CHAPTER EIGHT Pacittiya As explained in the preceding chapter, this term is most probably
As explained in the preceding chapter, this term is most probably
related to the verb //pacinati//, "to know," and means "to be made
known" or "to be confessed." There are 92 rules in this category,
divided into eight chapters of ten each, and one of twelve.
Part One: The Lie Chapter
1. A deliberate lie is to be confessed.
"Now at that time Hatthaka the Sakyan had been overthrown in
debate. In discussions with adherents of other sects, he
acknowledged points after having denied them, denied points
after having acknowledged them, evaded one question with
another, told deliberate lies, made an appointment (for a
debate) but then didn't keep it. The adherents of other
sects were offended and annoyed and spread it about....
"The bhikkhus heard them...and having approached Hatthaka
the Sakyan, asked him: 'Is it true, friend Hatthaka, that
in discussions with adherents of other sects, you
acknowledged points after having denied them, denied points
after having acknowledged them, evaded one question with
another, told deliberate lies, made an appointment (for a
debate) but then didn't keep it?'
"'Those adherents of other sects have to be beaten in
//some// way or another. You can't just give them the
A deliberate lie is a statement or gesture made with the purpose
of misrepresenting the truth to someone else. According to the
K/Commentary, a violation of this rule requires two factors:
1) //Intention//: the intention to misrepresent the truth; and
2) //Effort//: the effort to make another individual know
whatever one wants to communicate based on that intent.
Intention. The desire to misrepresent the truth fulfills this
factor regardless of what one's motives are. Thus "white lies,"
lies made with benevolent intentions (e.g., to a person whose state
of mind is too weak to take the truth), and outrageous lies meant as
jokes -- to amuse rather than deceive -- would all fall under this
For this reason, a bhikkhu who wants to shield an emotionally weak
person from harsh truths has to be very skillful in phrasing his
statements. And any bhikkhu with an active sense of humor should be
careful about how he expresses it, bearing in mind a famous passage
from M.61: The Buddha shows an empty water dipper to Rahula, his
son, telling him that anyone who feels no shame at uttering a
deliberate lie is as empty of the virtues of a contemplative as the
dipper is empty of water. He then advises Rahula to train himself:
"I will not utter a deliberate lie, even for a laugh."
Effort. According to the Vibhanga, to misrepresent the truth
means to say that one has seen X when one hasn't, that one hasn't
seen X when one has, or that one has seen X clearly when one is in
doubt about the matter. This pattern holds for the other senses --
hearing, smell, taste, touch, and ideation -- as well. Thus to
repeat what one has heard, seen, etc., even if it actually is
misinformation, does not count as a misrepresentation of the truth
under this rule, since one is truthfully reporting what one has
seen, etc. If, however, one says that one believes in such
misinformation -- when one actually doesn't -- this //would// count
as a misrepresentation of the truth, and so would fulfill this
According to the Commentary, effort here covers falsehoods
conveyed not only by speech but also by writing or gesture, as well
as the act of remaining silent in situations where silence would
convey a false message (as during the recitation of the Patimokkha,
where silence on the part of the listener indicates that he has no
Result is not a factor here. Thus whether or not anyone
understands the lie or is deceived by it, is irrelevant to the
In cases where a particular lie would fall under another rule --
such as Parajika 4, Sanghadisesas 8 or 9, Pacittiya 13, 24, or 76 --
the penalties assigned by that rule take precedence over the ones
assigned here. For instance, making a false claim to a superior
human state and not being understood would entail a thullaccaya
under Parajika 4; falsely accusing another bhikkhu of a parajika
offense would entail a sanghadisesa under Sanghadisesa 8; falsely
accusing him of a sanghadisesa would entail a pacittiya under
Pacittiya 76; and falsely accusing him of a lesser offense would
entail a dukkata under that rule.
The Vinaya Mukha argues that this rule should take precedence in
cases where a particular lie would entail only a dukkata under any
of the other rules -- as in the last example -- but this contradicts
Non-offenses. A bhikkhu who misrepresents the truth
unintentionally commits no offense under this rule. The Vibhanga
gives two examples -- speaking quickly and saying one thing while
meaning another -- and the Commentary explains them as follows:
//Speaking quickly// means speaking before one has carefully
considered the matter. //Saying one thing while meaning another//
means making a slip of the tongue, either out of stupidity or
carelessness. And, as we noted above, a bhikkhu who speaks from
mistaken assumptions -- truthfully reporting any mistaken
information he may have received or mistaken beliefs he may have
thought up -- does not come under this rule.
Broken promises. The Mahavagga (III.14.1-14) imposes a dukkata on
the act of making a promise with pure intentions but later breaking
it. Since the texts make no mention of any circumstances beyond
one's control that would exempt one from that penalty, a bhikkhu
should be very careful of how he states his plans for the future. A
special instance of breaking a promise -- accepting an invitation to
a meal but then not going -- is treated under Pacittiya 33.
Summary: The intentional effort to misrepresent the truth to
another individual is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
2.An insult is to be confessed.
An insult is a gesture or statement, written or spoken, made with
the malicious intent of hurting another person's feelings or of
bringing him/her into disgrace. The Vibhanga analyzes the full
offense under this rule in terms of three factors:
1) //Effort//: One insults a person directly to his face,
touching on any one of the 10 topics for abuse
(//akkosa-vatthu//) discussed below.
2) //Object//: The person is a bhikkhu.
3) //Intention//: One wants to humiliate him for malicious
Effort. The Vibhanga lists ten ways a verbal insult can be
phrased: making remarks about the other person's
//race, class, or nationality// (You nigger! You bum! You
//name// (You really are a Dick!);
//family or lineage// (You bastard! You son of a bitch!);
//occupation// (You pimp! You capitalist pig!);
//craft// (What would you expect from a guy who crochets?);
//disease or handicap// (Hey, Clubfoot! Spastic!);
//physical characteristics// (Hey, Fatty! Beanpole! Shrimp!
//defilements// (You control freak! Fool! Queer! Breeder!);
//offenses or attainments// (Some stream-winner //you// are!
You liar! You thief!); or
//using an abusive form of address//, such as, "You camel! You
goat! You ass! You penis! You vagina!" (%) (All five of
these come from the Vibhanga.)
These ten topics are called the //akkosa-vatthu// -- topics for
abuse -- and appear in the following training rule as well.
As the examples in the Vibhanga show, the remark that fulfills the
factor of effort here must touch on one of these topics for abuse
and must be made directly to the listener: "You are X." It may be
phrased either as sarcastic praise or as out-and-out abuse. The
Commentary and Sub-commentary say that any insulting remark not
listed in the Vibhanga would only be grounds for a dukkata, but the
Vibhanga defines the topics for abuse in such a way that //any//
term related to them in any way would fulfill this factor here.
Remarks made in an indirect or insinuating manner, though, would
not fulfill this factor. //Indirect remarks// are when the speaker
includes himself together with the target of his insult in his
statement ("We're all a bunch of fools.") //Insinuating remarks//
are when he leaves it uncertain as to whom he is referring to
("There are camels among us"). Any remark of this sort, if meant as
an insult, entails a dukkata regardless of whether the target is a
bhikkhu or not.
All of the insults mentioned in the Vibhanga take the form of
remarks about the person, whereas insults and verbal abuse at
present often take the form of command -- Go to hell! F -- off!
etc. -- and the question is whether or not these too would be
covered by this rule. Viewed from the standpoint of intent, they
fit under the general definition of an insult; but if for some
reason they would not fit under this rule, they would in most cases
be covered by Pacittiya 54.
