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August 2020
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“I told my father that I did not like any of the figures in (the) Mahabharata. I said, ‘I do not like Bhishma and Drona, nor Krishna. Bhishma and Drona were hypocrites. They said one thing and did quite the opposite. Krishna believed in fraud. His life is nothing but a series of frauds. Equal dislike I have for Rama. Examine his conduct in the Surpanakha episode, in the Vali-Sugriva episode, and his beastly behaviour towards Sita.’ My father was silent, and made no reply. He knew that there was a revolt.” —Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar in the unpublished Preface dated April 6, 1956, to The Buddha and His Dhamma
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“I told my father that I did not like any of the
figures in (the) Mahabharata. I said, ‘I do not like Bhishma and Drona,
nor Krishna. Bhishma and Drona were hypocrites. They said one thing and
did quite the opposite. Krishna believed in fraud. His life is nothing
but a series of frauds. Equal dislike I have for Rama. Examine his
conduct in the Surpanakha episode, in the Vali-Sugriva episode, and his
beastly behaviour towards Sita.’ My father was silent, and made no
reply. He knew that there was a revolt.”

—Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
in the unpublished Preface dated April 6, 1956, to

The Buddha and His Dhamma


Artwork: Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam/Bhimayana

High table Nehru,
Ambedkar at a dinner hosted  in 1948 in honour of C.
Rajagopalachari becoming governor-general. (Photographs Courtesy:
Lokvangmay Grih)

May 8, 1950 Babasaheb being sworn in as independent India’s first law minister

Shared space At a Bombay function in 1951, Babasaheb seated S.K. Bole in his lap

Illustration by Usman Teerandaz

Courtesy: Aparajita Ninan/Navayana

Poona Pact participants

Vexed issue Ambedkar and Gandhi at the Second Round Table Conference, 1931

Ambedkar vs Gandhi

A Part That Parted

Gandhi and Ambedkar feuded over how they saw
untouchability, one as just a sin of Hinduism, the other as the denial
of rights to an oppressed people


is the most Positive Energy of informative and research oriented site propagating the teachings of the Awakened One with Awareness the Buddha and on Techno-Politico-Socio
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LESSON 3422 Sat 22 Aug 2020 Discovery of Awakened One with Awareness Universe (DAOAU) For The Welfare, Happiness, Peace of All Sentient and Non-Sentient Beings and for them to Attain Eternal Peace as Final Goal. KUSHINARA NIBBANA BHUMI PAGODA-It is a 18 feet Dia All White Pagoda with may be a table or, but be sure to having above head level based on the usual use of the room. in 116 CLASSICAL LANGUAGES Through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org At WHITE HOME 668, 5A main Road, 8th Cross, HAL III Stage, Prabuddha Bharat Puniya Bhumi Bengaluru Magadhi Karnataka State PRABUDDHA BHARAT Dr B.R.Ambedkar thundered “Main Bharat Baudhmay karunga.” (I will make India Buddhist) All Aboriginal Awakened Societies Thunder ” Hum Prapanch Prabuddha Bharatmay karunge.” (We will make world Prabuddha Prapanch Training on Kushinara Land of Lord Buddha attained Nibbana needs donation of latest miniature 3D 360 degree cameras to capture places in 360 degree circular vision like circarama and 3D 360 deg projector to be used in the Meditation as practiced in Lumbini, Buddha Gaya, Saranath, Kushinara and also Bethlehem, Mecca Madhina and all places practicing Kindness and compssion including for the physically disabled 18ft Dia circular pagoda for raising funds to help monks, needy poor and physically disabled people and swimmers. The Buddha died at the age of 80 by the banks of a river at Kusinari in Prabuddha Bharat. Lying on his side with his head propped up by his hand and a serene expression, the Buddha passed into Nibbana. This moment is captured in the image of the Reclining Buddha which can be seen in many statues throughout Thailand, most famously at Wat Po in Bangkok. Nibbana is a blissful state with no suffering and no reincarnation. https://www.nku.edu/~kenneyr/Buddhism/lib/modern/ariyesako/layguide.html The Bhikkhus’ Rules A Guide for Laypeople The Theravadin Buddhist Monk’s Rules Compiled and Explained
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Posted by: site admin @ 5:00 am
 LESSON 3422 Sat 22 Aug 2020

Discovery of  Awakened One with Awareness Universe (DAOAU) 


The Welfare, Happiness, Peace of All Sentient and Non-Sentient Beings and for them to Attain Eternal Peace as Final Goal.

is a 18 feet Dia All White Pagoda with may be a table or, but be sure
to having above head level based on the usual use of the room.





 668, 5A main Road, 8th Cross, HAL III Stage,

Prabuddha Bharat Puniya Bhumi Bengaluru

Magadhi Karnataka State


Dr B.R.Ambedkar thundered “Main Bharat Baudhmay karunga.” (I will make India Buddhist)

All Aboriginal  Awakened Societies Thunder ” Hum Prapanch Prabuddha Bharatmay karunge.” (We will make world Prabuddha Prapanch

Training on
Kushinara Land of Lord Buddha attained


donation of latest miniature 3D 360 degree cameras to capture places in
360 degree circular vision like circarama and  3D 360 deg projector to
be used in the Meditation as practiced in Lumbini, Buddha Gaya,
Saranath, Kushinara and also Bethlehem, Mecca Madhina and all places
practicing Kindness and compssion including for the physically disabled
18ft Dia circular pagoda for raising funds to help monks, needy poor
and physically disabled people and swimmers.

Buddha died at the age of 80 by the banks of a river at Kusinari in
Prabuddha Bharat. Lying on his side with his head propped up by his hand
and a serene expression, the Buddha passed into Nibbana. This moment is
captured in the image of the Reclining Buddha which can be seen in many
statues throughout Thailand, most famously at Wat Po in Bangkok.
Nibbana is a blissful state with no suffering and no reincarnation


The Bhikkhus’ Rules

A Guide for Laypeople

The Theravadin Buddhist Monk’s Rules
Compiled and Explained
Bhikkhu Ariyesako

Copyright © Sanghaaloka Forest Hermitage 1998

PO Box 152, Kallista,Vic 3791, Australia
Please contact the above address for permission to reprint for free distribution.
Reprinting for sale is prohibited.
This is a gift of Dhamma and must not be sold

Revised: Fri 17 December 1999

Discipline is for the sake of restraint,
restraint for the sake of freedom from remorse,
freedom from remorse for the sake of joy,
joy for the sake of rapture,
rapture for the sake of tranquillity,
tranquillity for the sake of pleasure,
pleasure for the sake of concentration,
concentration for the sake of knowledge
and vision of things as they are,
knowledge and vision of things as they are
for the sake of disenchantment,
disenchantment for the sake of release,
release for the sake of knowledge and vision of release,
knowledge and vision of release
for the sake of total unbinding without clinging.

Contents [go to top]

Preface [go up]

Buddhist friends in Malaysia asked me to explain something about the Vinaya[1] rules that guide the Buddhist monk’s life — in particular about monks or bhikkhus[2] of the Theravaada
lineage. We monks already have several learned texts in English to help
us so a simplified ‘lay person’s guide’ now seems in order. (This work
therefore deals specifically with men. As Buddhist female renuciants
(nuns) find their place, they will be in the best position to explain
their own rules.)

My aim has been to illustrate those of the monk’s rules that also affect the lay person in some way.[3]
At first it was going to deal only with a few questions but it has
grown with people’s suggestions into a more thorough work of reference.
(It was originally circulated as a computer printout, and its positive
reception encouraged this complete reworking and revision, incorporating
many of the suggestions sent to me.) Even so, the best introduction
remains a good practising bhikkhu who shows that amid the myriad things
of the material world, living the simple life is possible with care —
hence the many rules — much as in the Buddha’s time.

The original Beginner’s Questions section has been kept (with
some revision) and moved to the front as a brief overview of the sort of
questions covered in the book. It refers to later explanations for more
detail, which can be found not only in the main text but in the End
Notes, Footnotes, Glossary and Appendices.

I also have tried to include broader explanations in the main text so
that while the actual rule is faithfully reproduced — including some
translation variations — the different ways in which monks actually put
it into practice are also covered. Although one might think one knows
all about ‘one’s bhikkhus’, on going elsewhere things are never quite
the same, and sometimes in quite startling ways.

Bhikkhus do sometimes follow the rules in different ways according to
their particular traditions, and these pages may help to explain the
whys and wherefores of their practice. My own perspective comes from
twenty years as a bhikkhu in the forest monasteries of Thailand (and now
more than five years in the ‘West’) so I am very aware that this guide
needs more information from the traditions in other countries.

As you read through this book, it will become plain how much I have
relied on other people and authorities. I wish especially to mention my
gratitude to Venerable Thanissaro Bhikkhu for his great contribution
through his commentary on the bhikkhus’ rules, The Buddhist Monastic Code; to Venerable Thiradhammo Bhikkhu for his manuscript of The Heritage of the Sangha;
to Venerable Brahmavangso Bhikkhu for permission to quote from his
Vinaya Notes; and to the Mahamakut Foundation in Bangkok for the works
on the monk’s rules that they publish.

Lay people in half a dozen countries helped with advice and suggestions,
and my thanks and appreciation go to all of them. I was very pleasantly
surprised that they found our rules so fascinating and were willing to
give so much of their time to going through the original manuscript with
such care and interest. Yet on reflection, they are right to feel part
of the Dhamma-Vinaya, as the Lord Buddha said:

“Bhikkhus, I praise right practice in both, whether householder or home-leaver.

“Householder, bhikkhus, and home-leaver, if rightly practised, by
reason of their right practice, are accomplishing the true way, the
wholesome Dhamma.”

HS ch.4 (A.I,69; M.II,197)

Please remember that tolerance is always important even if one decides
to give active support to only one group of monks. The following pages
are offered solely to shed the light of understanding, so they should
not be used to create heat and friction through criticizing other
people’s behaviour. This is the essence of the Buddha’s Teaching. A big
heavy law book only too easily can be thrown at others, so this guide
will try to stay light and non-judgemental. This gives opportunity for
broad-mindedness and flexibility, so that we can include different
interpretations. Thereby one may come better to appreciate and support
the monastic community of one’s choice.

Finally, I hope that the same tolerance will be given to any faults and
omissions found in this book. Not being enlightened or a scholar, I can
only offer a gathering of other people’s work and hope that the way I
have put it all together does not intrude my own views and opinions too
much. (Paragraphs containing more general or personal opinions are often
marked with “º”.) Therefore, any suggestions for improvement offered in Dhamma are always welcome.

Bhikkhu Ariyesako
August 1998

Acknowledgements [go up]

Abbreviations [go up]

AB = Ajahn Brahmavamso’s Notes
BA = Banner of the Arahants
BBC = Burmese Buddhist Culture
BMC = The Buddhist Monastic Code
EN = End Notes
EV = The Entrance to the Vinaya, (Vinayamukha) in 3 vols
HS = The Heritage of the Sangha
Nv = Navakovaada: Instructions for newly ordained Bhikkhus and Saamaneras

Nis. Paac. = nisaggiya paacittiya offence
OP = Ordination Procedure

Paac. = paacittiya offence

Paar. = paaraajika offence

Paat. = Paa.timokkha text and English translation (1966 or 1969 edition)

Sa”ngh. = sa”nghaadisesa offence

Introduction [go up]

The Teaching of the Buddha is concerned with more than intellectual
knowledge for it needs to be experienced as truth in one’s own life. The
Buddha often called his Teaching the Dhamma-Vinaya and when he passed
away he left these as the guide for all of us who followed. As Venerable
Thiradhammo writes:

“In simple terms we could say that while Dhamma represented the
principles of Truth, the Vinaya represented the most efficacious
lifestyle for the realization of that Truth. Or, the Vinaya was that way
of life which enshrined the principles of Truth in the practicalities
of living within the world.” (HS Part 2)

For the bhikkhu, the Vinaya helps to highlight actions and speech, and
show up their significance. It brings an awareness of how he is
intervening in the world, how he is affecting other people. For better?
For worse? With what intention?

Of course, such an awareness is necessary for every human being, not
just Buddhist monks. This is why the Buddha bequeathed to us the Five,
the Eight and the Ten Precepts[4]
— as well as the bhikkhu’s 227 rules of the Paatimokkha. These
precepts and rules remain as pertinent today as they were 2,500 years
ago for they restore the focus back to the human being, to how actions
and words affect individuals and the world. While the particulars may
have changed, the fundamentals remain the same.

Those who take the Buddha’s Teaching seriously become ever more aware of
their actions and speech, and how they match up against the Five
Precepts. They then might start to realize the advantage in occasionally
keeping the Eight Precepts — perhaps on the weekly Observance Day[5] — and become more interested in the bhikkhu’s Rule and how its precepts come together into a whole way of life.

This compilation, therefore, is for anyone interested in bhikkhus and how to relate to them. Some might think that the Theravaada lineage follows an overly traditionalist[6] approach but then, it does happen to be the oldest living major tradition.[7]
A slight caution therefore for anyone completely new to the ways of
monasticism, for it is an approach to dealing with life that may appear
radically different for this modern day and age. The best introduction,
perhaps essential for a true understanding, is meeting with a practising
bhikkhu who should manifest and reflect the peaceful and joyous
qualities of the bhikkhu’s way of life.

Buddhist monks and nuns first received the going-forth into the Holy
Life from the Buddha himself, more than two and a half thousand years
ago in India. Since then, their influence has been felt over much of
Asia. The countries of Sri Lanka and South East Asia have been
profoundly affected by the Theravadin School of Buddhism, which looks
back to the original Teachings as recorded in the Paali[8]
scriptures. Buddhism was often first introduced to a new country when
bhikkhus were invited to come and teach the new religion by the
indigenous ruler. This process now continues throughout the world,
although the invitation nowadays comes more often from local Buddhists.

Buddhism is justly admired for its appreciation of tolerance and
broad-mindedness, with a history generally unblemished by heretical
infighting. This has resulted in a wide spectrum of practices, from the
old Theravaada to the Zen of Japan and the Vajrayana of Tibet. Even
between the different Theravadin countries and Schools there are slight
variations in the ways the bhikkhus understand and practise the Vinaya
Rule. Such differences have sometimes confused lay devotees so this book
is also an attempt to offer a clearer understanding about the
responsibilities of the Theravadin bhikkhu’s life and those of the lay

When the Buddha was about to finally pass away and leave his followers,
rather than appoint an individual to take his place he said this:

“Whatever Dhamma and Vinaya I have pointed out and formulated for
you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone”(Mahaaparinibbaana Sutta,

More than twenty-five centuries have now gone by; empires have come and
gone, great movements and ideologies have flared up and been lost. Yet
on a deeper level under all of this, the Dhamma and Vinaya have been
quietly guiding the communities of Buddhist monks. Why has it withstood
the test of time so well? Why has it been so successful? Perhaps it is
because the Lord Buddha understood the basic human condition of every
time or place; he knew our predicament and failings, and he could show
the way out to those of us who follow so long after him.

– I. A.

Part One [go up]

Beginner’s Questions [go up]

º This section illustrates the origins of this book, for it is a
selection of the unedited questions that were first sent to me. I have
decided to make it an entry-point for those people completely new to the
Vinaya Rule rather than relegate it to an appendix (or omit it
altogether). The answers often repeat or point to information contained
later in the full text. Those people already familiar with the rules can
skip these Beginner’s and Frequently Asked Questions and go to the
relevant section for more details.

Q 1: “Why does a monk wear the robe? Why do some wear brown robes and others wear yellowish brown?”

A: The Lord Buddha gave this reflection about why a monk wears a robe:

“Properly considering the robe, I use it: simply to ward off cold, to
ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, simply for
the purpose of covering the parts of the body which cause shame.” (OP

In the Lord Buddha’s time, 2,500 years ago, clothing[9]
was made without complex machinery. (Although simple ’sewing-frames’
are mentioned in the texts, which the monks would have used at
robe-making (Ka.thina) time.) So the pattern of the robe is very
simple and designed so that it can be made up out of patches of cloth,
for discarded rags were often used after washing and dyeing.

This ‘yellow robe’ is considered the banner of the arahant and
emblem of Buddhism. For the ordinary Theravaadin bhikkhu it is a
privilege to be able to wear this robe, continuing the tradition and
practising to be worthy of it. There are rules as to the robes’ size,
colour, how they are sewn, type of cloth used, etc., and how bhikkhus
can acquire them. (See The Robe.)

The colour of the robes depends on the dye used. Until very recently,
this would have been natural vegetable dye found in the jungle from
roots or trees. (In NE Thailand, for example, we used the heartwood of
the jack-fruit tree.) Nowadays chemical dyes are more used and sometimes
give that more vivid orange colour that one sees in Bangkok.

The colour white is used by Buddhist devotees to show their commitment
to keeping the Precepts — usually the Eight Precepts — on Observance
Days. (White robes are also worn by the anagarika, or postulant before he becomes a monk.)

Q 2: “Why do monks eat from the bowl? Can lay
people serve soup to monks in normal bowls? Can they serve fruits or
desserts on plates instead of putting them in the monk’s bowl?”

A: The Lord Buddha gave this reflection about finding and eating food:

“Properly considering alms food, I use it: not playfully, nor for
intoxication, nor for putting on weight, nor for beautification; but
simply for the survival and continuance of this body, for ending its
afflictions, for the support of the chaste life, (thinking) I will
destroy old feelings (of hunger) and not create new feelings (from
overeating). Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, and live in
comfort.” (OP p.46)

The alms bowl is another practical symbol of Buddhism, and, like the
robes, another requisite of the bhikkhu. Although every bhikkhu is given
an alms bowl (and a set of robes) when he becomes a monk, not all of
them will actually go on an alms round and only a minority — usually
they are the forest meditation bhikkhus — will eat from their bowl
sitting on the floor. Therefore many monks will eat using plates and
dishes, while some will eat sitting on the floor at a small table and
others at a normal western-style table. One should not feel shy about
asking a monk as to his normal way of eating and then fit in with that.

Those forest bhikkhus who keep the austere practices (dhuta”nga or tudong) [10]
will be stricter about only using one eating vessel. This can simplify
life and remind the bhikkhu that although food is necessary for bodily
health he does not have to indulge in an obsession with taste. (It also
saves washing-up time.)

Q 3: “Why do monks live in the forest?”

A: In India during the Lord Buddha’s time much of the land was
covered in forests and groves and this was where the wandering
mendicants of the different orders would pursue their religious
practices. The Lord Buddha spoke of the ‘foot of a tree’ as the basic
shelter for bhikkhus, and this is usually still affirmed to every newly
ordained bhikkhu. Later, monasteries were established and well-endowed,
and the focus shifted to a more settled life. Mostly only the ‘forest
monks’ now live in the forest where it is quiet and conducive to
meditation. Many more monks will live in the village monastery or go to a
monastery in the town to study the scriptures.

The Lord Buddha said this about the basics of shelter, whether in the forest or city:

“Properly considering the lodging, I use it: simply to ward off cold,
to ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun
and reptiles; simply for protection from the inclemencies of weather
and for the enjoyment of seclusion.” (OP p.46)

Q 4: “How does one who wants to become a monk find out how to go about getting the robe and bowl, etc.?”

Q 5: “What is the procedure for a lay man to ordain?”

Q 6: “How does one who wants to sponsor any newly ordained monk/nun with the necessities go about doing so?”

Q 7: “How does a teacher assess and decide if one is suitable for ordination?”

A: In fact getting the robes and bowl is not so much a problem
for once the candidate is accepted by a preceptor, the preceptor will
know where suitable requisites may be found. The question should be more
about the qualities necessary to become a monk and I have explained
some of these in the section on Becoming a Bhikkhu.

