Topics of Conversation

Topics of Conversation

Kathavatthu Sutta

Flowers in the FieldI have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. Now at that time a large number of monks, after the meal, on returning from their alms round, had gathered at the meeting hall and were engaged in many kinds of bestial topics of conversation: conversation about kings, robbers, and ministers of state; armies, alarms, and battles; food and drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, and scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women and heroes; the gossip of the street and the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world and of the sea; talk of whether things exist or not.

Then the Blessed One, emerging from his seclusion in the late afternoon, went to the meeting hall and, on arrival, sat down on a seat made ready. As he was sitting there, he addressed the monks: “For what topic of conversation are you gathered together here? In the midst of what topic of conversation have you been interrupted?”

“Just now, lord, after the meal, on returning from our alms round, we gathered at the meeting hall and got engaged in many kinds of bestial topics of conversation: conversation about kings, robbers, and ministers of state; armies, alarms, and battles; food and drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, and scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women and heroes; the gossip of the street and the well; tales of the dead; tales of diversity, the creation of the world and of the sea; talk of whether things exist or not.”

“It isn’t right, monks, that sons of good families, on having gone forth out of faith from home to the homeless life, should get engaged in such topics of conversation, that is, conversation about kings, robbers, and ministers of state… talk of whether things exist or not.

“There are these ten topics of [proper] conversation. Which ten? Talk [1] on modesty, [2] on contentment, [3] on seclusion, [4] on non-entanglement, [5] on arousing persistence, [6] on virtue, [7] on concentration, [8] on discernment, [9] on release, and [10] on the knowledge and vision of release. These are the ten topics of conversation. If you were to engage repeatedly in these ten topics of conversation, you would outshine even the sun and moon, so mighty, so powerful — to say nothing of the wanderers of other sects.”

Anguttara Nikaya 10:69 (The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha)

See also: Ud 2.2; AN 9.1; AN 10.70.

Source: “Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics of Conversation (1)” (AN 10.69), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.069.than.html . [This format, with a small title modification, was produced by Alexander Peck.]

©1997 Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

The text of this page (“Kathavatthu Sutta: Topics of Conversation (1)”, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of the license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Transcribed from a file provided by the translator. Last revised for Access to Insight on 30 November 2013.

For a study guide on noble conversation entitled “Noble Conversation: A Study Guide” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, click on http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/conversation.html

This study guide covers the following topics:

  1. Modesty
  2. Contentment
  3. Seclusion
  4. Non-entanglement
  5. Persistence
  6. Virtue
  7. Concentration
  8. Discernment
  9. Release
  10. Knowledge and Vision of Release