In Theravada Buddhism, anupubbikathā or ānupubbikathā (Pali) – variously translated as "gradual discourse," "Gradual instruction," "progressive instruction," and "step-by-step talk" – is a method by which the Buddha taught the Dhamma to suitably receptive lay people.
The common formula is:
- Generosity (Dāna)
- Virtue (Sīla)
- Heaven (sagga)
- Danger of sensual pleasure (kāMānaṃ ādīnava)
- Renunciation (Nekkhamma)
- The Four Noble Truths (cattāri ariya-saccāni)
"Then the Blessed One gave the Householder ... progressive instruction, that is, talk on giving, talk on virtue, talk on the heavens; he explained the danger, degradation, and defilement in sensual pleasures and the blessing of renunciation.
When he knew that the Householder['s] ... mind was ready, receptive, free from hindrances, elated, and confident, he expounded to him the teaching special to the Buddhas: Suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path."
Atha kho bhagavā ... gahapatissa ānupubbīkathaṃ kathesi. Seyyathīdaṃ: dānakathaṃ, sīlakathaṃ, saggakathaṃ, kāMānaṃ ādīnavaṃ, okāraṃ saṅkilesaṃ, nekkhamme ānisaṃsaṃ pakāsesi. Yadā bhagavā aññāsi ... gahapatiṃ kallacittaṃ muducittaṃ vinīvaraṇacittaṃ udaggacittaṃ pasannacittaṃ, atha yā buddhānaṃ sāmukkaṃsikā dhammadesanā, taṃ pakāsesi: Dukkhaṃ samudayaṃ Nirodhaṃ maggaṃ.