should spend time with a good person,
intelligent and learned.
Having understood the meaning, putting it into practice,
one who has realized the teaching may find happiness.


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AN 3.67 From Kathāvatthusutta: Topics of Discussion

Those who converse with hostility,
too sure of themselves, arrogant,
ignoble, attacking virtues,
they look for flaws in each other.

They rejoice together when their opponent
speaks poorly and makes a mistake,
becoming confused and defeated—
but the noble ones don’t discuss like this.

If an astute person wants to hold a discussion
connected with the teaching and its meaning—
the kind of discussion that noble ones hold—
then that wise one should start the discussion,

knowing when the time is right,
neither hostile nor arrogant.
Not over-excited,
contemptuous, or aggressive,

or with a mind full of jealousy,
they’d speak from what they rightly know.
They agree with what was well spoken,
without criticizing what was poorly said.

They’d not persist in finding faults,
nor seize on trivial mistakes,
neither intimidating nor crushing the other,
nor would they speak suggestively.

Good people consult
for the sake of knowledge and clarity.
That’s how the noble ones consult,
this is a noble consultation.
Knowing this, an intelligent person
would consult without arrogance.”


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