CHAPTER ELEVEN Adhikarana-Samatha This term means, +quot;the settlement of issues.+quot; T
This term means, "the settlement of issues." The seven rules in
this section are actually principles and procedures for settling the
four sorts of issues mentioned under Pacittiya 63: disputes,
accusations, offenses, and duties. The Canon's explanations of
these procedures are given not in the Vibhanga, but in Cullavagga
IV, which starts with a sketch of the procedures, followed by a
detailed discussion of how to apply them to each of the four types
of issues. We will follow the same mode of presentation here.
For the settling, the resolution of issues that arise:
1. //A verdict "in the presence of" should be given//. This means
that the formal act settling the issue must be carried out in the
presence of the Community, in the presence of the individuals, and
in the presence of the Dhamma and Vinaya.
//In the presence of the Community// means that the group of
bhikkhus that has gathered is competent to carry out the formal act
under question. In other words, it contains the minimum number of
bhikkhus required, all the bhikkhus in the designated area (sima)
either are present or have sent their consent, and none of the
bhikkhus in the meeting makes protest against having the matter
settled by the group -- although as we noticed under Pacittiya 80,
if a formal act is being carried out against a bhikkhu, his protest
does not invalidate the act; any protest made by any other member of
the group, though, would invalidate it, even if he only informs the
bhikkhu sitting next to him (Mv.IX.4.8).
//In the presence of the individuals// means that all the
individuals involved in the matter are present. For instance, in a
dispute, both sides of the dispute must be in the meeting; when the
Community is carrying out a formal act against one of its members,
the accused must be there; in an ordination, the bhikkhu-to-be must
be present. There are a few cases where this factor is not
followed -- such as the ordination of a bhikkhuni by messenger and
the act of turning the bowl upside down (refusing to accept
donations from a lay person who has mistreated the Community) -- but
these are rare.
//In the presence of the Dhamma and Vinaya// means that all the
proper procedures laid down in the Vinaya are followed, and that
bhikkhus who advocate what is not truly Dhamma or Vinaya are not
holding sway over the group.
2. //A verdict of mindfulness may be given//. This is the verdict
of innocence given in an accusation, based on the fact that the
accused remembers fully that he did not commit the offense in
A verdict of this sort is valid only if --
1) The bhikkhu is pure and without offense.
2) He is accused of an offense.
3) He asks for the verdict.
4) The Community gives him the verdict.
5) It is in accordance with the Dhamma, the assembly of bhikkhus
being complete and competent to give it (Cv.IV.4.11).
According to the Commentary, factor (1) here -- the bhikkhu is
pure and without offense -- applies only to arahants, but the Canon
makes no mention of this point. There are other places in the
Khandhakas where the phrase "pure and without offense" is used to
refer to any bhikkhu who has not committed the offense of which he
is accused (e.g., Mv.IX.1.7; Mv.IX.4.9), with nothing to indicate
that he would have to be an arahant. If the Commentary's
interpretation were correct here, there would be no way that a
bhikkhu in his right mind who is not an arahant could be declared
innocent of an offense at all, since the only three verdicts that
may settle an accusation are this one, the verdict of past insanity
(for a bhikkhu who was insane when he committed the offense in
question), and the act of (punishment for) further misconduct, for a
bhikkhu who committed the offense in question when he was in his
right mind. The fourth rule below -- acting in accordance with what
is admitted -- which is sometimes assumed to cover cases of
innocence, actually applies only to cases where the bhikkhu admits
to having committed an offense before the matter goes to
interrogation, and not to cases where he is innocent and asserts his
Thus we will follow the general usage in the Khandhakas and say
that the factor "pure and without offense" is fulfilled by any
bhikkhu -- arahant or not -- who has not committed the offense in
3. //A verdict of past insanity may be given//. This is another
verdict of innocence given in an accusation, based on the fact that
the accused was out of his mind when he committed the offense in
question and so is absolved of any responsibility for it.
Such a verdict is valid only if given to a bhikkhu who:
1) does not remember what he did while insane;
2) remembers, but only as if in a dream; or
3) is still insane enough to believe that his behavior is proper.