Insulting remarks made about someone behind his/her back are dealt
with under Pacittiya 13.
Object. This factor is fulfilled for the full offense only if the
target of one's insult is a bhikkhu. To insult an unordained person
-- according to the Commentary, this runs the gamut from bhikkhunis
to all other living beings -- entails a dukkata.
Intent. The Vibhanga defines this factor as "desiring to jeer at,
desiring to scoff at, desiring to shame." If, with no insult
intended, a bhikkhu jokes about another person's race, etc., he
incurs a dubbhasita, regardless of whether the person is lay or
ordained, mentioned outright or insinuatingly, and regardless of
whether he/she takes it as a joke or an insult. This is the only
instance of this class of offense.
The K/Commentary adds result as a fourth factor -- the target of
one's insult knows, "He is insulting me" -- but there is no basis
for this in either the Vibhanga or the Commentary. If one makes an
insulting remark under one's breath, not intending to be heard, or
in a foreign language, not intending to be understood, the intention
would be to let off steam, which would not qualify as the intention
covered by this rule. If one truly wants to humiliate someone, one
will make the necessary effort to make that person hear and
understand one's words -- but if for some reason that person
//doesn't// hear or understand (a loud noise blots out one's words,
one uses a slang term that is new to one's listener), there is
nothing in the Vibhanga to indicate that one would escape from the
For this reason, whether or not the person addressed actually
feels insulted by one's remarks is of no consequence in determining
the severity of the offense. If one makes a remark to a fellow
bhikkhu, touching on one of the topics for abuse and meaning it as
an insult, one incurs a pacittiya even if he takes it as a joke. If
one means the remark as a joke, one incurs a dubbhasita even if the
other person feels insulted.
Non-offenses. According to the Vibhanga, a bhikkhu who mentions
another person's race, etc., commits no offense if he is "aiming at
Dhamma, aiming at his benefit, aiming at teaching." The Commentary
illustrates this with a bhikkhu saying to a member of the
untouchable caste: "You are an untouchable. Don't do any evil.
Don't be a person born into misfortune and going on to misfortune."
Another example would be of a teacher who uses insulting language
to shame a stubborn disciple. This would entail no offense if done
without malice, but one should be very sure of the purity of one's
motives and of the beneficial effect of one's words before using
language of this sort. The Cullavagga (IX.5.2) states that a
bhikkhu is fit to reprove another bhikkhu only if he keeps five
points in mind: "I will speak at the right time and not at the wrong
time. I will speak about what is factual and not about what is not
factual. I will speak with gentleness and not with harshness. I
will speak about what is connected with the goal and not about what
is not connected with the goal. And I will speak with thoughts of
kindness and not with inner hatred."
Summary: An insult made with malicious intent to another
bhikkhu is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
3. Malicious tale-bearing among bhikkhus is to be confessed.
Malicious tale-bearing is described in the Vibhanga as follows: X
makes remarks about Y touching on his race, name, or any of the
other ten //akkosa-vatthu// listed in the explanation to the
preceding rule. Z, hearing these remarks, goes to tell someone else
-- either W or Y himself -- in hopes of causing a rift between X and
his listener, or of winning favor with his listener in case there is
already a rift between the two. For example:
a) X calls Y a bastard behind his back. Z tells Y, in hopes of
ingratiating himself with Y.
b) X makes racist remarks about Y to his face. Z knows that W is
a friend of Y and hates racists, and so tells W what X said, in
hopes of causing a rift between W and X.
Bhikkhu Z commits the full offense here when three factors are
fulfilled: object, effort, and intent.
1) //Object//: Both Z's listener and X are bhikkhus; X has made
remarks about Y that qualify as a direct insult under the preceding
rule (or, if he didn't make them in Y's presence, remarks that would
have qualified as a direct insult had he done so).
2) //Effort//: Z reports X's remarks to his listener verbally or
by gesture (as in writing a letter),
3) //Intent//: with the intent of ingratiating himself with his
listener, or of causing a rift between his listener and X.
The K/Commentary adds a fourth factor -- Z's listener understands
what he is saying -- but as with the previous rule, there is no
basis for this in the Vibhanga.
Object. If either X or Z's listener -- or both -- are not
bhikkhus, then the penalty for Z is a dukkata.
If X's remarks qualified only as an indirect insult under the
preceding rule -- e.g., he said with reference to Y that, "There are
asses among us" -- then Z incurs a dukkata if he reports them with
the intent to ingratiate himself or cause a rift, regardless of
whether his listener and/or X are bhikkhus or not.
The Sub-commentary states that there is a dukkata for bearing
tales dealing with matters other than remarks about the ten
//akkosa-vatthu// -- i.e., telling Y about things said or done by X,
to make X appear in a bad light in hopes of winning favor or causing
a rift, although some cases of this sort would come under Pacittiya
Effort. This rule is sometimes translated as dealing with slander
-- false tale-bearing -- but as the examples in the Vibhanga show,
it actually deals with true tale-bearing: X really does say
insulting things about Y, and Z gives a true report. The Vinaya
Mukha comments that if Z engages in false tale-bearing, then
regardless of whether or not X and Z's listener are bhikkhus, Z
incurs the full penalty under Pacittiya 1.
Intent. To give a true report of such matters with motives other
than those of winning favor or causing a rift entails no offense.
Examples of this would include:
informing a senior bhikkhu when one bhikkhu has accused another of
a serious offense, so that an inquiry can be made for the sake of
harmony in the Community; or
telling a senior bhikkhu about a student of his who is making
racist remarks, so that the senior bhikkhu can put a stop to it.
Summary: Tale-bearing among bhikkhus, in hopes of winning
favor or causing a rift, is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
4. Should any bhikkhu have an unordained person recite
Dhamma line by line (with him), it is to be confessed.
This is an offense with two factors:
1) //Effort//: One gets a student to recite Dhamma line-by-line
with oneself (which, as we shall see below, means to train the
student to be a skilled reciter of a Pali Dhamma text).
2) //Object//: The student is neither a bhikkhu nor a bhikkhuni.
Only the first factor needs explanation, and is best treated under
two headings: Dhamma and reciting line-by-line.
Dhamma the Vibhanga defines as "a saying made by the Buddha, his
disciples, seers, or heavenly beings, connected with the teaching or
connected with the goal." The Commentary devotes a long discussion
to these terms, coming to the conclusion that //connected with the
Dhamma// refers to the Pali Canon -- in Pali, not in translation --
as agreed on in the first three councils, while //connected with the
goal (attha)// refers to the Maha Atthakatha, the most revered
ancient commentary (only in its original Pali version, the
The ancient commentaries disagreed as to what other works would
fit under this category, but Buddhaghosa's conclusion seems to be
that -- in the //Milinda Panha//, for example -- Ven. Nagasena's
quotes of the Buddha's words would count, but not his own
formulations of the teaching, and the same principle holds for other
texts that quote the Buddha's words as well. The ancient
commentaries are unanimous, though, in saying that "Dhamma" does
//not// cover the Mahayana sutras or compositions (this would
include translations) dealing with the Dhamma in languages other
This interpretation, identifying "Dhamma" with particular Pali
texts, has caused no controversy in the context of this rule --
although it seems unlikely that the compilers of the Vibhanga would
have had the commentaries in mind when they said, "connected with
the goal" -- but it //has// met with disagreement in the context of
Pacittiya 7, and so we will discuss it there in more detail.