If the candidate’s intention is right and he is not disqualified by
other factors, he should find a senior monk who can advise him on the
places where he might ordain and perhaps recommend him to a preceptor.
If the candidate lives in a non-Buddhist country, he can write for
details to the country where he is interested in staying. Bhikkhus are
often travelling and giving Dhamma talks around the world and they would
generally be very happy to make suggestions about this.

In certain communities there is a ‘postulancy’ period when the candidate first wears white robes as an anagarika[11] and after a year (or two) may then be given either novice (saama.”nera)
or full bhikkhu ordination. Once he is accepted for this, all the
requisites should be provided. (In some monasteries the candidate is
provided with the cloth but has to learn to sew his own robes.)

Similarly for the lay person wanting to help supply requisites to the
new monk, the best way is to ask details from a senior monk who will
explain and help. In some Buddhist countries there are even special
shops to supply these requisites but whether this is suitable will
depend on the monastery of ordination.

Also, see the book Ordination Procedure and the Preliminary Duties of a New Bhikkhu.

Q 8: “How does a lay woman ordain? Does she become ordained only by bhikkhunii?”

A: The Theravadin lineage no longer has an ‘officially recognized’ bhikkhunii-ordination.
There are other forms for lay women that still involve ‘leaving the
home life’ and keeping Eight or Ten Precepts as a dasasiila mata
nun. Finding a suitable place is quite difficult but several groups are
trying to develop places conducive to Dhamma practice for such nuns.
(For example, Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England. (See also Buddhist Nuns.)

Q 9: “Instead of letting the monks go on alms-round during rainy days, can the lay people request to bring daana [the food offering] to the monks?”

A: Some bhikkhus take a daily alms-round as a special practice (dhuta”nga or tudong)
and will normally always want to go. Many other monks will be happy to
receive food brought to them. Please ask or observe how the monk
practises. There is no harm in offering to bring the food, for if the
monk prefers to walk on an alms-round he can explain about that.

Q 10: “Is there a minimum and maximum number of layers [of clothing] a monk can wear? Does the rule alter with the weather?”

A: There is a minimum in that the bhikkhu must be properly and modestly dressed, especially in public. (See Socializing and Wrong Resort and End Notes 70 and 71.) During the cold season in India, the Buddha allowed a double-layered outer robe (sa”nghaati) to be used and so — using the Great Standards[12]
as a guide — in even colder climates extra layers may be allowable. In
countries where hypothermia may be a danger, the use of extra layers
seems sensible — especially if this cuts down on heating and medical
expenses. (That a bhikkhu lives as frugally as possible is a major
aspect of the Vinaya.) However, it is generally felt very
important that the traditional robes remain the basic dress and ‘extra
layers’ should not obscure this.

Q 11: “Is it [acceptable] that the ordained one
requests some basic necessities such as food, drink, medicine, shelter,
blankets, reasonable form of transport due to weakness (health reason)?
How should one approach a monk or nun if one wants to offer necessities
to them?”

A: There are definite conditions that allow a bhikkhu to ask for
help. These would be when he is ill, or in danger, or when he has been
formally offered help. See How to Help a Bhikkhu — Invitation for a fuller explanation.

Q 12: “Is it [acceptable] for one to offer basic necessities to monks or nuns without first asking them?”

A: Yes, generosity is a virtue highly praised by the Buddha and
was often the first virtue he mentioned. It goes against the general
modern selfish attitude of ‘getting is better than giving’ and leads on
to contentment and the calm that can lead to deep meditation and wisdom.
So, if it makes one happy to make an offering then one can do so
without asking first. However, the offering should also be endowed with
wisdom so that one gives something that is useful and not beyond one’s
family’s means.

Q 13: “Why do we bow to monks/nuns and the Buddha Statue?”

A: The yellow robe worn by monks is an emblem and reminder of the
Triple Gem, as is the Buddha Statue. Therefore one is really bowing to
the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, not to some person or statue. There are
two aspects to bowing — the bodily action and the mind. If one bows
because it gives one the opportunity to demonstrate one’s faith in the
Triple Gem, because it seems the right thing to do, and because it leads
the mind to calm, then it will be beneficial. If one bows without
reason or because one feels that one must do so for appearances sake,
then it is a rather empty gesture. (Even so one’s appreciation can

When I bow three times to the Buddha Statue or to senior monks, I mentally recollect ‘Buddho’, then ‘Dhammo’ and then ‘Sa”ngho’ and also have mindfulness of the bodily posture as it bends forward and the head touches the floor. (See Etiquette and End Note 120)
However, in Western countries this is often misunderstood and can be
the source of quite a lot of embarrassment. It is up to the persons
themselves to decide what is appropriate under the different

Q 14: “Is it [acceptable] to put two hands together [in añjalii] when paying respect to monks/nuns and Buddha Statue, or should one bow to show more respect?”

A: One should show respect from one’s heart in the way that seems
best to oneself, recollecting the Triple Gem and doing it mindfully. No
good monk (or Buddha statue) is going to take offence if one does not

Q 15: “Why do monks shave their heads?”

A: When the prince who was to become the Buddha left his palace
to seek a way beyond aging, sickness and death, it is said that one of
the first things that he did was to “shave off his hair and beard and
put on the yellow cloth”. Buddhist monks always completely shave their
head and beard, showing their commitment to the Holy Life (Brahmacariya)
of one gone forth into the homeless life. (In India some ascetics tear
out their hair, while others never touch it so that it becomes a tangled

A rule states that a bhikkhu should not allow his hair to grow beyond a
certain length or time, so he will shave usually at least once a
fortnight or month, sometimes more frequently. To do this he uses his
razor, which is also one of his requisites.

‘Hair-of-the-head’ (kesaa) is one of the five parts of the body
mentioned in the ordination ceremony and is used to recollect the true
nature of the body. The bhikkhu is also not allowed to dye or pluck out
any grey hairs, for they are useful reminders of old-age and
impermanence. (Just consider how much time and money is wasted by people
trying to make their hair remain beautiful and young-looking.)

Frequently Asked Questions [go up]

FAQ 1: “When a bhikkhu is sick and especially
so in emergency cases, is he allowed to be attended to by female medical
staff; e.g. female nurse, woman doctor, especially if the woman doctor
is the only doctor/surgeon on duty? How does the Vinaya allow for this?”

FAQ 2: “It has been observed that in the
Burmese, Sri Lankan, Tibetan and Mahayana traditions, women are allowed
to make an offering directly to the monks. Yet Thai Buddhist monks are
not allowed to accept offerings directly from women. Is it because it is
against the Vinaya rules or a different interpretation of the rules?”

A 1&2: The Vinaya Rule specifies that if a bhikkhu touches or
is touched by a woman, it is an offence — a very serious offence —
only if the bhikkhu is “overcome by lust, with altered mind”. However,
the practising bhikkhu knows that as his mind changes so quickly, he has
to be extremely cautious about involving himself in doubtful
situations. It is better to be safe than sorry, even if this may seem
over-scrupulous. In emergency situations the bhikkhu will have to decide
for himself and be sure to take care of his thoughts.

In Thailand it is a tradition (not strictly a rule) that the monk uses a
‘receiving cloth’ to emphasize that there is no touching. (For more
about these questions, see Intimacy — Touching, How to make an Offering, and End Note 85.)

FAQ 3: “What is the rule if an eight-precepter
unintentionally comes into [direct physical] contact with another lay
person or eight-precepter or ten-precepter or monk or nun of opposite

A: As with the preceding cases with bhikkhus, there is no fault if there is no wrong intention.

FAQ 4: “It is mentioned in the Vinaya rules
that a monk is not allowed to reside under the same roof with a woman.
How does that apply to multistoried (condominiums, flats, apartments)
and multi-compartment buildings (terrace houses), where the flats,
terrace houses, share one roof?”

A: This has become a complex question with various
interpretations because of modern conditions. The spirit of the rule is
very important — avoiding possibilities of intimacy — while the
interpretation will depend on the monk and the circumstances. In
countries without proper monasteries there will always have to be
something of a compromise. (See Staying Together for a discussion of this.)

FAQ 5: “The Vinaya rules disallow monks from touching or handling money. As such, in Buddhist countries monks must have a Kappiya [attendant] to handle money for them. However, if a monk has to travel and does not have a Kappiya,
under such circumstances do the Vinaya rules allow him to handle money
personally? This is a problem especially in non-Buddhist countries.”

A: While it may be a problem or inconvenience, the rules are
there to protect and remind the monk about dangerous, unskilful actions.
If the monk becomes increasingly involved with money there is a
tendency for the whole of his bhikkhu-life to be compromised — and that
would be a far greater problem. Soon after the Final Passing Away of
the Lord Buddha this sort of question had already become a major
controversy and it is now even more complex under modern conditions.

However, modern conditions also have brought their own assistance to
keeping these rules. For instance, a bhikkhu can be given an air ticket
and travel around the world (if need be) without having any money or
attendant. He will need to be met at the airport and helped in the
normal way, but that should be natural if he has been invited to come by
the lay group. (He should not really be travelling otherwise.) And, of
course, a monk can use postage stamps and ‘telephone-cards’ that add
convenience to communicating — when it is appropriate. (See the section
on Money, especially the Me.n.daka Allowance.)

FAQ 6: “Is there a Vinaya rule that states
that once a person becomes a monk, he is not allowed to disrobe? If he
is allowed to disrobe, is there anywhere in the Vinaya that sets the
maximum number of times he is allowed to do so. If so, under what
circumstances is he allowed to disrobe?”

A: I know of no place in the Vinaya that states a bhikkhu cannot
disrobe. If he no longer has any interest in the bhikkhu-life, the
tendency will be for him to become lax and a bad example for others. His
Dhamma friends therefore will try to re-fire his enthusiasm. However,
if that is not possible, becoming a good layman may be better than being
a bad monk. (Nevertheless, in some countries there is a cultural
expectation of ‘ordaining for life’ and a corresponding stigma attached
to disrobing.) There is a tradition (but not a rule) about a bhikkhu not
re-ordaining more than seven times. (See Disrobing.)

FAQ 7: “The Vinaya states that monks are not
supposed to eat once the sun has passed its zenith. Still, what happens
if they are in countries such as regions of the North or South Poles,
e.g. Norway, Alaska, where the sun never sets for six months and for the
next six months, there is no sun.”

A: I understand that the zenith here means when the sun reaches
the highest point in its arc across the sky. In most habitable areas of
the globe this arc may be low to the horizon but it should still be
possible to follow the rule. And if bhikkhus ever reach the polar
regions[13] they will have the Great Standards to guide them. (More specifically, see Meal Time for time limits.)

FAQ 8: “It is stated in the Vinaya that when a
lay person offers fruit to a monk, he has to make a cut on one of the
fruits to make it permissible for the monk to accept. How did this rule
originate? Also, lay people, when offering fruit juices to monks after
midday, are not allowed to offer fruit juices from fruits larger than
the size of a fist. Is this in the Vinaya and why is it so?”

A: At the time of the Buddha, some lay people complained that the
monks destroyed the ‘life’ in seeds. Therefore lay people can be asked
by the monk if it is allowable for him to eat those fruits. In some
monasteries (not all) this is done by the lay people cutting them. (See Offering Fruit: Kappiya and End Note 91.)

It is the Commentary to the Vinaya that mentions about ‘great fruits’.
This practice, however, is not followed in every monastery. (See Fruit Juices.)

FAQ 9: “In Thailand, it has been observed that
Thai Buddhist monks are allowed to drink tea, cocoa, coffee (but
without milk) after midday. But in some other Buddhist countries like
Burma, monks are not allowed to do this. Is this part of the Vinaya
rules or is this just tradition, custom, or local practice? If it is in
the Vinaya, how do you explain the differences in interpretation?”

A: The fourth of the Recollections of the Bhikkhu’s Requisites is:

“Properly considering medicinal requisites for curing the sick, I use
them: simply to ward off any pains of illness that have arisen, and for
the maximum freedom from disease.” (OP p.47)

There is an allowance in the Paali texts that ‘medicinal-tonics’
can be taken in the afternoon while ‘lifetime-medicines’ may be consumed
any time they are needed. (See Lifetime Medicines.)

There are different interpretations and practices about how ill a
bhikkhu has to be for it to be allowable to take such ‘medicines’. Some
bhikkhus will not take anything other than pure water, while some will
over-stretch the Rule to even drinking ‘medicinal’ food-drinks (e.g.
Ovaltine) in the afternoon. Some bhikkhus will consider tea-leaves
allowable (as ‘herbs’) while some will see it as food or as a
’stimulant’ (caffeine) and therefore not appropriate. Also, the ordinary
rural villagers of South East Asia (until very recently) would have had
no tea or coffee to drink, so such items could be considered quite a
luxury. It will depend on local conditions and interpretations, which
are allowed for in the Vinaya through the Great Standards. (See also Lifetime Medicines.)

FAQ 10: “Can a monk retain property that he
had as a lay person? Also, can a monk receive property that has been
passed to him as inheritance? Is a monk also allowed to accept property
donated to him by lay devotees and which has been transferred to his
name? What is the Vinaya’s stance on this? Does the Vinaya also allow
for monks to sell/transact property that has been donated to them in
order to buy, for instance, another piece of land in an area that is
more suitable for spiritual activities?”

A: This is a complicated question. If there is a steward who does
the arranging for the bhikkhu in the proper manner then certain things
would be allowable. (See What does a Bhikkhu Possess.) However, there are very strict guidelines about this. (Please see the various rules about Bhikkhus and Wealth.)

Practically speaking, bhikkhus in Thailand are not ordered to renounce
all their property, etc., when they receive ordination. (As mentioned
elsewhere, the majority of bhikkhus in Thailand will return to lay life
within a certain period.) Bhikkhus who are serious about dedicating
their life to the Holy Life will obviously take the Lord Buddha as their
example and like Him renounce all that is worldly.

There are specific rules, not covered in this work, about Community land
and property, and the different ways they are managed. (However, see
also Wrongly Received Gifts.)

FAQ 11: “Does the Vinaya state that monks
cannot take nuns and lay people as their teachers? If this is so, what
is the reason for this?”

A: The taking of a Teacher (aacariya) by a bhikkhu and living in dependence (nissaya) on him can only be between bhikkhus. (See Becoming a Bhikkhu; End Note 24
on the qualities of a Teacher.) And even according to the bhikkhunii’s
own Rule, in the time of the Lord Buddha, she was not allowed to teach
bhikkhus. However, this does not mean that a bhikkhu cannot learn from

FAQ 12: “Are monks allowed to own and/or
drive vehicles? Is this allowed by the Vinaya? If it does not go against
the Vinaya, would it still be socially acceptable, given the monk’s
spiritual status in society?”

A: There is a specific rule against bhikkhus owning vehicles.
Obviously, ‘motor vehicles’ were not available in the Buddha’s time and
most travel would have been on foot. However, there was the case:

“…when the group-of-six bhikkhus went in a vehicle yoked with cows
and bulls, they were criticized by the lay people. The Buddha then
established a fault of Wrong-doing for a bhikkhu to travel in a vehicle;
later illness was exempted from this guideline…

“Travelling in a vehicle in the Buddha’s time was an extravagance. A
strict application of this training in Thailand is not allowing bhikkhus
to drive or own vehicles, and (officially) not to ride on motorcycles.”
(HS ch.17)

Bhikkhus were allowed to use ferry boats, etc. (In Thailand, bhikkhus from riverside monasteries will go on alms round by boat.)

FAQ 13: “Does the Vinaya permit monks to practise herbal, traditional or ayurvedic medicine?”

A: In Thailand, I understand that one cannot be officially registered as a herbal doctor while still a bhikkhu. While
providing medicines for one’s fellow monks is very much allowable, it
is definitely wrong that a monk dispenses medicine for reward. (See Wrong Livelihood and End Note 115.)

FAQ 14: “When a monk commits a paaraajika
offence, do the lay people have the right to ask him to disrobe? What
is the usual procedure as stated in the Vinaya? What happens when a monk
has been proven to have committed a paaraajika offence, yet
refuses to disrobe in spite of demands from lay devotees and there is no
Sangha Council to enforce the demands, as is the case in non-Buddhist
countries? Under such circumstances, what do the lay people do?”

A: If a bhikkhu commits a paaraajika offence he is
‘defeated’ and no longer a bhikkhu even if he is wearing robes. The
Community of bhikkhus will have nothing to do with him and will expel
him. (See Disrobing and End Note 31.)
However, if the accused ‘bhikkhu’ does not admit to the offence and it
cannot be proved, the results of kamma must be allowed to run their own
course. Buddhism has never engaged in violent witch hunts. (See Strictness and Blaming Others.) And for how lay people dealt with stubborn monks in the Buddha’s time, see Disputes.

FAQ 15: “What questions should one ask a monk
when offerings of requisites are made; and to what extent is a monk
limited (and why) when making his reply; and when is it all right to ask
details of preferences and specifications; and how to find out what is
appropriate if the robed person finds it difficult or is unable to
mention what is required?”

A: Generally, the right-practising bhikkhu will be a person of
few wants for he is trying to go to the ending of all desire. However,
there may be certain things he may need but may not mention until he is
sure that the donors are completely sincere in their invitation. If the
donor makes specific suggestions, the bhikkhu may refuse, he may accept,
or he may remain silent — and such silence may very well be a positive
response (as it was in the Lord Buddha’s time). Therefore, as the donor
gets to know the bhikkhu he or she will become more sensitive about
what is needed and what is appropriate — and be able to interpret any
’silence’ in the right way. (See the section on Invitation and Beginner’s Question 12 above.)

Part Two:
Establishing a Background
[go up]

Precepts [go up]

The awakened mind has gone beyond greed, hatred and delusion. Yet for
those of us who are still striving towards this end such unskilful
tendencies have to be addressed. We need guidelines to help us become
more aware of our actions and speech, so that we do not go off the
Buddha’s Middle Way. For a start there are the Five Precepts, then the
Eight and the Ten Precepts,[4] and then the 227 Paa.timokkha Rules of the bhikkhu.

The Five Precepts are basic human ethical standards — answering the
fundamental questions of ‘what do I do, what should I say?’ These
standards are further refined by the Eight Precepts, which allow the lay
person to live a life closer to that of the monk — even if
temporarily.[14] This may then lead to the Ten Precepts of a novice (saama.nera) or of a dasasiila mata nun.

The Vinaya and Paa.timokkha rules were set down by the Buddha in
response to specific incidents that occurred either within the Community
of bhikkhus or through their interaction with the lay community. An
explanation of the original circumstances that led to the formulation of
a rule is usually included in the scriptural text as an introduction to
that rule. The emphasis therefore is always on Dhamma practice with the
Precepts or Vinaya as a vital guide and support.

When a bhikkhu takes up the training rules, he might find that past
habits and tendencies still cause problems — especially in a
non-supportive environment. Of course, staying within a suitable
environment will simplify this, which is a major reason for some rules.
Therefore it is important to remember that the bhikkhu never practises
in isolation and always needs the support and understanding of lay
Buddhists. There is the need for mutual support and encouragement
between the lay and bhikkhu communities. Knowing something of the rules
should enable the lay person to appreciate this.

Bhikkhus [go up]

Buddhism has been said[15] to be ‘deeply rooted in a country when a local young man can become a bhikkhu, learn and then recite the Paa.timokkha
Rule in his own country’. This originally referred to Sri Lanka
thousands of years ago but now that Buddhism is moving to the West such
conditions are starting to appear there, too.

