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Let's say if a lay person sees fault of a monk (something against the monastic code, or against the Dhamma). Should the lay person just stay silent (thinking it would create bad karma), or should they do something about it (showing the monk what he has done, or letting others know about it)?

Are there any Sutta references on what the Buddha said about this?

I have seen a lot of monks doing things against the monastic code and the Dhamma, and it breaks me up to see that people who know about it are silent; and that, day by day, the Dhamma is fading away because of this. What has the Buddha instructed to a lay person, on situations like this?

Since Buddha Sasana is not only monks and nuns, but also lay man and lay woman as well, what are the lay person's responsibilities towards the Sasana?

(Sutta references are appreciated if any)


Recently me and my Meditation teacher encountered a monk who stated in one of his statement saying that the Buddha has advised lay people not to comprehend the 4 truths but to get rid the 4 states of misery. For me and my teacher, it was shocking since all of Buddhism is based on the 4 truths. Therefore we created a video on the monk's statement and give a detailed explanation on how wrong the statement is and how it should be corrected and we uploaded it on youtube knowing that the messaged would spread to that monk. And within 3 days of time it did.

At first, they didn't accept it but at the end they did accept their statement as wrong. And we took the video down since our mission accomplished. Our intention was for us to show that monk's fault and for him to recognize it and correct it. But now someone people are saying that it's a sin to do that and that we should not intervene with monks' things. But we were to stay silent when Monk themselves are spreading wrong statements, will the sasana survive? Isn't it selfish to stay silent where as we cans how what is right or wrong despite one is a monk or a lay person?

  • Nyom Akila, since a good answer does not only requires extended time and effort but also serious interest to gain understanding and maintain proper attention to make things not even more worse (which is the case why "people knowing" are mostly silent) it's maybe good to answer it after your precept undertaking, since you would understand many things better. If then is still a desire for an answer, let it be known again and it will possible served well then. – Samana Johann Jun 13 '17 at 13:59
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The word sangha is used nowadays to refer to the bhikkhus. This may or may not be true. One does not have to be a bhikkhu to belong to the sangha. An Upāsaka (male) or Upāsikā (female) - lay followers – could also be part of Arya Sangha. Upāsaka and Upāsikā are part of Ariya Sangha, once in the Path. The Ariya Sangha is described as all those who have attained at least the stage of Stream Entrant.

A bhikkhu is someone who has renounced the life of a layman to dedicate himself exclusively to practice, realization, study and teaching of the dhamma. But in the present day and age, there are a great number of bhikkus who have not come to the stage of Stream Entrant. Thus they are not part of Arya Sangha.

There were times when Hattha Āḷavaka Ugga gahapati (householder) preached dhamma to the Bhikkus at the time of Buddha, when no one else came forward to speak on Dhamma..

The Buddha does not advocate superficial unity for its own sake between bhikkhus or amongst bhikkhus and lay followers at the expense of the Dhamma. Buddha instead encourages that the Dhamma be clearly defended against non-Dhamma and that the distinction between the two be kept clear.

Buddha has described in no less than six suttas about what one should do at such an instant. In the Sangha Bedha Sutta (AN 10.1.4.7), Buddha’s instruction is to not advocate superficial unity for its own sake at the expense of the Dhamma, but instead encourages that the Dhamma be clearly defended against non-Dhamma and that the distinction between the two be kept clear. According to the Vinaya, a speaker of non-Dhamma is to be recognized as such if he “explains not-Dhamma as ‘Dhamma’ … Dhamma as ‘not-Dhamma’ … not-Vinaya as ‘Vinaya’ … Vinaya as ‘not-Vinaya’ …

Thus the ability to take a stand requires that one be well-informed about the Buddha’s teachings. A difference of opinion can be rightfully ended only if both sides are able to investigate the grounds and get to the root, and then resolve which side was right, based on the Dhamma and Vinaya.


For more about the Sangha Bedha Sutta, see the Suttas on pages 1389 through 1391 which are titled Schism(1), Schism(2), and Ananda(1) in The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Complete Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya – by Bhikkhu Bodhi; and Schism in the Sangha by Thanissaro Bhikkhu & Geshe Rabten .

  • Recently me and my Meditation teacher encountered a monk who stated in one of his statement saying that the Buddha has advised lay people not to comprehend the 4 truths but to get rid the 4 states of misery. For me and my teacher, it was shocking since all of Buddhism is based on the 4 truths. Therefore we created a video on the monk's statement and give a detailed explanation on how wrong the statement is and how it should be corrected and we uploaded it on youtube knowing that the messaged would spread to that monk. And within 3 days of time it did. – Akila Hettiarachchi Jun 13 '17 at 4:09
  • At first, they didn't accept it but at the end they did accept their statement as wrong. And we took the video down since our mission accomplished. Our intention was for us to show that monk's fault and for him to recognize it and correct it. But now someone people are saying that it's a sin to do that and that we should not intervene with monks' things. But we were to stay silent when Monk themselves are spreading wrong statements, will the sasana survive? Isn't it selfish to stay silent where as we cans how what is right or wrong despite one is a monk or a lay person? – Akila Hettiarachchi Jun 13 '17 at 4:16
  • I don't think that. I'm not sure that, the Sangha Bedha Sutta "encourages that the Dhamma be clearly defended against non-Dhamma": what it does say is that "schism" is when people preach non-Dharma as Dharma, etc. – ChrisW Jun 13 '17 at 5:38
  • Sidecomment, Nyom Saptha Visuddhi, altough usual to exchange "not given" things via pm or email saddly also under "buddhists" it carries even more danger to encourage by sample, even unkowingly, to do so public as well, aside of the meta-issue who did wrong fist. So its good to be careful in regard of links and tendentiously russian or ex-commonist counties origin are often also involved in what is even problematic in wordily legal issues. Just because having seen and having the "feeling" that Nyom rejoices in regard of issues in virtue. – Samana Johann Jun 13 '17 at 12:57
  • The qoute of BMC2 is btw not really in relation with Geshe Rabten. Having wondered about the & in this origin an followed. Nyom may make use of bmc2 invited and without wordily strings if liking as well as all others for their skillful undertakings. – Samana Johann Jun 13 '17 at 13:17
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You must first look to things within your own control that could contribute to or even cause the behavior you observed. A minor change on OUR part can often lead to the results you desire and not bring embarrassment to a colleague.

