Heirs in the teaching

Dhammadāyāda Sutta

Majjhima Nikāya 3 of 152

Translation by Bhikkhu Sujato read by Roland Kitchen

Description (Nyanamoli Bhikkhu ©)

“It is comparatively easy in this life to become”heirs of material things” and even poor people are heirs in this sense when they are attached to their possessions. Though it is usually necessary to work to gain possessions, it is easy, the way of the unenlightened heart in fact is to crave for and cling to material things. But the way of becoming “heirs in Dhamma” is not easy for it goes against desires and attachments along the path of wisdom and renunciation. One only becomes an heir in Dhamma when the first Noble Path and Fruit is attained, that of Stream-winning. Before that time, as a good person trying to practise Dhamma sometimes one succeeds but sometimes one fails as wisdom and defilements chnage places in one’s heart. Such a person obviously does not possess the Dhamma. But after Stream-winning with its first glimpse of Nibbana, some changes take place in the character: the three fetters drop off: the view that the five aggregates are self, attachment to rites and rituals (as the essence of religion), and uncertainty (because one has seen Nibbana for oneself); other changes are that one comes to have unshakeable faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha while one’s moral conduct, as far as the Five Precepts go, is stainless. Again a Stream-winner will never think of changing his Teacher as he has no uncertainty, having seen Dhamma for himself. It is right to call a person like this “heir in Dhamma”. Eventually, sooner or later, such a person is certain to become a complete heir, with the attainment of Arahantship. When bhikkhus are heirs of this Dhamma, then the Buddhasāsana thrives, but when they become heirs of material things - property, rice fields and rented buildings, then they are heirs of the worries and distractions of a lay person’s life, and as they have no time for Dhamma , the Sāsana declines.”