The Bhikkhu Sa”ngha or Community of monks is probably the oldest
of any of the institutions that have remained faithful to their origins
and spread world-wide.[7]
While scholars like to track its historical development from country to
country, we could also start with a particular bhikkhu and trace the
thread back through preceptor after preceptor to the Buddha Himself. Its
many remarkable features enable men from different classes, backgrounds
and cultures to live together in harmony and fellowship. Most
important, it offers ideal conditions for the individual to train and
meditate, to awaken to Dhamma, which is the whole point of the Buddha’s

Becoming a Novice [go up]

The first part[16] of the ordination[17] procedure for bhikkhus is known as the Going Forth into Homelessness (pabbajjaa). If it finishes with just that — without going on to the Questioning of the candidate and the Acceptance of him by all the gathered bhikkhus into the Bhikkhu Sa”ngha — the candidate is known as a saama.nera
or novice. This is usually the case when the candidate is less than the
twenty years of age necessary to become a bhikkhu. A very young boy is
not allowed to become a novice either, but the minimum age will vary
according to place.[18]

A saama.nera wears the ‘yellow robe’ like a full bhikkhu — except he does not have the sa”nghaa.ti
(double-thickness robe) — and leads a very similar life. In some
places a period as a novice forms part of the preliminary training to
become a bhikkhu, while some men decide to remain saama.nera for various reasons. The saama.nera keeps the Ten Precepts and the 75 Training Rules (sekhiya)
and some other rules of the bhikkhu. Later, when he is ready and if he
is old enough, he can ask the bhikkhu community for full ordination (upasampadaa).

Becoming a Bhikkhu [go up]

In the Pali texts, when a man decided to become a bhikkhu, he is often quoted as saying:

“Confined is the household life, a path of dust; the going forth is
open and spacious. Not easy is it living in a house to lead the
religious life absolutely fulfilled and purified, as polished as
mother-of-pearl. Suppose I were to shave off my hair and beard, clothe
myself in ochre robes and go forth from homelife into homelessness?” (HS

However, anyone wishing to become a bhikkhu must fulfil certain
conditions about which he will be questioned during the actual
ordination procedure. The candidate must be male and at least twenty
years old. He must never have committed any grievous crimes and, if
previously ordained, he must not have been guilty of any Defeater (Paaraajika) offences or have entered some other religion without disrobing first. (See BMC pp.88-89)
He should also be of good reputation; fit and healthy enough to carry
out the duties of a bhikkhu; not in debt; not subject to government
service; and have permission from parents or guardian.

The Ordination ceremony requires a prescribed boundary (siima), a preceptor (upajjhaaya)
and a quorum of bhikkhus to validate the formal Sangha Act. In the
formal procedure the candidate is examined as to the necessary
qualities[19] and, if all the bhikkhus are satisfied, they receive him into the Sangha, the Community of Bhikkhus.

It is in this way that yet another link is added to the bhikkhu-lineage.
Henceforth, the new bhikkhu can participate (and make up the necessary
quorum) in future assemblies and help receive other new bhikkhus — as
bhikkhus have continued to do for two and a half thousand years. (See EV,I,p.4; OP)

When a candidate requests full admission to the Community[20] (after the saama.nera
ordination) he does not make any ‘lifetime vows’ but offers himself for
training and instruction under his Preceptor’s guidance. At the end of
the ordination ceremony, the Preceptor will immediately instruct the new
bhikkhu (or arrange that he is properly taught) about the Paa.timokkha
Rule and the other principles that all bhikkhus should follow and

For the first five years a bhikkhu is called navaka (’new one’) and he must live ‘dependent’ (nissaya) on a senior bhikkhu — either his preceptor or teacher (aacariya)
— training in the ways of a bhikkhu. The preceptor and the new monk
should be kind and helpful to each other, in almost a father-and-son
relationship. A new bhikkhu who no longer lives under his preceptor must
take another senior bhikkhu as his teacher and depend on him instead.[22]

For the next five years after his navaka period, the bhikkhu is called majjhima, (’one in the middle’) and he is allowed to live by himself if he is accomplished in certain qualities.[23]

When a bhikkhu has completed ten Rains he is called Thera, which can be translated as ‘an elder who is worthy of respect’. If he is also accomplished in certain extra qualities,[24] he is allowed to give ordination as preceptor, to be a teacher, and have young monks live in dependence on him.

Ordination in South East Asia [go up]

Throughout South East Asia, it is very common for young men to become
bhikkhus (or novices) for a short period of their life. Traditionally
this occurs during the three months of the Rains Retreat, after which
they disrobe and return to lay life, hopefully knowing and appreciating
much more about the bhikkhu life — and probably having friends still in
the monastery whom they can visit for advice. In Thailand this means
that while a small proportion of bhikkhus will spend all their life in
the robe, many more Thai men will have tasted the life.

Such an ordination is also a rite of passage, for it is a family, even a
village event with many people joining in to see the young man off into
this new stage of his life.[25]
The new monk will frequently visit his former home on his daily alms
round so his ordination has a wider influence, showing the continuing
possibility of living the ‘Holy Life’ started by the Lord Buddha so long

It may also be considered a way for the young man to show his gratitude
to his parents and grandparents, for they are thought to participate and
share in the ‘merit’ he makes through his ordination. Also, some men
might ordain for a time before marriage — one way for the young man to
prove his maturity to his fiancée — and then again later in life after

The Rains Retreat [go up]

The bhikkhu’s year is structured around the three months from July to
October. In Asia this is the time of the monsoon season — the central
period of the agricultural year — when the paddy fields are flooded and
the main rice crop is planted. In the Buddha’s time (and until modern
times), people were less likely to travel around during this period
because the roads were bad and there was a danger of crop damage. So the
bhikkhus likewise suspended their mendicant wanderings and had to
settle in one place.

A bhikkhu must make a formal determination to be resident at dawn every
day in that place for the whole three month period. (There are
exceptional circumstances when he may be allowed to be away, but even
then he should return within seven days.)[26] These three months are often a special time of study or meditation and so are sometimes known as the Rains Retreat or Rains Residence.
This is also the normal time when the young men of South East Asia
become monks for the traditional three month period (see above).

A bhikkhu often measures the length of time he has been a monk according
to how many Rains Residences he has undertaken. Therefore instead of
saying he has been ‘ordained seven years’ he might say he has been
ordained for ’seven Rains’.

Disrobing [go up]

Living the bhikkhu-life properly, following the Buddha’s Teaching,
requires full commitment and sustained effort. If this is lost and his
Dhamma friends cannot rekindle his interest, the bhikkhu is always at
liberty to return to lay life. There are no lifetime vows, so perhaps
living a good lay life is better than being lax in keeping the bhikkhu’s
rules. Nevertheless, in some countries there is a cultural expectation
of ‘ordaining for life’ and a corresponding stigma attached to

“A bhikkhu who is tired of the practice of the Brahma-cariya [Holy
Life] and wishes to return to the state of being a lay man may do this
by taking leave of the training…” (EV,IIIp237)

Disrobing is finalized by the monk clearly proclaiming his change of
status before another bhikkhu or lay person. Once the other person
understands his statement, he is no longer a bhikkhu. In Thailand there
is often a formal ceremony for this that ends with the former monk
undertaking the Five Precepts to replace the 227 Paa.timokkha Rule.
(This is also considered a step downwards, for the ideal way is
certainly to continue with the Holy Life ‘for as long as life lasts’.)

In those countries where temporary ordinations are ‘rites of passage’,
some men may ordain and disrobe several times in their life — before
marriage and after retirement, for example. However, there seems to be a
tradition that bhikkhus do not disrobe and go forth again more than
seven times, but this rarely occurs.

If a bhikkhu commits a Defeater Offence there is no need for him
formally to disrobe because he is automatically expelled by his wrongful
action and is no longer a bhikkhu from that moment.[31] He can never reordain during that lifetime.

Buddhist Nuns [go up]

This book is really only concerned with bhikkhus. [27] In the Theravaada lineage it seems that the bhikkhunii
ordination lineage for women given by the Buddha — equivalent to
bhikkhu-ordination for men — was lost in Sri Lanka with the fall of
Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka in the eleventh century C.E. and finally with
the fall of Pagan in the thirteenth century C.E. Bhikkhuniis originally observed 311 Paa.timokkha Rules, and there are whole sections of the Paali Vinaya texts devoted to the their rules.

The Vinaya and the Patimokkha [go up]

The Paali Vinaya texts are contained in five large volumes. The Sutta- Vibha”nga division comprises the two books that contain the 227 Paa.timokkha Rules (and those for bhikkhuniis) with the stories of their origin and other explanations. The next two books, the Mahaavagga and Cullavagga of the Khandhaka division:

“…contain a great variety of procedural material dealing with such
important Sangha functions as giving the Going Forth and Acceptance, the
recitation of the Paa.timokkha and the keeping of the Rains Residence,
as well as a great deal of material relating to bhikkhu’s requisites,
such as lodgings, medicines, clothing, etc.” (HS ch. 7)

The last book (the Parivaara) is a form of appendix or supplement.

So the 227 Paa.timokkha Rules are a part of the greater Vinaya. As Ven. Thiradhammo remarks:

“…the Paa.timokkha is more like the bare bones or skeleton
of the Vinaya Pi.taka [Basket]. Without reference to the explanations of
the Sutta-Vibha”nga or the elaboration of the Khandhakas this skeleton
has no viable application!” (HS ch.7)

The Buddha laid down that on full and new moon days all the bhikkhus in
residence in the same community must come together in a formal meeting.
If there is a quorum of at least four bhikkhus, they should listen to
the full Paa.timokkha Rule. A competent bhikkhu who has learnt this by
heart will recite it in the Paali language for the Community so that they can remind themselves of their responsibilities in keeping the major 227 Rules.[28] The complete recitation may take anywhere from thirty-five minutes to an hour, depending on the skill of the reciting bhikkhu.

Before the Paa.timokkha recitation begins, each bhikkhu should admit to
any offences that he knows he has committed by formally telling another
monk (or monks). Once this is accomplished, the monk is considered
‘pure’ and can listen to the recitation of the rules. (The recitation
includes questions, asking if any bhikkhu present is guilty of the
offences.) In many communities it is normal for each bhikkhu to make a
‘general confession’ of all possible offences to another bhikkhu before
listening to the Paa.timokkha recitation.

Different offences are of different seriousness but the most common
faults committed by carelessness or mistake can be cleared by
‘confession’ to another bhikkhu.[29]
Admitting to one’s mistake and agreeing to do better in the future is
the way of growth and progress towards the elimination of all
carelessness and absentmindedness.

Offences [go up]

When a bhikkhu breaks his precepts or rules[30] it is called an offence (aapatti).
Such offences are committed by action or word, although intention is
(almost always) a decisive factor. Just thinking about doing something
wrong is unskilful and may lead to future problems but it is not an
offence. We will be examining some of these rules in the following

Major Rule Groups of the Patimokkha [go up]

a) The Four Paaraajika — The Defeaters

The new bhikkhu is told about the Paaraajika Offences immediately after ordination,[21]
so he fully knows that they are the most serious of all the offences
and that the consequences of transgressing them causes him to be no
longer a bhikkhu. The nature of the act that breaks any of these four Paaraajika
rules clearly reveals that the bhikkhu is no longer interested in
developing the subtle and refined way of Dhamma. The alternative of
voluntarily disrobing is always available if he feels he can no longer
keep the Rule and this is considered a much better way to handle this
sort of overwhelming desire.

A monk automatically falls from being a bhikkhu[31]
by committing any of these four offences of Defeat: sexual-intercourse,
murder, major-theft, or falsely claiming supernormal abilities. A
bhikkhu who falls into any of these four Defeater offences thereby
severs himself irrevocably from the bhikkhu community and is no longer
considered a bhikkhu. The text portrays it with some vivid similes
showing their irreparable nature: as ‘a man with his head cut off’; as
‘a withered leaf fallen from its stem’; as ‘a palm tree cut down’; as ‘a
broken stone’. For while all the other offences can be remedied, these
four are terminal.

b) The Thirteen Sa”nghaadisesa — Requiring Formal Meetings of the Community

This is a very serious class of offence. However, any offending bhikkhu
can be rehabilitated through confession and supervised probation.
Finally, the bhikkhu needs to be reinstated by a specially convened
Community (Sa”ngha) meeting of at least twenty monks.[32]

c) The Two Aniyata — Indefinite or Undetermined

The Bhikkhu Community (together with the bhikkhu concerned) have to decide which rule, if any, has been infringed.

d) The 30 Nissaggiya Paacittiya — Confession with Forfeiture

These rules are often concerned with bhikkhus being greedy and excessive
in their demand for offerings, or with bhikkhus obtaining requisites
through improper means. This oppresses lay donors and, classically, led
them to comment: “How can these recluses … not knowing moderation ask
for … ?” The rules of this category also guide bhikkhus on how they
should take care of requisites and restrain the bhikkhus from obtaining
items that by their very nature are inappropriate.

This offence can be cleared by forfeiture of the improper item to another bhikkhu(s) and formal confession of the offence.

º The other classes of offences can usually be resolved by a simple ‘confession’ to another bhikkhu(s). They are:

e) The 92 Paacittiya — Expiation through Confession

All these offences can be cleared through confession to another bhikkhu.

f) The Four Paa.tidesaniiya — to be Acknowledged

g) The 75 Sekhiyavatta — Trainings

These are normally classified as offences of ‘wrong-doing’ (dukka.ta).
There are two aspects to these ‘rules of training’ which are mainly
about etiquette and good manners. First, they are a ‘gauge’ for the
bhikkhu’s mindfulness so that he becomes aware of his behaviour. Second,
there is the external perspective of an observer watching the bhikkhu’s
activity and noticing the care and refinement with which he moves,
eats, etc. (For example, see Proper Behaviour Outside the Monastery.)

h) The Seven Adhikara.nasamatha — Settlement of Issues

These are general procedures (rather than offences) for dealing with disputes, accusations, offences and duties. (See BMC p.511)

º In the full Vinaya texts there is also the class of ‘grave’ (thullaccaya) offence. This is a ‘derived offence’ from the most serious rules of Paaraajika and Sa”nghaadisesa (groups (a) and (b)
above) to cover those circumstances when the full offence is not quite
carried out but the conduct is still grave enough to be at fault. There
is also the dubbhaasita offence of wrong speech.

Committing Offences [go up]

The Lord Buddha would not set down a rule until the situation demanded
it, so the Paali often supplies the ‘origin story’ about how the
different rules came about. Certain characters often reappear in the
thick of misdeeds and mischief. For instance, one keeps on coming across
Venerable Udaayin or the notorious ‘group-of-six’ monks. Their
behaviour[33] required attention and rectification from the Buddha, who then made it into a general rule for all the bhikkhus:

“‘In that case, bhikkhus, I will formulate a training rule for the
bhikkhus with ten aims in mind: the excellence of the Community, the
peace of the Community, the curbing of the shameless, the comfort of the
well-behaved bhikkhus, the restraint of [defilements] related to the
present life, the prevention of [defilements] related to the next life,
the arousing of faith in the faithless, the increase in the faithful,
the establishment of the true Dhamma, and the fostering of discipline.”‘
(BMC p.5)

Later circumstances may have required the Buddha to make amendments or
special exceptions and the rule would then have been adjusted
There are also many other minor offences mentioned in the original
Paali texts, which have been further enlarged upon by later
Commentaries. So the range of rules has become very extensive, and their
observance and interpretation correspondingly wide.

º Note that it was often lay people’s criticism that brought the
monk’s wrong doings to the attention of the Buddha. (However, also
notice how such criticism was often too hasty in blaming all monks
rather than just the original delinquent.)

Modernization? The Great Standards [go up]

More than two and a half thousand years have passed since the Vinaya
rules were originally set down by the Buddha, and many things have
markedly changed since then. Should the rules be modernized and brought
up to date? How can this be done?

Already during His lifetime, the Buddha made special allowances for different regions (or desa)
outside the ‘Middle Country’ of North India — where He lived and
taught. These dealt with both the workings of the Community — for
example, a smaller quorum for ordination is allowed in distant parts
where there are fewer monks — and practical measures, such as special
dispensation for footwear and bathing. (See EV,II,p.173) So there is a precedent for adapting to conditions, but this does not mean the abolishing of any rules.[6]

The Lord Buddha also left us a set of principles that can still be used as a standard to judge new circumstances.[35] These are known as ‘The Great Standards’. Properly used they should protect against a wholesale dilution of the Rule.[36]

This is how the Great Standards are formulated:

“Bhikkhus, whatever I have not objected to, saying, ‘This is not
allowable,’ if it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against
what is allowable, that is not allowable for you.

“Whatever I have not objected to, saying, ‘This is not allowable,’ if
it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not
allowable, that is allowable for you.

“And whatever I have not permitted, saying, ‘This is allowable,’ if
it fits in with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is
allowable, that is not allowable for you.

“And whatever I have not permitted, saying, ‘This is allowable,’ if
it fits in with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not
allowable, that is allowable for you.” (BMC p.27; see also EV, II, p170)

º Treated with care, these Great Standards should enable bhikkhus
to live according to the Vinaya Rule in, for example, isolated
communities in non-Buddhist countries with non-tropical climates. They
form a touchstone for modern conditions and substances.

Strictness and Blaming Others [go up]

Among the unenlightened, finding fault with others (rather than dealing
with one’s own problems) often seems to be one of our most damaging
habitual tendencies. We are able to twist whatever we want to this
purpose. (Including the book that you are reading.) For bhikkhus there
are many cautions:

“… those [monks] who follow the Vinaya blindly … tend to be proud
and arrogant, regarding themselves as better behaved and more strict
than others, and despising other bhikkhus as inferior. This in itself is
unbecoming and worthy of censure; and when such bhikkhus have to
associate with others whom they feel to be deficient in observing the
Vinaya, they do it grudgingly and with a sense of distaste, and thus
bring even more trouble on themselves.

“As for the bhikkhu who behaves in the correct manner, he is bound to
free cheerful because he senses that his behaviour is becoming.” (OP

“One who knows the Vinaya well, knows just how far the Vinaya goes.
He will thus know what is definite and what is open to interpretation.
He will know that a monk who practises contrary to what is clearly
stated in the Vinaya … is rightly called
alajjii [shameless].
But he will remain tolerant and in perfect harmony with those who follow
a different practice from his own on matters not clearly covered by the
Vinaya …”(AB)

Disparate interpretations of the Vinaya rules can lead different
communities into claiming that only their understanding is correct and
everyone else is wrong. (See Disputes.) The Buddhist Monastic Code has this to say:

“There is, of course, a danger in being too independent in
interpreting the tradition, in that strongly held opinions can lead to
disharmony in the Community. … At the same time, … there are many
areas on which the Vibha”nga [section of the Vinaya] is unclear and
lends itself to a variety of equally valid interpretations. For proof of
this, we need only look at the various traditions that have developed
in the different Theravadin countries, and even within each country. For
some reason, although people tend to be very tolerant of different
interpretations of the Dhamma, they can be very intolerant of different
interpretations of the Vinaya and can get into heated arguments over
minor issues having very little to do with the training of the mind.”

Venerable Thanissaro continues by emphasizing:

“.. . that any interpretation based on a sound reading of the [Paali]
Canon should be respected: that each bhikkhu should follow the
interpretations of the Community in which he is living, as long as they
do not conflict with the Canon, so as to avoid conflict over minor
matters in daily life; and that he should also show respect for the
differing interpretations of other Communities where they too do not
conflict with the Canon, so as to avoid the pitfalls of pride and
narrow-mindedness.”(BMC p.15)

º In the modern West we find ourselves with the unusual (unique?)[37]
situation of having Buddhist monasteries and temples of so many
different countries and traditions so close at hand. We should
appreciate this abundance and variety, deciding which establishment
suits our needs and then not worry about the shortcomings of other

Part Three:
The Patimokkha Rules
[go up]

Having established a background, we will now turn to the rules
themselves. Rather than following the traditional listing, we will group
rules (of varying seriousness) together under four headings, which
might pertain to, or be of interest to, lay people:

  1. Harmlessness
  2. Relationships
  3. Possessions and Offerings
  4. Right Livelihood for a Bhikkhu
  5. Miscellaneous

For other Patimokkha Rules not covered here, see Appendix B

(I) Harmlessness [go up]

º Throughout its history Buddhism has been renowned for its
tolerance and compassion towards all living beings and this is reflected
in the Buddhist monks’ Vinaya. Their rules cover situations of causing
harm ranging from murder — which is universally accepted as a crime —
to such things as destroying plant life.

