Dhamma-Viharin Sutta – Dwelling In The Dhamma

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Introduction

In the Dhamma-Viharin Sutta, the Buddha is teaching that engaging with the Dhamma through intellectual study alone will not develop cessation of craving after and clinging to views ignorant of Four Noble Truths, and the confusion and suffering that follows. The Buddha also teaches here that simply describing the Dhamma to another, or “contemplating” the Dhamma, or ritualizing the Dhamma through chanting and other repetitive  exercises does not result in “one who dwells in the Dhamma.”

Dwelling means that in thought, word, and deed one is animated by the heartwood of the Dhamma, the Eightfold Path.

“One neglects seclusion and does not commit to developing the inner tranquility that rests in refined mindfulness, this one does not dwell in the Dhamma” is in reference to the Four Foundations of Mindfulness [1] resulting in an incomplete practice [2] lacking footing in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.

This sutta teaches the importance of a complete Dhamma practice of appropriate study, appropriate mindfulness, appropriate restraint, and a useful and effective Shamatha-Vipassana meditation practice.

This sutta is similar to the Dhammannu Sutta – One With A Sense Of The Dhamma [3]

Dhamma-Viharin Sutta: One Who Dwells in the Dhamma

Anguttara Nikaya 5.73

On one occasion a certain monk went to the Buddha, bowed, and sat to one side. He asked the teacher “What is the meaning of one who dwells in the Dhamma.”

The Buddha replied “There is a case where a Dhamma Practitioner may spend the day in Dhamma study. They may investigate the dialogues and narratives of prose and verse, the spontaneous exclamations and quotations, stories of birth and amazing events, and question and answer sessions. If this one neglects seclusion and does not commit to developing the inner tranquility that rests in refined mindfulness, this one does not dwell in the Dhamma.

“There is a case where a Dhamma Practitioner may have heard the Dhamma and have studied the Dhamma. They may spend their days describing the Dhamma. If this one neglects seclusion and does not commit to developing the inner tranquility that rests in refined mindfulness, this one does not dwell in the Dhamma.

“There is a case where a Dhamma Practitioner has heard and studied the Dhamma. They spend their days reciting the Dhamma. (Chanting) If this one neglects seclusion and does not commit to developing the inner tranquility that rests in refined mindfulness, this one does not dwell in the Dhamma.

“There is a case where a Dhamma Practitioner has heard and studied the Dhamma. They spend their days thinking about, examining, and evaluating the Dhamma with their intellect. If this one neglects seclusion and does not commit to developing the inner tranquility that rests in refined mindfulness, this one does not dwell in the Dhamma.

“Then there is a case where a Dhamma Practitioner has studied the Dhamma. They have investigated the dialogues and narratives of prose and verse, the spontaneous exclamations and quotations, stories of birth and amazing events, and question and answer sessions. They do not spend the day inDhamma study and do not neglect seclusion. They commit themselves to develop the inner tranquility that rests in refined mindfulness. This Dhamma Practitioner dwells in the Dhamma.

“I have taught you about the person who is keen on study, keen on description, keen on recitations, keen on thinking, and on those that dwell in the Dhamma. Whatever a teacher should do out of sympathy for you and seeking your welfare, I have done for you. Over there are roots of trees and empty dwellings. Don’t be mindless, don’t fall into regret.  Practice Right Meditation and develop meditative absorption. [4]

End of Sutta

 

  1. Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  2. Eightfold Path, A Complete Practice
  3. Dhammannu Sutta
  4. Samadhi and Jhana

My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made contextual edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

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