Please help find a specific Buddhist sutta

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by one_raven, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    I was hoping someone could help me find a sutta from the Pali Canon…

    One is a discourse in which Siddhartha is talking about the importance one-on-one teaching of the Dhamma... He speaks of different people requiring different paths to the same truth. I can’t remember if he went as far as saying that some people require lies to be led to the truth, but the implication was that different people have different perspectives, experiences and preconceptions – therefore the teacher must know the student in order to be able to use those things to convey a proper understanding of the truth.

    I don't remember if he was explicitly referring to why his teachings should not be written down, but it was when I realized that was why he wrote nothing down.

    I can’t remember where to find this discourse. Do you know?

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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I'm sorry that I don't know the sutta that you are referring to. There are lots of suttas in which the Buddha discusses teachings, teachers and the value of what he calls 'spiritual friends'.

    Obviously the Buddha addressed the concerns and situations of the people that he was speaking to. He spoke of family life to householders, even though he was a forest monastic himself. He counseled kings on how to ethically rule their kingdoms. And the same principle applies to how he taught different monks in his order, addressing their issues, problems and concerns.

    But I think that the much stronger idea that the Dhamma that the Buddha taught to some people was so different from the Dhamma that he taught others as to sometimes be inconsistent, might be a later development in the tradition, associated with the rise of the Mahayana.

    In the Khetta Desana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 42.7) the Buddha actually seems to deny doing such a thing. In that sutta he talks about three kinds of farm fields, fertile, middling and infertile, using it as an analogy with three kinds of hearers of his Dhamma. After he mentions each one, the Buddha speaks of the Dhamma that he teaches to them. And significantly, that reference is word-for-word identical in each instance.

    There are other suttas in which the Buddha contrasts himself with the Brahmins, who had secret doctrines that they only revealed to other Brahmins and not to outsiders. The Buddha denied that he kept anything hidden in his closed fist and said that he taught everything to everybody who wanted to hear it.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
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