Murder [go up]

The third Defeater (Paaraajika) Offence deals with murder. The
original story describes how some bhikkhus wrongly grasped the Buddha’s
meditation teaching on the loathsome aspects of the body[38]
and, falling into wrong view, committed suicide or asked someone to end
their lives for them. The rule can be summarized like this:

“Intentionally bringing about the untimely death of a human being,
even if it is still a foetus, is [an offence of Defeat.]” (Summary Paar.
3; BMC p.78)

º A bhikkhu must not recommend killing, suicide or help arrange a murder.[39]
Also, because in this rule a human being is defined as beginning with
the human foetus, counting “from the time consciousness first arises in
the womb”, he must not advise or arrange an abortion.

There is no offence if death is caused accidentally or without intention.[40]

Killing [go up]

The previous offence was one of Defeat for murder whereas this rule is one of Confession (paacittiya)
for killing animals. It originally arose because Venerable Udaayin, a
frequent delinquent, detested crows so much that he shot them with
arrows and then displayed their cut-off heads.

“Deliberately killing an animal — or having it killed — is [an offence of Confession].”(Summary Paac. 61; BMC p.423)

‘Animal’ here is paano, literally ‘having breath’. The Commentary
explains that it includes living beings down to the size of a bedbug.
Elsewhere the texts forbid the killing of “even an ant”.

º One of the bhikkhu’s requisites is a water filter. This is
employed to prevent the killing of (visible) waterborne creatures when
making use of water from a well or stream. Practically, this also leads
bhikkhus to take extra care that they cover water jars or regularly
change water so that mosquito larvae do not have opportunity to breed.
This shows how the Vinaya Rule emphasizes care and forethought as
‘preventive medicine’.

There are two rules concerned with bhikkhus and their use of water:

One of these offences was originally perpetrated by the notorious
‘group-of-six’ monks who used water that contained living beings. It can
be summarized:

“Using water, knowing that it contains living beings that will die
from one’s use, is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 62; BMC p.424)

In the second offence the monks of AA.lavii were doing repairs and
’sprinkled grass and clay’ with water that they knew contained life. It
is summarized:

“If a bhikkhu knows that water contains living beings but still pours
it out onto grass or earth it is [an offence of Confession.] Also
pouring — or having it poured — into such water anything that would
kill the beings therein is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 20; See
BMC p.319)

Intention is an essential factor here. For example, if a bhikkhu only
intends to sweep a path but accidentally kills ants in the process,
there is no offence because it is not deliberate. However, ordering an
animal to be killed (and it is) is an offence. (Also, if he suspects
that that animal was killed to provide him with food, it is an offence
to eat it. See Meat-eating.)

Destroying Vegetation [go up]

º The common belief at the time of the Buddha was that plants
(and even soil) were ‘one-facultied life’. Today we have ecologically
‘green’ beliefs that are often equivalent — at least they seem to lead
to much the same attitudes.[41] (In Thailand, forest monks are well known as the best protectors of the jungle.)

The eleventh Confession offence concerns destroying plant life. It
originated because a bhikkhu harmed ‘one-facultied life’ by cutting down
trees. He continued to cut down a tree even when the tree-deva[42]
asked him to stop, so she went and complained to the Buddha. This led
to lay criticism of such behaviour and a rule was set down:

“Intentionally damaging or destroying a living plant is [an offence of Confession.]”(Summary Paac. 11; See BMC p.294)

Therefore destroying a living plant — for instance, felling a tree,
uprooting a flower, burning grass — is a Confession offence; as is
picking fruit from a tree, a flower from a bush, etc. It is an offence
of wrong-doing (dukka.ta) to damage or destroy fertile seeds or pips, or viable seedlings. (See Kappiya).

º Bhikkhus who live in tropical forest monasteries constantly
have to protect both the jungle and themselves. When paths are
overgrown, snakes and other dangerous ‘creepy-crawlies’ can be trodden
on — and bite back! There also may be a need for firebreaks. One way
that forest monks cope with this is a daily routine of sweeping the
paths. However they are not allowed to dig or clear the land.

The tenth Confession offence arose when bhikkhus dug the ground and got
others to dig, and the local people criticized them because they
considered the earth to be ‘one-facultied life’. The rule is phrased
like this:

“Should any bhikkhu dig soil or have it dug, it is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 10; BMC p.292)

Digging, breaking the surface of the earth, lighting a fire on it,
pounding a stake into it are all disallowed. (If such ‘earth’ is more
gravel or sand than ’soil’ — and has no living creatures in it — it
may then be dug.)

º It is, however, allowable for monks to hint to laypeople or
novices about what needs doing as long as the words or gestures fall
short of a command. When bhikkhus need paths to be cleared, necessary
work done on the ground, firebreaks made, etc., any lay attendant
wanting to help should listen out for hints and indications: ‘A post
hole dug over there would be useful’; ‘make this ground allowable’, etc.
What is needed can then be clarified.

º One practical and long term effect of these rules is that they
have steered bhikkhus away from involvement in agriculture and land
ownership. Such a development would also have isolated bhikkhus from the
lay community because they would no longer have needed to depend on
alms food.

(II) Relationships [go up]

Bhikkhus cannot live in complete isolation from lay people, for the
mutual support relationship is intrinsic to their way of life. However,
it should never become an intimate relationship for this goes against
the whole purpose of leaving the ‘family life’ with its endless
‘enclosed’ complications.[43]

The ‘Holy Life’ or Brahmacariya is one that checks the display of
any form of sexual desire through the actions and speech of the
bhikkhu. (In fact restraint from gross sexual misconduct is already part
of the Five Precepts.[4]
The Eight and Ten Precepts immediately refine this and then the Vinaya
manages it with even greater subtlety.) One’s Dhamma life can then
advance towards the ending of all desire through mind development and
meditation. The most potent object for such sexual desire, that which
the mind is most tenaciously grasping after, is usually associated with
the opposite sex, so many rules involve this relationship.[44]

Sexual Intercourse [go up]

º The first offence of all the 227 listed rules of the
Paa.timokkha concerns a bhikkhu engaging in sexual intercourse. It
remains a hot issue, perhaps even more so today, going by the number of
sexual scandals that rock the Buddhist religious world in both the East
and the West. As Venerable Thiradhammo writes:

“While some of the guidelines may seem somewhat rigid or prudish, it
is important to reflect upon the volatility and durability of rumour,
even if untrue. The incessant sex-scandals in religious circles may
provide a sufficient incentive to encourage the greatest measure of
prevention and discretion.” (HS ch.13)

The rule was originally laid down because of Venerable Sudinna. He was
the son of a rich merchant, who left home to become a bhikkhu only after
great opposition from his family. He went away to practise Dhamma and
when he came back to visit sometime later, his parents were overjoyed to
see him and plotted to lure him back into the lay life again. They
invited him for a meal and then laid out their wealth in front of him,
piled up in two huge heaps of gold, while the wife he had left behind
dressed herself in her most irresistibly alluring way. Venerable Sudinna
remained unmoved by all of this. After telling them to throw the gold
away in the river, he called his former wife, “Sister”. Nevertheless,
when his elderly mother pleaded with him at least to give them an heir,
he foolishly gave in and had sexual intercourse with his former wife.

This First Defeater Offence is summarized:

“A bhikkhu who engages in any form of sexual intercourse is Defeated.” (Paar. 1; See BMC p.45)

Every form and variety of sexual intercourse with sexual penetration —
whether genital, oral or anal, whether with woman, man or animal — is
forbidden. The penalty is the heaviest one of Paaraajika or Defeat.

Intimacy — Touching [go up]

º The modern West has stories of sexual harassment, so the ways
that the Buddha dealt with such matters should not seem so very strange.

If a bhikkhu touches a woman in a sexual way, he commits a very serious
offence requiring formal meetings of the Community and probation (Sa”nghaadisesa).
The scrupulous bhikkhu wants to remain above suspicion so, if he can,
he will avoid all physical contact. (Hence his attitude to shaking
hands. This also explains why in Thailand a receiving cloth is used to
receive offerings from women. (See EN 85)

The rule was first set down by the Buddha after a brahmin and his wife
had gone to inspect Ven. Udaayin’s fine dwelling. As Ven. Udaayin was
showing them around, he came up behind the lady and “rubbed up against
her limb by limb”. After they had left, the husband praised Ven. Udaayin
but the wife was critical and explained what had happened. The brahmin
then complained, “Isn’t it even possible to take one’s wife to a
monastery without her being molested?” This rule was then set down:

“Should any bhikkhu, overcome by lust, with altered mind, engage in
bodily contact with a woman, or in holding her hand, holding a lock of
her hair, or caressing any of her limbs, it entails initial and
subsequent meetings of the Community.”(Sa”ngh. 2; BMC p.100)

To be at fault, the bhikkhu must usually do some action to bring contact with a woman while lust overcomes his mind.[45]
If he accidentally stumbles and bumps into a woman or vice-versa, or if
he is accosted by a woman, as long as there is no intention to come
into lustful contact there is no offence. However, the average bhikkhu’s
mind tends to be so quick and unruly — he is, after all, still in
training and therefore unenlightened — that he may prefer to be
super-cautious about such situations.

If a bhikkhu touches his mother out of affection, then this is still an offence but the lesser one of wrong-doing (dukka.ta). [46]
While gratitude to parents was strongly emphasized by the Buddha, the
bhikkhu having left the home-life and his family should not cling to
worldly relationships. The only true way for him to fulfil his filial
obligations is by gaining insight into Dhamma and then teaching his

If a bhikkhu is acting with lustful intentions, he incurs a grave (thullaccaaya) offence for making bodily contact with a pa.n.daka (’sex- aberrant’) and an offence of wrong-doing for contact with a male. (See BMC p.103)

º The previous rules dealt with the bhikkhu’s physical actions,
the next two rules are offences — again of the very serious category –
that concern his wrong speech towards women.

Flirting [go up]

This rule came into being when many women visitors came together to look
over Ven. Udaayin’s dwelling. He spoke to them in a lewd, flirtatious
way so that some of them said, “It is improper. Even from our husbands
we wouldn’t like to hear this sort of thing”. Therefore, the Buddha laid
down this rule:

“Should any bhikkhu, overcome by lust, with altered mind, address
lewd words to a woman in the manner of young men to a young woman
alluding to sexual intercourse, it entails initial and subsequent
meetings of the Community.” (Sa”ngh. 3; BMC p.110)

Propositioning [go up]

º The following rule is very relevant today when some misguidedly
believe that submitting to sex with spiritual teachers can help in
their spiritual development.

Again, it was originally a lustful Ven. Udaayin who was the cause of
this offence. This time, he suggested to a beautiful and devout woman
follower that she make a ’special offering’ to him, that of sexual
intercourse. The Buddha then set forth this rule:

“Telling a woman that she would benefit from having sexual
intercourse with oneself is [an offence requiring initial and subsequent
meetings of the Community.]” (Summary[47] Sa”ngh. 4; BMC p.117)

Matchmaking [go up]

º The major issue today seems more to centre around divorce and
the breakdown of marriage rather than arranging marriages. However one
should note how these affairs can involve the bhikkhu and how he should
guard against becoming too drawn in. (It is also noteworthy that this is
considered one of the most serious offences.)

Ven. Udaayin caused this rule to be set down because he involved himself
in arranging many marriages and liaisons. When some of these failed,
they blamed him for the failure. The offence is summarized:

“Should any bhikkhu engage in conveying a man’s intentions to a woman
or a woman’s intentions to a man, proposing marriage or paramourage —
even if only for a momentary liaison — it entails initial and
subsequent meetings of the Community.”(Sa”ngh. 5; BMC p.117)

A bhikkhu should not officiate at weddings,[48]
except perhaps to chant a blessing afterwards and encourage the newly
married couple to lead virtuous and faithful lives together based in
generosity, virtue and meditation. He also has to be circumspect when
counselling couples. (There is no offence in reconciling a married but
estranged couple as long as they are not yet divorced.)

Alone with a Woman [go up]

º A bhikkhu not only has to be impeccable but also must be seen
to be so. He sets an example for everyone and therefore must be beyond
reproach. Any doubtful situations have to be clarified, which is how the
next rules came about. Some knowledge of these rules may also help to
explain the sometimes seemingly antisocial attitude of some bhikkhus.
(When bhikkhus are reluctant to enter into too private a conversation,
it may reflect the unsuitability of the time and place for such a

There are two aspects to these particular rules: physical closeness and private conversation (see below Talking Privately).
If a woman sees a monk who is sitting alone and she wants to sit close
to him, or she wants to have a one-to-one conversation with him, the
following rules have to be taken into account.

First, the rules dealing with intimate proximity:

The Two Aniyata, Indefinite or Undetermined Cases, were
formulated after Ven. Udaayin went to visit a recently married young
woman. He sat privately with her, in a secluded place, just the two of
them, talking about worldly affairs. The respected female lay-follower,
Visaakhaa, saw them sitting there and said to Ven. Udaayin, “This is
improper, Ven. Sir, and unsuitable, that the master should sit in
private like this. Although, Ven. Sir, the master may have no desire for
sexual intercourse, there are unbelieving people who are difficult to

The Buddha therefore set this down:

“Should any bhikkhu sit in private, alone with a woman in a seat
secluded enough to lend itself (to the sexual act), so that a female lay
follower whose word can be trusted,[49]
having seen (them), might describe it as constituting any of the three
cases — involving either Defeat, [Community Meetings], or [Confession]
– then the bhikkhu, acknowledging having sat (there), may be dealt with
for any of the three cases… or he may be dealt with for whichever
case the female lay follower described. This case is
undetermined.”(Aniyata 1; BMC p.157)

The Second Indefinite Offence is similar to the first, except that the
place is less secluded and therefore not suitable for sexual intercourse
although it could still be grounds for the other sexual offences, such
as “addressing a woman with lewd words”.

º When a bhikkhu intentionally sits alone with a woman in a
secluded or private place (as in the above two rules) it can lead on to
more intimate behaviour or at least to misunderstandings from unexpected
onlookers. To preclude such problems a bhikkhu needs a companion or

A ’secluded place’ is where a monk and women can sit (or lie down) on a
seat together in a place that is hidden from view and out of earshot,
for example, a private room or behind a wall or hedge. In such
circumstances, a man or boy old enough to understand what is
inappropriate conduct must be also present as chaperone. Therefore, if a
woman — or women, for according to this particular rule (Aniyata
1) it does not matter how many there are — sees a bhikkhu sitting
alone in such a very secluded place, she should remember about this rule
and not go and sit with him but await a more suitable time or find a
male to act as chaperone.

A less secluded but still ‘private place’ (Aniyata 2) would be,
for example, a bench in a deserted park or a glassed-in porch or any
other place that is private but not secluded enough for sexual
intercourse. (BMC p.389) In this case, the Commentary allows the
chaperone to be either male or female but they must be someone who knows
‘what is and what is not lewd’ and they must be ‘within sight’. However
if the monk and woman talk together the chaperone must be male because
of the relevant rule about that. (See Talking Privately below.)

º The following ‘Confession Rules’ connect with the above
‘Indefinite Rules’. (See explanations above for definitions of a
’secluded’ and a ‘private place’.)

The forty-fourth Confession Offence originated when the husband of a
woman denounced Ven. Upananda for sitting alone in a ’secluded place’
with his wife. The ruling:

“Sitting or lying down with a woman or women in a private, secluded
place with no other man present is [an offence of
Confession.]”(Summarized Paac. 44; BMC p.385)

The next Confession Offence follows on with Ven. Upananda, this time,
being caught sitting alone with the man’s wife in a ‘private place’.
This time the ruling is:

“Should any bhikkhu sit in private, alone with a woman,[51] it is [an offence of Confession.]”(Paac. 45; BMC p.389)

Therefore as with the Indefinite Offences above there needs to be a chaperone present.

Talking Privately [go up]

º The previous rules dealt with physical proximity whereas this
next rule concerns a bhikkhu and woman talking alone. It might appear
strange that a rule should completely forbid confidential interviews
with a bhikkhu alone. Yet if one reflects on how things have regularly
gone wrong with such private spiritual counselling, it is easier to see
that being safe is better than sorry — for the sake of everyone
involved. Even if their conduct is completely pure, it still may lead to
rumour and criticism.[52]

The seventh Confession offence arose when Ven. Udaayin went to visit lay
supporters. He sat close to the mother of the family at the front door,
teaching her Dhamma in a quiet, confidential manner, and then
approached the daughter-in-law who was by the side door and spoke to her
in the same way. Both women mistakenly thought that he was flirting
with the other, and criticized him, saying that Dhamma should be given
in a clear and open way. As a result the Buddha eventually laid down

“Teaching more than six sentences [vaacaa] of Dhamma to a woman,
except in response to a question, is [an offence of Confession] unless a
knowledgeable man is present.” (Summarized Paac. 7; BMC p.285)

There are different interpretations as to exactly what is meant by ’six sentences’, for the Paali word vaacaa can mean ‘word’, ’saying’ or ’speech’.[53] Even if there are many women, but no other man, it is still considered an offence.

º One can see from the origin of this rule that the point (again) is not that women cannot be taught Dhamma but that it should be done in a way that is completely open and above misinterpretation.

Staying Together [go up]

º The next rule deals with the proximity of bhikkhus and women at
night. There are different interpretations of this rule and as it is a
frequently asked question extra translations with some discussion will
be included.

This rule originally arose when Ven. Anuruddha — one of the most highly
accomplished disciples of the Buddha — was travelling and asked the
woman who owned a travellers’ rest house if he could stay the night. She
readily agreed and when more travellers arrived and Ven. Anuruddha let
them share the room, she invited him to come and sleep inside instead.
She had, however, become infatuated with him and tried to seduce him.
When she saw that Ven. Anuruddha was completely unmoved, she came to her
senses and asked his forgiveness. Ven. Anuruddha then gave her a Dhamma
talk which so delighted her that she took refuge in the Triple Gem.

Here are several translations:[54]

“If a bhikkhu sleeps in a place where there is a surrounding wall and
under the same roof with a woman, even for one night, it is [an offence
of Confession.]” (Paac. 6; Nv p.14)

“A monk who lies down with a female in the same building under the
same roof and within walls, which are complete or almost complete,
commits [a Confession Offence.]” (Paac. 6; BBC p.120)

“Lying down at the same time in the same lodging with a woman is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 6; BMC p.280)

There are complications concerning how this rule should be applied to modern conditions, for example:

“Houses in tropical climates are often constructed without the system
of doors and rooms found in colder climates, hence the importance of
this rule. Bhikkhus obliged to stay in a Western-type house with
lockable rooms in places where no [monastery] exists, as must sometimes
happen during Dhammaduta [Spreading-Dhamma] work, will hardly be
included here.” (Paat. 1966 Ed.; p106)

“The Commentary (Samantapaasaadika) further explains that when there
are many rooms in a single building — such as in a block of flats or
apartments — the ’same sleeping place’ is only those rooms which have a
common ‘entrance’
(upacaara). It continues by explaining that an
‘entrance’ is where one washes one’s feet before entering a set of
rooms. Now each flat/apartment usually has a doormat on which one wipes
one’s feet before entering the flat/apartment and therefore, following
the Commentary, the doormat marks the ‘entrance’ (upacaara) of a
single ’same-sleeping-place’. In other words, separate flats/apartments
become separate sleeping places for the purposes of this rule.”(AB)[55]

So there are different interpretations as to exactly what is meant by
’same place’. For example, does a locked door make a room a separate
place? The Commentary suggests that if a building is divided into units
that are not connected and each has a separate entrance, then each unit
counts as a ‘place’. Therefore apartment blocks would be allowable. And

In the West, where there are few monasteries, visiting bhikkhus have to
decide how to follow these rules. It is not just a question of being
strict but also about how it looks to lay people. Will they be
suspicious about a bhikkhu staying too close to women? How will they
feel if he stays in an expensive hotel room? A good standard is

“…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.” (BMC p.274)

Travelling Together [go up]

The next point to deal with is that of a bhikkhu travelling with a
woman. This is also a very practical question and is often asked about.

