bindu

Gateway to the Himalayan Yoga Tradition

The Buddha on Teaching

In the ancient writings we find the Buddha praising an Almsman who "in his doctrinal discourse was demonstrating to the brethren, making the Law acceptable to them, setting them afire, gladdening them with urbane words, well enunciated without hoarseness, with exposition of the meaning, pertinent and unbiased."

The same expressions recur in the Dammapada, where the Buddha explains that he adapts his teaching to his audience: ("Whatever may be their sort, I make myself of the like sort, whatever their language, I speak that language" — i.e., becoming as we are that we may be as he is), "But they knew me not when I spoke, and would ask 'Who may this be that speaks thus, a man or a god?' Whereupon I demonstrated the Law, made it acceptable to them, set them on fire (samuttejetva), gladdened them, etc." The argument is always ad hominem: for as Lankavatara Sutra 11.122 expresses it, "Whatever is not adapted to such and such persons as, are to be taught, cannot be called teaching". It is thus that "He preaches the lovely Law, with its moral and spiritual meanings (dhammam deseti . . . kalyanam sattham savyanjanam, Dammapada 1.250).

We find the Buddha praising an Almsman who "in his doctrinal discourse was demonstrating to the brethren, making the Law acceptable to them, setting them afire, gladdening them with urbane words, well enunciated without hoarseness, with exposition of the meaning, pertinent and unbiased" (S 11.280, cf. 1.189). The same expressions recur in D 11.109, where the Buddha explains that he adapts his teaching to his audience ("Whatever may be their sort, I make myself of the like sort, whatever their language, I speak that language" — i.e., becoming as we are that we may be as he is), "But they knew me not when I spoke, and would ask 'Who may this be that speaks thus, a man or a god?' Whereupon I demonstrated the Law, made it acceptable to them, set them on fire (samuttejetva), gladdened them, etc." The argument is always ad hominem: for as Lankavatara Sutra 11.122 expresses it, "Whatever is not adapted to such and such persons as, are to be taught, cannot be called teaching". It is thus that "He preaches the lovely Law, with its moral and spiritual meanings (dhammam deseti . . . kalyanam sattham savyanjanam, D 1.250).

It will not be inappropriate to conclude the present article with:
"At the close of my discourse I compose and settle my heart, focus and synthesize it (cittam santhapemi sannisademi ekodikaromi samadahami), in accordance with the former fashion of my interior synthesis (samadhi), in which assuredly I abide when and whenever I will (niccakappam niccakappam viharami, M 1.249)."