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Looking for a sutta reference : advice from the Buddha about teaching the Dhamma

Hello friends,

I have a vivid memory of a Sutta wherein the Buddha describes how to maintain equanimity when teaching the Dhamma to monks: some will like/understand his teaching, some will misunderstand/dislike his teaching, some will not get it at all… The gist is no matter how the monks respond on any give day, one must keep on, keepin’ on! (I paraphrase…)

Any thoughts on where this might be found? I have been searching to no avail.

It’s related to the Eight Wordly Winds, but not exactly that set of teachings.

Thanks in advance for any guidance!

Upayadhi

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Welcome to the forum @Upayadhi!
Great question! I’m sure someone will be able to provide you with a satisfactory answer.

If you have any general questions about the forum you can also post it on this thread or send a PM to @helpdesk-dd for technical assistance or @moderators for advice and clarification.

All the best!
Ficus

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There is AN 5.159 but several things differ.

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A search for “eight worldly conditions” leads to the following Suttas (which are amazingly few, actually):

  • AN 4.192
  • AN 8.5
  • AN 8.6
  • AN 10.27
  • DN 33
  • DN 34

In AN 10.27, some mendicants have a conversation with wanderers of other sects where those wanderers say:

AN10.27:3.1: “Reverends, the ascetic Gotama teaches his disciples like this: ‘Please, mendicants, directly know all things. Meditate having directly known all things.’ We too teach our disciples: ‘Please, reverends, directly know all things. Live having directly known all things.’ What, then, is the difference between the ascetic Gotama’s teaching and instruction and ours?”

Those mendicants go to the Buddha and ask him that question, and he replies:

AN10.27:9.1: “Mendicants, when wanderers who follow other paths say this, you should say to them: ‘One thing: question, passage for recitation, and answer. Two … three … four … five … six … seven … eight … nine … ten things: question, passage for recitation, and answer.’

Questioned like this, the wanderers who follow other paths would be stumped, and, in addition, would get frustrated.

Why is that? Because they’re out of their element.

I don’t see anyone in this world—with its gods, Māras, and Brahmās, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its gods and humans—who could provide a satisfying answer to these questions except for the Realized One or his disciple or someone who has heard it from them.

Then the Buddha goes on to explain these sets of “question, passage for recitation, and answer” and for the number eight mentions the eight worldly conditions.

Could this be what you are looking for?

But thank you anyway for your question. It made me add “eight worldly conditions” to the Voice examples—which will help make Voice still a better application. :pray:

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Thank you Paul1 and Sabbamitta for these references. I will explore them indeed!
Sabbamitta, I appreciate your elaborating on AN10.27.3, I was not familiar with this interesting sutta. It’s not quite the sutta I was looking for, which is more about guidance for teaching the Dhamma, and not getting thrown by the fact that not everyone will praise you, or that sometimes people will indeed praise you. It’s about the equanimity of the teacher, and less about distinguishing what the Buddha taught from other schools, or the nature of the Dhamma itself. I wish I had written it down! Still on the hunt, but I will look into the references you have shared.
In gratitude,
Upayadhi :pray:

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DN29 ??

Take the case where a teacher is awakened, and the teaching is well explained and well propounded, emancipating, leading to peace, proclaimed by someone who is a fully awakened Buddha. A disciple in that teaching does not practice in line with the teachings, does not practice following that procedure, does not live in line with the teaching. They proceed having turned away from that teaching. You should say this to them, ‘It’s your loss, reverend, it’s your misfortune! For your teacher is awakened, and their teaching is well explained and well propounded, emancipating, leading to peace, proclaimed by someone who is a fully awakened Buddha. But you don’t practice in line with that teaching, you don’t practice following that procedure, you don’t live in line with the teaching. You proceed having turned away from that teaching.’ In such a case the teacher and the teaching deserve praise, but the disciple is to blame…
Etc. Etc.

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It is recommended you look at this passage, which puts equanimity in the perspective of practitioners. It means that equanimity is not effective on all occasions for dealing with unwholesome thoughts, in some instances action is necessary. “Exerting a fabrication” means using tactics as described in MN 20. Equanimity is itself a tactic and has an agenda- the removal of stress.
The Buddha does not specify which causes of stress to apply either equanimity or action towards, as this must be a product of personal observation as to their success.

“He discerns that ‘When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.’ So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the fabrication of exertion is exhausted & the stress resulting from the cause of stress for which there is dispassion through the development of equanimity is exhausted.”—MN 101

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Rediscovered 2000 years later as the Serenity prayer… :laughing:

“grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference”

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I think you’re thinking of the end of MN 137:

The Noble One cultivates the establishment of mindfulness in three cases, by virtue of which they are a Teacher worthy to instruct a group.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it?