In the Buddha’s time, a bhikkhu was about to set out on a journey when
he met a woman who has just quarrelled with her husband. She asked where
he was going and if she could accompany him. He agreed. The husband
then appeared, searching for his wife. He heard that she had gone off
with a monk and assumed that they were lovers, so when he caught up with
the pair he thrashed the bhikkhu before explanations could be made.
When the husband realized his mistake, he apologized to the bhikkhu.
Therefore this rule was set down:

“Travelling by arrangement with a woman from one village to another
is [an offence of Confession.]” (Summarised Paac. 67; BMC p.434)

º Modern practice differs according to the Community so lay women
should bear this rule in mind when arranging transport for bhikkhus,[56] or going to the same place as them. Reluctance by a bhikkhu to arrange such journeys might also be explained by this rule.

“…it seems reasonable, as there is some uncertainty [as to whether
it applies to more than just one monk and one woman,] to be more lenient
allowing a journey with one or more women as long as there is at least
one male accompanying the monk and the journey is not long. For example,
a woman driving two monks in her car to an invitation in the next
village seems no more reprehensible than two monks sitting down talking
Dhamma to the women, but two women driving across Australia with two
monks could be a cause for concern.” (AB)

(III) Possessions and Offerings [go up]

The term ‘bhikkhu’ is defined as ‘almsman’, or ‘mendicant’. He is one
who depends on others for his material needs. This relationship of
‘right livelihood’ incurs responsibilities: the bhikkhu must receive and
use offerings in the right way, whereas the lay devotee should make
material offerings in the right way and receive Dhamma teachings in the
right way. (See also Wrong Livelihood.)
The lay person gives material support, which the bhikkhu properly
receives and uses in his Dhamma-practice so he can eventually
reciprocate with the ‘highest of gifts’ — Dhamma.

The proper needs of a bhikkhu and how they are supplied is extensively
covered in the Vinaya Rule. If all bhikkhus were enlightened, we
obviously would need few guidelines. However, most monks are still in
the process of learning how to completely to eradicate greed, anger and
delusion, so ‘possessions’ misused can easily lead to unskilful states
of mind.

The Four Requisites: What Does a Bhikkhu Need? [go up]

The Buddha said that there were four necessities of life — clothing,
food, lodging and medicine — and that they have to be treated properly:

“Properly considering the robe, I use it: simply to ward off cold, to
ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, simply for
the purpose of covering the parts of the body that cause shame.

“Properly considering almsfood, I use it: not playfully, nor for
intoxication, nor for putting on weight, nor for beautification; but
simply for the survival and continuance of this body, for ending its
afflictions, for the support of the chaste life, (thinking) I will
destroy old feelings (of hunger) and not create new feelings (from
overeating). Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, and live in

“Properly considering the lodging, I use it: simply to ward off cold,
to ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun
and reptiles; simply for protection from the inclemencies of weather
and for the enjoyment of seclusion.

“Properly considering medicinal requisites for curing the sick, I use
them: simply to ward off any pains of illness that have arisen and for
the maximum freedom from disease.” [OP pp.46-47; (Pali: M. I, 10; A.
III, 387)]

Clothing, food, shelter and medicine are necessary whether one is a lay
person or a bhikkhu. The bhikkhu, however, should take a completely
balanced stance towards these fundamentals. Advertising and the latest
fashion should not draw him, for he should be solely concerned with
simplicity and lack of attachment towards things.[57]
It seems that the original requisites were ‘basics’ that wandering
bhikkhus could conveniently carry around, for example, an alms bowl,
three robes, a sitting cloth, a needle-case, and a waist band. However,
extra allowances were gradually given as the need arose, for instance, a
water filter, a razor and its sheath, the stone and strop for
sharpening it and then articles such as an umbrella and sandals. Later
the commentaries allowed other similar items.

Does a Bhikkhu Beg? [go up]

The Buddha made it clear that bhikkhus should avoid begging if possible.
(In times of great need a bhikkhu is allowed to ask for his basic
requisites, for example, if his robes are stolen he may ask any lay
person for one replacement robe.) He gave this story about ‘begging’:

A bhikkhu came to the Lord Buddha and complained about a great flock of
noisy birds that came to roost at night in the forest surrounding his
abode. The Buddha suggested that if he wanted them to go away he should
go, many times throughout the night, and beg a feather from each bird.
The birds, thinking, ‘that monk wants a feather, and another, and another…’,
left the forest and never returned. The Buddha then explained that
begging and hinting were unpleasant even to common animals, how much
more so to human beings.

A bhikkhu who is constantly begging for things displays his greedy state
of mind. No one likes to see this, and lay supporters may start by
criticizing him and then turn to blaming his Community or even the
Buddha’s Teaching. The Buddha, therefore, set down many rules to guide
the bhikkhus about what is proper conduct.

How to Help a Bhikkhu — Invitation [go up]

Normally a bhikkhu will not ask for things. Instead, he will wait for
something to be offered. This is exemplified in the alms round where the
bhikkhu makes no request, does not even look at people, although he may
quietly wait to see if an offering is to be made before moving on. One
way that lay people enable a bhikkhu to ask them for help is by making
an invitation or pavaara.naa. [58]

The Buddha allowed a bhikkhu to accept pavaara.naa or
‘invitation’. Such an invitation is made when lay people decide to
commit themselves to supplying medicines if a particular bhikkhu should
ever become ill, or it can be a broader offer of help. (Although a sick
monk is allowed to ask anyone for medicine, asking somebody who has
already invited him with a pavaara.naa invitation is obviously
preferable.) Therefore if lay people meet a bhikkhu who seems worthy of
help and support, they may make such an invitation. Quite a number of
the rules[59] deal with what and how much may be asked for when a donor makes this formal invitation.

An invitation can therefore be quite specific about what is being
offered and how long that invitation will last. (Obviously, if
circumstances change or the request is unreasonable, the donor has no
obligations — and a conscientious bhikkhu is always sensitive about

A clear invitation[60]
will also help prevent misunderstandings. For instance, the bhikkhu
will know exactly what has been offered and so will not ask for more
than that; and the lay person will not be overwhelmed by extravagant

The original circumstances of the forty-seventh Confession Offence were as follows:

A lay supporter possessed much ‘medicinal ghee’ so he invited the monks
to make use of it during the following four months. Much of the medicine
was still left, so he extended his invitation for another four months
and then extended it for life. The Buddha allowed this. However, that
same lay donor had once criticized the ‘group-of-six’ monks because of
their previous improper conduct so they decided to take their revenge by
asking him for an impossibly large amount of medicine (ghee) and then
criticized him when he could not immediately produce what he had
promised. This rule was set down:

“A bhikkhu who is not ill may accept (make use of) a four- month
invitation [pavaara.naa] to ask for requisites. If he should accept
(make use of) it for longer than that — unless the invitation is
renewed or is permanent — it is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 47;
BMC p.393)

When the invitation is more vague — for example, a lay person may just
say, “If you need anything, Bhante, let me know” — the bhikkhu should
not exceed the spirit of the invitation. In fact some communities
consider that an invitation in which the lay person does not mention any
time limit is valid only for four months and that taking up the
invitation beyond that time is an offence.

A bhikkhu is always allowed to ask for requisites from his relatives
without having formal invitation first. (Whether they actually supply
anything is, of course, up to them.) ‘Relatives’ are considered to be
those with whom the bhikkhu has common ancestors back through seven
generations, on both the mother’s and father’s side. Here ‘in-laws’ are
not counted as relatives.

“Thus all descendants of one’s great-great-great-great-great-
great-great-grandfather are counted as one’s relatives … [although] a
bhikkhu at present would be well-advised to regard as his relatives only
those blood-relations with whom ties of kinship are actually felt.”
(BMC p.183)

What does a Bhikkhu Possess? [go up]

The ideal possessions of the bhikkhu are just his basic requisites:
three main robes (described in the following section); alms bowl;
waistband; needle and thread; razor and water filter.

The alms bowl can be made from clay or iron but must be properly fired
to harden it (if clay) and rustproof it (if iron). Three bowl-sizes are
mentioned: small, medium and large.[61]
There are also several rules about begging for a new bowl before one’s
old one is worn out, which entails forfeiture of the wrongly acquired
bowl. (Nis. Paac. 22; 23)

The waistband became necessary when a monk’s ’skirt-robe’ fell down
while he was in a village. The needle and thread are needed for patching
and repairing the robes — and many teachers instruct that it is a
wrong-doing for a monk not to repair them the same day.[62] While the razor became necessary when:

“At one time, bhikkhus’ hair was long. The Buddha asked the
bhikkhus:”‘Bhikkhus, are the bhikkhus able to cut one another’s
hair?’”When they answered in the affirmative, he allowed a razor,
whetstone, razor-case, felt wrapping and barbers’ equipment …”Lay
people criticized the group of six bhikkhus for wearing long hair. The
Buddha made this a Wrong-doing, allowing only two finger-breadths in
length or two months growth, whichever came first … Hair and beards
should not be styled, combed or smoothed, or grey hairs plucked out —
all considered to be ‘like pleasure-enjoying householders’.”(HS ch.12)

The water filter is needed to avoid killing small creatures in drinking water. (See also Killing.)

However, most bhikkhus will have more than this — ranging from everyday
items like soap and toothpaste, candles and matches, pen and books, a
watch or clock, a flashlight or torch, to more sophisticated things
appropriate to their environment. The principle is that such things
should not be luxurious or expensive.[63]
Anything that is given to him (that is allowable) is his to keep, and
he is allowed to give his things away if it is done in the right way and
does not cause the donor’s faith to decline.[64]

Disposal or appropriation of anything owned by the Community, or
belonging to the monastery, is strictly controlled and is covered by the
rules that follow in the next section.

After a bhikkhu dies, his possessions will normally revert to the Sangha:

“Articles belonging to bhikkhus and novices who have died have the
Sangha [Community] as owner, that is they are the inheritance of the
Sangha.” (EV,II,p.151)

Wrongly Receiving Gifts [go up]

When a bhikkhu receives a general (i.e., non-personal) gift, there are
two rules to guard against his misdirecting it. (When a bhikkhu actually
steals something it is an offence of Defeat. See Stealing.)

The first of these rules arose when a guild was preparing to make an
offering of a meal and some cloth to the whole Community whereupon the
‘group-of-six’ bhikkhus arrived and pressured the donors into giving the
cloth to them instead:

“Should any bhikkhu knowingly divert to himself gains that had been
intended for a Community, it is [an offence of Confession with
Forfeiture.]” (Nis. Paac. 30; BMC p.256)

“‘Gains’ here refers to robes, alms food, abodes and medicines …
and other allowable things. [They are] gifts dedicated as offerings to
the Sangha but not yet offered. A bhikkhu diverts such gifts to himself
by asking directly for them or by roundabout speech so that the donor
will give them to him.”(Nis. Paac. 30; Paat. 1969 Ed.; p159)

In the above rule the wrongly obtained ‘gift’ must be forfeited to another bhikkhu(s). (However, money is a special case. See Valuables and Money.) The following rule complements the one above but is an offence of Confession:

“Persuading a donor to give to another individual a gift that he or
she had planned to give to a Community — when one knows that it was
intended for the Community — is [an offence of Confession.]”(Paac. 82;
BMC p.461)

What can be Offered? [go up]

As has been mentioned above, the Buddha said that there were four
necessities for life — Clothing, Food or ‘edibles’, Shelter or lodging
and Medicine — so we will use those divisions in the following

º There is also a Sutta where it is mentioned that bhikkhus do not accept gifts of gardens, paddy-fields and other sorts of land, or draught animals, and other sorts of animals, etc. (EV,II, p.150)

Clothing: The Robe [go up]

The basic clothing that the Buddha originally suggested for a bhikkhu
was made from discarded cloth (’rags’) sewn together and dyed.[65] After sewing the pieces together, they were just large rectangular pieces of cloth worn wraparound style. In the beginning,[66] it seems that there were two robes: a sarong skirt-like robe (antaravaasaka) tied with a belt, and a robe to cover the upper part of the body (uttaraasa”nga). When the cold weather required more protection, the Buddha allowed a third robe, which was a double-thickness outer robe (sa”nghaa.ti).

Some rules limit the size of robes because cloth in India in those days
was expensive due to the simple methods of spinning and weaving. Also,
so that the robe would not be worth stealing, the cloth always had to be
cut into panels that were then sewn together based on the design of
paddy fields seen from a mountain:[67]

[sketch of the panels of a robe]

After having received an offering of white cloth and having properly cut
and sewn the panels together, the bhikkhu must dye it to produce the
‘yellow robe’. Traditionally, vegetable dyes were used in this process.
Different plants and woods when boiled up will produce slightly
different shades of dye colour — the Paali text calls the standard
colour kaasaaya or kaasaava, translated as ‘dun-coloured dye-water’[68]
— so there is some variety. When bhikkhus from different communities
come together, their different shades of ‘yellow’-dyed robes makes this
very noticeable. (The destruction of the South East Asian forests has
led to chemical dyes being used more frequently, so that cloth offered
nowadays is often pre-dyed and brighter in colour.)

Slightly varied styles of wearing the traditional set of three robes have developed over the years in different countries.[69]
But basically, the rectangular shaped robe is put around the body and
the two vertical edges are folded or rolled together. Then either it is
tucked in and secured with a belt (for the skirt-robe) or, for the
larger outer robes, the edge is ‘thrown’ or flicked over the left
shoulder and pinched under the left arm so that it will not slip off.
There are various techniques for this. (It needs some practice!)

In the Lord Buddha’s time, it was a sign of respect to bare one’s right
shoulder. Therefore when in the monastery the bhikkhu will normally wear
his outer robe with the right shoulder visible. On leaving the
monastery for inhabited areas he must cover both shoulders.[70]

In addition to this required set of the ‘triple robe’, which every
bhikkhu must have and look after, there are extra cloths that can be
used occasionally.[71]

The Robe Offering Time [go up]

The month following the three months of the Rains Retreat — sometime in the October–November period — is the traditional Ka.thina time for renewing bhikkhus’ robes.[72]
In ancient times, this was when bhikkhus would help one another in
hand-sewing cloth into new robes — using the special wooden ka.thina frame.

This is the time when lay supporters often make a special offering of
cloth and other requisites to all the monks at a particular monastery. A
sewing machine is normally used but all the monks still try to help in
the marking out, cutting, sewing, or dying process. The cloth has to be
offered, sewn and dyed, so that it is a finished robe and ready to wear
within the same day. (Often the robe nowadays is already sewn and
pre-dyed.) If this procedure is carried through correctly, the bhikkhus
are then entitled to special allowances for the next few months.

The Ka.thina Ceremony is optional (unlike some other observances
that are mandatory) and requires a quorum of five (eligible) bhikkhus.
It has, however, generally become an important festival and almsgiving

Alms Food [go up]

º As has been mentioned above, the Buddha said that there were four necessities of life: clothing, food, shelter and medicine.

The Buddha suggested[73] that the basic source of food for bhikkhus was that received on the morning alms round (pi.n.dapaata).
This daily dependence on alms food reminds both the bhikkhus and the
lay devotees of their interdependence and prevents the bhikkhu from
becoming too isolated from the lay community. He ‘meets’ them every day
and eats the food that they share with him. Several important rules are
concerned with this as well as a major section of the Sekhiya Training rules. (See below; see also story about Ven. Assaji.)

An alms round is not considered begging, for the bhikkhu does not
solicit anything but is ready mindfully to receive any alms that lay
people may wish to give. Although alms food may sometimes be meagre, the
bhikkhu is always expected to be grateful for whatever he is given.[74]
It is surprising how particular we can be about what food we like to
eat; and what complications that can cause. This is reflected in the way
rules concerning ‘edibles’ are arranged, which may seem very complex
especially when the bhikkhu’s life is supposed to be so simple. It
should be borne in mind that the rules often deal with extraordinary
circumstances and try to prevent them from becoming the norm.

Begging for Food [go up]

When the ‘group-of-six’ monks in the Buddha’s time solicited ’special
foods’ and ate them themselves, the lay people criticized this saying,
“Who isn’t fond of good food and sweets?” The Buddha therefore laid down
this rule:

“There are these finer staple foods, i.e. ghee, fresh butter, oil,
honey, sugar/molasses, fish, meat, fresh milk, and curds. Should any
bhikkhu who is not ill, having asked for finer staple foods such as
these for his own sake, then eat them, it is [an offence of
Confession.]” (Paac. 39; BMC p.367)

“There are sumptuous foods, namely foods mixed with ghee, butter,
oil, honey, molasses, fish, meat, milk and curd; and a monk who, though
not sick, asks for such sumptuous foods for himself and eats them
commits [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 39; BBC p.127)

The ancient commentators suggest that these ‘finer foods’ are actually
made when one mixes rice, for example, with butter or fish, etc.

An exception is made for a monk who is ill, and a bhikkhu can ask for
special food for the sake of a fellow monk who is sick. (He is always
allowed to ask a relative or someone who has offered a Pavaara.naa Invitation.

Receiving and Eating Food [go up]

A whole section[75] of the seventy-five Sekhiya
Training guidelines is concerned with how a bhikkhu receives and eats
his alms food. Although ‘table manners’ may differ from country to
country, and from age to age, these Sekhiya rules still largely conform to what is considered good manners:

“I will receive alms food appreciatively.”[76] (Sekhiya 27)

“When receiving alms food, I will focus my attention on the bowl.” (Sekhiya 28)

º This explains why the bhikkhu may not look at the donor when accepting food — he is concentrating on properly receiving it.

“I will receive/eat (bean-)curries in the right proportion to the rice.” (Sekhiya 29/34)

It is suggested that this was laid down so that bhikkhus on alms round
would not pass by people offering plain rice in favour of better quality
food. (See EV,I,p.211)

“I will receive alms food only until it reaches the rim of the bowl.” (Sekhiya 30)

º However, on festival or special occasions the bhikkhu’s bowl
may be emptied so that everyone who wants to join in offering has the

“I will eat alms food attentively.” (Sekhiya 31)”When eating alms food, I will look only into the bowl.” (Sekhiya 32)

º This is also why the bhikkhu should not be expected to talk while he is eating, for this will distract his attention.

“I will not cover up curries or other food with rice out of a desire to get more.” (Sekhiya 36)

If donors think that the monk has only plain rice in his bowl, they may give him some ‘better’ food.

“When I am not sick, I will not ask for curries or rice for my own benefit.” (Sekhiya 37)

Other Sekhiya rules seem aimed at bhikkhus eating from their bowl using their fingers in the traditional way of India:[78]

“I will not make up an overlarge mouthful of food; nor open my mouth
until the portion of food has been brought to it; nor put my fingers
into my mouth; nor speak with my mouth full.

