Looking for information about an event where a lay buddhist teaches dhamma to bhikkhus

Dear person.
I hope this post finds you healthy and happy.

I’m looking for information about an event where a lay buddhist teaches dhamma to bhikkhus or where the Buddha refers to a layman teaching bhikkhus.

With mettā


Hello Bhante,

There are several suttas in SN41 Cittasaṃyutta where Citta the householder teaches bhikkhus.


And the link to Citta Vagga of the Citta Saṃyutta is found below:



Oh yeah it happens. But there is not alot information on how they approach sometimes. But the Sangha in the time of Budhha seems more lax. There was a instance a Laypersons walks with Buddha while he was doing mindfulness walking and started to talk without permission. Nowadays you probably do not do that with every monk. We tend to respect more nowadays. But in Suttas what I seem to Notice is that if a layperson teaches it must be for a reason. In the case of Citta the householder he was already praised by Buddha. After Buddha does a praise of a layperson like that. Monks see the layperson as someone to learn from. That might be one case. The other is only if something was said in front of them not correct or incomplete, so they explain more as they know.

Something also to consider
For example I had the experience of recommending a practice to a 2 year Vassa Bhikkhu. But I will never do that to a Senior Elder. Or the Abbot. Always ask vassa first time visiting a monastery then later you will not be embarrassed trying to teach a 20 year old Vassa Monk. They might be quiet but usually they figured their practice. But there always something small that you can say if you think they probably don’t know. Experienced something like that also. But it was a unimportant vinaya. :joy:


Perfect example, Gabriel.

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It was venerable @vimalanyani who pointed us to these beautiful texts. :anjal:


Thank you all for giving your time to help me.


What I meant with praises by Buddha is like this Householder. As you see he knows Buddha’s teaching and even have a group. So a junior monk can learn from him but Citta the Householder is also accomplished Householder. So he understands better Dhamma then if a monk is not accomplished.

Another thing I noticed these laypersons took celibate vow. Like here mentioned. But there conviction is higher also

There might be other cases that others are not celibate I see that one and Citta the householder is celibate I don’t know about the others

As householders Buddha recommended for laypersons to wish to be like Citta. He is the example we as householders have. For more teaching about him search Great Disciples of the Buddha. He is in there. :heart:

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Here we find Buddha forcing a Bhikkhu to ask pardon to Citta the Householder. Such respect towards him in vinaya

  1. So the venerable Sudhamma gathered together his sleeping mat, and set out, with his bowl and his robe, for Sāvatthi. And he journeyed straight on to Sāvatthi, to the Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Grove, to the place where the Blessed One was; and on arriving there he bowed down before the Blessed One, and took his seat on one side. And when he was thus seated the venerable Sudhamma informed the Blessed One of all, both that he himself had said, and that Citta the householder had said.

The Blessed Buddha rebuked him, saying, ‘This was improper, O foolish one, not according to rule, unsuitable, unworthy of a Samaṇa, and ought not to have been. done. How is it that you, O foolish one, could put down[6] and could lower by your censure[7]Citta the householder, he being a man of faith, a believing disciple, and a donor, a provider, and a supporter of the Saṃgha?’ This will not conduce, O foolish one, either to the conversion of the unconverted, or to the increase of the converted; but rather to the unconverted not being converted, and to the turning back of those who have been converted.’ And after he had rebuked him, and had delivered a religious discourse, he addressed the Bhikkhus, and said: ‘Let therefore the Saṃgha, O Bhikkhus, carry out the Paṭisāraṇiya-kamma (Act of Reconciliation)[8] against the BhikkhuSudhamma, saying, “You are to ask and obtain pardon of Citta the householder.”’


Namo Upasaka Citta. :pray:t4::pray:t4::pray:t4:


Thank you for your commitment.

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I forgot that the reason was teaching the monk.:man_facepalming:t3: and he felt abused by the teaching. I now reread and remember I did read it once already but I forgot. :joy:

Though then, Sir, there is so much treasure in the ward of the Buddhas, yet there is but one thing of which the venerable Sudhamma makes mention, and that is tila seed cake. Long ago, Sir, certain merchants of Dakkhiṇāpatha went, for the sake of their traffic, to the country of the East, and thence they brought back a hen. Now, Sir, that hen made acquaintance with a crow, and gave birth to a chicken. And, Sir, whenever that chicken tried to utter the cry of a cock it gave vent to a “caw,” and whenever it tried to utter the cry of a crow, it gave vent to a “cock-a-doodle-do[5].” Just even so, Sir, though there is much treasure in the ward of the Buddhas, when-ever the venerable Sudhamma speaks, the sound is “tila seed cake.”’

And it’s actually funny.

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Does this precedence translate to today being acceptable for a monastic to receive dharma teachings from a lay person? What are the conventions around this? There are a lot of solid lay dharma teachers out there, and if one wanted to learn something from one of them in regards to meditation or something else, would it be acceptable?

Monks constantly go study a course and is taught by even a non-Buddhist. As long as it’s something they still don’t know. It’s normal like in the case of Citta the Householder. It was somethings the monks seemed unsure about. But the truth of case of Citta the Householder is that the monks was probably doing interrogation or debating of Dharma. Anyone can join and show their knowledge. It’s done by monks still in Tibet. Look for A introduction to debates in Tibetan Buddhism

I am aware the Tibetans do. But the Tibetans have a very different way of interpreting the Vinaya compared to the much stricter Theravadins. I say this without judgment (except for the part that lay support of western monastics in the Tibetan tradition is very much lacking and this is a problem). Anyway, just wanted to know what the policy (for Theravadins) would be for, say, going in a two week retreat under the guidance of a lay teacher, for example. The Tibetans would definitely do this. Just curious about the Theravadins

Theravadins seems strict, but they are mostly not. Visit many monasteries if you can. Mostly in Theravada countries they go courses and the teacher is layperson. If there is good intention why not? Never seen Senior monks with kids monks infront a woman English teacher? They do it. Because there a vinaya rule if that what your asking. But actually sadly just like Tibetans Vinaya is not followed fully anymore. But there is this one vinaya that forbids a monk being alone with a lay woman. But in the case of bunch of monks in a classroom with one teacher woman there is not breaking the rule but even then for long time most Buddhist countries since are revival movements they are more lax in Vinaya. But strict Theravada revivals movement of strict adherence to Vinaya are few. For example Thai Forest Tradition and in Sri Lanka you have also a couple of their own Forest tradition. Now in Theravada Buddhism mostly Forest traditions follows vinaya.

But since the rule in Vinaya doesn’t I think a rule against being taught by Laypersons it’s not problem at all. Just in the case of woman but like I said how can the rule be broken if there many other monks in class or other laypersons also.

What happened in Tibet is not actually the Bodhisattva tradition like Buddhism started with. Bodhisattvas strictly also followed vinaya in the beginning. They where Forest dwellers also. As it was recommended by Buddha. So vinaya was known Buddha to be customized according to a region in India. So that’s what actually they do in Theravada. Certain rules where established because laypersons etc but some of the rules is not needed in modern countries. Laypersons are more lax. Since we are lax monastic can be lax also. But everyone have different tradition in Theravada.

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