Reciting line-by-line. To make someone recite line by line means
to train him/her by rote to be a skilled reciter of a text.
Bhikkhus in the days of the Buddha committed the teachings in the
Canon to memory so as to preserve them from generation to
generation. Although writing was in use at the time -- mainly for
keeping accounts -- no one used it to record teachings either of the
Buddha or of any other religious teacher. The Pali Canon was not
written down until approximately 500 years after the Buddha's
passing away, when repeated wars in Sri Lanka threatened its
The Vibhanga lists four ways in which a person might be trained to
be a reciter of a text:
1) The teacher and student recite in unison, i.e., beginning
together and ending together.
2) The teacher begins a line, the student joins in, and they end
3) The teacher recites the beginning syllable of a line together
with the student, who then completes it alone.
4) The teacher recites one line, and the student recites the next
Reciters of the Vedas still use these methods at present when
practicing their texts.
The origin story states that the Buddha forbade these methods of
training unordained people because they caused the lay students to
feel disrespect for the bhikkhus. The Vinaya Mukha explains this by
noting that if a teacher made a slip of the tongue while teaching in
this way, his students would look down on him for it. If this were
the right explanation, though, the no-offense clauses would have
listed "proper" ways of training novices and lay people to recite
the Dhamma, but they don't.
A more likely explanation is that at the time of the Buddha the
duty of memorizing and reciting the texts was considered the
province of the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. Although some lay people
memorized discourses (Mv.III.5.9), and bhikkhus of course taught the
Dhamma to lay people, there was apparently the feeling that to teach
non-ordainees to become skilled reciters of the texts was not good
for the relationship between bhikkhus and laity. There are two
possible reasons for this:
1) People may have felt that the bhikkhus were shirking their
responsibilities by trying to pass their duty off onto lay
2) The Brahmins at the time were very strict in not allowing
anyone outside their caste to memorize the Vedas, and their
example may have led lay people to feel disrespect for bhikkhus
who were not equally protective of their own tradition.
At present, the entire Canon is available in print, and even
bhikkhus rarely commit it to memory, although they do frequently
memorize parts of it, such as the Patimokkha, the major discourses,
and other passages chanted on ceremonial occasions. To train a lay
person or novice person to become skilled in reciting such teachings
by rote would entail the full penalty under this rule.
Perception and intent are not mitigating factors here. Thus a
bhikkhu who trains a novice to recite a text in any of the ways
mentioned above -- on the assumption that the novice is a bhikkhu --
incurs a pacittiya all the same. The same holds true for a bhikkhu
training a mixed group of bhikkhus and novices, even if his
intention is to train only the bhikkhus in the group.
Non-offenses. Since this rule is aimed at methods of teaching,
the Vibhanga states that there is no offense "for one made to recite
in unison." This, says the Commentary, refers to a young bhikkhu who
is told by his teacher to recite together with a novice who is the
Also, there is no offense if a bhikkhu chants a passage in unison
with unordained people who have already memorized it. The
Commentary extends this allowance to include cases of bhikkhus
learning a text from an unordained person, probably on the model of
the Itivuttaka, which -- according to its Commentary -- the bhikkhus
first learned from a servant woman who had memorized some of the
Buddha's teachings that the bhikkhus had overlooked.
Finally, there is no offense if a bhikkhu corrects an unordained
person who has memorized most of a passage or who is reciting in a
Summary: To train a novice or lay person to recite passages
of Dhamma by rote is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
5. Should any bhikkhu lie down in the same lodging with an
unordained person for more than two or three consecutive
nights, it is to be confessed.
As the Vinaya Mukha comments, "The Buddha originally laid down the
rule forbidding the act of sleeping in the same lodging with an
unordained person so that lay people would not see the unsightly
attitudes a bhikkhu might assume while asleep. But then, when
novices came into being, they were classed as unordained people and
so had no place to stay. The Buddha therefore relaxed the rule,
allowing bhikkhus to sleep in the same lodging with an unordained
person no more than three nights running, thus also opening the way
for them to sleep in the same lodging with ordinary lay men."
The occasion for the first formulation of the rule was this:
"Now at that time, lay men came to the monastery to hear the
Dhamma. After the Dhamma had been taught, each of the elder
bhikkhus went to his own dwelling, while the newer bhikkhus
went to sleep right there in the attendance hall with the
lay men -- careless, absent-minded, naked, mumbling, and
snoring. The lay men were offended and annoyed and spread
it about, 'How can revered people go to sleep careless,
absent-minded, naked, mumbling, and snoring?'"
The occasion for the final formulation was this:
"The bhikkhus said to Ven. Rahula (who must have still been
a novice at this point), 'There is a training rule laid down
by the Blessed One that (a bhikkhu) should not lie down
together with an unordained person. Find yourself a place
to sleep.' So Ven. Rahula, not being able to find a place
to sleep, went to sleep in the outhouse. Then the Blessed
One, getting up towards the end of the night, went to the
outhouse and on arriving cleared his throat. Ven. Rahula
cleared his throat.
"'It's me, sir -- Rahula.'
"'Why are you lying there?'
"So Ven. Rahula told him what had happened."
There are two factors for the full offense here:
1) //Object//: an unordained person.
2) //Effort//: (a) lying down, (b) in the same lodging with the
unordained person, (c) for four nights running.
Object. The Vibhanga defines //unordained person// as anyone
other than a bhikkhu. According to the Commentary, this includes
not only human beings, but also any animal large enough to have
intercourse with. The Sub-commentary, though, following the Three
Ganthipadas, notes that this does not include female human beings,
since there is another training rule, following immediately on this
one, that deals specifically with them.
Lying down. To be lying down in the same lodging with someone
else means to be prone at the same time as the other person is prone
within the area defined as the lodging. This factor is fulfilled
whether the bhikkhu lies down when the other person is already lying
there, or vice versa, or both lie down at the same time. Although
there are other training rules where lying down is included under
the term //sitting//, sitting is //not// included under the term
//lying down// here. Whether or not the bhikkhu or the other person
falls asleep is of no account.
Lodging. The Vibhanga defines the lodging that can be grounds for
a pacittiya here as a place completely roofed and completely walled,
or mostly roofed and mostly walled. A place half-roofed and
half-walled, it says, is grounds for a dukkata, while a place (a)
fully roofed but with no wall (e.g., an open pavilion), (b) fully
walled but with no roof (e.g., a corral), or (c) less than
half-roofed and less than half-walled, is not grounds for an
Buddhaghosa quotes the Maha Atthakatha, the major ancient
commentary, as filling in all the other possibilities:
//Grounds for a pacittiya//: A place
fully roofed and mostly walled,
fully roofed and half-walled,
mostly roofed and half-walled,
mostly roofed and fully walled,
half-roofed and fully walled, or
half-roofed and mostly walled.
//Grounds for a dukkata//: A place
fully roofed and less than half-walled,
mostly roofed and less than half-walled,
less than half-roofed and fully walled, or
less than half-roofed and mostly walled.
//Grounds for no offense//: A place
half-roofed and less than half-walled,
less than half-roofed and half-walled, or
less than half-roofed and less than half-walled.
The Commentary notes that tents would fit under the definition of
place here, and it would seem that vehicles -- caravans in the time
of the Buddha; automobiles, trains, buses and airplanes in ours --
would fit here as well.