“I will not eat: stuffing out my cheeks; shaking my hand about;
scattering grains of rice about; putting out my tongue; making a
champing sound; (or drink) making a sucking sound; licking my hands;
scraping the bowl; licking my lips. I will not take hold of a vessel of
water with my hand soiled with food.” (Sekhiya[75] Section)

Meal Time [go up]

In the West the first meal of the day is ‘break-fast’. For the bhikkhu
this is literally true, for he will not have taken any food since the
previous morning. Food intake is limited to the hours between dawn and
noon. The practice of not eating in the afternoon is a very old
tradition mentioned in the earliest Suttas.[79] It is also included in the Ten Precepts of the novice (saama.nera) and dasasiila mata nun; and the Eight Precepts of the lay devotee.[4]

‘Food’ here refers to things like cooked grains; sweets made from flour,
beans, etc.; fish; meat; fresh milk and sour milk; … fruits, tubers
and all ‘main course’ foods. (See EV,II, pp.131-133)

When these staple foods go beyond their time limit (i.e. after noon) a
bhikkhu will incur an offence if he consumes them. The original story
shows the complications that can arise from leaving the monastery at the
wrong time:

The ‘group-of-seventeen’ bhikkhus — another set of frequent misdoers –
went out one afternoon to enjoy themselves at a festival outside the
city. When lay people saw them they gave them a meal and food to take
back to the monastery. The Buddha therefore laid down this rule:

“Should any bhikkhu chew or consume staple or non- staple food at the
wrong time, it is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 37; BMC p.362)

º This ‘wrong time’ is defined to be from noon until dawn the following day.[80]
A bhikkhu is still at fault even if he genuinely miscalculates the time
or mistakes an item of ‘food’ for a ‘medicine’. Therefore if donors are
preparing food for a bhikkhu they should be careful that they are not
late in offering it so that the meal can be finished before noon. It is
also noteworthy that an ill bhikkhu has no exemption from this rule so
he likewise should not take food in the afternoon.[81]

The Four Sorts of Edibles [go up]

Any nutriment that a bhikkhu puts into his mouth is classified in four
groups, which specify the time limits during which he can consume or
store them:

Mixing Edibles [go up]

When different kinds of ‘edibles’ are mixed, their category will usually
change to that with the shortest life span. For example, ginger can be
used as a herbal ‘lifetime’ medicine for stomach ailments. However,
grated-ginger that has been used for food preparation is classed as
‘food’ and therefore should not be kept overnight or used as a medicine.
Likewise, if honey is used as a solvent or base for herbal medicines,
because the honey has a seven-day limit, that lifetime (herbal) medicine
becomes a seven-day medicine.

º This is another reason that bhikkhus may be careful about the
ingredients of medicines that are offered. When offering ‘medicines’ the
donor should try to be aware of what the bhikkhu considers allowable
and what will cause him to fall into offence.

Offering ‘Edibles’ [go up]

We have already mentioned the bhikkhu’s alms round and his dependence on
receiving food from lay supporters. But how is the gift made and how is
it properly received? This is accomplished in quite a formal way yet it
can still be confusing to lay devotees for different monks receive an
offering in slightly different ways.

The rule that explains about formally having to make an offering to
bhikkhus arose when a certain bhikkhu lived in a charnel ground, wearing
robes made from rags collected from there. He also subsisted on the
food left for ‘departed spirits’ by relatives of the dead person. The
lay people criticized him, wrongly suspecting he might also be feeding
on human flesh so the Buddha set down this rule:[82]

“Should a bhikkhu take into his mouth an edible that has not been
given — except for water and tooth-cleaning sticks — it is [an offence
of Confession.]”(Paac. 40; BMC p.370)

“A monk who puts in his mouth, any nutriment, which has not been
proffered to him, commits [a Confession offence.]” (Paac. 40; BBC p.127)

How to make an Offering [go up]

Present day practice regarding this rule (Paac. 40 above) varies so much because of the intricacy of interpretation. However, usually, anything[83] that goes into the mouth — food or ‘medicines’ — should be properly given. That means it should be:

(a) given by means of the body, (e.g. given by hand), or by something attached to the body, (e.g. a spoon),[84] or by throwing, (e.g. tossing a lump of sticky rice into the bowl).

(b) given so that the donor and the bhikkhu are (literally) within arms reach (1.25 metres) of each other.

(c) received by means of the body, (e.g. received in the hand) or by
something attached to the body, (e.g. the monk’s bowl or, in Thailand,
the monk’s receiving cloth).[85]

The Commentaries then further expand the details of the correct way that food should be given:

(d) the offered food should not be so heavy that an average size man cannot lift it.

In many communities this has led to the food having to be literally
lifted into the monk’s hands or onto his receiving cloth. The Commentary
allows it to be slid along the floor or table into the monk’s hands.

(e) the donor must actually move the food (on a tray, for example)
towards the bhikkhu, (i.e., the bhikkhu does not reach out for it

This has also been understood as meaning that the donor makes a gesture
(of respect) when making the offering. (This has to be balanced with the
Sekhiya Training rule where it is the monk who should “be
appreciative and attentive when receiving food”.) However, in the West,
this gesture of respect may be taken according to local custom. (See BMC p.375)

In some monasteries food is not considered properly given if the lay
person wears shoes or sandals when offering to a barefooted bhikkhu.
Also, in some communities, when properly offered food is touched again
or moved by lay people, even accidentally, it has to be re-offered.

º The major point to remember is that in offering food (or
anything edible) to a monk there is a formal way of doing so —
otherwise the bhikkhu may not be able to eat it. Once one gets used to
this interaction with the monk, it becomes quite a meaningful gesture.

Storing Food [go up]

After formally receiving food, a bhikkhu is not allowed to store it away
for another day. This is another rule that supports the mendicant ideal
and the interdependence of monk and lay person, and stops the bhikkhu
from becoming attached to his favourite tastes.

The case originally arose when a monk coming back from alms round would
eat some food and then dry any remaining rice in the sun to store for
the next days’ meals. In this way he did not have to go on an alms round
every day. It can be summarized:

“Eating food that a bhikkhu — oneself or another — formally
received on a previous day is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 38;
BMC p.367)

After the daily meal — often the monks of the community will gather to
share this — all that day’s excess food may be distributed among
whoever is present so that nothing is wasted or left over.[86]

Lay people themselves are also allowed to deposit food in the properly
approved storeroom so that it can be offered to the monks on another
day. If the lay people store it there, the monks will not be counted as
having formally received it. (So the formal act of offering also serves
the purpose of determining whether food can be stored or not.)

Meal Invitations [go up]

It is traditional for lay devotees on special occasions to invite
bhikkhus to go and have a meal at their house. This is normally a very
straightforward matter and the bhikkhu(s) will explain if they are able
to go on that particular day. To show some aspects from the Buddha’s
time, there are these rules:

º The origin of this first rule displays the care that a bhikkhu should take when accepting such an invitation.

A poor workman was inspired to invite the Buddha and all the bhikkhus of
the town for a meal, and he insisted they still come even when the
Buddha cautioned him about the large number of monks involved. Some
bhikkhus assumed that he would not be able to afford very much food so
they first went on an alms round and ate beforehand. Therefore when they
came to go for the poor man’s meal they could not eat very much — even
though there was in fact plenty of food because other people had helped
to support the poor workman’s faith by sending round donations of food.
The poor workman became upset saying, “How can you eat elsewhere … am
I not competent to give sufficient?”

The rule is summarized:

“Eating a meal[87]
before going to another meal to which one was invited, or accepting an
invitation to one meal and eating elsewhere instead, is [an offence of
Confession] except when one is ill or at the time of giving cloth or
making robes.” (Paac. 33; BMC p.352)

º Should a bhikkhu seem somewhat reluctant to accept your
invitation, be aware that he may not be able to change his acceptance of
a previous invitation. There is, however, an allowance for the bhikkhu
to ’share’ or transfer his invitation to another bhikkhu or novice so
that he can accept a new one. Even so, it is considered good manners
first to contact the original donors about this.

Another, rather obscure, rule about meal invitations originated like this:

Ven. Devadatta attempted to take over the Sa”ngha and then tried to kill
the Buddha. The Sa”ngha informed the local inhabitants about Ven.
Devadatta’s behaviour so that it would not reflect on the Sa”ngha as a
whole. Ven. Devadatta then found alms so difficult to obtain that he
solicited alms — “having asked and asked” — (for all his group) and
the lay people criticized them for such unseemly conduct.

It seems that this rather enigmatic rule may forbid bhikkhus from
accepting an invitation to a ‘group meal’ of four or more specified
monks at a donor’s house when the whole local community is not invited
– as would have been more normal in the Buddha’s days. This would then
have avoided the forming of cliques inside a community. (See BMC p.342–348)

The Buddha therefore laid down that:

“Eating a meal to which four or more individual bhikkhus have been
specifically invited — except on special occasions — is [an offence of
Confession.]” (Summary Paac. 32; BMC p.348)

Another interpretation of this obscure rule requires that bhikkhus

” … do not accept the invitations of those who mention the names of
the foods to be offered. The inviter who understands this, makes
invitation just in this way: “I invite you to receive alms-food”, or, “I
invite you to take breakfast … or lunch”. By speaking in this way it
is possible for bhikkhus to accept.” (Paat. 1969 Ed.; p161)

º If the community lives by this second interpretation, one
should be careful when inviting bhikkhus for a meal not to mention the
specific food that one intends to offer.

Meat-eating [go up]

In western countries vegetarianism has recently increased in popularity
and this has led to some questioning about bhikkhus and meat-eating. (In
less materially developed countries the question is more about ‘what,
if anything, is there to eat?’)

The question of monks’ eating meat is an old one that was originally
raised by the ‘renegade monk’ Ven. Devadatta. He asked the Buddha to
prohibit bhikkhus from eating fish and flesh in what seems was a ploy to
take over the leadership of the Sangha. (The ’stricter ascetic’
tactic.) The Buddha had already made a strict rule for both bhikkhus and
lay people about not taking life (see Killing.) so He did not agree to Ven. Devadatta’s new formulation.

The Buddha did allow bhikkhus to eat meat and fish[88] except under the following circumstances:

If a bhikkhu sees, hears or suspects that it has been killed for him, he may not eat it.[89] (M.I,369)

If a bhikkhu is given meat on alms round and he has no knowledge about how the animal died[90] he has to ‘receive it with attentiveness’. (See the Sekhiya Trainings.)
He should be grateful and recollect that the food he is given is what
enables him to continue to live the bhikkhu life, and that as a
mendicant he is not in a position to choose what he gets. If he later
comes to know the family and they ask him about Dhamma, he will be able
to explain the precept about not killing. This may cause them to reflect
on their attitude to meat eating.

An individual lay person can choose whether to be a vegetarian. Problems
usually arise only when vegetarians want to impose their choice on
others, and as meal times are normally a family or shared affair this
can create tensions and misunderstandings.

An individual bhikkhu who lives on alms food cannot make such choices.
Often the donors are unknown — perhaps not even Buddhist, or just
starting to find out about Dhamma — and to refuse their generosity may
so offend them that they never have anything to do with Dhamma again.

Finally it comes down to the lay people who go to the market to buy food
to give to the bhikkhus. If they are vegetarian themselves or like to
give vegetarian food, then the bhikkhu should receive that food with
‘appreciation’ — especially if it means that fewer animals are being
slaughtered. Nevertheless, it should not become a political issue where
other people are attacked for their behaviour.

Offering Fruit: Kappiya [go up]

At the time of the Buddha, some lay people complained that the monks had destroyed the ‘life’ in seeds. (See also about ‘one-facultied life‘, above.) Destroying seeds therefore became a minor (dukka.ta) offence, and the monk had to ask the lay people whether they found it ‘allowable’ for him to eat certain fruits.

Fruits with seeds that can germinate and roots (bulbs, tubers) that can be planted again should be made ‘allowable’ or kappiya
for bhikkhus. An unordained person can do this by touching it with
fire, by drawing a knife over it, or by marking it with a finger nail.

In some monasteries, there is a ceremony — briefly mentioned in the
actual Vinaya but given in detail in the Commentaries — where the lay
person offering the fruit, makes it ‘allowable’ for the bhikkhu to eat.[91] For example, this may be done with an orange by slightly cutting the peel when the monk says, “Kappiya.m karohi” (”Make this allowable”) and answering him with, “Kappiya.m Bhante”
(”It is allowable, Ven. Sir.”). If there are many oranges, and if they
are all together and touching, making one fruit allowable makes them all
allowable. (In other communities, if the donor offers fruit already
‘damaged’ (e.g. peeled or cut) it is considered already allowable.)

There is no need for this ceremony with seedless fruit, with fruit if
the seeds are unripe so that they cannot regenerate, and with fruit
offered already cut with all the seeds removed. Also, if the bhikkhu
carefully eats certain sorts of fruits — for instance, mangoes,
jackfruit, plums, peaches, prunes, etc. — without damaging the seed,
stone, pit or pips, there is no offence.

Food in the Wilderness [go up]

The following rule again shows the interdependence and care which must
be cultivated between bhikkhus and those who support them.

In the Buddha’s time some ladies were ambushed and raped on their way to
give food to bhikkhus living in a dangerous jungle area. Their family
criticized the bhikkhus for not warning them of the hazards. If lay
people intend to give food to a bhikkhu(s) in such a danger zone then
they must announce that to the bhikkhu(s) beforehand so that the
bhikkhu(s) has a chance to warn them or reduce the threat. The rule can
be summarized:

“Eating an unannounced gift of staple or non-staple food, after
accepting it in a dangerous wilderness abode when one is not ill is [an
offence of Acknowledgement.]” (Paatidesaniya 4; BMC p.488)

Fruit juices [go up]

The above sections have dealt with food (yaavakaalika) but as has been already mentioned fruit juices are considered under a different category. (See above, The Four Sorts of Edibles.)
Although bhikkhus should not eat fruit — which is food — after
midday, they can drink the ‘fruit juice’ any time throughout the day.
However, they cannot store fruit juice beyond that single day. This is
called yaamakaalika and is a juice-drink made from crushed fruit, which is then carefully strained of any pulp or particles.[92] (The Vinayamukha (EV)
Commentary suggests that it could not be stored beyond the next dawn
because sugar mixed in with the fruit juice might lead to slight

When offering fruit juice it is important that it is well strained so
that no pulp or fruit particles remain, for the fruit itself counts as
food and so cannot be consumed in the afternoon. Some places in Thailand
will strain the juice in a cloth filter seven times to make sure, but
the main point is that the filter is fine enough.[93]

“Juice drinks include the freshly squeezed juice of sugar cane, lotus
root, all fruits except grain, all leaves except cooked vegetables, and
all flowers except the [bassia latifolia] (Mahaavagga.VI.35.6).
According to the Commentary, the juice must be strained, and may be
warmed by sunlight but not heated over a fire.”(BMC p.339)

Some communities will not accept fruit juice made from ‘large fruits’:

“In discussing the Great Standards, the Commentary says that grain is
a “great fruit,” and thus the juice of any one of nine large fruits —
palmyra fruit, coconut, jack fruit, breadfruit, bottle gourd, white
gourd, musk melon, water melon, and squash — would fall under the same
class as the juice of grain … From this judgment, many Communities [in
Thailand] infer that the juice of any large fruit, such as pineapple or
grapefruit, would also be classed as a non-staple food [and therefore
could not be consumed in the afternoon.]” (BMC p.339)

Medicines or Tonics [go up]

We have dealt above with food and fruit juice. There is now the category of ‘tonic-medicines’ (sattaahakaalika). These can be consumed at any time but cannot be stored longer than seven days (after they are offered).

These tonic-medicines were originally regulated when Venerable
Pilindavaccha’s great feats of psychic power made him so famous that he
received many offerings of the five ‘tonics’. Even though he distributed
these among other monks there was so much that the excess had to be
stored away and their dwellings were overrun by rats. Visiting lay
people criticized the monks for “storing up goods in abundance like a
king”. The Buddha therefore set down this rule:

“Keeping any of the five tonics — ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, or
sugar/molasses — for more than seven days is [an offence of Confession
with Forfeiture.] (Summarized Nis. Paac. 23; BMC p.242)

º There are various translations and interpretations about these
‘tonic- medicines’ — according to different Communities and different
countries. Some places consider only liquids allowable while a few
communities will drink only plain water in the afternoon. Some
communities will not accept re-offered tonic-medicines (after the seven
days period is over), some will under certain circumstances. Therefore
lay devotees need to enquire about the practice of their local Community
and follow that way.[94]

Some contemporary observations:

“The five medicines — ghee, navaniita.m, oil, honey, and sugar–
-were allowed by the Buddha to be consumed by ’sick’ monks at any time
of the day or night. According to the Mahaavagga, these five were
‘agreed upon as medicines and, although they served as nutriment for
people, were not considered as substantial food’. The degree of
infirmity required before a monk is allowed to consume these
[tonic-]medicines is a controversial point. …It seems that feeling
rundown or feeling tired after physical exertion would be sufficient
cause to be able to make use of the Five Medicines.”(AB)

“The main effectiveness of these medicines seems to be in their
nutritional value. They do not have medicinal value as commonly
understood today, for example, relieving pain or as an antiseptic.
However, as nutriment they would help to maintain bodily strength and
assist in recuperation while, since they are so rich, would not be a
substitute for normal food.” (HS ch.10)

Also, if the tonic-medicine is mixed with a tiny amount of food then it would be acceptable according to this allowance:

“…if sugar has a little flour mixed with it simply to make it
firmer — as sometimes happens in sugar cubes and blocks of palm sugar
– it is still classed as a tonic as it is still regarded simply as
’sugar’.” (BMC p.238–9)

If the flour is for more food-like reasons then it would be counted as food. See also Mixing Edibles above.

Lifetime Medicines [go up]

The fourth category of edibles (see The Four Sorts of Edibles) is that of Lifetime Medicines (yaavajiivika). which includes what we generally think of as medicines.

The basic principle set down by the Buddha about all medicines is in this reflection:

“Properly considering medicinal requisites for curing the sick, I use
them: simply to ward off any pains of illness that have arisen, and for
the maximum freedom from disease.” [OP p. 47; (Paali: M. I, 10; A. III,

In the beginning, the basic (herbal) medicines allowed by the Buddha
were those pickled in urine. Later, nearly all other types came to be
considered allowable.[95] (See the separate allowance above for ‘tonic-medicines’.)

Medicines that may be consumed without time limitation are called yaavajiivika.
The Texts mention different sorts of herbal medicines such as: plant
roots, e.g. ginger, turmeric, sweet flag, etc.; decoctions, such as of
the neem or nux-vomica; tree-leaves, such as neem-leaves, tulsi or holy
basil; fruits, such as long peppers, myrobalan, wormwood; resins, such
as asafoetida; salts, such as sea-salt, rock salt, etc. Any other
medicine or herbs similar to these that is not reckoned to be food is
included under this ‘lifetime’ category.[96][96]

º Modern western medicines are usually included — using the Great Standards — under this category and therefore can be taken at any time of the day and kept as long as necessary.

Drugs and Alcohol [go up]

Finally, we turn to those ’substances of abuse’ that are entirely prohibited. The fifth of the Five Precepts[4]
for all Buddhists is restraint from drinking alcohol and similar
substances that destroy mindfulness, and are thereby a frequent cause of
unskilful actions and speech. The equivalent rule for bhikkhus is the
fifty-first Confession Rule:

“The drinking of alcohol or fermented liquors is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 51; BMC p.402)

The origin-story concerns Ven. Saagata who conquered a fierce naaga
— a type of serpent with magical powers — by his meditation-developed
psychic powers. The townspeople heard about this feat and wanted to
make some sort of offering to him, upon which the ‘group-of-six’
bhikkhus impudently suggested that they all should give him alcohol.
When he arrived on his almsround every household offered alcohol and he
finally collapsed, drunk, at the town gate and had to be carried back to
the monastery. He was laid down in a stupor with his head towards the
Buddha but in his drunkenness he turned around so that his feet pointed
at the Buddha.[97]
The Buddha called attention to his changed behaviour, remarking that he
certainly could not oppose “even a salamander” in such a state.

