Is the modern idea of unconditional access to knowledge, teachings, supported by the Noble Ones, or maybe even seen as cause of decay and not benefical for many as well as the tradition?

What are then the conditions that one gains to be taught certain levels?

How are those teaching without care of possible required conditions regarded by the teacher and elders?

1 Answer 1


Thanks for asking.

I get the impression for example from the story of The Weaver's Daughter (which begins as follows) that the Buddha himself was willing to give a dhamma talk to an entire village, even though only one person in the audience might be able to benefit immediately:

For one day, when the Teacher came to Alavi, the residents of Alavi invited him to a meal and gave alms. At the end of the meal the Teacher spoke the words of thanksgiving, saying: "Practice meditation on death, saying to yourselves, 'Uncertain is my life. Certain is my death. I shall surely die. Death will be the termination of my life. Life is unstable. Death is sure.' For they that have not practiced meditation on death will tremble and fear when their last hour comes, and will die screaming screams of terror, even as a man without a stick, on seeing a snake, is stricken with fear. But those who have practiced meditation on death will have no fear when their last hour comes, but will be like a steadfast man who, seeing a snake even afar off, takes it up with his stick and tosses it away. Therefore practice meditation on death."

With a single exception all those who heard this discourse remained absorbed in their worldly duties as before.

There are some conditions, as you know, for giving a dhamma talk -- related to expressions of respect from the audience -- see this answer for some references to the Vinaya. In summary the conditions seem to be:

  • The audience must show some respect

  • The audience must be self-selected, actively choosing to listen

    One may not expound from a soapbox in the marketplace... to the indifference of passers by.

  • A talk should be more than only repeating what you have learned by rote

    ... to prevent the pupils from looking down on the teacher.

Another condition relating to what's allowable is payment.

I believe that you personally are not keen on the dhamma being like broadcast, e.g. by laypeople, and maybe on the internet (though you think that some internet sites are allowable) -- including on this site -- and that in fact you sometimes describe this as "taking what is not given", referring to the Dhamma in general and to some copyrighted works in particular.

I guess my own feeling is that making the elements of Dhamma available to everyone is good, even though not everyone can benefit in the same way. A lot of people will have their own experience -- my first introduction might have been a book -- or for example:

When I was a little boy back in the dark soviet years, I could not possibly come in contact with True Dharma. My glimpse of light was a song by an alcoholic folk singer ...

For someone deep in the darkness even a little glimpse of light can show the direction out.

The Buddha taught for compassion's sake, remember also what he said about "the closed fist of the teacher".

  • 1
    "anupubbi-katha" might fit more to the wise's view rather then ideas fitting to ones misdeeds. What compassionate in teaching high if not capable to get the base? Let running in circles? Disciples have a teacher. Non-disciple not.
    – user23904
    Jul 4, 2022 at 14:51
  • Thank you for this answer, ChrisW.
    – user23951
    Jul 5, 2022 at 12:03

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