Buddha says

So you should train like this: ‘I will not tell a lie, even for a joke.’ Tasmātiha te, rāhula, ‘hassāpi na musā bhaṇissāmī’ti

Dhamma as taught by Buddha is not a lie therefore one should not say things which contradict Buddha.

However Buddha in MN 22 asks to give up Dhamma.

By understanding the simile of the raft, you will even give up the teachings, let alone what is against the teachings.

Kullūpamaṁ vo, bhikkhave, dhammaṁ desitaṁ, ājānantehi dhammāpi vo pahātabbā pageva adhammā.

What is meant by giving up the teachings ? For example- How do you give up the teaching that Sabbbe Dhamma Anatta? or Sabbe Sankhara Anicca? or Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha?


3 Answers 3


However Buddha in MN 22 asks to give up Dhamma

Not "dhamma" but "dhammas". You quoted:

By understanding the simile of the raft, you will even give up the teachings, let alone what is against the teachings.

Kullūpamaṁ vo, bhikkhave, dhammaṁ desitaṁ, ājānantehi dhammāpi vo pahātabbā pageva adhammā.

And Ven. Sujato's comment for that line says,

Dhammā in the plural refers back to “those teachings” (tesaṁ dhammānaṁ) of the nine categories. Accordingly, when this simile is invoked at MN 38:14.1, it is in reference to views. The pair dhamma and adhamma usually means “the teaching” and “against the teaching” (eg. AN 2.104). The negative form has a stronger sense than simply “not the teaching”; it implies there is something unnatural, in conflict with the way the world is.

Dhammā in that sentence is plural -- it ends with a long ā, see for example this reference:

Ven. Sujato translates that as "the teachings".

The Buddha-Dhamma as a whole is normally singular -- see for example here (where the Pali says dhammo i.e. singular):

Ven. Sujato says that "teachings" (plural) here is a reference to this earlier paragraph (which he says in another comment was an early i.e. before the First Council way to organize the texts):

Take a foolish person who memorizes the teaching— statements, mixed prose & verse, discussions, verses, inspired exclamations, legends, stories of past lives, amazing stories, and elaborations. But they don’t examine the meaning of those teachings with wisdom, and so don’t come to a considered acceptance of them. They memorize the teaching for the sake of finding fault and winning debates. They don’t realize the goal for which they memorized them. Because they’re wrongly grasped, those teachings lead to their lasting harm and suffering. Why is that? Because of their wrong grasp of the teachings.

So in context, "giving up the teachings" could mean "giving up arguing over who said what" -- or, "don't only memorize the words but 'examine the meaning of those teachings with wisdom'".

In contrast to the above there are other translators who don't translate "dhammas" there as "teachings". Remember from the Definitions for dhamma that it has several meanings, one of which is "mental state".

In this translation for example it's translated as "dhammas" not "teachings".

Understanding the Dhamma as taught compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dhammas, to say nothing of non-Dhammas.

Immediately after that there are sections inclduing

  • Six View-Positions
  • Agitation & Non-Agitation

Perhaps these are the "dhammas and adhammas" which we are to abandon.

Or maybe it means more generally, "good things and bad things", "good and bad mental states".

Piya Tan says here that,

Buddhaghosa, in his Commentary, interprets the reference to going beyond “good things” more specifically as a warning regarding the danger of being attached to meditative experience:

21 “You must let go of even good things …” Here “good things” (dhammā) means calm and insight (samatha,vipassanā). The Blessed One says that desire-or-lust (chanda,rāga) is to be abandoned by both (pi) calm and insight. How does he do this with regards to calm? “Thus indeed, Udāyi, do I speak of the abandoning of the sphere of neither-perception-nornon-perception. Do you, Udāyi, see any fetter (saṁyojana), tiny or great, whose abandonment I do not speak of?” [M 66,34/1:456]. Here, desire-or-lust is to be abandoned through calm. “Bhikshus, no matter how pure, how clear, this view may be, if you do not stick to it, do not prize it, are not acquisitive about it, do not treat it as a possession…” [M 38,14/1:260 f]. Here, desire-or-lust is to be abandoned through insight. But here, in reference to abandoning both, he says, “You should abandon even the dharmas, how much more so that which are not dharmas!”

22 This is the gist: “Bhikshus, speak of the abandoning of desire-or-lust even in such things that are profoundly calm (santa,paṇītesu). How much more then in respect to this wickedness, vulgarity, baseness, crudeness, that which requires ablution, wherein this foolish one, Ariṭṭha, perceiving no fault, says: “There is no obstruction in having desire-or-lust in the 5 cords of sensepleasure.” “Do not, like Ariṭṭha, throw mud or rubbish on my teaching!” Thus the Blessed One rebuked Ariṭṭha with this admonition. (MA 2:109)


From Anuruddha Master of the Divine Eye by Hellmuth Hecker:

When Anuruddha had perfected himself more and more in the jhānas and in those refined meditative perceptions, he one day went to see the venerable Sāriputta and said:

“Brother Sāriputta, with the divine eye, which is clarified and supernormal, I am able to perceive a thousandfold world system. My energy is strong and inflexible; my mindfulness is alert and unconfused; my body is calmed and unexcited; my mind is collected and unified. Yet my mind is still not freed, without clinging, from the defiling taints (āsava).”

Thereupon Sāriputta replied: “When you think, brother Anuruddha, that with your divine eye you can perceive a thousandfold world system, that is self-conceit in you. When you think of your strenuous energy, your alert mindfulness, your calmed body and your concentrated mind, that is agitation in you. When you think that your mind is still not liberated from the cankers, that makes for scruples in you. It will be good if the revered Anuruddha would discard these three things, would not pay attention to them and would instead direct his mind towards the Deathless-element (Nibbāna).

Having heard Sāriputta s advice, Anuruddha again resorted to solitude and earnestly applied himself to the removal of those three obstructions within his mind (AN 3:128).

Anuruddha was carrying the raft with him. Sāriputta suggested to abandon the raft. Having abandoned the raft, Anuruddha implemented the teaching, instead of just thinking or talking about it.


Please see the post by @DhammaDhatu in answer to question as suggested by @ChrisW, quoted here:in part

'Suppose I were to haul it onto the dry land or set it adrift in the water, and then go wherever I want.’ Now, bhikkhus, it is by so doing that that man would be doing what should be done with that raft.

So the above teaching does not say to destroy the raft. Nor does it say to carry the raft on your back as a burden (via arguments or trying to convert the unconvertible). It simply says to set it adrift or haul it onto dry land (for others to use).

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