Perceiving those capable of understanding the liberating message, regardless of their appearance or caste or social standing, he taught them this way. There is the example of the leper:
|The Buddha taught daily for 45 years|
gradual instruction" pattern of a sutra (a suture, unifying string) progressing through stages was utilized by the Buddha to prepare listeners' hearts/minds before speaking on the more advanced teaching of the Four Noble Truths. The stock passage (e.g., DN 3, DN 14, MN 56) runs as follows:
"Then the Blessed One gave a gradual instruction -- that is to say, speaking on liberality, virtuous conduct, and the heavens, then explaining the peril, the folly, and the depravity of [addiction to] sensual pleasures and, moreover, the advantage of freedom.
"When the Blessed One perceived that the listener's mind was prepared, pliant, freed of obstacles, elevated and lucid, he explained that exalted teaching particular to the buddhas, that is: suffering, its cause, its undoing, and the path [to its undoing]."