You’ve probably noticed that the teachings by the Buddha all start off in a very similar way. For instance, the Diamond Sutra starts off with:
Thus have I heard. At one time, the Buddha was in the city of Sravasti at the Jeta Grove Monastery with a gathering of monks numbering 1,250.
Here’s how each teaching, or sutra, starts off with the six required conditions:
- Thus – Faith: The faith of the assembly must be established in order to hear the teaching
- have I heard – Listening: those assembled must have the necessary merit to hear the teachings
- at one time – Time: the time to hear the teachings have ripened (the exact time is never given on purpose to eliminate the limited concept of time and space that living beings have)
- the Buddha – Teacher: the master delivering the Dharma
- city of Sravasti at the Jeta Grove – Location: The venue that the teachings are being given in is determined to be acceptable
- gathering of monks numbering 1,250 – Audience: the faithful assembled are ready to hear the teachings of the dharma
These six conditions must be present in order for a Dharma teaching to occur. The only exception is the Eight Realizations of a Bodhisattva Sutra where “Thus have I heard…” is not included because the Parthian monk, An Shigao, more than likely decided not to include the introductory passage so the sutra would be more accessible to his Chinese audience.