What does Buddhism say to do when a specific Buddhist teaching or example of a teaching, is in disagreement with lived experience?

This is not about rejecting the whole way but maybe small parts based on lived experience not wants.

(Example, Brother Phap says when we are strong we are more likely to hurt people and when suffering or hurt we are nice and sweet. In my experience, hurt people hurt people more so it seems false to me.) https://youtu.be/6P-NrCNUSJU

  • Ignore both the teaching and example...thus you are fresh for a discovery
    – blue_ego
    Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 18:54

3 Answers 3


Note that your two ideas don’t necessarily contradict. It is possible both for hurt people to hurt people, for hurt people to be meek, and for stronger people to hurt people, all in the same world; it obviously depends on the person.

Buddhists do not necessarily have to prove every proposition they hear to be true or false. In fact, it often does the opposite; see for example how in the Aggivacchagotta Sutta, it is claimed that a Buddha is neither ‘reborn’, ‘not reborn’, ‘reborn and not reborn’, nor ‘neither reborn nor not reborn’.

In practice, try to meditate on these apparent contradictions. They may resolve themselves into a synthesis; you may find that your lived experience is warped by your perception; or even you might find that you completely disagree, which is fine! ‘Agreeing with every last sentence a monk has ever said’ is not a requirement to reach enlightenment.

Finally, from the Dhammavandana:

Well communicated is the Teaching of the Richly Endowed One, Immediately Apparent, Perennial, Of the Nature of a Personal Invitation, Progressive, to be understood individually, by the wise.

We may particularly flag up ‘immediately apparent’ as an issue with your problem here, but was the teaching behind the example immediately apparent? It may be, even if you disagree with the way it was explained.

  • Thank you…………..
    – P.S.
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 21:43
  • The concept of the multitude of where a person who has reached liberation one will be or not be reborn after death it simply a means to test your own intellect that you cling to a person being there, who could then be reborn in the first place. The answer to the question "where does the buddha go after death" is from an illogical point of view that there was a person, a Buddha there to begin with. That is what the full explanation is getting at. iirc the original teaching is actually from the maha parinibbana sutta.
    – Remyla
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 16:26

It is fitting for you to be perplexed, it is fitting for you to be in doubt. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter. Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of texts, by logic, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, ‘The [practice] is our teacher.’

-Words of Lord Gautama Buddha from the Aṅguttara Nikāya, “The Book of the Threes” (3.65. Kesaputtiya)

  • 1
    AN 3.65 translated by Ven. Bodhi can also be found here.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 5:33

I think you have to keep in mind the person teaching and their experiences are their only way of comprehending a concept.

I had a similar thing where I was taught anger has no use and can never be used to benefit anyone, where already I had used anger to benefit myself and others, righteous anger for martial and exercise purposes as an example. The persona was quite clearly dogmatically spouting out quite simply positive platitudes that do not actually relate to conventional reality or the Buddhas teachings themself. It is that persons opinion based on their own experience in samsara and/or dogma spouting religious concepts that are read from a book rather than actually sought out within oneself.

My suggestion would be to only take the words of the Buddha as actual dharma, and see other words from others as watering down, diluting or making more easily accessible to others, in a form of simple teachings.

The Buddhas teachings have a very distinct formula, or flavour as you will. Specifically they are enumerated. The Buddha spoke in numbers and lists as he often spoke to the sangha not only as advice for them at the time but advice for them to mentally retain and spread on to others for centuries.

  • 4 noble truths
  • 8 fold path
  • 12 dependant links
  • 4 immeasurables
  • 4 imponderables
  • 37 factors of enlightenment

List goes on, the Buddhas teachings are genuinely formatted in a enumerated way. If you then hear someone talking about X subject, question first in which way is it linked to one of the Buddhas enumerated formula. If it is not taught in such a way, you could often ascertain that it is not actually the Buddhas teachings. While that does not mean it cannot have use, you can pretty much completely ascertain it does not lead to liberation.

  • If that's true of 'anger', then you could apply the same reasoning to justify it as 'killing', 'stealing', etc.
    – frankk
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 10:19
  • I suppose you could put it like that if you like but I think you missed the point entirely. For examples of stealing and killing then. Someone is about to launch a nuclear bomb that will kill 75 million people....but you just stole the nuclear keycard first and destroyed it... Or same scenario but you killed the person first instead. Things are not so black and white. Strict moral discipline does not actually lead one to liberation and ultimately there is no inherent good or bad.
    – Remyla
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 12:21
  • in your hypothetical example of stealing nuclear codes to save people, it wasn't anger that is the cause, or desire and greed to steal, it's desire to save people from death. similarly, righteous anger doesn't need to have a component of anger, it can just be a pure intention to do good. Anger is never necessary, it's unnecessary baggage. Anger is never skillful or right.
    – frankk
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 17:05
  • Anger can be used in a multitude of ways to benefit other or oneself. The above examples of theft and killing actions can be done out of anger, as too can the anger for being "lesser" than others galvanise one to become better. In my personal case of martial art training righteous anger, as in generating anger towards others as a means of encouragement is using anger itself as a tool and in turn is benefiting me, and by proxy others. The type of mentality of seeing things so black and white where anger itself is negative is just a form of ignorance. In of itself it is just a mental formation.
    – Remyla
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 1:46
  • "Anger can be used in a multitude of ways to benefit other or oneself. The above examples..." They could all be done without anger. Anger is a separate entity, unnecessary baggage. The sankhara (mental formation) that were beneficial in motivating positive actions, are different than the sankhara for the anger baggage. It's a difference between correlation and cause. You can see this in the example of people who get angry, but then DON'T do the positive actions that help others. Anger is separate sankhara.
    – frankk
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 11:03

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