Yasadatta – Hearing True Dhamma


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This poem is from the Theragatha. The Theragatha preserves 264 poems of elder monks and is the eighth section in the Khuddaka Nikāya. The Khuddaka Nikāya is a collection of short texts in (mostly) verse. The Khuddaka Nikāya is the last Nikaya (collection) of the Sutta Piṭaka, the second book of the Pāli Canon.

In this poem, Yasadatta shows the foolishness of debating the Dhamma rather than actually practicing a Buddha’s teachings. Common during the Buddha’s time and today, using debate (argument) is a subtle and pervasive strategy to continue to ignore ignorance of Four NobleTruths and avoid developing the Eightfold Path.

Debate in this context is any internal or external conversational distraction from the direct Path an awakened human being taught.   The Buddha awakened to the profound understanding that it is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that is the underlying condition that results in all manner of confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointment. [1]

Perhaps the most debilitating and distracting aspect of a mind rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths is the fabrication of thoughts, words, ideas, and actions that obscure hearing the True Dhamma while providing the appearance of “spiritual” practice. [2]

It is through the Eightfold Path that one is able to pierce the veil of ignorance and recognize and abandon greed, aversion, and ongoing deluded thinking, the root of all suffering.  [3]

Yasadatta – Hearing True Dhamma

Theragatha 5:10

Intent on trivial argument,
dull and distracted they hear the Buddha’s teaching.
They are as far from the True Dhamma
as the ground is from the sky.

Intent on trivial argument,
dull and distracted they hear the Buddha’s teaching.
They fade from the True Dhamma
like a waning moon.

Intent on trivial argument,
dull and distracted they hear the Buddha’s teaching.
They drain the True Dhamma
like a fish with no water.

Intent on trivial argument,
dull and distracted they hear the Buddha’s teaching.
They do not grow in the True Dhamma
like a rotted seed.

Those that do hear the Buddha’s Teachings,
with mindful intent,
having abandoned greed, aversion, and deluded thinking,
they realize the Goal,
free, peaceful, totally unbound.

End of Poem


  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta

For All Who Reside In The Dhamma - Agantuka Sutta

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

Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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