The first case is when the Teacher teaches the Dhamma out of kindness and compassion: ‘This is for your welfare. This is for your happiness.’ But their disciples don’t want to listen. They don’t pay attention or apply their minds to understand. They proceed having turned away from the Teacher’s instruction. In this case the Realized One is not displeased, he does not feel displeasure. He remains unaffected, mindful and aware. This is the first case in which the Noble One cultivates the establishment of mindfulness.
(…etc…)

I remember it well because the former Sangharaj (“Pope”) of Thailand wrote a small book on how monks should contemplate feelings which ends with this memorable passage. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I think you’ve nailed it Venerable! :+1: :+1: :+1:

(This is exactly the passage that came to mind when I read the OP… it was driving me crazy not being able to find it! :joy: :rofl:… )

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Note that in MN 137 there are two types of equanimity, followed by a third state where the process of fabrication is abandoned altogether.

"There is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity; and there is equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness.

"And what is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity? There is equanimity with regard to forms, equanimity with regard to sounds…smells…tastes…tactile sensations [& ideas: this word appears in one of the recensions]. This is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity.”

This process involves first constructing then dismantling one form before moving on to another, as the practice progresses. So equanimity is a fabricated feeling. In fact the only difference between equanimity and the fabrications of exertion is that it requires much less effort (Thanissaro), and therein lies an allure.

The following shows that equanimity is indeed a developed factor, but that work is only possible when the mind is in a particular state.

First the sutta explains that when the mind is restless that is not the time to develop investigation, energy and joy. Then it goes on:

“Now, on occasions when the mind is restless, that is the right time to develop calm as a factor for awakening, concentration as a factor for awakening, equanimity as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is easy to still with those mental qualities. Just as if a man, wanting to put out a large fire, were to place wet grass in it, wet cow dung, & wet sticks; were to give it a spray of water and smother it with dust. Is it possible that he would put it out?”

“Yes, lord.”

"In the same way, monks, when the mind is restless, that is the right time to develop calm as a factor for awakening, concentration as a factor for awakening, equanimity as a factor for awakening. Why is that? The restless mind is easy to still with those mental qualities.”—SN 46.53

Most practitioners would recognize the equanimity that comes from multiplicity.

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Thank you for this, Bhante. This phrase will go to the Voice examples terms. It appears in three places in the canon.

In the case of DN 12 the teacher whose disciples don’t want to listen is criticized, even if they have themselves reached the goal of their path, for
not being able to teach in a way that the students are listening.

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YES! This is it! Thank you so much, I was really struggling to find this reference. Much gratitude, Venerable! … And gratitude to everyone else on this thread, lovely exploration of questions about equanimity.

:pray:In gratitude - Upayadhi

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Just a quick note @Upayadhi , you can mark @Khemarato.bhikkhu 's response as the answer to this Q&A topic/discussion. :anjal:

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I’m having a little brain malfunction :smile: and am a bit confused about those passages at the end of MN137. Is The Buddha describing the qualities of mindfulness in ‘other teachers’, yet the mindfulness he describes is his own? Do these passages relate to aryans who teach or only to the Tatagatha?

I copy an extract from Bhantes Sujatos translation below, but can’t copy from the PDF file that Ven @Khemarato.bhikkhu provided above, so just quote an indicative sentence from it.

*‘The Noble One cultivates the establishment of mindfulness in three cases, by virtue of which they are a Teacher worthy to instruct a group.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it?

The first case is when the Teacher teaches the Dhamma out of kindness and compassion: ‘This is for your welfare. This is for your happiness.’ But their disciples don’t want to listen. They don’t pay attention or apply their minds to understand. They proceed having turned away from the Teacher’s instruction. In this case the Realized One is not displeased, he does not feel displeasure. He remains unaffected, mindful and aware. This is the first case in which the Noble One cultivates the establishment of mindfulness.* - Sujato translation

And from the booklet linked by Ven Khemarato.bhikkhu above

“There are 3 arousings of mindfulness, each of which an Ariyan practises, and practicing which, is an Aryan who is a teacher fit to instruct a group”. It then goes on to talk about such a teacher, and then continues with reference to the Tatagatha.

So who is the subject of the 3 forms of mindfulness with regard to teaching - Ariyans who are worthy to be teachers, or the Tatagatha? As such, is it advice about teaching of the Dhamma generally, or is it a description of himself as teacher? Logically it would seem to be advice on how to teach with equanimity, it’s just that I find the terms confusing.

Added: Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi translates that passage as follows
“There are 3 foundations of mindfulness that the Noble One is a teacher fit to instruct a group” …
“With that the Tatagatha is not satisfied”…
“… is called the first foundation of mindfulness that the Noble One cultivatres, cultivating which, the Noble one is a teacher fit to instruct a group”.

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