Teaching from the Top

 “The way we teach when we follow the Buddha’s teachings is that virtue comes first, concentration comes in the middle, and discernment comes at the end. That’s how we memorize these things. But with some people, you don’t teach virtue first. You get them to sit until their minds are quiet. You don’t yet talk about, one, virtue; two, concentration; three, discernment. Have them sit until their minds are quiet. When they’re quiet, they’ll sense things on their own. It’s as if there were a poisonous snake under a piece of cloth right here. We can stand on the cloth and feel relaxed because we don’t know it’s there. But when the mind is quiet, we’ll sense that something is wrong.

It’s like this tree here. We’re told to teach it beginning from the base. But we can also teach people to grab hold of the top first. As they follow along the tree, they’ll get to the base. If you start with the base and follow along, you’ll get to the top—because the base and top are part of the same thing.

It’s the same when you try to figure out how to teach some people. With concentration, when the mind is quiet, it’ll sense that something is wrong.

Discernment will gradually seep in, seep in, and the mind will gradually gain a sense of right and wrong.”

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