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Kinds of Dhamma Talk — 2 Comments

  1. Venerable,

    Thank you for posting this interesting perspective; I found myself considering the topic on several different levels. As such, may I offer comments on your final summary thoughts on Dhamma Talks?

    By “types of Dhamma Talk,” I assume you mean the different styles of presenting Dhamma. But what about content of Dhamma Talk? How does one measure the “goodness” of a talk? Is “goodness” based on the Right Intention of the speaker to illuminate the Dhamma for those listening? Or, might it be the result of Right Intention, Right Understanding and Wisdom of the speaker in his/her own grasp of Dhamma, irrespective of the level of Right Intention, Right Understanding and Wisdom of a listener to discern the “Dhamma behind the words”?

    You made a very good point about the ability of a practitioner to appreciate all kinds of speakers. However, I would use the term “skillful” rather than “good” in relationship to both practitioner and Dhamma Talk. I can see where “unskillful” Dhamma Talk might can occur and can lead to continued or increased Ignorance for listeners/practiioners that lack sufficient Wisdom to discern the “Dhamma behind the words.”

    Finally, like the style of Dhamma Talk, it does not seem beneficial to judge Dhamma Talk content as “unskillful”; rather, awareness of one’s reaction to the apparent “unskillful” Talk provides a useful tool for discerning Dhamma in it’s apparent absence and for increasing one’s Right Understanding and Wisdom.


  2. Your comments are on the mark. What is a ‘good’ talk?
    Generally people mistake ‘good’ with ‘enjoyable’ or ‘interesting’, which is a natural enough outlook for the general public.
    ‘Skillful’ is a better word than ‘good’ in many ways, and is a concept Buddhists are generally aware of (it is a translation of ‘kusala’) – but it might seem slightly odd if one is not conversant with the terminology.
    The idea behind writing this post is that people have different expectations of Dhamma Teaching. For example, you can’t really expect concise information and content from a Forest Dhamma Talk, nor a focus on practise from an academic lecture.

    One thing – when I was a new monk we were all made to go and attend the talks of the Abbot. I could not understand a word of it, but was still expected to go. Somehow, I got just as much benefit from those talks as I did later when I could follow some of the Thai.