Three ways of listening to the Dhamma


Association with the good friend in Dhamma, listening, considering what one
 
has heard, testing its meaning and the right practice are the conditions for
 
enlightenment. We have listened to the Dhamma and considered it and now
 
we are wondering how mindfulness of nama and rupa can begin. We find
 
that it hardly begins. Are there factors which hinder the development of right
 
understanding?
 
 
Although we believe that we listened and considered what we heard, we did
 
not listen enough and we did not truly test the meaning of what we heard.
 
Perhaps we were only passive listeners. We read in the “Gradual Sayings”
 
(Book of the Threes, Ch III, § 30, Topsy-turvey) about three ways of
 
listening to the Dhamma. The Buddha said that there is the “topsy-turvy-
 
brained”, the “scatter-brained” and “the man of comprehensive brain”. As to
 
the “topsy-turvy-brained” who visits the monks and listens to the Dhamma,
 
we read:
 
 
“... But as he sits there he pays no heed to that talk in its beginning,
 
pays no heed to its middle,
 
pays no heed to its ending.
 
Also when he has risen from his seat he pays no heed thereto...
 
Just as when a pot is turned upside down,
 
the water poured thereon runs off and does not stay in the pot,
 
even so in this case a certain person frequents the monastery ...
 
but pays no heed to that talk...
 
Also when he rises from his seat he pays no heed thereto...
 
This one is called ‘the topsy-turvy-brained’.
 
 
 
And of what sort, monks, is the scatter-brained ?
 
 
 
In this case a certain person frequents the monastery...
 
As he sits he pays heed to that talk in its beginning,
 
its middle and its end,
 
but when he has risen up from his seat he pays no heed thereto...
 
Just as when in a man’s lap divers kinds of food are piled together,
 
such as sesamum, rice, sweetmeats and jujube fruits.
 
When he rises from his seat
 
he scatters all abroad through absent-mindedness, -- even so, monks,
 
in this case a certain person frequents the monastery...
 
As he sits he pays heed to that talk...
 
but when he has risen up from his seat he pays no heed thereto.
 
This one is called ‘the scatter-brained’.”
 
 
 
 
We then read about the man of comprehensive mind who listens and pays
 
heed to that talk in its beginning, middle and end, and who also when he
 
gets up bears it in mind. We read:
 
 
 
“... Just as when a pot is set upright
 
the water poured therein accumulates and does not run away,
 
even so in this case a certain person frequents the monastery...
 
and pays heed to that talk...
 
Also when he rises from his seat he bears it in mind,
 
in its beginning, its middle and its ending.
 
This one, monks, is called ‘the man of comprehensive mind’.”
 
 
 
We think perhaps that we do not belong to the two first categories, but are
 
we sure? We may be forgetful of what we heard and we may not apply it.
 
Then we are like the “scatter-brained”. 


Topic 230