A person is only in our world of awareness because we choose them to be so we must always examine the weakness we observed from our own perspective first. WE control our world.

damyata datta dayadhvam

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The suttas state in places (I can't quote all of them off-hand) that laypeople should strongly critique the behaviour of monks before establishing faith in those monks. Example, MN 95:

Here, Bhāradvāja, a bhikkhu may be living in dependence on some village or town. Then a householder or a householder’s son goes to him and investigates him in regard to three kinds of states in regard to states based on greed, in regard to states based on hate, and in regard to states based on delusion. MN 95

Misbehaviour of monks can be reported to other monks.

Note that it was often lay people's criticism that brought the monk's wrong doings to the attention of the Buddha.

The Bhikkhus' Rules A Guide for Laypeople

The suttas rarely report the Buddha taught lay people the 4 truths but, instead, the Buddha mostly teaches laypeople to develop morality for a heavenly rebirth.

For example, in his 1st sermon (SN 56.11), the Buddha states the 4 truths are for those who have left the household life.

Bhikkhus, these two extremes should not be followed by one who has gone forth into homelessness. What two? The pursuit of sensual happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial; and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata has awakened to the middle way, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. SN 56.11

DN 31 states the duty of a monk is to teach the path to heaven (and not Nibbana).

The ascetics and brahmans thus ministered to as the Zenith by a householder show their compassion towards him in six ways:

(i) they restrain him from evil,

(ii) they persuade him to do good,

(iii) they love him with a kind heart,

(iv) they make him hear what he has not heard,

(v) they clarify what he has already heard,

(vi) they point out the path to a heavenly state.

DN 31

MN 143 describes how the teaching of non-attachment was rarely taught to Buddhist lay people but to only those gone forth.

This sort of talk on the Dhamma, householder, is not given to lay people clad in white. This sort of talk on the Dhamma is given to those gone forth. MN 143

  • "In that case, Ven. Sariputta, please let this sort of talk on the Dhamma be given to lay people clad in white. There are clansmen with little dust in their eyes who are wasting away through not hearing [this] Dhamma. There will be those who will understand it." – Akila Hettiarachchi Jun 13 '17 at 7:54
  • In MN143 Anathapindika requests Ven. Sariputta to teach these sort of dhamma to lay people. So doesn't that mean any lay people who wish to attain Sotapanna should (to get rid of the 4 states of misery) should learn this dhamma? – Akila Hettiarachchi Jun 13 '17 at 7:55
  • In MN 56, the Buddha taught the 4NTs to a Jain lay person, who attained stream-entry. in MN 97, the Buddha admonished Sariputta for not teaching a Brahman the four noble truths. But generally this was not what was done. There are many lay stream-enterers in the sutta but I would image they requested the higher teachings or were taught the higher teachings because the Buddha knew they were capable of penetrating. As I posted, the general duty was to teach laypeopel morality, such as in MN 60, DN 31, AN 10.176 & SN 55.7. Regards – Dhammadhatu Jun 13 '17 at 8:03
  • What is important is to think about the different individual lay people. Most lay people crave for rebirth rather than non-attachment. Each person must be taught on a person by person basis. Therefore, when giving a public address, generally morality was taught. But if teaching an individual, the 4 four truths can be taught if the individual appears suitable. Myself, I only teach supramundane dhamma & never rebirth. Regards. – Dhammadhatu Jun 13 '17 at 8:09
  • In MN 97 at the end it states "But why, Sariputta — when there was still more to be done, having established Dhanañjanin the brahman in the inferior Brahma world — did you get up from your seat and leave?" "The thought occurred to me, lord, 'These brahmans are set on the Brahma worlds. What if I were to teach Dhanañjanin the brahman the path to union with the Brahmas?'" "Sariputta, Dhanañjanin the brahman has died and reappeared in the Brahma world." But I don't see anything in regard of the buddha admonishing Sariputta to not to teach the truths. What did u mean by that? -Metta – Akila Hettiarachchi Jun 13 '17 at 8:12
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Ignorant monk must avoid ignorant monk.

Ignorant monk must avoid ignorant layman.

Ignorant layman must avoid ignorant monk.

Ignorant layman must avoid ignorant layman.

Graduated monks/laymans must know who is possible to enlighten after listen their teaching. They also must know who will never understand their teaching to avoid them.

You must know ṭhana and aṭhana before decide to do something. See dhammaññūsutta.

What mahavihara theravada buddhist monks must memorized and learn?

see: Beginer Buddhist Course Syllabus By Ancient Pali Canon (Ganthadhura And Vipassanādhura)

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