Seeking clarification on MN67

The first part of MN67 until section 13.7 describes the newly ordained monks making a terrible racket, being dismissed by the teacher, and subsequently being readmitted after the Sākyans and Brahmā Sahampati intervene to restore the teacher’s confidence.

After this, the teacher starts section 14.1 by talking about the four dangers - of anger and distress, gluttony, sensual stimulation and women.

These two parts read like self-contained stories in themselves, and I don’t understand the connection between these two parts. A guess - perhaps the teacher welcomed the monks back to instruct them specifically on these four dangers? Does anyone know the details?

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This is an interesting one.

Given that the group was made up of newly ordained bhikkhus, who were clearly immature and undeveloped, it seems that they were not in the right frame of mind to listen to any instructions. The dismissal seemed to serve as a wake up call, which is not uncommon (see Ud 3.3 below). The four dangers mentioned sound like situations that cause the newly ordained to disrobe, so it is a sound teaching for those who’ve just gone forth.

The Buddha also seemed to use the dismissal as an exercise for his two chief disciples, clearly wanting to know how they would handle the group if the Buddha decided to no longer instruct them, which is interesting. Why would Ven. Sāriputta assume that he and Ven. Moggallāna would follow the Buddha in remaining passive, and why was Ven. Moggallāna so sure they would continue teaching them?

Take a look at the parallel Ud 3.3:

“Go away, mendicants, I dismiss you. You are not to stay in my presence.”

“Yes, sir,” replied those mendicants. They got up from their seats, bowed, and respectfully circled the Buddha, keeping him on their right. They set their lodgings in order and left, taking their bowls and robes. Traveling stage by stage in the land of the Vajjis, they arrived at the Vaggumudā River. They built leaf huts near the riverbank and there they entered the rainy season.

Then Venerable Yasoja, having entered the rainy season, addressed the mendicants: “Out of compassion, reverends, the Buddha dismissed us, wanting what’s best for us. Come, let us live in such a way that the Buddha would be pleased with us.” “Yes, reverend,” they replied. Then those mendicants, living alone, withdrawn, diligent, keen, and resolute, all realized the three knowledges in that same rainy season.

The key difference here is that these monks were clearly not immature and knew what they had to, so a dismissal with no follow-up instructions was sufficient.

Not sure if I’ve convinced you of anything, but hopefully this is a start.


I am not certain what is unclear here. Sutta says they were newly ordained, so it fits perfectly well with the instructions given to them.

Regarding why they were dismissed - it is also clearly stated in the Sutta, they were simply too noisy, and Lord Buddha as any lover of seclusion really didn’t like noise.

Then, when the night had passed, the brahmin householders of Icchānaṅgala took abundant food of various kinds and went to the Icchānaṅgala woodland thicket. They stood outside the entrance making an uproar and a racket. Now on that occasion the Venerable Nāgita was the Blessed One’s attendant. The Blessed One then addressed the Venerable Nāgita: “Who is making such an uproar and a racket, Nāgita? One would think it was fishermen at a haul of fish.”

“Bhante, these are the brahmin householders of Icchānaṅgala who have brought abundant food of various kinds. They are standing outside the entrance, [wishing to offer it] to the Blessed One and the Saṅgha of bhikkhus.”

“Let me never come upon fame, Nāgita, and may fame never catch up with me. One who does not gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, this bliss of renunciation, bliss of solitude, bliss of peace, bliss of enlightenment that I gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, might accept that vile pleasure, that slothful pleasure, the pleasure of gain, honor, and praise.” AN VIII 87

Of course there could be also some other reasons but we cannot be certain… How we see this story in details largely depends on our background. For me any sound which does not come from nature, is rather painful so the story in Sutta -in my eyes (ears?) is rather self-explanatory :smiling_face:

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Thank you @SDC for sharing UD3.3 - I learnt something today. The parallels between two passages are very interesting firstly because of the monks making a racket and being admonished, but secondly also because the teacher was using the situation to test his own senior disciples. In UD3.3 it was Ananda himself who was being tested just as his two chief disciples were being tested in MN67.

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