Teaching others

The suttas contain a number of practical guidelines - it’s akin to an Instructions-for-use (IFU) manual for an appliance (i.e. mind).

Are there any such guidelines intended for teaching others? I’m aware of AN3.33 - any other sources expanding more on the subject of teaching others?

I just started going through the suttas since a couple of months so the expertise from you other seasoned practitioners is much appreciated. :slight_smile: Thanks in advance!

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What immediately comes to mind are how to speak and answer questions which are both important for teaching: AN 4.42 and AN 5.198. I can’t recall one teaching one how to teach, but I have a feeling there may be one.

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Excellent - looks like a good lead!

Many thanks :slight_smile:

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Three suttas come to mind:

AN 5.159

“It’s not easy to teach the Dhamma to others, Ananda. The Dhamma should be taught to others only when five qualities are established within the person teaching. Which five?

“[1] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, ‘I will speak step-by-step.’

“[2] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, ‘I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].’

“[3] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, ‘I will speak out of compassion.’

“[4] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, ‘I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.’

“[5] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, ‘I will speak without hurting myself or others.’

DN 31

“In five ways should teachers as the southern direction be respected by a student: by rising for them, regularly attending lessons, eagerly desiring to learn, duly serving them, and receiving instruction.

“And, teachers so respected reciprocate with compassion in five ways: by training in self-discipline, ensuring the teachings are well-grasped, instructing in every branch of knowledge, introducing their friends and colleagues, and providing safeguards in every direction."

MN 137

‘There are three foundations of mindfulness that the Noble One cultivates, cultivating which the Noble One is a teacher fit to instruct a group.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said?

“Here, bhikkhus, compassionate and seeking their welfare, the Teacher teaches the Dhamma to the disciples out of compassion: ‘This is for your welfare; this is for your happiness.’ His disciples do not want to hear or give ear or exert their minds to understand; they err and turn aside from the Teacher’s Dispensation. With that the Tathāgata is not satisfied and feels no satisfaction; yet he dwells unmoved, mindful, and fully aware. This, bhikkhus, is called the first foundation of mindfulness that the Noble One cultivates, cultivating which the Noble One is a teacher fit to instruct a group.

“Furthermore, bhikkhus, compassionate and seeking their welfare, the Teacher teaches the Dhamma to the disciples out of compassion: ‘This is for your welfare; this is for your happiness.’ Some of his disciples will not hear or give ear or exert their minds to understand; they err and turn aside from the Teacher’s Dispensation. Some of his disciples will hear and give ear and exert their minds to understand; they do not err and turn aside from the Teacher’s Dispensation. With that the Tathāgata is not satisfied and feels no satisfaction, and he is not dissatisfied and feels no dissatisfaction; remaining free from both satisfaction and dissatisfaction, he dwells in equanimity, mindful, and fully aware. This, bhikkhus, is called the second foundation of mindfulness that the Noble One cultivates, cultivating which the Noble One is a teacher fit to instruct a group.

“Furthermore, bhikkhus, compassionate and seeking their welfare, the Teacher teaches the Dhamma to the disciples out of compassion: ‘This is for your welfare; this is for your happiness.’ His disciples will hear and give ear and exert their minds to understand; they do not err and turn aside from the Teacher’s Dispensation. With that the Tathāgata is satisfied and feels satisfaction; yet he dwells unmoved, mindful, and fully aware. This, bhikkhus, is called the third foundation of mindfulness that the Noble One cultivates, cultivating which the Noble One is a teacher fit to instruct a group.

“So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘There are three foundations of mindfulness that the Noble One cultivates, cultivating which the Noble One is a teacher fit to instruct a group.’

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Great :slightly_smiling_face:

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Any insight into what AN 5.159 means by

‘I will speak without hurting myself or others.’

I got a mental picture of a speaker hitting himself with a pointer. :sunglasses:



This is a good read.


Skill in Questions: How the Buddha Taught
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
(Geoffrey DeGraff)

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Hehe. Yes, some people shouldn’t be entrusted with pointy objects.

I interpret this as meaning that one doesn’t speak in ways that feed the unwholesome qualities (greed, aversion, delusion) in oneself or others. “Hurting myself” could also include speaking in a way that creates a bad reputation for oneself among the wise. “Hurting others” could also include speech that is false, divisive, harsh, and time-wasting.

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The Sallekha sutta also comes to mind, MN 8 comes to mind. See part under ‘the Way to Extinguishing’:

“Cunda, that one who is himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is impossible; that one who is not himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is possible. That one who is himself untamed, undisciplined, with defilements unextinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish his defilements is impossible; that one who is himself tamed, disciplined, with defilements extinguished, should tame another, discipline him, and help extinguish his defilements is possible.

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_____ :+1:

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@Linda
The provision of a list of 44 items that lead to effacement in MN8 is particularly comprehensive and noteworthy.
I’m glad I can go back to this sutta in this context.

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@Christine I started a thread on teaching as well here: Buddha's teaching methods

With metta

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@Mat
That’s very convenient! Thanks :slight_smile:

How about:

MN137
AN4.111
AN5.159
AN10.24

There’s at least aspects of how to teach in all of those.

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