("I act that way and so do you. It is allowable for me and
allowable for you!") (Cv.IV.6.2).
4. //Acting in accordance with what is admitted//. This refers to
the ordinary confession of offenses, where no formal interrogation
is involved. The confession is valid only if in accord with the
facts, e.g., a bhikkhu actually commits a pacittiya offense and then
confesses it as such, and not as a stronger or lesser offense. If
he were to confess it as a dukkata or a sanghadisesa, that would be
5. //Acting in accordance with the majority//. This refers to cases
in which bhikkhus are unable to settle a dispute unanimously, even
after all the proper procedures are followed, and -- in the words of
the Canon -- are "wounding one another with weapons of the tongue."
In cases such as these, decisions can be made by majority vote.
Such a vote is valid only if --
1) The issue is major.
2) The proper procedures have already been followed (in at least
two or three Communities, says the Commentary) and have failed to
achieve a result.
3) Those on the side of the Dhamma are in the majority and are
perceived to be in the majority.
4) It is felt that such an act will not divide the Community.
5) The Community present is competent to settle the issue.
6) All the bhikkhus present agree to take a vote.
7) There is no cheating (e.g., one bhikkhu taking two voting
8) Each bhikkhu honestly votes in accordance with his views, and
not, for example, under fear of intimidation (Cv.IV.10).
6. //Acting in accordance with the accused's further misconduct//.
This refers to cases where a bhikkhu admits to having committed the
offense in question only after being formally interrogated about it.
He is then to be reproved for his actions, made to remember the
offense and to confess it, after which the Community carries out a
formal act of "further misconduct" against him as an added
punishment for being so uncooperative as to require the formal
interrogation in the first place.
The Cullavagga (IV.11.2-12.2) contains three separate discussions
of the conditions that are necessary for the act to be valid. The
discussions overlap, but can be summarized as follows:
The act is essentially the same thing as an act of censure, and as
such can be given to a bhikkhu who --
1) is a maker of strife, quarrels, and dissension in the
2) is ignorant, full of offenses, and has not undergone the
penalty for them; or
3) lives in unbecoming association with lay people.
What makes this act special is that it is aimed primarily at a
bhikkhu who has committed an offense that requires confession, but
he does not confess it until being formally interrogated. This is
shown by the factors required for the act to be valid:
1) The accused is impure (i.e., he actually did commit the
offense, and it is an offense that requires confession).
2) He is unconscientious (i.e., he didn't voluntarily confess the
offense on his own in the first place).
3) A formal meeting has been called in which he is present and has
been interrogated: reproved for his actions, made to remember
the offense, and formally accused of having committed it. (The
Commentary translates this word -- //sanuvada// -- as meaning
argumentative -- //saupavada// -- which also fits the context.
If the bhikkhu has been accused of the offense but at first
denies it, that would fulfill this factor.)
4) He finally acknowledges the offense and confesses it.
5) The Community carries out the act
6) in accordance with the Dhamma and Vinaya, and with a complete
Once such an act has been carried out against a bhikkhu, he must
observe the following rules:
1) He may not act as preceptor or teacher for another bhikkhu, nor
is he to have a novice attend to him.
2) He may not accept authorization to exhort bhikkhunis; even if
authorized, he is not to exhort them.
3) He should not commit the offense for which he is being
punished, a similar offense, or a worse one.
4) He should not find fault with the formal act or with those who
carried it out.
5) He should not accuse others of offenses or participate actively
in any of the procedures involved in a formal accusation -- e.g.,
suspending another bhikkhu's right to join in the Patimokkha
recitation, asking leave to accuse, reproving, making remember,
6) He should not quarrel with bhikkhus (Cv.IV.12.4).
If he abides by all these rules, and the Community is satisfied
that he has seen the error of his ways, they are to rescind the act
and restore him to his former status as a full-fledged bhikkhu.
7. //Covering over as with grass//. This refers to situations in
which both sides of a dispute realize that, in the course of their
dispute, they have done much that is unworthy of a contemplative.
If they were to deal with one another for their offenses, the only
result would be greater divisiveness. Thus if both sides agree, all
the bhikkhus gather in one place. (According to the Commentary,
this means that all bhikkhus in the //sima// must attend. No one
should send his consent, and even sick bhikkhus must go.) A motion
is made to the entire group that this procedure will be followed.
One member of each side then makes a formal motion to the members of
his faction that he will make a confession for them. When both
sides are ready, the representative of each side addresses the
entire group and makes the blanket confession, using the form of a
motion and one announcement (//natti-dutiya-kamma//).
This clears all offenses except for --
1) any heavy offense (parajika and sanghadisesa, says the
Commentary) committed by anyone in the group;
2) any offenses dealing with the laity;
3) any offenses of any member of either side who does not approve
of the procedure; and
4) any offenses of any bhikkhu who does not attend the meeting.
(This is the reason for the Commentary's statement that even sick
bhikkhus must attend.)
Point (3) here is interesting. If any member of either side were
to dissent, that would invalidate the whole procedure. This point
is thus probably added as a reminder to any bhikkhu who might be
vindictive enough to want to deal with his enemies case-by-case,
that //his// offenses will also have to be dealt with case-by-case.
This might be enough to discourage him from dissenting.
The Commentary explains the name of this procedure by comparing
the offenses cleared in this way to excrement that has been so
thoroughly covered with grass that it can no longer send an
* * *
According to the Cullavagga, the principle of "in the presence of"
applies to all four types of issues: disputes, accusations,
offenses, and duties. In addition, disputes may be settled "in
accordance with the majority"; accusations must be settled either
by a verdict of mindfulness, a verdict of past insanity, or an act
"in accordance with further misconduct"; and offenses may be settled
by acting in accordance with what is admitted or by covering them
over as with grass.
What follows it a more detailed discussion of how these principles
and procedures apply in each of the four cases:
Disputes are heated disagreements over what the Buddha did and did
not teach, or -- in the words of the Cullavagga -- "when bhikkhus
'It is Dhamma,' or 'It is not Dhamma;'
'It is Vinaya,' or 'It is not Vinaya;'
'It was spoken by the Tathagata,' or 'It was not spoken by
'It was regularly practiced by the Tathagata,' or 'It was
not regularly practiced by the Tathagata;'
'It was formulated by the Tathagata,' or 'It was not
formulated by the Tathagata;'
'It is an offense,' or 'It is not an offense;'
'It is a light offense,' or 'It is a heavy offense;'
'It is a curable offense,' or 'It is an incurable offense;'
'It is a serious offense,' or 'It is not a serious offense.'
Whatever strife, quarreling, contention, dispute, differing
opinions, opposing opinions, heated words, abusiveness based
on this, is an issue arising from disputes." (Cv.IV.14.2)
Thus not all disagreements on these matters are classed as issues.
Friendly disagreements or differences of interpretation aren't;
heated and abusive disagreements are.
The Buddha advises that a bhikkhu who wants to bring up such
questions for discussion should first consider five points: 1)
whether it is the right time for such a discussion; 2) whether it
concerns something true; 3) whether it is connected with the goal;
4) whether he will be able to get on his side bhikkhus who value the
Dhamma and Vinaya; and 5) whether the question will give rise to
strife, quarreling, disputes, cracks and splits in the Community.
If the answer to the first four questions is yes, and to the fifth
question no (i.e., the discussion is not likely to lead to strife),
he may then go ahead and start the discussion. Otherwise, he should
let the matter rest for the time being (Cv.IX.4).
The Cullavagga quotes the Buddha as saying that two sorts of
mental states -- skillful and unskillful -- can turn disputes into
issues. The unskillful states are covetous, corrupt, or confused
states of mind; the skillful ones are states of mind that are not
covetous, not corrupt, and not confused. The Buddha adds, however,
that six character traits can lead to issues arising from disputes
that will act towards the detriment of many people. They are when a
is easily angered and bears ill will,
is mean and spiteful,
is jealous and possessive,
is scheming and deceitful,
has evil desires and wrong views,
is attached to his own views, obstinate, unable to let them go.
Such a bhikkhu, he says, lives without deference or respect for
the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, and does not complete the
training. If one should see any of these traits within oneself or
others, one should strive for their abandonment. If there are no
such traits present, one should make sure that they don't arise in
the future (Cv.IV.14.3).
As noted under Sanghadisesa 10, there are two sorts of disputes:
those in which one of the parties is aiming at schism and those in
which neither is. Disputes of the first sort are to be dealt with
in line with the procedures listed under Sanghadisesas 10 & 11;
those of the second sort, as follows:
//In the presence of// -- Step 1: a) The Community meets, with at
least four bhikkhus -- the minimum to form a quorum -- present. All
of the bhikkhus in the //sima// are either present or have sent
their consent, and none of the bhikkhus present protests having the
matter settled by the group.
b) Both sides of the dispute are present.
c) The meeting is carried out in accordance with the procedures
laid down by the Buddha, and the unanimous decision of the Community
is in line with what the Buddha actually laid down. This point is
important: It means that no Community -- even if it follows the
proper form for the meeting -- can legitimately replace the Buddha's
teachings with its own preferences on any point.
If the Community can settle the manner in this way, it is properly
settled and should not be reopened.
//Step 2//: If the Community cannot settle the matter, they should
go to a monastery where there are more bhikkhus, and ask them to
help settle the matter. If it so happens that the group is able to
settle the matter among themselves on the way to the other
monastery, then it is properly settled, and they may return home to
their own monastery.
//Step 3//: If the matter is still unsettled by the time they reach
the second monastery, they should ask the resident bhikkhus there to
help settle the matter. The resident bhikkhus should then meet and
consider among themselves whether or not they are competent to
settle the matter. If they feel they aren't, they shouldn't take it
on. If they feel they are, they should then ask the incoming
bhikkhus how the dispute arose. (The Commentary here adds that the
residents should first stall for two or three days -- saying that
they have to wash their robes or fire their bowls first -- as a way
of subduing the pride of the incoming bhikkhus.)
Once the resident bhikkhus have asked the history of the dispute,
the incoming bhikkhus are to say that if the resident bhikkhus can
settle the dispute, they (the incoming bhikkhus) will hand it over
to them; if they can't settle it, the incoming bhikkhus will still
be in charge of the matter.
If the resident bhikkhus can then settle the dispute, it is
//Step 4//: If they can't settle it in this way -- and, in the
words of the Canon, "endless disputes arise, and there is no
discerning the meaning of a single statement" -- the disputants
should, with a motion and announcement, hand the matter over to a
panel of experts. The Commentary recommends a panel of ten. Each
member of the panel must meet the following qualifications:
1) He is moral, abiding scrupulously by the rules of the Vinaya.
2) He is learned in all things dealing with the celibate life.
3) He has memorized both Patimokkhas in detail.
4) He is firm in his knowledge of the Vinaya and is not easily led
5) He is skilled at reconciling both sides of a dispute.
6) He is skilled at settling an issue.
7) He knows what constitutes an issue.
8) He knows how an issue arises (i.e., through skillful,
unskillful, or neutral states of mind).
9) He knows when an issue is stopped.
10) He knows the way leading to the stopping of an issue. (Notice
that these last four qualifications are similar in form to
knowledge of the four Noble Truths.)
The Commentary notes that while the panel is discussing the issue,
none of the other bhikkhus is to speak. If the panel can settle the
issue, it is properly settled and should not be reopened.
//Step 5//: If the panel has trouble in settling the issue, and
there are members of the panel who "hide the Dhamma under the shadow
of the letter" -- i.e., use the letter of the rules to go against
the spirit -- they may be removed from the panel through a formal
motion. If the panel can then settle the issue, it is properly
If not -- and by this time, the Commentary says, at least two or
three monasteries have become involved -- the procedures of "in the
presence of" have been exhausted, and the dispute must go on to a
settlement "in accordance with the majority."
//In accordance with the majority//: A decision by majority vote is
valid only in the following situation:
1) The issue is important.
2) The procedures of "in the presence of" have all been followed
but have not succeeded in settling the issue.
3) Both sides have been made to reflect on their position.
4) The distributor of voting tickets knows that the majority sides
with the Dhamma, or
5) that the majority probably sides with the Dhamma.
6) The distributor of voting tickets knows that the procedure will
not lead to a split in the Sangha, or
7) that the procedure will probably not lead to a split in the
8) The tickets are taken in accordance with the rule (e.g., only
one ticket per bhikkhu, and the Dhamma side wins).
9) The assembly is complete.
10) The bhikkhus take the tickets in accordance with their views
(and not, for example, under fear of coercion).
When these factors are all present, the group should first ask one
of its members to act as a distributor of voting tickets. He should
be free of the four kinds of prejudice, and know what does and does
not constitute the taking of a voting ticket. Before accepting the
role, he should reflect on whether the situation meets the ten
qualifying factors, and accept only when it does. Once he accepts
the role, he is to be authorized by means of a formal motion and
He is then to have voting tickets made -- a different color for
each side -- and conduct the ballot in one of three ways: secretly,
by whispering in the ear, or openly.
In //secret// balloting, he is to tell each bhikkhu, "This color
is for this side, and that color for that. Take one, but don't show
it to anyone." According to the Commentary, this method is to be
used when there are many unconscientious bhikkhus in the assembly.
In "//whispering in the ear//" balloting, he is to whisper to each
bhikkhu, "This color is for this side, and that color for that.
Take one, but don't tell anyone." This method, the Commentary says,
is for assemblies in which there are many foolish or trouble-making
In //open// balloting, the bhikkhus are to take the voting tickets
openly. This method is for assemblies where the distributor is
certain that the conscientious bhikkhus are in the majority.
Once the vote is taken, the distributor is to assess the result
before announcing it. If he sees that the anti-Dhamma side has won,
he is to annul the balloting and take the vote all over again.
According to the Commentary, he may take the vote up to three times.
If the anti-Dhamma side is still in the majority, he should announce
that the time is not right for a vote, adjourn the meeting, and try
to find more bhikkhus on the side of the Dhamma to join the next
These procedures make two interesting assumptions: One side of
the dispute is clearly in the right, and the distributor must belong
to the right side. If he belongs to the wrong side, the whole
balloting is invalid, and the issue may later be reopened without
penalty. If neither side is clearly in the right, the composers of
the Cullavagga would probably consider the issue unimportant and not
worthy of a vote in the first place. If this is true, then even if
a vote is taken, it would not be a valid use of the procedure, and
the results would not be binding.
In all of these steps for settling disputes, the important point
to remember is that in no way is a group of bhikkhus to rewrite the
Dhamma or Vinaya in line with their views. Even if they attempt it,
following the procedures to the letter, the fact that their decision
goes against the Buddha's teachings invalidates their efforts, and
the issue may be reopened at any time without penalty.
* * *
Accusations. When a bhikkhu has committed an offense, it is his
responsibility to undergo the penalty voluntarily so as to make
amends for it. If his fellow bhikkhus see, hear, or suspect that he
has committed an offense without undergoing the penalty, it is their
duty to question and admonish him in private, in accordance with the
procedures discussed under Sanghadisesa 8. The issue may be settled
informally in one of two ways: (1) The accused admits to the act,
sees it as an offense, and undergoes the penalty; or (2) he is truly
innocent, professes his innocence, and can convince his admonishers
that their suspicions were ungrounded. If both sides act in good
faith and without prejudice, issues of this sort are relatively easy
to settle informally in this way.
If the issue can't be settled, it should be taken to a meeting of
the Community for a formal interrogation and verdict.
