ccharles wrote:Thank you all for your responses. In this sutta when it says to hear the Dhamma, what does "Dhamma" refer to and how much "Dhamma" must one hear? Must one hear the complete set of the Buddha's teachings recorded in the Pali Canon, or does this refer to any amount of the Buddha's teaching that suffice for one to reach his goals along the path? For example, I've heard those stories of people in the Buddha's day hearing only a few lines of Dhamma and becoming enlightened, without having to hear every single one of his teachings.
I think it means the latter: the amount that is required for one to reach their goals. Anything else would surely be superfluous. And attempting to hear or read the complete set could lead you into problems. What counts as the Buddha's teachings? Do you have to hear all those very similar suttas that only vary in very small particulars (of which there are many in the Samyutta Nikaya)? Do you have to hear all the repetitions of phrases? The temptation to skip bits that don't seem to make much sense is bad enough as it is for most people, and listening to the whole lot would probably lead to people mistaking the means for the end.
My advice is to stick with what your own experience shows you is good for you. Does what you hear lead to faith and clarity and a desire to examine more? Or does it lead to self-competition, strain, confusion, etc?