Desperately seeking Sutta: Which Sutta talks about topics laypeople should not discuss?

Hello, friends. Within the last year-and-a-half, Ajahn Kovilo gave a talk on topics the Buddha said that laypeople should not discuss (like money, war, and kings). I can’t find the talk on the Clear Mountain YouTube channel, so I’m hoping someone here can refer me to the Sutta or Suttas that this could have come from. Thank you.

There are some ascetics and brahmins who, while enjoying food given in faith, still engage in low talk. This includes such topics as talk about kings, bandits, and ministers; talk about armies, threats, and wars; talk about food, drink, clothes, and beds; talk about garlands and fragrances; talk about family, vehicles, villages, towns, cities, and countries; talk about women and heroes; street talk and well talk; talk about the departed; motley talk; tales of land and sea; and talk about being reborn in this or that state of existence. They refrain from such low talk. This pertains to their ethics.

Dn2 and many others.

It’s not lay people. If lay people cannot talk about money, then cannot buy insurance, save money, plan for retirement, invest etc. If cannot talk about war, then cannot do peace activism, protest against war. If cannot talk about kings, then cannot vote intelligently.


Thank you very much. :pray:

Yes, this sutta is describing the ethical and practices of those who have gone forth. The Buddha is asked "Sir, can you point out a fruit of the ascetic life that’s likewise apparent in the present life?” In the sutta, each paragraph begins with “There are some ascetics and brahmins who, while…”, as the Buddha is describing supposedly holy people who are engaging in wrong action. The sutta goes on to switch to right action with “A mendicant thus accomplished in ethics…how does a mendicant guard the sense doors…how does a mendicant have mindfulness and situational awareness…?”

I think those of us in lay life can benefit from reducing the idle chatter about worldly things. Getting overly focused on and worked up about things like politics can lead to inclining the mind towards desire and discontent.

1 Like

Someone on the Clear Mountain Monastery Discord found Ajahn Kovilo’s video on this topic: 27 Topics of Animal Talk | Ajahn Kovilo (

DN 2, SN 56.10, or AN 10.69 contain the injunction for monastics (what you seem to be looking for).
MN 41 or AN 10.176 contain the injunction for laypeople.


The sutta mentioned in that video is SN 56.10, the “Pointless Talk” sutta.
Although addressed to monastics, much of it can surely apply to non-monastics.

Several subjects mentioned there are great favorites on this forum ! (Whether things are really real, philosophical discussions of past and future, etc)




Interesting. I wouldn’t have thought that would be about lay people, just mendicants.

There are suttas where the Buddha advises people how to manage their money and a few where he advises kings what to do about war.

1 Like

As mentioned above, the sutta discussed in the video is addressed to monastics.
The first line is:

Mā, bhikkhave, anekavihitaṁ tiracchānakathaṁ katheyyātha…

Which literally means something like,

‘Monks, you should not discuss these various ‘animal talks’ / ‘low discussions’…

(PED has: “ tiracchāna˚ low, common speech, comprising 28 kinds of conversational talk a bhikkhu should not indulge in)

Certainly, non-monastics need to discuss more mundane subjects than monastics, but this is the ideal presented by the Buddha in several suttas.

I think folks may be taking this too literally. Even monastics would need to work with the monastery stewards on financial things.

What matters is the uselessness of it. And clearly these topics can be a time waster for anyone, not just monastics.


Yes, an excellent point.

Talking about contentious world issues doesn’t lead to Nibbana.

1 Like

True, but neither does splitting hairs on the minutiae of the dhamma, but people have been doing it on Internet Buddhist forums since the 90s. :slight_smile: