Reply To: How to teach Dhamma to others properly?


In the “Araṇavibhaṅga Sutta (MN 139)” the Buddha explains how one should live, explain Dhamma to others, and have dhamma discussions.

1. By analyzing the name of the sutta, we can get some ideas first.
– “rana” means “battle,” and thus “arana” means staying away from conflicts/battles.
– “vibhaṅga” is to analyze.
– Thus the name of the sutta implies “how to follow and teach Dhamma without getting into conflicts/battles with others.

2. Teachings (“Dhammo” in this case) that lead to conflicts are “saraṇa Dhamma.” saraṇa means “with raṇa.”
– Towards the end of the sutta repeats the verse “Tasmā eso dhammo saraṇo” to indicate teachings that lead to conflicts (“kāmapaṭisandhisukhino” or “engaging in sensual pleasures and ” attakilamathānuyogaṁ” or “going through unnecessary suffering” are given as examples. There are more.)
– The opposite teachings are “araṇa Dhamma.” araṇa means “without raṇa.” As opposed to the examples above, “majjhimā paṭipadā” is “araṇa Dhamma.”

3. The word “araṇa” or “araṇṇa” comes in the “Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta”.
– Aranna is conventionally translated as forest (or forest monastery). But the hidden meaning comes from “rana” which means “battle” and thus “aranna” means staying away from battles.
– Thus, “aranna gatō vā” means “get into a calm mindset leaving behind the everyday battles”. In the conventional interpretation is says, “having gone into the forest”.
– See “Prerequisites for the Satipaṭṭhāna Bhāvanā.”

4. Of course, a different meaning comes in the verse “Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.” “Saraṇattaya (kp1).”
– This is another example of words having different meanings depending on the context.

P.S.: Now, to the rest of the key statements.

5. The following section — close to the beginning — is the uddesa version (brief description) of the sutta:
Na kāmasukhamanuyuñjeyya hīnaṁ gammaṁ pothujjanikaṁ anariyaṁ anatthasaṁhitaṁ, na ca attakilamathānuyogamanuyuñjeyya dukkhaṁ anariyaṁ anatthasaṁhitaṁ. Ete kho, bhikkhave, ubho ante anupagamma majjhimā paṭipadā tathāgatena abhisambuddhā, cakkhukaraṇī ñāṇakaraṇī upasamāya abhiññāya sambodhāya nibbānāya saṁvattati. Ussādanañca jaññā, apasādanañca jaññā; ussādanañca ñatvā apasādanañca ñatvā nevussādeyya, na apasādeyya, dhammameva deseyya. Variant: apasādeyya → nāpasādeyya (bj)Sukhavinicchayaṁ jaññā; sukhavinicchayaṁ ñatvā ajjhattaṁ sukhamanuyuñjeyya. Rahovādaṁ na bhāseyya, sammukhā na khīṇaṁ bhaṇe. Variant: na khīṇaṁ → nātikhīṇaṁ (sya-all, km, mr)Ataramānova bhāseyya, no taramāno. Janapadaniruttiṁ nābhiniveseyya, samaññaṁ nātidhāveyyāti—ayamuddeso araṇavibhaṅgassa.”
– Here “ayam uddeso araṇavibhaṅgassa” means “this is the brief description of araṇavibhaṅga.”
– See “Sutta Interpretation – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Paṭiniddēsa” for a discussion of uddesa, niddesa, paṭiniddēsa.

6. I need to explain one more thing in the above verse. “Ussādanañca jaññā, apasādanañca jaññā; ussādanañca ñatvā apasādanañca ñatvā nevussādeyya, na apasādeyya, dhammameva deseyya.”
– That means “Know what it means to flatter (Ussādanañca; praise too much when in agreement) and to rebuke (apasādanañca; get into heated arguments) when in disagreement. Explain Dhamma with that understanding, i.e., explain Dhamma without getting emotional.”
– This is an issue today. People get into different camps. They start arguing with the opponents and become overly supportive of people in their camps. But one should just explain Dhamma and leave others to decide the merits of those explanations.

7. The rest of the sutta is a niddēsa or a “further description” of the brief uddesa version in the verse in #5.
Paṭiniddēsa description is normally a lengthy explanation given in an oral discourse, discussing the concepts involved in detail. That is what bhikkhus in Sri Lanka do in an hour-long discourse.
– But you should be able to read the whole sutta with the English translation given in the link. That translation is not bad but does not point out the key points.
– Feel free to ask questions if something is not clear.