Dhammannu Sutta – One With A Sense Of The Dhamma

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Introduction

The Dhammannu Sutta is similar to the Dhamma-Viharin Sutta. [1] In both suttas the Buddha describes in detail what it means to have developed a well-integrated Dhamma practice. Being “one with a sense of the Dhamma” means having developed a profound understanding of the meaning and purpose of the Buddha’s Dhamma and having abandoned any view or association that would establish or continue separation from the Dhamma. In this way, the reference is a direct counter to the nature of self-referential views rooted ignorance of Four Noble Truths causing one to “join with stress and suffering.” [2]

Having abandoned views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths, ending separation from Right View, one joins with the Dhamma and becomes “one with a sense of the Dhamma.”

My comments below in italics.

Dhammaññu Sutta: One With a Sense of Dhamma

Anguttara Nikaya 7.64

On one occasion the Buddha addressed those gathered:

“A disciple who is worthy of support and recognition has these seven qualities:

  1. They are one with a sense of the Dhamma.
  2. They are one with a sense of meaning.
  3. They are one with a sense of themselves.
  4. They are one with a sense of moderation.
  5. They are one with a sense of time.
  6. They are one with a sense of social groups.
  7. They are one with a sense of the distinctions of individuals.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma understands the dialogues and narratives of prose and verse, the spontaneous exclamations and quotations, the stories of birth and amazing events, and question and answer sessions. If they don’t understand the Dhamma in this way they are not one with the Dhamma. A disciple knowing the Dhamma in this way can be known as a disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma” has actually studied and developed the Dhamma as taught by the Buddha and has avoided adapting, accommodating, or embellishing the Dhamma to fit charismatic individual or culturally influenced views. [3]

“A disciple who is one with a sense of meaning understands the context and purpose of the Dhamma. If a disciple does not understand the context and purpose of the Dhamma they would not be one with a sense of meaning. A disciple knowing the Dhamma in this way can be known as a disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma and one with a sense of the meaning of the Dhamma.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of meaning” understands the meaning of the Buddha’s awakening as described in the Nagara Sutta [4] and the nature of stress and suffering arising and passing away as described in the Paticca-Samupaddha Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination. [5]

“A disciple who is one with a sense of themselves knows their development of conviction, they know their development of virtue, they know their development of the Dhamma, and they are able to spontaneously express the Dhamma. A disciple that does not know the development of conviction, that does not know the development of virtue, that does not know the development of the Dhamma, and they are not capable of spontaneously expressing the Dhamma, this disciple is not one with a sense of themselves. A disciple knowing the Dhamma in this way can be known as a disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma, one with a sense of the meaning of the Dhamma, and one with a sense of themselves.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of themselves” refers to the Buddha’s use of the word Anatta. Knowing that it is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that forms wrong views of what constitutes a self, having a sense of self refers to the establishment of Right Views of self. Right views are framed by the understanding of reality gained from the refined mindfulness developed by integrating the Eightfold Path. “Being one with a sense of self” means that ignorance of self has been abandoned and the Eightfold Path has become integrated as one continues to become awakened. Another key aspect of “Being one with a sense of self” is recognizing the wrong views that support the common and pervasive notion that there is “no-self.” [6]

“A disciple who is one with a sense of moderation knows moderation in accepting food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. A disciple who is not one with a sense of moderation is not moderate in accepting food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. A disciple knowing the Dhamma in this way can be known as a disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma, one with a sense of the meaning of the Dhamma, one with a sense of themselves, and one with a sense of moderation.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of moderation” understands the liberation of restraint at the six-sense base. Knowing moderation disentangles one from worldly events, views, objects, and ideas. [7]

“A disciple who is one with a sense of time knows when it is time for recitation when it is time for questioning, when it is time for meditation, when it is time for seclusion. A disciple who is not one with time does not know when it is time for recitation, or questioning, or meditation, or seclusion. A disciple knowing the Dhamma in this way can be known as a disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma, one with a sense of the meaning of the Dhamma, one with a sense of themselves, one with a sense of moderation, and one with a sense of time.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of time” has developed a measure of concentration through Shamatha-Vipassana meditation [8] and is no longer distracted by entanglements with the world. They engage in the Dhamma with Right Effort and integrate the entire framework of the Eightfold Path. [9]