The same lodging. Unfortunately, the Vibhanga does not say how
far the boundary of a "single lodging" would extend. For example,
would each separate room in a house count as a separate lodging?
Would the entire house? Would an entire apartment building be a
single lodging? The Commentary tries to remedy this omission by
introducing the factor of "having a single common entrance" or
"being part of the same enclosure." (The Pali word it uses,
//ekupacara//, has both meanings, and the Commentary makes use of
both in its discussion.)
What it says is this: Even a seven-story palace or a building
with 100 rooms would count as a single lodging if all the rooms make
use of a common entrance. If there are several buildings in a
single enclosure, and one can go from one to another without
stepping on outside ground, they would count as part of the same
lodging. If there is a building divided into units that are not
connected by internal doorways, each unit having a separate
entrance, the different units would count as separate lodgings.
Locking or closing a door does //not// close off the doorway. Only
if the door opening is bricked up or otherwise permanently sealed
off does it no longer count as a doorway.
The Commentary admits that the "single entrance" factor is not
mentioned in the Canon in connection with this rule but is borrowed
from the Vibhanga to NP 2. It argues that this factor is
unavoidably bound up in the concept of "walled and roofed," though,
and illustrates its point as follows: There is a two-room dwelling,
composed of an antechamber through which one must pass to get to the
inner chamber. A bhikkhu is sleeping in the inner chamber, and an
unordained person in the antechamber. Now suppose that a stubborn
Vinaya student maintains that if the door between the two rooms is
closed, the bhikkhu is sleeping in a separate lodging from the
unordained person, while if the door is open, they are in the same
lodging. His teacher then asks him, "Why are they in the same
lodging if the door is open?"
"Because the two rooms share the same roof and walls."
"And if the door is closed, does that destroy the roof and
walls they had in common?"
"No, of course not. But the enclosure in which the bhikkhu
is sleeping is marked by the door."
This, the Commentary says, shows that the notion of enclosure is
part and parcel of the concept of lodging, and that the stubborn
student has defeated his own argument. Its reasoning here is
probably more convincing in Pali than in English, since as we noted
above, Pali uses the same word for enclosure and entrance, but even
so the illustration does not carry much force when applied to such
places as separate apartments in an apartment building and so leaves
the issue unsettled as far as they are concerned.
The Vinaya Mukha notes that the factor introduced by the
Commentary has implications that go far beyond the original purpose
of this rule -- and of the following rule, in which the concept of
"single lodging" is even more important. It suggests borrowing an
additional factor from NP 2: the factor of separate residences or
zones of ownership (the Pali word //kula// carries both meanings).
Thus in a large building composed of separate residences -- such as
an apartment building, a hotel or a hospital with private rooms --
it suggests that each separate residence count as a separate
Since the Canon gives no clear guidance on this point, the wise
policy for an individual bhikkhu is to follow the views of the
Community to which he belongs.
Nights here, as in other training rules, are counted by dawns.
Thus, if a bhikkhu is sleeping in the same lodging with an
unordained person but one of them gets up before dawn, that night
does not count. If a bhikkhu has slept in the same lodging with an
unordained person for two or three nights running but then skips a
night, the consecutive series is broken. If he then sleeps in the
same lodging with an unordained person another night, the counting
starts again from one.
However, once he has slept in the same lodging with an unordained
person three nights running, then if after sundown on the fourth
night he reclines in the same lodging in which a lay person is
reclining -- even if only for a moment -- he incurs a pacittiya.
The Commentary interprets the phrase "after sundown" as meaning
any time on the fourth day. In other words, there is no need to
wait until the next dawn to count the fourth period of sleeping
together. As we noted above in the conclusion to the chapter on the
Sanghadisesa rules, there was a tendency in the time of the Canon to
call a 24-hour period of day and night a "night." Perhaps this
period was felt to begin at sundown, just as we now feel that a
24-hour "day" begins at midnight.
The Commentary also states that the unordained person need not be
the same person each of the four nights, and the same holds true for
the lodging. In other words, if a bhikkhu lies down in a lodging
with novice X one night, and then goes elsewhere and lies down in a
lodging with layman Y the next night, and so on for four nights
running, he commits an offense all the same.
Perception and intent are not mitigating factors here. Thus a
bhikkhu lying down in the same lodging with a novice whom he thinks
to be another bhikkhu commits an offense all the same, as does a
bhikkhu who miscounts the nights and lies down in the same room with
an unordained person for what he thinks is his third night when it
is actually his fourth.
In fact, this is a training rule that one may break without ever
realizing it. Suppose a novice comes to lie down in a room where a
bhikkhu is sleeping, and then gets up to leave before the bhikkhu
awakens. If he does this for four nights running, the bhikkhu
incurs a pacittiya even though he may never have been aware of what
the novice was doing. Rules like this are the reason why many
bhikkhus make a practice of confessing offenses even when they are
not consciously aware of having committed them.
Non-offenses. To lie down with an unordained person in a lodging
that would qualify as grounds for a pacittiya or a dukkata is no
offense as long as one does it no more than three days running. And
there is no offense in lying down any number of consecutive nights
with an unordained person in a lodging that would not qualify as
grounds for an offense.
The Vinaya Mukha comments that although this rule as it presently
stands no longer fulfills its original purpose, bhikkhus should keep
the original purpose in mind and avoid sleeping in the same place
with an unordained person whenever possible. It would also be a
wise policy to avoid sleeping out in a public park, on a public
beach, in an unwalled pavilion, etc., if full view of the public,
even though no offense would be involved.
Summary: Lying down at the same time, in the same lodging,
with a novice or layman for more than three nights running
is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
6. Should any bhikkhu lie down in the same lodging with a
woman, it is to be confessed.
There are only two differences between this rule and the preceding
1) The factor of "object" here is fulfilled only by a female human
being, "even one born that day, all the more an older one,"
regardless of whether or not she is related to the bhikkhu.
2) The four-night clause under "effort" is dropped, which means
that the bhikkhu incurs a pacittiya the instant he lies down in
the same lodging with her.
Object. The Vibhanga states that female yakkhas, petas, nagas,
devas, and animals -- as well as pandakas, as defined under
Sanghadisesa 2 -- are grounds for a dukkata here. The Commentary
qualifies this by saying that "female animal" means one with which
it is possible to have intercourse, and "female yakkhas, petas,
nagas, and devas" includes only those who make themselves visible.
Even if another man is present in the lodging, it does not negate
Perception and intent are not mitigating factors here. Thus a
bhikkhu who sleeps in the same room with a woman he thinks to be a
man -- e.g., she has disguised herself -- commits the full offense
all the same. Also, a bhikkhu lying down in the same lodging with a
woman commits an offense regardless or whether or not he realizes
that she is there.
The same principles apply to pandakas: A bhikkhu who lies down in
the same room with a pandaka whom he thinks to be an ordinary man
commits a dukkata; and the same is true for a bhikkhu lying down in
a lodging not knowing that a pandaka is also lying down there.
A single lodging is defined as in the preceding rule. Thus a
bhikkhu sleeping in the same house as his mother, even if they are
in separate rooms and another man is present, commits an offense all
Effort. The main point where this rule differs from the preceding
one under the factor of effort is that a bhikkhu incurs a pacittiya
the moment he is lying in a lodging at the same time a woman is
lying there, with no need to count nights or dawns. This is
expressed in the Vibhanga by saying, "If at sunset a bhikkhu is
lying when a woman is lying, it is to be confessed."
