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Academic Sutta Name Notes PSA Plae Vagga Nikaya PTS Keywords

XIX:8 Silence is not wisdom

Some ascetics who were not followers of the Buddha would say a few words of blessing to those who offered them food or other things. They would say, 'May you be free from danger, may you prosper and get rich, may you live long.' At that time, bhikkhus of the Buddha would remain silent after receiving something from their lay-disciples. This was because during the first twenty years after Buddha's attainment of Buddhahood they were advised to be silent on receiving offerings. The people began to compare the ascetics and the bhikkhus and commented, 'We receive words of blessing from the ascetics, but the Venerable bhikkhus just depart in silence.' The bhikkhus reported the matter to the Buddha who advised them to do likewise and utter a few appropriate words of blessing to their supporters after receiving offerings. As a result of that, people were able to develop confidence and satisfaction on hearing the kind words of blessing from the bhikkhus whom they respected. Then the ascetics of some other doctrines remarked with disdain, 'We adhere to the practice of the muni (sage) and keep silent, whereas the followers of samana Gotama go about delivering discourses in public places.'

On hearing those disparaging remarks, the Buddha said, 'Bhikkhus! There are some who keep silent because they are ignorant and timid, and some who keep silent because they don't want to share their profound knowledge with others. Thus one does not become a muni simply by keeping silent. Only one who has overcome evil is to be called muni.'

55/170 Dhammapada & Commentary Khuddhaka J.i.106ff. despair

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Last modified on: Sunday, 13 August 2000.