The Buddha also said:

“Bhikkhus, … there are these four stains because of which samanas
and brahmins glow not, shine not, blaze not. What are these four?
Drinking alcoholic beverages … indulging in sexual intercourse …
accepting gold and money … obtaining requisites through a wrong mode
of livelihood.” (A.II,53) (AB)

º The Four Great Standards may be further used[98] to argue that using narcotics[99]
— which also destroy mindfulness and lead to heedlessness — would
also be an offence of Confession. Then there is the general principle of
respecting the ‘law of the land’ (when it accords with Dhamma) so such
illegal drugs would be disallowed anyway.

Valuables and Money [go up]

Stealing [go up]

Stealing is universally condemned and is prohibited by one of the basic Five Precepts[4] of any Buddhist. For the bhikkhu it is covered by the heaviest penalty of Defeat, being the second Paaraajika.

The rule was originally set down in the Lord Buddha’s time when
Venerable Dhaniya, by deception, carried off some of the king’s timber
to make himself a hut:

“A bhikkhu who takes something which the owner has not given to him
and which has a value of five maasaka [-’coins’] (or more) [is
Defeated]” (Summary Paar. 2; Nv p.5)


“The theft of anything worth 1/24 ounce troy of gold or more is [an offence of Defeat.]” (Summary Paar. 2; BMC p.65)

‘Defeat’ means the absolute termination of the perpetrator’s bhikkhu-life so his stealing should be more than a petty theft.[100] Therefore for this to be an offence, the value of the stolen object must be such that, as it states in the original: “kings … would banish him, saying … ‘You are a thief!”‘. In modern America this is probably equivalent to ‘grand larceny’. (Petty theft is a grave offence (thullaccaya) or one of wrong-doing.)

The bhikkhu must have an intention to steal for this to be an offence.
If an apparent theft happens without his knowledge or connivance, or by
mistake without any design on his part, it is no offence. However,
fraud, breach of trust, embezzlement, tax evasion, smuggling, breach of
copyright, etc., would be included under this rule.[101]

Bhikkhus and Wealth [go up]

There are many other important rules covering how bhikkhus deal with wealth and money.[102] (It is also the tenth of the Ten Precepts for a novice (saama.nera) or dasasiila mata nun.[4])
These came to be set down because donations coming from a lay devotee’s
faith in Dhamma might, on mis-occasion, lead to the corrupting of the
bhikkhu-life. Although these rules might seem relatively
straightforward, there are various interpretations and ways of actual
practice. And the practice often does not coincide with the theory. Yet
it certainly remains a very important aspect of Vinaya, guarding against
forgetfulness of the real way to happiness:

“Bhikkhus, in abandoning the use of money, make real their
abandonment of worldly pursuits and show others by example that the
struggle for wealth is not the true way to find happiness.” (BMC p.215)

Money [go up]

The rule about a bhikkhu not accepting money came to be made when Ven.
Upananda went to visit his regular supporters on alms round. The meat
that had been set aside for him that morning had instead been given to
the family’s hungry son. The householder wished to give something else
to make up for it and asked what he could offer to the value of a kahaapana coin. Ven. Upananda inquired if he was making a gift of a kahaapana
coin to him, and then took the money away. Lay people were disgusted
with this, saying, “Just as we lay people accept money, so too do these
Buddhist monks!”.

This Rule has been variously translated:

“Should any bhikkhu take gold and silver, or have it taken, or
consent to its being deposited (near him), it is to be forfeited and
confessed.”(Nis. Paac. 18; BMC p.214)

“Should any bhikkhu pick up, or cause to be picked up or consent to
the deposit of gold or silver, this entails Confession with Forfeiture.”
(Nis. Paac. 18; Paat. 1966 Ed. p.42)

“A monk, who accepts gold or money or gets another to accept for him,
or acquiesces in its being put near him, commits [an offence requiring
Confession with Forfeiture.]” (Nis. Paac. 18; BBC p.116)

“If a bhikkhu himself receives gold and silver (money) or gets
someone else to receive it, or if he is glad about money that is being
kept for him, it is [an offence of Confession with Forfeiture.]”(Nis.
Paac. 18; Nv p.11)

º Note that there are some subtle differences in the way that the rule is translated, especially in the last example.

According to the Commentary, there is ‘no consent’ if a bhikkhu refuses
to accept the money: by word — telling the donor that it is not proper
to receive money; by deed — gesturing to that effect; by thought —
thinking that this is not proper. There may be a problem in
communicating this to the donors without causing them offence and
without the bhikkhu falling into offence himself.[103]

Many of the rules concerning money, etc., are those of Confession with Forfeiture (Nissaggiya Paacittiya).
This means that the money or articles that are wrongly acquired have to
be forfeited. Furthermore, it is specified that they cannot be
forfeited to a single monk but must be given up to the Community — who
must then follow a strict procedure for disposing of those gains.

In practice, this rule is understood by various bhikkhus in different
ways. This ranges from some monks who seek to circumvent the rule
completely by saying that “paper-money is just paper” and therefore not
‘gold and silver’ (jaataruupa-rajata) and so falls outside the rule; to the following more strict opinions:

The Paali term jaataruupa is defined as ‘gold of any sort’ and, while rajata is also ’silver’ in other contexts, here it is defined as maasaka (coins) of different materials (copper, wood, lac) whatever is used in business, i.e. money.

“At present the term would include coins and paper currency, but not
checks, credit cards, bank drafts, or promissory notes, as these — on
their own and without further identification of the persons carrying
them — do not function as true currency.” (BMC p.215)

“The term jaataruupa-rajata refers firstly to personal adornments (of
gold and silver), secondly to ingots, thirdly to ruupiya, which are for
buying and selling, referring not only to gold and silver but anything
which can be used in this way. All the above-mentioned things are
included in this term. The phrase, ‘be glad at the money kept for him’
[as in translation above] suggests that if it is only cittuppaada (the
coming into existence of a thought), he would not [fall into an
offence,] so it must refer to the action of receiving it and holding the
right over it.” (Paat. 1969 Ed. p.158)

“For Laypeople: A lay-person should never offer money directly to a
bhikkhu … even if it is placed inside an envelope or together with
other requisites. They should either deposit the money with the
monastery steward, put it in a donation-box or into the monastery bank
account. They may then state their invitation to the bhikkhu(s)
regarding the kind or amount of requisite(s). In Thailand, for example,
knowledgeable lay-people would deposit money with the steward and offer
to the bhikkhu(s) an invitation note mentioning the details of the
offering.” (HS ch.14)

Cheques, Credit Cards, etc. [go up]

º Under modern conditions things other than cash also have to be
considered. What about bhikkhus using cheques or even postage stamps or
‘phone cards’?[104]
What is included in the rule and where does one draw the line?
Different communities will understand these rules in slightly different
ways — although probably all will find ordinary postage stamps
acceptable! It seems that although credit cards and cheques do not quite
function in the same way as cash and therefore may not break that rule
about accepting money (Nis. Paac. 18), they would still fall under another offence. (See below: Buying and Selling and Barter or Trade.) Some modern opinions:

“At present the term [’gold and silver’] would include coins and
paper currency, but not checks, credit cards, bank drafts, or promissory
notes, as these — on their own and without further identification of
the persons carrying them — do not function as true currency.” (BMC

“Cheques, credit cards and travellers cheques are not the same as
money because [they are not] commonly negotiable, something that one can
take into almost any shop and, without any further ‘ink-work’ or
paperwork, exchange it for whatever one desires. …[therefore] there is
no offence for receiving or holding these things. However, using
cheques, credit cards and travellers cheques or things similar would
come under ‘buying and selling’ and the offences listed under
[Confession with Forfeiture] 19 and 20 would be likely to arise.” (AB)

“The offence [Nis. Paac. 20] is committed when the bhikkhu hands the
signed credit card receipt — or has it handed — to the seller…” (BMC

The Me.n.daka Allowance [go up]

º While money is an important commodity in the world — greed and
selfishness are the actual ‘root of evil’ — bhikkhus should not be
concerned with it. Therefore this again offers an essential role for lay
people. The bhikkhu stores no food but receives help from lay people
who do; the bhikkhu stores no money but receives support from lay people
who do. In fact this relationship is shown in this next allowance from
the Buddha’s time when bhikkhus were journeying along a difficult way.
Food was difficult to find and He therefore allowed them to seek
provisions. He also made another allowance, saying:

“There are people of conviction and confidence, bhikkhus, who place
gold and silver in the hand of stewards, saying, ‘Give the master
whatever is allowable.’ I allow you, bhikkhus to accept whatever is
allowable coming from that. But in no way at all do I say that money is
to be accepted or sought for.” (BMC p.198)

“People who have good faith in bhikkhus may entrust money (lit.,
silver and gold) into the hand of a [steward] and order him to purchase
allowable things for bhikkhus. Bhikkhus may be glad at the allowable
things bought by the steward with that money. This is not regarded as
being glad at that money. This is called the [Me.n.daka Allowance.]
Bhikkhus should not request suitable things from the steward in excess
of the money deposited with him.” (EV,II,p.135)

A Bhikkhu’s Steward [go up]

This is a rule which explains more about the relationship between the
bhikkhu and the steward who is taking care of funds for him.

In the original story, Ven. Upananda’s steward had received some money
from a chief minister so that when Ven. Upananda needed a robe he could
be supplied with one. Ven. Upananda eventually asked for a robe on the
day when the steward had an important meeting that everyone was obliged
to attend or be penalized. Ven. Upananda refused to wait and forced the
steward to get the robe immediately so that the steward came late to the
meeting and suffered a penalty fine. Everyone there agreed that, ‘these
monks are impatient and difficult to serve’. Therefore the Buddha set
down this rule:

“If someone sends money (valuables) for the purpose of buying a robe
for a bhikkhu and he (whoever brings the money) wants to know who is
acting as the bhikkhu’s attendant
(veyyaavaccakara), and if the
bhikkhu wants the robe he should indicate someone connected with the
monastery or an upasaka (lay devotee) saying: “This person is the
attendant of all the bhikkhus”. When he (who brings the money) has
instructed the attendant and told the bhikkhu: “If you want a robe, tell
the attendant,” then later that bhikkhu should go and find the
attendant, he may tell him: “I need a robe”. If he does not get it, he
may ask up to three times in all. If he still does not get the robe he
may go and stand where the attendant can see him, up to six times. If he
does not get it and he asks more than three times or stands more than
six times, and then gets it, it is [an offence of Confession with

“If after asking and standing the full amount he does not get the
robe he must go and tell whoever brought the money saying: “That which
you brought did not become available to me,” and he should also tell him
to ask for his money back in case it should be lost.” (Nis. Paac. 10;
Nv pp.9-10)

Or in Summary:

“When a fund has been set up with a steward indicated by a bhikkhu:
Obtaining an article from the fund as a result of having prompted the
steward more than the allowable number of times is [an offence of
Confession with Forfeiture.]” (Nis. Paac. 10; BMC p.206)

º The ‘robe-price’ remains the donor’s money but in the keeping of the bhikkhu’s steward.[105] In practice, the ‘robe-price’ may be used for other allowable requisites.[106]
It is important for donors to check about the way of practice of the
particular bhikkhu(s) to whom they want to make an offering. Bhikkhus
who follow the Rule strictly will behave differently from those who are
more relaxed. The former will be very careful with their speech
concerning the acceptance of money and the intending donor has to make
allowance for such indirect talk.[107]

Buying and Selling [go up]

In the Buddha’s time, the ‘group-of-six’ bhikkhus engaged in buying and
selling using money. Lay people seeing this, and thinking all bhikkhus
did the same, started to complain saying, ‘How can these Buddhist monks
buy and sell using money, they are behaving just like lay people who
enjoy the pleasures of the senses’. The rule was then set down:

“If a bhikkhu engages in buying and selling with money (meaning
whatever is used as money), it is [an offence of Confession with
Forfeiture.]”(Nis. Paac. 19; Nv p.11)

“Obtaining gold or money through trade is [an offence of Confession with Forfeiture.]” (Summary of Nis. Paac. 19; BMC p.225)

º Note that there the different interpretation in the above translations.

According to the texts[108]
this would include investing money for a monetary return or even
changing money into another currency. (For the intricacies of this see BMC p.213–230)

Barter or Trade [go up]

The rule about bhikkhus and bartering originated in the Buddha’s time like this:

Through fine sewing and dyeing, Ven. Upananda was skilled at turning
rags into attractive-looking robes. A wandering ascetic wanted one such
robe and offered to trade his own costly, quality robe for the
beautifully turned out rag-robe of Ven. Upananda. Ven. Upananda asked
him if he was really sure and then they agreed to the exchange. But
later the wandering ascetic changed his mind and went to Ven. Upananda
to get his good-quality robe back. Ven. Upananda refused to give it
back. The wandering ascetic became angry and said that even lay people
returned unsatisfactory bartered goods. Therefore, this ruling was made:

“Should any bhikkhu engage in various types of trade, (the article
obtained) must be forfeited and confessed.” (Nis. Paac. 20; BMC p.225)

‘Untouchable’ Things? [go up]

In the Buddha’s time a bhikkhu went to bathe in the river and found a
purse of money lost by a brahmin. The owner returned and, to escape
having to pay the customary reward, pretended that some of the money was
suspiciously missing. The rule (Paac. 84) therefore prohibits a bhikkhu from picking up lost valuables.

However, there is an exception to this rule. The qualification is that
if the bhikkhu finds valuables in the monastery or in the place where he
dwells, he is required (and falls into an offence if he fails) to pick
them up and keep them safe for the owner. This shows that it is not the
object as such that is the problem — as if ‘by not touching it one is
free of it’ — but the care one must take that one’s greed and
attachment are not drawn in to contaminate the object, and that one is
not the victim of other people’s greed.

The Commentary also prohibits bhikkhus from touching unsuitable objects, which includes gold, silver, and valuable things.[109]

Lodgings [go up]

Shelter is the third of the Requisites (see The Four Requisites.) The Buddha first suggested[110]
that the bhikkhu should normally stay at the root of a sheltering tree.
(His own Awakening took place at the foot of the Bodhi tree.) However,
later, when the Rains Retreat period became established and bhikkhus
were more settled after their wanderings through the forest, lodgings or
ku.tii came to be offered and built. (In fact, it then became a
requirement to stay in a more sheltered place during the three months of
the Rains Retreat.)[111]

The bhikkhu may also voluntarily take on the special dhuta”nga (tudong)
practices. These are more usually seen among forest monks and are
distinctive of their way of practice: for example, they will delight in
living in the forest, in the open, in caves, in the cemetery or burning
ground, and when staying in a monastery will be happy to accept whatever
lodging is offered.

Luxurious Lodgings [go up]

Originally the ku.ti or lodging may not have been much more than a
hut with a plaster or earthen floor. Rules were formulated as to their
size and luxury. For example, the sixth Sa”nghaadisesa Rule —
remember that this is the second most serious category of rules
requiring a formal meeting of the Community — arose when bhikkhus were
having extravagant huts built for themselves. They had no sponsors and
were therefore begging materials from lay people, “saying, again and again, ‘Give me this, give me that…”‘. The people became burdened by all this begging and when they saw the bhikkhus, any bhikkhus, coming they would run away and hide.

“Building a plastered hut — or having it built — without a sponsor,
destined for one’s own use, without having obtained the Community’s
approval, is a [serious offence entailing meetings of the Sangha.]
Building a plastered hut — or having it built — without a sponsor,
destined for one’s own use, exceeding the standard measurements, is also
a [serious offence entailing meetings of the Sangha.](Summary Sa”ngh.
6; BMC p.128)

The Commentary explains that it must be quite a permanent structure to
come under this ruling. Depending on how long one understands the
ancient measure of the sugata-span to be, the ku.ti or hut should not be more than approximately 3 by 1.75 metres. (See BMC p.125) The commentarial tradition would put it three times this size.

Furniture [go up]

Bhikkhus are allowed to have a low bed on which to sleep and a stool on
which to sit in order to prevent dampness from the earthen floor, but
often where the lodgings are wooden floored (and in tropical climates)
the bhikkhu will sleep on the floor on an ordinary sleeping mat. In cold
climates this may have to be adjusted using the Great Standards.

Avoiding ‘high and luxurious beds’ is also a feature of the Eight Precepts[4] for lay people temporarily living the celibate life.

(IV) Right Livelihood for a Bhikkhu [go up]

Teaching Dhamma [go up]

The bhikkhu’s life should be wholly preparing him to gain insight into
Dhamma. Only then will he have the wisdom to communicate anything of
real value to others when the time is appropriate and the audience
properly receptive. (A monk will usually wait for an invitation to speak
on Dhamma, so there is no question about him proselytizing.) Teaching
Dhamma, however, is not easy. If it is badly done, it can cause more
misunderstanding than understanding.

The fourth Confession Rule came to be set down when the group-of-six
monks taught Dhamma to lay people by rote, which caused the lay
followers to feel disrespect for the monks:

“If a bhikkhu teaches Dhamma to an unordained person (one who is not a
bhikkhu), repeating it together word by word, it is [an offence of
Confession.]” (Paac. 4; Nv p.14)

“To rehearse the Dhamma word by word … was the method to teach
others to memorize when there were no books. This method was formerly
used in (Thai) temples and popularly known by the name ’studying books
in the evening’. The aim of prohibiting pronouncing (Scripture) together
is clearly shown in the original story of this training-rule which was
to prevent the pupils from looking down on the teacher.” (Paat. 1969 Ed.

Sixteen of the Sekhiya Training rules set
down how and to whom a bhikkhu should teach Dhamma. These rules are also
concerned with the etiquette of showing respect, respect not only for
the bhikkhu but more importantly for the Dhamma that he is teaching.
(The Great Standards would imply here that modern ways of showing
respect and disrespect would be similarly covered by these rules.) These
rules prohibit a bhikkhu from teaching anyone he considers to be
showing disrespect to the Dhamma. Here is a summary of these Sekhiya Trainings:

“I will not teach Dhamma to someone who is not sick but who:

— has an umbrella; a wooden stick (club); weapon in their hand.

— is wearing (wooden-soled) sandals/shoes; is in a vehicle; is on a
bed (or couch); is sitting clasping the knees; has a head wrapping
(turban); whose head is covered; who is sitting on a seat while I am
sitting on the ground; who is sitting on a high seat while I am sitting
on a low seat; who is sitting while I am standing; who is walking in
front of me while I am walking behind; who is walking on a pathway while
I am walking beside the pathway.” (Sekhiya 57-72; See BMC pp.505-508)

How these rules are observed may diverge in different communities. Some
will strictly follow the above while others will be more flexible
according to modern conditions. As Venerable Brahmava”ngso remarks:

“…These Sekhiyas ensure that one teaches Dhamma only to an audience
which shows respect. One may not expound from a soapbox in the
marketplace … to the indifference of passers by. However it is common
these days in the West for a seated audience, wearing their shoes and
maybe even a hat, to respectfully listen to a speaker standing at a
lectern … and as the audience is considered to be behaving
respectfully according to the prevailing norms there seems no reason why
a monk may not teach Dhamma in such a situation.” (AB)

Robbery by False Pretences [go up]

If a bhikkhu lies about his spiritual attainments, it may be ground for
the offence of ‘Defeat’. The originating circumstances for this Rule
occurred during a famine when food was scarce and many bhikkhus found
alms food difficult to obtain. A group of these monks devised a scheme
where they told lay people of each other’s attainments of ’superior
human states’, often deliberately lying to impress them. The faithful
lay people gave alms to such ’special’ bhikkhus thinking that it would
bring greater merit so they and their families went without food in
order to feed those monks. Later, when the Buddha knew of this he
rebuked them and described them as the worst of the ‘Five Great Thieves’
— immoral monks who obtain their alms food as a robber does. He set

“A bhikkhu who boasts of [’superior human states’,] which he has not
in fact attained, commits [an offence of Defeat.]” (Paar. 4; Nv p.5)

“Deliberately lying to another person that one has attained a
superior human state is [an offence of Defeat.]” (Summary Paar. 4; BMC

The Commentary classes ’superior human states’ (uttarimanussadhamma) as either: meditative absorption (jhaana), and certain psychic powers (abhiññaa) [112] or the path and fruit leading up to Nibbaana.

