Even good dhamma-talks can be too long!

AN 9.4 Venerable Nandaka was instructing, encouraging, inspiring, and gladdening the bhikkhus in the assembly hall with a Dhamma talk. Then, in the evening, the Blessed One emerged from seclusion and went to the assembly hall. He stood outside the door waiting for the talk to end. When he knew that the talk was finished, he cleared his throat and tapped on the bolt. The bhikkhus opened the door for him. The Blessed One then entered the assembly hall, sat down on the seat that was prepared for him, and said to the Venerable Nandaka: “You gave the bhikkhus a long exposition of the Dhamma. My back was aching while I stood outside the door waiting for the talk to end.”

Is this an advertising for middle length discourses? Keep it crisp :slight_smile:

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I hope this is not too much off topic, but here is another passage that made me laugh out loud (MA22):

World-honored One, a senior monk is esteemed and revered by his companions in the holy life if he possesses five qualities. […]

The World-honored One asked:
Baijing, if a senior monk does not possess these five qualities, for what [other] reason should he be esteemed and revered by his companions in the holy life?

World-honored One, if a senior monk does not possess these five qualities, there is no other reason that he should be esteemed and revered by his companions in the holy life. Only for his advanced age, hoary hair, lost teeth, deteriorating health, hunched body, unsteady step, over-weight body, shortness of breath, reliance on a walking cane, shrinking flesh, sagging skin, wrinkles like pockmarks, failing sense faculties, and unsightly complexion might his companions in the holy life still esteem and revere him.

The World-honored One said:
Indeed so! […]

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That is funny now that you point it out. I didn’t see that angle before, because I just assumed many asian cultures followed Confucian types of parental/elder obedience/respect based on chronological age. In countless real examples, it’s not too funny, more tragic.

Edit: Clarifying what I mean from the original message above (unedited).
I was responding to Erik’s observation from the sutta passsage[quote=“Erik_ODonnell, post:2, topic:5430”]
World-honored One, if a senior monk does not possess these five qualities, there is no other reason that he should be esteemed and revered by his companions in the holy life. Only for his advanced age, hoary hair, lost teeth, deteriorating health, hunched body, unsteady step, over-weight body, shortness of breath, reliance on a walking cane, shrinking flesh, sagging skin, wrinkles like pockmarks, failing sense faculties, and unsightly complexion might his companions in the holy life still esteem and revere him.
[/quote]

Here are some Confucian real life examples I was thinking about but did not illustrate in my original post.

Kids obediently following their parents orders to do things that are wrong or unskillful.
Kids obediently following their elders (teachers, parents, grandparents) to marry someone they don’t love, someone they don’t want to marry.
Kids obediently bearing many offspring because their parents and elders want them to.
Students of spiritual teachers turning a blind eye to wrong doing on the teachers part, even to criminal behavior, because of the confucian ideal of respecting elders.

I could go on and on, but that’s the general idea. In my examples, sometimes it can be humorous, but in many cases tragic, as choices of choosing a profession, marrying someone, having kids. This can negatively impact your life for decades.

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Thanks for this, as I don’t believe I’ve ever read that before! it is funny and timely for me, I’ve had multiple sources lately, in our retreat evals and on the net, talking about doing dhamma talks less then an hour, as is common at our retreats here at Bhavana. Back in my lay life when I was a foster/adoptive home recruiter and doing a lot of talks, what I learned from classes with professional speakers and studies was that no matter how good you are, past 45 minutes you will start to lose most people.

I did an outside retreat this weekend and instead of one 1 hour talk I did two half hours, and separated all the events into more manageable chunks, seemed to work out much better.

Have you ever wondered why TED-talks are 18 minutes long? That’s because this is exactly one unit of optimal attention span.

The optimal attention span for an audience, i.e. the attention span that can be comfortably held by an interested human engaged in listening to a speaker, is not five to ten minutes. Instead, it is approximately twenty (20) minutes. In fact it is slightly less, somewhere in the 18-to-20 span, but twenty minutes is a decent and practical rough idea. Some people can hold their attention even longer, but they are outliers. After twenty minutes, no matter how interested we are, our focus is depleted, and will unless corrective action is taken erode steadily until we literally aren’t listening any longer. Now, this does not mean that people will automatically focus for that amount of time. On the contrary, unless carefully guided, people will lose focus after just a few minutes — for instance the aforementioned five.

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This may tell us something about why most of the Suttas are short and succinct.

The long ones are either expanded by narratives around who was where and did what or depicts a one-on-one conversation between the Buddha (or a senior disciple) and a counterpart.

Not sure if most would fit in TED-like 20 minutes talks but surely were not too long either.