“A disciple who is one with a sense of social gatherings knows warriors and brahmans and householders and contemplatives. They know how to address them and they act appropriately. A disciple who is not one with a sense of social gatherings does not know warriors and brahmans and householders and contemplatives and they do not know how to address them or act appropriately. A disciple knowing the Dhamma in this way can be known as a disciple who is one with a sense of the Dhamma, one with a sense of the meaning of the Dhamma, one with a sense of themselves, one with a sense of moderation, one with a sense of time, and one with sense of social gatherings.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of social gatherings” is one who is mindfully engaged with the world from the framework and guidance of the Eightfold Path. They remain calm and no longer experience the events of the world personally. They understand that embodying the Dhamma in all social situations is the most loving and compassionate action any human being can undertake.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of the distinctions of individuals knows two categories of people – those who dismiss Noble Ones and those that acknowledge Noble Ones. They disapprove of those that dismiss Noble Ones and praise those that acknowledge Noble Ones.

“A disciple who is one with a sense of the distinctions of individuals” understands the distinction between followers of an authentic Dhamma and those that, through continued ignorance of Four Noble Truths, misinterpret,  misrepresent, or dismiss outright, the Buddha’s Dhamma.

The Buddha continues to provide clarity on developing discernment regarding the distinctions between those that understand his Dhamma and those that misinterpret, misrepresent, or dismiss outright, the Dhamma:

“Furthermore, there are two categories of people who acknowledge Noble Ones. There are those that acknowledge Noble Ones and want to hear the true Dhamma and those that want a false Dhamma. [10] One with a sense of the distinctions of individuals disapprove of those wanting false Dhammas and praise those wanting true Dhamma.

“Furthermore, there are two categories of people who want to hear a true Dhamma. There are those that listen attentively and those that do not listen attentively. One with a sense of the distinctions of individuals disapproves of those who listen inattentively and they praise those that do listen attentively.

“Furthermore, there are two categories of people who listen attentively to the true Dhamma. There are those that explore the meaning of the Dhamma as they remember the Dhamma and there are those that dot not explore the meaning of the Dhamma as they remember the Dhamma. One with a sense of the distinctions of individuals disapproves of those who do not explore the emanating of the true Dhamma and praise those that do explore the meaning of the true Dhamma.

“Furthermore, there are two categories of people who explore the meaning of the true Dhamma. There are those that explore the meaning of the true Dhamma but do not practice the true Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma and there are those that explore the meaning of the true Dhamma and do practice the true Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma. A disciple who is one with a sense of the distinctions of individuals disapproves of those that do not practice the true Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma and they praise those that do practice the true Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, who themselves have a sense of the Dhamma and a sense of the meaning of the Dhamma.

This last is in reference to a common occurrence during the Buddha’s time and continuing today of those that compulsively insist on reconciling all “Buddhist” teachings into one amorphous soup, or pick and choose aspects of contradictory Buddhist teachings to fit their view or the views of those they associate with resulting in a hybridized form of “Modern Western Buddhism” lacking any “sense” of the Buddha’s Dhamma.

“Furthermore, there are two categories of people who practice the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma. There are those that practice solely for their own benefit and those that practice for their own benefit and for the benefit of others. A disciple who is one with a sense of the distinctions of individuals disapproves of those practicing the Dhamma solely for their own benefit and they praise those who practice my Dhamma for their own benefit and for the benefit of others.

“Knowing these distinctions among people this disciple is one with a sense of the distinctions among people.

“A disciple who is worthy of support and recognition has these seven qualities.”

End of Sutta

“One with a sense of the Dhamma” is a Dhamma practitioner who has developed profound wisdom and discernment supporting the refined mindfulness necessary to see clearly what is authentic and skillful Dhamma practice and what is adapted, accommodated, and embellished “dharmas” arising from cultural and charismatic individuals. “One with a sense of the Dhamma” practices the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma as taught by an awakened human being. [11]

Peace.

 

  1. Dhamma-Viharin Sutta
  2. Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Model Buddhism – A Thicket of Views
  4. Nagara Sutta
  5. Paticca-Samupaddha Sutta
  6. Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha
  7. Wisdom of Restraint – Four Suttas
  8. Shamatha-Vipassana Meditation
  9. Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  10. Saddhammapatirupaka Sutta – Counterfeit Dhamma
  11. Mindfulness Of Bahiya

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 and Maurice Walsh, 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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