The Sub-commentary interprets this as meaning that this rule
applies only at night, but the no-offense clauses in the Vibhanga
give no exemptions for daytime, which suggests that the
Sub-commentary's interpretation is invalid. What the Vibhanga's
statement means is that there is no need to wait until dawn to count
the period of lying down together. As we noted under the preceding
rule, there was a tendency in the time of the Canon to call a
24-hour period of day and night a "night," and this period may have
been felt to begin at sundown. The Commentary, switching to our
current practice of calling a 24-hour period a day, says, "In the
previous rule, the offense is on the fourth day. Here it is right
from the first day."
Thus, no matter what time of day or night a bhikkhu lies down in
the same lodging with a woman, he immediately incurs a pacittiya.
The purposes of this rule. Another difference between this rule
and the preceding one is the obvious point that they have different
purposes. As the origin story shows, this rule is to prevent
situations that might tempt a bhikkhu to commit a serious offense,
such as a Parajika 1 or Sanghadisesa 2.
"Then the woman, having prepared a bed inside (her house)
for Ven. Anuruddha, having put on her jewelry and scented
herself with perfumes, went to him and said, 'Master, you
are beautiful, good-looking, and charming. I, too, am
beautiful, good-looking, and charming. It would be good if
I were to be your wife.'
"When she said this, Ven. Anuruddha remained silent. So a
second time...a third time she said to him, 'Master, you are
beautiful, good-looking, and charming. I too am beautiful,
good-looking, and charming. Please take me together with
all my wealth.'
"A third time, Ven. Anuruddha remained silent. So the
woman, having slipped off her upper cloak, paraded up and
down in front of him, stood, sat down, and then lay down
right in front of him. But Ven. Anuruddha, keeping control
of his faculties, didn't as much as glance at her or say
even a word.
"Then it occurred to her: 'Isn't it amazing! Isn't it
astounding! Many men send for me at a price of 100 or even
1,000 (a night), but this recluse, even when I myself beg
him, doesn't want to take me together with all of my
wealth!' So, putting her upper cloak back on and bowing her
head at his feet, she said to him: 'Honored sir, a
transgression has overcome me in that I acted in such a
foolish, muddle-headed and ill-considered way. Please
accept this confession of my transgression as such, so that
I may restrain myself in the future.'"
Ven. Anuruddha was very advanced in the practice and so was able
to get through the situation with his mindfulness and precepts
intact. Many a lesser bhikkhu, though, would have succumbed right
from the woman's first request, and so the Buddha formulated this
rule for his protection.
This rule is also meant to prevent situations where suspicious
people might think a bhikkhu had committed a serious offense even
when he hadn't. Like Caesar's wife, a bhikkhu must not only //be//
pure, he must //look// pure if he is to uphold the religion and
maintain the reputation of the Community. If a bhikkhu and a woman
are seen going into a house together in the evening and leaving
together the following morning, then even if they slept in separate
rooms, suspicious neighbors -- and very few neighbors aren't
suspicious of bhikkhus -- would be quick to jump to conclusions.
Thus the wise policy mentioned in the preceding rule applies even
more forcefully here: A bhikkhu would be well-advised not to lie
down with a woman in such places as parks, beaches, or unwalled
pavilions even though in terms of the rules no offense would be
There is some overlap between this rule and Pacittiyas 44 & 45,
which deal with a bhikkhu sitting or lying down together in private
with a woman (or women). Special cases covered by this rule not
covered by those would include, for example, a bhikkhu and a woman
lying down in separate rooms of the same lodging; a bhikkhu and a
woman lying down in the same lodging with another man present.
Also, under those rules, the questions of the bhikkhu's state of
mind and his awareness of the situation are important factors. Here
they are of no consequence: Even a bhikkhu with the purest state of
mind -- or completely unknowingly -- incurs a pacittiya when lying
down together with a woman in the same lodging.
Non-offenses. There is no offense in lying down with a woman in a
lodging that under the preceding rule would not be grounds for an
fully roofed but with no walls (e.g., an open pavilion),
fully walled but with no roof (e.g., a corral),
half-roofed and half-walled,
half-roofed and less than half-walled,
less than half-roofed and half-walled,
less than half-roofed and less than half-walled.
Still, as noted above, a bhikkhu would be well-advised to avoid
such situations whenever possible, and to have another man present
Summary: Lying down at the same time in the same lodging
with a woman is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
7. Should any bhikkhu teach more than five or six sentences
of Dhamma to a woman, unless a knowledgeable man is present,
it is to be confessed.
"Then Ven. Udayin, having dressed early in the morning and
taking his robe and bowl, went to visit a certain family.
At that time the lady of the house was sitting in the main
entrance, while the daughter-in-law was sitting in the door
to the inner chamber. So Ven. Udayin approached the lady of
the house and whispered Dhamma into her ear. The
daughter-in-law thought, 'Is this recluse my mother-in-law's
lover, or is he being fresh with her?' Then, having
whispered Dhamma into the ear of the lady of house, Ven.
Udayin went to the daughter-in-law and whispered Dhamma into
//her// ear. The lady of the house thought, 'Is this
recluse my daughter-in-law's lover, or is he being fresh
with her?' After whispering Dhamma into the
daughter-in-law's ear, Ven. Udayin left. So the lady of the
house said, 'Hey. What did that recluse say to you?'
"'He taught me Dhamma, ma'am. And what did he say to you?'
"'He taught me Dhamma, too.'
So they were offended and annoyed and spread it about, 'How
can Ven. Udayin whisper Dhamma into women's ears? Shouldn't
the Dhamma be taught openly and out loud?'"
The two factors for the full offense here are:
1) //Object//: a female human being who knows what is and is not
lewd and who has not asked one a question about the Dhamma.
2) //Effort//: One teaches her more than six sentences of Dhamma
without a knowledgeable man present -- i.e., a male human being
who also knows what is and is not lewd.
Object. The word //woman// covers //women// as well: If a
bhikkhu is with two or more women, but without a knowledgeable man
present, he may teach them no more that five or six sentences of
Dhamma. Perception is not a factor here: If a bhikkhu teaches
Dhamma to a woman he thinks is a man, this factor is fulfilled as
According to the Vibhanga, a female peta, deva or animal (probably
a naga) in the form of a human woman, are each grounds for a dukkata
Dhamma the Vibhanga defines in the same terms as under Pacittiya
4: "a saying made by the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or heavenly
beings, connected with the teaching, connected with the goal."
Precisely what this means is a point of controversy. The
Commentary identifies "sayings made by the Buddha, his disciples,
seers, or heavenly beings" with different parts of the Pali Canon --
in Pali -- and then treats "connected with the teaching, connected
with the goal" as nouns, the first referring to the Canon, and the
second to the ancient commentary named the Maha Atthakatha. This
last point is highly unlikely, since the Maha Atthakatha did not yet
exist when the Canon was being composed.
There are two alternatives to the Commentary's interpretation:
One follows the Commentary in treating "connected with the teaching,
connected with the goal" as nouns, but interprets them as meaning
//any// statement dealing with the Dhamma, no matter what language
it is in, and regardless of whether or not it is quoted from a text.
Thus, according to this interpretation, anything a bhikkhu would say
about the Dhamma -- quoted from the Canon, from a later text, or of
his own invention -- would count as Dhamma here.
