What is meant by the impossibility "A Buddha can not help someone not related to him, no relative of him"?

Is said to be one of the three things a/the Buddha can not do. How should that be understood? And what is needed to become one that a Buddha could help? Who is a relative, are the relatives, of the Buddha?

[Related and given in tiven sphere: Buddha can not help one not related to him? Buddha kann keinem "Fremden" nicht helfen?.

(Note that this is not asked for trade, exchange, stacks, entertainment and akusala deeds, but as a share of merits and continue such for release)

  • I think I found explanations online -- they were in Chinese, and so I didn't reference them, but I read several (with some difficulty) via Google Translate and tried to paraphrase or summarise what I understood in this answer. I think it's described as meaning, "someone who won't relate with him", won't have a relationship with him, dislikes him.
    – ChrisW
    Jul 23 '19 at 21:03
  • "What is meant by" and source are two different questions, aren't they? If coming along in this way 70% of questions here are to be closed, even more serious.
    – user11235
    Aug 23 '19 at 7:53
  • btw. householder Chris answered both... and not at all equal.
    – user11235
    Aug 23 '19 at 7:54
  • It's possible to guess a meaning, or to fabricate a meaning which matches your preconceptions, but I think it's useful to know the source (the context, the commentary) before you decide "what is meant by". My answer below was based on a guess and on comparing it to the Pali suttas. But this answer, which tries to identify the source, also explains "what is meant by" -- that was based on "research" i.e. using Google to find and read Chinese-language pages.
    – ChrisW
    Aug 23 '19 at 9:51
  • As wishing... my person knows where the usual answers come from.
    – user11235
    Aug 23 '19 at 10:43

Related in this case does not mean by blood. Rather it is in terms of belief in the shared Buddhist philosophies, or at a minimum maintaining an open mind on the subject. Someone not related has no interest in attaining liberation, and such a person cannot be forced or coerced. Thus, they cannot be helped.


It is said the Monks as the Buddha's children. Likewise, it can be considered that someone adhering to the dhamma becomes his relative. In this context, if you do not fall into the path of Dhamma ("become a relative of the Buddha") one does not achieve liberation.

Also if one gives his children for monkhood then one becomes related to the Buddha and Sasana. This is considered to accelerate one's goal of becoming enlightened, but this is not a must to get enlightenment.

At a festival for the dedication of the Great Pataliputra monastery called the Aśokārāma as well as the other viharas built by Ashoka, Moggaliputta-Tissa, in answer to a question, informed Ashoka that one becomes a kinsman of the Buddha's religion only by letting one's son or daughter enter the Sangha. Upon this suggestion, Ashoka had both his son Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitta ordained (Mhv.v.191ff.).


  • The context, good householder, is liberation from Suffering, and all beings incl. Upasaka Sirinath, desiring for such.
    – user11235
    Jul 23 '19 at 3:13
  • Adhering to his Dhamma: how is that possible without being related to the Buddha? It would be just one own perceided teaching, not in relation to him.
    – user11235
    Jul 23 '19 at 3:14
  • And if the is "the Dhamma" (something unrelated, inherent) no Buddha would be required for liberation, would it, good householder?
    – user11235
    Jul 23 '19 at 3:18
  • 1
    Suminda, I think the context was this answer though that answer isn't referenced (and appears to be from a Chinese source, I don't know if it might be Pali too).
    – ChrisW
    Jul 23 '19 at 4:26
  • It is related to the teachings of the Buddha, even found in the Tipitaka, Nyom @ChrisW. - if one gives his children for monkhood then one becomes related to the Buddha and Sasana, worthy another question, this traditional idea, good householder Sirinath.
    – user11235
    Jul 23 '19 at 8:05

Your question "What is meant by the impossibility "A Buddha can not help someone not related to him, no relative of him"? may be explained by--understanding whether a person has faith.

When a person is able to (or willing to) believe in Buddhist teachings, then the conditions of that person have matured. There is a saying that "the Buddha is unable to help those who have no affinity with him".

What is affinity? It is the ability of a person being able to believe. Even a Buddha cannot help someone whose conditions have not yet matured. However, when they have matured, the person will have belief. Then the Buddha can help. ​

Here we speak of belief, is that first we believe in ourselves. This is where Buddhism differs from religion. In religion the most important criteria is to believe in God. In Buddhism the most important criteria is to believe in ourselves, not something outside of ourselves. Next we need to believe that we have the same Buddha nature. Believe that originally we were Buddhas. Believe that we are no different from the Buddhas. Believe that our true nature has become polluted and that once we remove this pollution we will uncover our true self-nature.

Once we have the belief, we then have to obtain the correct understanding of Buddhism. Buddhist teachings explained to all beings the truth of life and the secrets of the universe. Only after we have acquired a true understanding of it can we begin our practice. Therefore, practice is based on understanding. True practice is based on the foundation of principles and correct methods.

The ultimate goal of practice is to achieve attainment, to attain the real benefit of Enlightenment. The proper sequence of cultivation is 1) belief, 2) understanding, 3) practice, and 4) attainment.

Buddhist teachings in the Right Order of Learning is very important for us to first establish a correct understanding before starting our cultivation and practice.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy