“The greatest miracle is the miracle of learning.”

I was asked about this one today: “The greatest miracle is the miracle of learning.”

I immediately remembered a discourse from the Buddha where teaching is described as the highest miracle. The Buddha outlines, in some detail, the miracle of psychic power, the miracle of telepathy, and the miracle of instruction.

Here’s the part about instruction:

And what is the miracle of instruction? There is the case where a certain person gives instruction in this way: ‘Direct your thought in this way, don’t direct it in that. Attend to things in this way, don’t attend to them in that. Let go of this, enter and remain in that.’ This is called the miracle of instruction.

The Buddha himself doesn’t say that this is the highest miracle: that’s left to his interlocutor, the brahman Sangarava. The Buddha doesn’t say that this assessment is correct, but he doesn’t contradict that part of what Sangarava said, so I presume he did agree.

I think that Jack Kornfield may be responsible for this quote. It’s not in his “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book,” whose title has led many to think that the contents are scriptural, when actually they’re Jack’s distillations and adaptations of various Buddhist and non-Buddhist sayings, but all of the Google results for this quote are connected with him. For example it’s found in this article he wrote.

Perhaps Jack was quoting from memory and mixed up “teaching” and “learning.” Or perhaps there is another sutta somewhere that describes learning as a miracle — which it is, I guess. But for now I’m categorizing this as fake.

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