The second interpretation regards "connected with the teaching,
connected with the goal" as adjectives modifying "sayings made by
the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or heavenly beings." This makes
more sense in terms of Pali syntax, but limits the meaning of
//Dhamma// in this rule to passages from the Canon. This would not
necessarily limit it to passages in the Pali language, though.
Translations from the Canon would also come under the rule, since
there is a passage in the Cullavagga (V.33.1) where the Buddha
allows bhikkhus to learn Dhamma each in his own language, thus
showing, contrary to the Commentary, that Dhamma does not have to be
in Pali to be Dhamma.
There is little in the Canon to decide between these two
interpretations, and the question comes down to what one perceives
to be the purpose of the rule. Adherents of the first
interpretation say that the rule is designed to prevent the sort of
suspicions that arise when a bhikkhu is talking at length alone with
a woman, but this argument does not fit with the Buddha's allowance
for a bhikkhu to give a talk when a woman asks him for instruction.
It is more likely that the rule is aimed at preventing a bhikkhu
from using his knowledge of Dhamma as a come-on, a way of making
himself attractive to a woman. As any man who teaches Dhamma soon
learns, there are women who find such knowledge irresistible. To
view the rule in this light makes either of the two interpretations
tenable, so the wise policy is to adhere to the interpretation of
the Community to which one belongs.
This rule applies to telephone conversations as well as to
conversations in person, but because the Parivara (I.5.7) notes that
it deals only with the spoken word, it does not cover letters or
other written communications.
Six sentences. As for the amount of Dhamma a bhikkhu may say to a
woman or women without a knowledgeable man present, the Pali word
for "sentence," (//vaca//), can also mean "word," but the Commentary
states specifically that one //vaca// is approximately equal to a
line of verse. The Sub-commentary goes on to say that the
Commentary's definition here applies to poetry, while one //vaca//
of prose is equal to the conjugation of a verb, i.e., six words. In
either case, six vacas would amount to six sentences.
Conversations on other topics. Strangely enough, neither the
Vibhanga nor the Commentary makes mention of conversations with
women that do not touch on the Dhamma. The Sub-commentary notes
this, and in one of its rare stabs at humor concludes, "It is
perfectly all right to talk as much as you like about Tamils and
that sort of thing."
Conversation that does not deal with the Dhamma, though, is termed
"animal talk" (//tiracchana-katha//) in the Canon, and there are
several passages (e.g., Pc. XXI.1; LXXXV.1; Mv.V.6.3-4) that
criticize members of the group of six for engaging in animal talk:
worldly talk about "kings, robbers, and ministers of state
(politics); armies, alarms, and battles; food and drink; clothing,
furniture, garlands, and scents; relatives; vehicles; villages,
towns, cities, the countryside; women and heroes; the gossip of the
street and the well; tales of the dead; also philosophical
discussions of the past and future (this is how the Sub-commentary
to Pacittiya 85 explains 'tales of diversity'), the creation of the
world and of the sea, and talk of whether things exist or not." The
Sub-commentary notes, though, that to discuss any of these topics in
a way to foster an understanding of the Dhamma -- e.g., discussing
the impermanence of worldly power -- is not considered improper.
Although there is no specific penalty for indulging in such
worldly talk, a bhikkhu who indulges in it with lay people, bhikkhus
or novices to the point where he becomes offensive to the Community
may be subject to an act of censure, banishment or suspension on the
grounds of "unbecoming association with householders" or "verbal
frivolity." Furthermore, a bhikkhu sitting alone with a woman (or
women) engaging in such talk would be subject to the conditions of
Pacittiya 44 or 45 and Aniyata 1 or 2.
It is also worth noting in this regard that, unlike Pacittiyas 44
& 45 and Aniyatas 1 & 2, this rule covers situations where either
the bhikkhu or the woman, or both, are standing. In other words, if
a bhikkhu and a woman are conversing while standing, he may teach
her at most six sentences of Dhamma unless any of the no-offense
Non-offenses. There is no offense if, after the bhikkhu teaches
the woman six sentences of Dhamma, either he or she changes position
-- stands up, sits down, etc. -- and he continues with six more
sentences. This point was most likely included to indicate separate
conversations. Once a bhikkhu has taught five or six sentences to a
woman, he may teach her again when they meet again and is not
condemned to silence for the rest of his life.
Another exemption is that a bhikkhu, after teaching six sentences
of Dhamma to one woman, may turn and teach six more sentences to
another without incurring a penalty. Thus the Commentary notes that
a bhikkhu addressing an assembly of 100 women may teach them a total
of 600 sentences of Dhamma if he aims each set of six at a different
A third exemption is that there is no penalty for a bhikkhu who is
teaching Dhamma to someone else, and a woman happens to be listening
Finally, as noted above, if a woman asks a bhikkhu a question, a
bhikkhu may give her a talk even if no other man is present. This
exemption is common to all the rules that deal with instructing
women (see Pacittiyas 21 & 22), but precisely what it means is
somewhat uncertain, as none of the texts define how teaching Dhamma
(//dhammam deseti//) differs from giving a talk (//katheti//), if
they differ at all. The Commentary notes simply that in giving a
talk one is not limited to six sentences; its example of a 'talk' is
a recitation of the complete Digha Nikaya (!), which shows that, as
far as the commentators are concerned, teaching Dhamma and giving a
talk differ only in length. Thus a bhikkhu may answer a woman's
question about Dhamma with a talk including as many sentences of
Dhamma as he needs to make his point clear.
This allowance is important in that it honors women in their
desire to understand the Dhamma. A wise policy, though, would be to
show restraint in such situations. The relationship of male teacher
to female student has a long, well-known history of getting out of
hand. Even if a bhikkhu is in control of himself in such
conversations, passers-by -- and the woman herself -- can easily
misconstrue his words and actions. So, wherever possible, he should
go out of his way to guard himself against suspicion and
misunderstandings in such cases by having a man present when talking
alone with a woman, even though the special exemption is made.
Summary: Teaching more than six sentences of Dhamma to a
woman, except in response to a question, is a pacittiya
offense unless a knowledgeable man is present.
* * *
8. Should any bhikkhu report (his own) factual superior
human state to an unordained person, it is to be confessed.
The factors for the full offense here are three:
1) //Object//: an unordained person, i.e., anyone -- human or not
-- who is not a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni.
2) //Effort//: One reports one's actual attainment of a superior
human state to such a person.
3) //Result//: The person immediately understands.
Only two of these factors -- effort and result -- require
Effort. The meaning of //superior human state// is discussed at
length under Parajika 4. In brief, it covers (a) jhana, (b) the
cognitive powers that can arise as its result, and (c) the
//Factual// is not explained in the texts, but probably means
factual from the bhikkhu's own point of view. In other words,
whether or not he has actually attained a superior human state, if
he thinks he has and reports it to an unordained person, he commits
an offense all the same. If he actually has attained such a state,
e.g., jhana, but thinks he hasn't, and yet claims that he has -- in
other words, he is telling what he thinks to be a lie -- he incurs a
To report, says the Vibhanga, means to speak directly of one's own
attainments. To speak indirectly of one's own attainments -- e.g.,
"The bhikkhu who lives in this dwelling enters jhana at will" --
entails a dukkata. According to the Commentary, gestures fall under
this rule as well. Thus, if a lay person asks a bhikkhu who has
attained Stream-entry if he has reached any of the noble
attainments, and the bhikkhu nods, his nod would fulfill the factor
of effort here.