When the Community meets, both the accused and the accuser must be
present, and both must agree to the case's being heard by that
particular group. (If the original accuser is a lay person, one of
the bhikkhus is to take up the charge.) The accused is then asked
if he remembers having committed the offense in question, and is to
be dealt with in accordance with what he admits to having done
(Mv.IX.6.1-4). The Cullavagga (IV.14.29) shows that the other
bhikkhus are not to take his first statement at face value. They
should press and cross-examine him until they are all satisfied that
he is telling the truth, and only then may they pass one of three
1) If he is innocent of the offense and can convince the group of
his innocence, he is to request a verdict of //mindfulness// --
expressing the request three times -- and the Community is to
give it to him by means of a formal motion with three
2) If he committed the offense while insane or possessed, he
should request a verdict of //past insanity// -- again,
expressing the request three times -- and the Community is to
give it to him by means of a formal motion with three
3) If he committed the offense while in his right mind, but admits
to it only after the interrogation has begun, the other bhikkhus
are to make him confess the offense and then give him a verdict
of //further misconduct// by means of a formal motion with three
As we noted above, each of these three verdicts is valid only if
in line with the truth. If it so happens that a guilty bhikkhu is
given a verdict of mindfulness, a bhikkhu who committed the offense
in question while he was in his right mind is given a verdict of
past insanity, or an innocent bhikkhu is given a verdict of further
misconduct, the case may be reopened when new evidence surfaces, and
the verdict rescinded or reversed.
There are, however, two situations in which none of these three
verdicts applies, and the accusation -- at least for the time being
-- remains unsettled:
(1) If a bhikkhu, in the course of an interrogation, admits to an
action that is an offense, but either refuses to see it as an
offense or refuses to confess it, he is subject to an act of
banishment. Though this too may later be rescinded on the basis
of good behavior -- when he admits that his action was an offense
and confesses it -- it is a much stronger penalty than the act
for further misconduct.
(2) If a bhikkhu denies having committed the act in question, and
the bhikkhus are not convinced of his innocence, there are
various ways to pressure him to tell the truth: The Cullavagga
suggests intensive interrogation; the Commentary, long bouts of
group chanting. If neither works, and the Community still has
doubts about his innocence, the issue is to be abandoned for the
time being as unsettled: The accused is neither to be punished
nor declared innocent. As long as the issue remains unsettled,
though, there will be no peace of mind either for the accused or
for the Community as a whole.
* * *
Offenses. All offenses are settled by means of the principle of
//in the presence of//. Most are also settled by means of the
procedure of //in accordance with what is admitted//. Rare cases
may be settled by //covering over as with grass//.
//In accordance with what is admitted//: When a bhikkhu has
committed an offense requiring confession and then confesses it
truthfully in the presence of another bhikkhu, group of bhikkhus, or
complete Community, that is called settlement in accordance with
what is admitted. It also counts as having been settled in the
presence of the Dhamma and Vinaya and the individuals -- i.e., the
bhikkhu making the confession and the bhikkhu(s) witnessing it are
face to face.
If a bhikkhu has committed a sanghadisesa offense, it is settled
only after he has confessed it and undergone penance and probation,
both of which require further confessions. Only then, when a
Community of at least 20 bhikkhus has met to lift the penalty from
him, is the offense considered settled. Here, //in the presence
of// would include not only the Dhamma, Vinaya, and individuals, but
also the Community, when it imposes the penance and/or probation,
and again when it lifts the penalty.
If a bhikkhu has committed a parajika offense, it is settled only
when he admits that he is no longer a bhikkhu and returns to lay
life. Here, //in the presence of// would have the same factors as
under confessable offenses, above.
//Covering over as with grass//: This procedure has already been
discussed in detail above, and there is no need to add any further
details here. //In the presence of//, here, means in the presence
of the Dhamma, Vinaya, individuals, and the Community: In the
presence of the individuals means that those who make the blanket
confession and those who witness it are face to face. In the
presence of the Community means that enough bhikkhus for a quorum
(four) have arrived, the assembly is complete (all the bhikkhus in
the //sima// have joined the meeting) and none of the bhikkhus,
having met, makes any protest.
* * *
Duties are settled //in the presence of// --
(1) when they are properly carried out in line with the procedures
set out in the Dhamma and Vinaya,
(2) if the relevant individuals are present (e.g., the ordinand in
an ordination, the bhikkhu-to-be-banished in a formal act of
banishment, etc.), and
(3) the Community that has met to carry them out forms a quorum
and a complete assembly, with none of those present -- except the
bhikkhu against whom a formal act is to be carried out, if such
is the case -- makes any protest.
* * * * * * * *
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