The origin story to this rule deals with bhikkhus who, as a tactic
for getting almsfood in a time of scarcity, had agreed to speak of
one another's superior human states to householders. This would
seem to suggest that to speak of another bhikkhu's actual attainment
of superior human states with such motives in mind -- e.g., hoping
to get a share of the increased gains he might receive -- should
entail a penalty as well, but none of the texts mention this point,
so it is not an offense. Still, any bhikkhu who plans to act in
such a way, on the grounds that whatever is not an offense is
perfectly all right, should remember that the Buddha criticized the
bhikkhus in the origin story in very strong terms.
Result. As noted above, the bhikkhu incurs the full penalty only
if his listener immediately understands what he has said. If the
listener does not understand, the bhikkhu incurs a dukkata
regardless of whether he spoke directly or indirectly of his
Whether or not the person addressed believes what is said, is of
no account in determining the offense.
Non-offenses. The Vibhanga states that to report one's own
superior human attainments to another bhikkhu or to a bhikkhuni
carries no penalty. There is, though, a series of stories in the
Vinita Vatthu to Parajika 4 that raise a number of points to bear in
mind in such situations. A typical example -- the stories differ
only in minor details -- is this:
"Then Ven. Maha Moggallana, as he was descending Vulture
Peak Mountain, smiled at a certain place. Ven. Lakkhana
said to him, 'Friend Moggallana, what is the reason, what is
the cause for your smile?'
"'This is not the time, friend Lakkhana, to answer this
question. Ask me in the presence of the Blessed One.'
"So Ven. Lakkhana and Ven. Maha Moggallana...having
approached and paid homage to the Blessed One, sat down to
one side. As they were sitting there, Ven. Lakkhana said to
Ven. Moggallana, 'Just now, friend Moggallana...you smiled.
What was the reason, what was the cause for your smile?'
"'Just now, my friend, I saw a man immersed head and all in
a dung pit, eating dung with both hands. The thought
occurred to me, "Isn't it amazing, isn't it astounding, that
there are beings even like this...."'
"Bhikkhus were offended and annoyed and spread it about,
'Ven. Moggallana is boasting of a superior human state!'
"Then the Blessed One said to the bhikkhus, 'Actually,
bhikkhus, there //are// disciples of vision and knowledge
who will know or see or bear witness like this. Once I
myself saw that being, but I didn't disclose it. Had I
disclosed it, others would not have believed me, and that
would have been to their pain and detriment for a long time.
That being, bhikkhus, was once a corrupted Brahmin right
here in Rajagaha. He, in the time of the Buddha Kassapa,
having invited a Community of bhikkhus to a meal, having
filled a trough with dung and announcing the time, said,
"Venerable sirs, eat from this and take with you as much as
you like." Having been boiled in purgatory as a result of
that deed for many years, many hundreds of years, many
thousands of years, many hundreds of thousands of years, he
is now -- through the remainder of the result of that deed
-- experiencing existence as an individual like this.
Moggallana spoke truly, bhikkhus. There is no offense for
Ven. Moggallana's conduct here -- waiting until he is in the
presence of his teacher before relating his vision -- has become a
model for conduct among meditators, for as the bhikkhus' reaction
and the Buddha's comments make clear, there are situations where the
act of relating one's visions, etc., even when allowed, will serve
no positive purpose.
Displaying psychic powers. A related rule in the Cullavagga
(V.8.2) states that to display psychic powers to lay people is a
dukkata. In the origin story leading up to that rule, the Buddha
levels strong criticism at such an act: "Just as a woman might
expose her sexual organ for a miserable wooden //masaka// coin, so
too have you displayed a superior human state, a wonder of psychic
power, to lay people for the sake of a miserable wooden bowl."
To display psychic powers to anyone who is not a lay person,
though, is no offense. Thus, given the way these two rules are
framed, one may not tell a novice of one's powers, but may levitate
before his very eyes.
Summary: To tell an unordained person of one's actual
superior human attainments is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
9. Should any bhikkhu report (another) bhikkhu's gross
offense to an unordained person -- unless authorized by the
bhikkhus -- it is to be confessed.
"Now at that time Ven. Upananda the Sakyan was on bad terms
with some group-of-six bhikkhus. Having committed an
offense of intentional emission of semen, he asked the
Community to put him on probation....It so happened that a
certain guild in Savatthi was presenting food to the
Community. Ven. Upananda, being on probation, sat down on
the last seat in the dining hall. The group-of-six bhikkhus
said to the lay people, 'Friends, this Ven. Upananda the
Sakyan, your esteemed dependent, emitted semen making do
with the very same hand with which he is eating your gift of
faith....(This is why), being on probation, he is sitting on
the last seat.'"
There are two factors for the full offense here:
1) //Object//: a gross offense committed by another bhikkhu.
2) //Effort//: One reports it to an unordained person without
having been authorized to do so by the Community.
Object. The Vibhanga states that //gross offense// means any of
the four parajika or thirteen sanghadisesa offenses, while
Buddhaghosa reports the ancient commentaries as saying that it
covers only the sanghadisesas. His discussion of this point is
interesting for the light it throws on the history of the texts: He
presents two arguments for the commentaries' position, effectively
demolishes them, but then backs down and ends up siding with them.
Why he does this is hard to say, although it may be that he himself
disagreed with the ancient commentaries on this point, but was
forced to side with them by the elders of the Mahavihara who were
responsible for putting the seal of approval on his work.
At any rate, the details of the argument lie outside the scope of
this guide. The Vinaya Mukha has already adopted Buddhaghosa's
arguments against the ancient commentaries here, and we will simply
follow our usual policy of siding with the Vibhanga wherever the
other texts depart from it. //Gross offense// means both the four
parajikas and the thirteen sanghadisesas.
A bhikkhu's non-gross offenses, and an unordained person's
misbehavior -- gross or not -- are grounds for a dukkata (%). (The
passage on which this last point is based is sometimes translated,
"tells one who is not ordained of a transgression" when it should
read, "tells of an unordained person's transgression.") According
to the Commentary, //gross misbehavior// on the part of an
unordained person means breaking any of the five precepts. Anything
else would count as not gross.
This dukkata penalty for informing an unordained person about
another unordained person's transgressions of the precepts is a
point frequently overlooked in discussions of this rule, but it is
important. It seems to be aimed at keeping bhikkhus from being
gossips, so that novices and lay people may seek advice from a
bhikkhu concerning the difficulties they have in observing the
precepts without fear that the bhikkhu will spread it about to other
unordained people as well.
This also helps preserve the good faith of donors: They can give
their support to the bhikkhus without fear that the recipients of
their support might be gossiping about their lapses in the practice
behind their backs. If donors were to learn that a bhikkhu //had//
been gossiping about them, they might become so disgusted as to
withdraw their support from the religion as a whole.
Effort. //Unordained person// here means anyone who is not a
bhikkhu or a bhikkhuni.
To report an offense to an unordained person means to tell him/her
both the action and the class of the offense. Thus, to say, "Ven.
Upananda committed a sanghadisesa by masturbating," would fulfill
the fact of effort here; while to say simply, "Ven. Upananda
committed a sanghadisesa." or "Ven. Upananda masturbated," would
not, and would not even be grounds for a lesser offense.
This allowance, which looks strange on the surface, was made
apparently for such cases as when a lay person, seeing a senior
bhikkhu sitting at the end of the line, might ask one of the other
bhikkhus why. A bhikkhu would be well-advised, though, to examine
his motives before making use of this allowance, for to take
advantage of it to discredit a fellow bhikkhu would be to incur a
dukkata under Pacittiya 13. Though the penalty is minor, little
acts and minor offenses of this sort are often the ones most
destructive to the harmony of the Community.
The authorization. The Vibhanga does not give any indication of
when the Community should authorize a bhikkhu to tell unordained
people about another bhikkhu's gross offense. As the Vinaya Mukha
sees it, the purpose of the training rule is to prevent bhikkhus
from advertising one another's faults among people outside the
Community. However, there are cases, it says, where a bhikkhu may
commit a gross offense and refuse to acknowledge it, as when
committing a parajika and yet continuing to assume the status of a
bhikkhu, or committing a sanghadisesa and refusing to go through the
procedures for rehabilitation. Thus the Community in such cases is
allowed to authorize one of its members to inform lay people, such
as the bhikkhu's supporters, as a way of exerting pressure on him to
submit to his penalty.
According to the Commentary, though, the authorization is to be
used in cases where the Community feels that the act of informing
the laity would help to convince a well-intentioned but weak-willed
bhikkhu who repeatedly commits sanghadisesa offenses -- even if he
willingly undergoes the period of penance -- to mend his ways.
Both interpretations fit with the Canon, although it should be
borne in mind that using the authorization in line with the Vinaya
Mukha's rationale -- to exert pressure on a bhikkhu who refuses to
undergo a penalty -- can often backfire, for the laity may simply
think that the Community is jealous of the support they are giving
to the bhikkhu they assume to be innocent of any wrong-doing.
The Vibhanga also does not tell how the authorization is to be
issued. According to the Commentary, it is to be made as a
declaration (//apalokana//) stated three times and unanimously
agreed to by the Community meeting within a proper boundary for
The Vibhanga does state, though, that when giving the
authorization, the Community may make it limited to families,
limited to offenses, limited to both or to neither. Limited to
families means that the bhikkhu receiving the authorization may
inform only certain specified families. Limited to offenses means
that he may report only certain of the guilty bhikkhu's offenses. A
bhikkhu who oversteps the limits of his authorization incurs a
Non-offenses. We have already covered the cases that the Vibhanga
includes in the no-offenses clauses. To recapitulate: There is no
1) in telling an unordained person about another bhikkhu's serious
offense if one states the action but not the class of offense, or
the class but not the action; or
2) in reporting another bhikkhu's serious offense -- action and
class of offense -- to an unordained person when one has been
properly authorized to do so, as long as one does not overstep
the bounds of one's authorization.
Summary: Telling an unordained person of another bhikkhu's
serious offense -- unless one is authorized by the Community
to do so -- is a pacittiya offense.
* * *
10. Should any bhikkhu dig soil or have it dug, it is to be
This is an offense with four factors: object, effort, perception,
Object. The Pali word for soil, //pathavi//, also means ground or
earth. Thus the Vibhanga distinguishes what forms of earth are and
are not classed as soil:
Pure loam, pure clay, whatever is mostly loam or clay with a
lesser portion of rock, stones, potsherds, gravel, or sand mixed in,
is classed as soil (//jata-pathavi//).
Whatever is pure rock, stones, potsherds, gravel, or sand, or any
of these with a lesser portion of loam or clay mixed in, is earth
not classed as soil (//ajata-pathavi//). Also, burnt clay or loam
-- according to the Commentary, this means soil that has been burnt
in the course of firing a bowl, pot, etc. -- is not classed as soil.
As for heaps of loam or clay that have been dug up: If they have
been rained on for less than four months, they are not classed as
soil, but if rained on for four months or more, they are. Also, the
layer of fine dust that forms on the surface of dry soil as the
result of wind erosion is not classed as soil.
As the Commentary makes clear in discussing the Vibhanga's
no-offense clauses, there is no penalty in digging earth not classed
as soil. Thus, for example, digging into a pile of newly dug-up
loam or drawing diagrams in the dust on top of dry soil would not be
Effort. The Vibhanga says that the term //digging// also covers
burning, i.e., firing pottery; and breaking, i.e., making a furrow
with a rake or a stick. Thus, using a stick to draw in the soil or
driving in a stake or pulling one out in such a way as to disturb
the surrounding soil would fulfill the factor of effort here.
Non-offenses. Because perception and intention are mitigating
factors here, there is no offense for the bhikkhu who digs soil --
//unknowingly// -- e.g., digging into a pile of soil perceiving it
to be sand;
//unthinkingly// -- e.g., absent-mindedly drawing in the dirt
while talking with someone else; or
//unintentionally// -- e.g., raking leaves, pulling a wheelbarrow
through the mud, or digging in a pile of sand and accidentally
digging into the soil underneath.
Also, there is no offense in asking for clay or soil, or in
indicating a need for a hole in the ground, without expressly giving
the command to dig. ("Please get me some clay to make a pot."
"We're going to need a hole right here.") According to the
Commentary, an explicit request that a reservoir or pit, etc., be
dug also entails no penalty as long as one does not say precisely
where to dig it. ("We're going to have to drain the water from A to
B, so dig the trench wherever you think it would do the job best.")
This sort of request or hint is termed //kappiya-vohara// --
"allowable expression," or in plain English, "wording it right" --
and often finds use in in the context of rules where an express
command would be an offense but an indication of a desire or intent
The Commentary quotes the ancient commentaries as saying that if
another person or animal has fallen into a pit, there is no penalty
for digging the victim out. The same holds true if another person
or animal is trapped by a fallen but still-living tree: The bhikkhu
may cut the tree to free the victim without incurring a penalty
under the following rule.
Although the Commentary cannot find any justification in the Canon
for these opinions, it states that they should be accepted since
they are the unanimous judgment of the ancient commentaries. As we
have noted before, Buddhaghosa does not always accept even the
unanimous judgment of the ancient commentaries, but perhaps he felt
that these were cases in which it would be better to err on the side
of compassion rather than the side of strictness.
However, the Commentary goes on to say that if a bhikkhu falls
into a pit himself, he should not dig any earth that would be
classed as soil, even for the sake of his life. The same holds true
if he is trapped by a fallen but still-living tree: He may not cut
the tree even though his life is in danger.
The reason for this rule, as indicated by the origin story, is
that people in general at the time of the Buddha viewed soil as
having a form of one-facultied life. The Jains, who were
contemporaries of the Buddha, classed life into five categories
according to the number of senses or faculties the living thing
possessed. In the one-facultied category, where there is only the
sense of touch, they included soil and vegetation. One scholar has
suggested that the Jains here were simply systematizing an animist
belief, predating their theories, that soil and plants had souls.
At any rate, this sort of view was so widespread at the time that
any potters who were meticulous in their precepts would take their
clay only from termite nests and other piles of dug-up earth. The
Ghatikara Sutta (M.81) describes a potter -- a non-returner in the
dispensation of the Buddha Kassapa -- who even though he was a lay
man would take the earth for his pots only from collapsed
embankments and the piles of dirt around rat holes so as to avoid
injuring the soil.
Another consideration, carrying more weight at present, is that
the act of digging soil risks killing or injuring whatever animals
may be living there.
This rule, together with the following one, also effectively
prevents bhikkhus from engaging in agriculture.
Summary: Digging soil or commanding that it be dug is a
* * * * * * * *
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