A deliberate lie is normally an offence of Confession (Paac. 1)
but this deliberate false avowal of meditative attainment is classed as
the most serious ‘Defeater’ Offence. This shows how much more damaging
it was considered to be. When a ‘guru-like’ bhikkhu falsely puts himself
forward as enlightened, his lies can be destructive not only to himself
and his followers but to the whole of Buddhism.

“It may be hard to imagine in the present time why falsely claiming
superior human conditions should be judged so severely. However, by
reflecting that bhikkhus are totally dependent upon the generosity and
goodwill of believing lay people, one may be able to appreciate the
situation better. By falsely claiming high spiritual attainments a
bhikkhu is equivalent to a swindler or defrauder, but in the worst way,
since this involves spiritual fraud — dealing with the most precious
and profound aspects of human existence.”(HS ch.15)

A bhikkhu commits no offence when he has no intention to make superior
claims, even if it is wrongly understood or misconstrued that way. If a
bhikkhu is insane, psychotically believing his own delusions of grandeur
and making extravagant claims of his own enlightenment, he receives
exemption from any offence.[113]

The eighth Confession rule is closely connected with this one of Defeat
but there the ‘announcement’ is true. Even so, indulging in such
disclosures to lay people requires confession especially when, as in the
origin-story, a bhikkhu does so just to obtain more alms. The Lord
Buddha criticized the showing off of even genuine supernormal

“To tell an unordained person of one’s actual superior human
attainments is [an offence of Confession.]” (Rule Summary, Paac. 8; BMC

Proper Behaviour Outside the Monastery [go up]

A bhikkhu can teach in many ways, not just by speech. There is the
famous occasion mentioned in the Paali texts when the future right-hand
disciple of Buddha, Saariputta, first saw a bhikkhu going on alms round:

“Saariputta the wanderer saw Ven. Assaji going for alms in Raajagaha:
gracious … his eyes downcast, his every movement consummate. On
seeing him, the thought occurred to him: ‘Surely, of those in this world
who are arahants or have entered the path to arahantship, this is one.
What if I was to approach him and question him … “(BMC p.490)

Ven. Assaji’s countenance and demeanour were a ‘teaching’ so impressive that Saariputta went and became a bhikkhu and a great arahant.

When a bhikkhu goes into a public place, he stands out because of the
robes he wears. Whatever he does is noticed and reflects back on his
community and the Sangha in general. As Venerable Thiradhammo writes:

“The bhikkhu lifestyle is for the sole purpose of realizing Nibbana.
In striving towards this end, it was recognized that certain kinds of
behaviour are detrimental, distracting or simply unhelpful, and are also
unsuitable for an alms-mendicant. Many kinds of improper behaviour are
not actually immoral, but rather put energy in the wrong direction or
are expressions of a careless attitude. Some kinds of behaviour can lead
to lay people’s loss of faith, some are immature or childish, some bad
or ugly, and some, quite malicious or nasty.” (HS ch.17)

Therefore, there are a number of training rules to remind the bhikkhu about correct deportment. The first twenty-six Sekhiya
Training rules cover proper behaviour in public places. They may also
explain the sometimes seemingly antisocial behaviour of a bhikkhu, who
may not look one in the face or immediately say a “Good Morning”. Here
is a selection:

“When in inhabited areas, I will … wear the under and upper robe
properly; be properly covered; go well restrained as to my movements;
keep my eyes looking down; sit with little sound [of voice].”

“When in inhabited areas, I will not … hitch up my robes; go or sit
laughing loudly; go or sit fidgeting; swing my arms; shake my head; put
my arms akimbo; cover my head with a cloth; walk on tiptoe; sit
clasping the knees.” (See BMC pp. 490-494)

There is always an exception in the Sekhiya Training Rules for
“one who is ill” so that a bhikkhu may, for example, cover his head when
the weather is unbearably cold or the sun dangerously hot. The same
applies to footwear, which normally should not be worn in inhabited

Socializing and Wrong Resort [go up]

‘Going out on the town’ is not appropriate for bhikkhus and is
covered in several rules. The eighty-fifth Confession Rule, describes
how the ‘group-of-six’ monks went to the village in the afternoon and
sat around gossiping, so that lay people compared them to householders.
Going outside the monastery (other than on the morning alms round) was
therefore regulated with this rule:

“Entering a village, town, or city during the period after noon until
the following dawn, without having taken leave of an available bhikkhu
– unless there is an emergency — is [an offence of Confession.]
(Summary Paac. 85; BMC p.470)

Persons or places of ‘wrong resort’ for a bhikkhu are divided into six sorts (EV,II,pp.178-180). These are spending too much time socializing with ‘unmarried women’ — widows and spinsters (divorcees) or with bhikkhuniis. (See also the rules on speaking with women.) ‘Wrong resort’ also includes keeping company with sex-aberrants (pa.n.daka). with prostitutes, and going to taverns.

A bhikkhu is prohibited from going to see and hear dancing, singing, and
music. (In modern circumstances this will also concern films, videos,
TV, etc.) This is similar to the Eight and Ten Precepts.[4] (See EV,II,p.72)

“In the Buddha’s time one could only hear music at a live performance
— hence seeing singing and music. However, following the Great
Standards, it would seem appropriate to include contemporary forms of
entertainment such as dancing, singing and music on television, videos,
radios, tape-recorders and stereos. Most comprehensively, this applies
to seeing or hearing any kind of entertainment like a ‘pleasure-enjoying
householder’. Listening or seeing for education is another matter.” (HS

Wrong Ways of Behaviour [go up]

Playful and wrong conduct (anaacaara) for a bhikkhu is, for example, playing like a child with toys or games, etc.; or making garlands of flowers, etc.

Bhikkhus are also prohibited from studying or speaking on ‘low animal-like knowledge’ (tiracchaana-vijjaa).

“The explanation of [low animal-like knowledge] seems to cover all
general subjects which are not related to the Dhamma of bhikkhus. [These
are:] knowledge of enchantments making men and women love each other;
knowledge for making this or that person fall into disaster; knowledge
for using spirits or showing various kinds of magic; knowledge of
prediction, such as knowing beforehand lottery results; knowledge
leading to self-delusion, such as transmuting mercury to gain the
supernatural, as in the transmuting of silver and copper into gold.

“These knowledges are [’low animal-like knowledge’] because they are
knowledge of doubtful things which are deceptive or deluding, not being
true knowledge. A teacher of this is a deceiver and a pupil is one who
practises to deceive, or he is just a foolish, deluded person.”

Wrong Livelihood [go up]

Wrong livelihood for a bhikkhu is divided into two:

One category concerns a bhikkhu searching for a living in a way that is
also considered wrong by worldly norms. For example, robbing or
deceiving others by claiming to be enlightened and receiving gifts and
support because of people’s belief. (See Robbery by False Pretences above)

The second category involves making a living that is wrong according to
the Vinaya. For example: begging or asking from an unsuitable person or
at an unsuitable time (see Invitation);
thinking to gain something by giving a little but hoping for much in
return; investing to gain interest; making a living by trade, for
instance, giving medical treatment for reward.[115]

Also to seek reward from:

“the ceremony for [chanting] paritta (verses of protection), that is,
making holy water and the sacred thread, the blowing of a charmed
formula onto a person by a bhikkhu is also prohibited. … It is allowed
only to recite the paritta [protection verses], but this also occurs
later and is not found in the Paali [texts]. … [This is wrong
livelihood and a] bhikkhu who seeks his living in this way is called
alajjii, ‘one who has no shame’.” (EV,II,p.129)

‘Corrupting Families’ [go up]

The very serious Sa”nghaadisesa Rule (requiring formal meetings of the Community) of ‘corrupting families’[116] concerns the proper relationship that bhikkhus should develop with lay followers.

It originated when two of the oft-transgressing ‘group-of-six’ monks neglected their Dhamma practice and behaved improperly[117]
in order to become popular with lay people. The lay people came to
enjoy the sociable, playful monks so much that when more composed,
right-practising monks came by they were considered snobbish and dull.

“If a bhikkhu corrupts families — in other words he flatters and
fawns on lay people — and other bhikkhus drive him away from the
monastery, and in return he criticizes them and if another bhikkhu then
tells him that he must not do this, but he will not listen, a Sangha
should recite the [formal admonishment] to induce him to abandon this
mode of behaviour. If he does not abandon it, it [entails initial and
subsequent meetings of the Community]” (Sa”ngh. 13; Nv p.7)

A bhikkhu guilty of habitually indulging in these practices (sometimes called ‘vile and low conduct’ or paapasamaacaara) should be ‘banished’ from his particular Community until he reforms.

Of course, a bhikkhu may concern himself in lay people’s affairs if it relates to religious duties. Also:

“the business of one’s mother and father, or of persons who prepare
to be ordained, called pa.n.dupalaasa (lit., yellow leaves, ready to
fall off the tree), or of one’s own veyyaavaccakara (steward, supporter,
pupil) can be done by him even though these are apart from religious
duties.” (EV,II,pp.121-122)

The relationship between the bhikkhu and his supporter should be a very special one:

“…A bhikkhu who is complete in good conduct does not lower himself
to become the intimate of a family in the same way as a lay man may do.
He is not aggressive or destructive but shows a heart of loving-kindness
and conducts himself in a moderate way, thus causing good faith and
reverence to arise in them towards himself. He is then called
kulapasaadako (one in whom families have faith). He is the splendour of
the [Teaching]…

“Bhikkhus who are not strict lower themselves to become vile men but
bhikkhus who are over-strict are not interested in showing [compassion]
in helping householders in various ways.” (EV,II,pp.123-124)

A bhikkhu’s wrong mode of livelihood also includes:

“running messages and errands for kings, ministers of state,
householders, etc. A modern example would be participating in political
campaigns.” (BMC p.152)

Intruding on Families [go up]

The meaning of one of the Confession rules is uncertain — as can be
seen by the different translations below — but it might explain why
visiting bhikkhus may be reluctant to intrude into a family’s space.

The Forty-third Confession Rule (Paac. 43) arose from Ven.
Upananda’s visit to a man and his wife who were sitting in their bedroom
together. The husband told his wife to give Ven. Upananda a meal and
when that was finished requested him to leave. The wife noticed that her
husband was becoming sexually excited, and not wishing to participate,
asked Ven. Upananda to stay. He stayed. This happened three times after
which the husband stormed out of the house indignant at Ven. Upananda’s

The Rule has been understood in rather different ways:

“Should any bhikkhu intrude upon and sit down in (the bedroom of) a
family with both persons, (the man and the wife, present, one of whom
does not agree to his remaining), it entails Confession.” (Paac. 43;
Paat. 1969 Ed. p.163)

“To sit down intruding on a man and a woman in their private quarters
— when one or both are sexually aroused, and when another bhikkhu is
not present — is [an offence of Confession.]” (Summary Paac. 43; BMC

“If a bhikkhu sits down, intruding on a family while they are taking food, it is [an offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 43; NVp19)

“A monk who intrudes into and sits down in a house where husband and
wife are by themselves enjoying each other’s company, commits [an
offence of Confession.]” (Paac. 43; BBC p.128)

(V) Miscellaneous [go up]

Disputes [go up]

When the Buddha went to reside at Ghositaaraama in the city of Kosambi,
he found a dispute had arisen between the bhikkhus there. One group of
monks under a ‘Vinaya-expert’ had accused the ‘Dhamma-expounder’ leader
(of another group) of a minor wrong-doing offence. The
‘Dhamma-expounder’ bhikkhu would not admit to this so dissension arose
between the two groups. (See also Strictness and Blaming Others.)
Even when the Lord Buddha pointed out to both groups the dangers in
this and how to put matters to right, they still could not agree. So the
Lord Buddha left them and went to reside by himself in the Rakkhitavan

The lay people of Kosambi blamed the quarrelling bhikkhus for causing
the Buddha to go away and in consequence they agreed together not to pay
respect to those bhikkhus. When the bhikkhus came to their houses, they
would not give alms food, desiring them to ‘go away, disrobe, or else
return to the way of practice pleasing to the Lord Buddha’. After this
treatment, both groups of bhikkhus came to their senses and agreed to
see the Lord Buddha where the dispute was properly resolved. (See EV,III,p.129)

A set of formal procedures are set down to resolve disputes within the Community. They are summarized in the Adhikara.nasamatha ‘rules’, the last seven of the 227 Rules of the Paa.timokkha. (See Appendix B, Communal Harmony)

Schools of Buddhism [go up]

For an outsider, one of the most notable features of Buddhism is the
number and diversity of Buddhist schools. When disputes (such as that
described above) are left unresolved there is a tendency for the
formation of nikaaya or ’schools’, which are passed on through
‘ordination lineage’ to future generations of bhikkhus. Historically, as
Buddhism spread over Asia,[118]
the practice of local Communities gradually adapted to new
circumstances. The originally slight divergences grew so that today not
only do we have the major Schools of the ‘South’ (Theravaada) and the ‘North’ (Mahayaana, Tibetan), and ‘East’ (Mahayaana, Ch’an, Son, Zen, etc.) but also myriad minor local differences.

“Coming down to later times, when the different groups became
established in places foreign to the original lands, those two [schools]
became very far apart both in the texts and in the language for
chanting, all the way to garments and customs — just compare for
instance, Vietnamese monks with Thai monks.” (EV,III,p.230)

“[In the Theravaada School,] this reached the point where the
intonations used in speaking Paali [language] differed: such as ours in
Thailand, those in Sri Lanka, Burma and the Mons, for example. Each
group holds that their way is better than that of the other groups. Even
though they have contact with each other, they are not united as a
single group, and minor [schools] arise out of them, determined
according to nationality…

“In these national [schools] some [schools] would thrive at certain
times, until other [schools] would take them as a model to be followed
… [by] some bhikkhus requesting entry to their group by taking new
ordination or re-ordination. … A [school] which takes the methods of
another [school] will make further differences in its methods until they
are a separate [school]. These call themselves by names different from
the nationality, such as our [Thai] Mahaa-nikaaya and
Dhammayuttika-nikaaya; the Burmese Culaga.n.thii and Mahaaga.n.thii.
[One no longer finds these names, now there are the Sudhamma Nikaaya
(the largest group), the Shwegyin Nikaaya and the small Dvaara Nikaaya];
and the Upaaliva.msa, Marammaava.msa and Raamaññava.msa of Sri Lanka.
(Now more frequently known as Siam Nikaaya, Amarapura Nikaaya, and
Raamañña Nikaaya.)” (EV,III,pp.230-231)

There seems to be a natural tendency for the more strictly practising
Communities to attract more lay respect and therefore more lay support
– including more material support.[119] However, as ‘luxuries tend to become necessities’ there is often a corresponding decline in Vinaya practice.

The next stage seems to be that when the Vinaya practice has
deteriorated into laxness, a group of monks will spontaneously be
attracted to going back to higher standards and will go and live at a
monastery together to put that into effect, eventually forming a new
group or nikaaya. This stricter practice attracts lay support,
and that forces the more lax communities to reform their ways. And then
as standards decline…

Another way that the local Vinaya practice is rejuvenated is by the
import of strictly practising monks from elsewhere to form a model
community. For example, Sri Lankan monks were invited to Siam more than
five hundred years ago, and some centuries later Thai monks were
themselves invited back to Sri Lanka after the local Sa”ngha had died

Inviting foreign monks to reform the local practice was often at the
instigation of the Buddhist king and seemed to have worked quite well.
However, attempts by central authorities to forcibly rejoin their own
local schools (nikaayas) of monks have seldom been successful,
especially as Buddhism has never favoured the use of violence in
religious suppression. What often happens is that instead of merging two
nikaayas into one, it forces another sect to form. Then there
are three — the two original plus a new combined sect. This is probably
because the Sa”ngha is a local community structure that is oriented to
the wider Sa”ngha of bhikkhus by the Vinaya. Thus the Vinaya, rather
than any central authority, is what brings groups together.

Etiquette [go up]

The Buddha allowed several ways of showing respect to others ‘for the
beauty and good of the community (of both monks and lay people)’. These

vandanaa — bowing or ’showing reverence with the five points’, i.e. the forehead, two forearms, and the two knees[120]

[sketch of person bowing]
Vandanaa Thai-style.
Note that the male and female movements start and finish slightly differently.

u.t.thaana — standing up to welcome[121]

añjalii — joining the palms together in respect

saamiicikamma, any other ways of showing respect that are beautiful and good. (See EV,II,p.78)

Another ancient way of showing respect is circumambulation or walking
around the object of veneration three times in a clockwise direction —
so that one’s right shoulder is towards, for example, the cetiya, bodhi tree or pagoda.[122]

In many parts of Asia it is considered extremely rude to point one’s feet at anyone[123] or any religious object.[122] An example, is found in the Confession Rule 51 (Paac. 51) where a highly gifted bhikkhu is made drunk and in his stupor turns and points his feet at the Buddha.

Bhikkhus use these ways of etiquette to show respect to those who have
been bhikkhus for longer than themselves, irrespective of their actual
age.[124] A ‘younger’ bhikkhu may call another bhikkhu, “Bhante”,
(”Venerable Sir” or “Reverend Sir”), and, similarly, a lay person may
use this as a general form of address to bhikkhus. Each country will
have its own way of addressing older, more senior bhikkhus appropriate
to their age and experience. (See below.)

Names and Forms of Address [go up]

During his ordination, the bhikkhu-candidate is asked formally for his name. His Preceptor (usually) will have given him a Paali
name and this is what he will use. However, later, on less formal
occasions, he may be addressed differently. This variety of terms of
address can be quite confusing for outsiders. For example, in Thailand,
the monk will more often use his given name (from before his ordination)
with an honorific preceding it appropriate to his monk’s seniority and
rank.[125] The Paali
name, and title if any, would be added on more formal occasions. I
understand that in Sri Lanka, and sometimes in Burma, it is the
bhikkhu’s place of origin or residence that may be prefixed to his Paali name.

Some monks may use the description Bhikkhu before their Paali name (Bhikkhu X) while others will use it as a suffix (X Bhikkhu). If they are more than ten years in the robe they may use Thera (Elder) and if very senior Mahaathera. (See also Becoming a Bhikkhu.)

There are many other titles and ranks for senior bhikkhus. The king (in
Thailand) or government often confer these in recognition of service or
administrative ability. When administration of all the bhikkhus of the
country is subsumed under central government departments, it may then be
divided up into regions and districts under the supervision of the
local senior ‘respectable’ monks. However, underlying all of this is the
Vinaya Rule that still guides the traditional ways of the bhikkhu life,
without class or privilege, and it remains the foundation for continued
Dhamma practice as it has done for the last twenty-five centuries.

º Probably the most universally acceptable form of address for any bhikkhu is “Bhante” or “Venerable Sir.”

Appendices [go up]

Appendix A: Lay Precepts [go up]

Anyone, of any religion or none, can appreciate these fundamental,
practical guidelines about actions and speech suggested by the Buddha.
When we are mindful enough to realize that we have a choice about our
actions and speech, these Precepts are there to help answer questions
of, “What should I do, what should I say?” They are practical and down
to earth without requiring one to promise first to believe in anything
supernatural. Like the lane markings on the highway, they help speed one
on one’s journey without colliding with any other travellers or going
completely off the road. The Precepts mark the straightforward way of
living that harms or hurts no one, while offering one the choice to
transform one’s life through growing mindfulness into perfect virtue,
wisdom and compassion.

The Five Precepts [go up]

The Five Precepts form one of the essential elements of following the
Lord Buddha’s Way. Undertaking these Precepts (and ‘Going for Refuge’)
are often the first formal affirmation of a new Buddhist. This is
normally done by repeating after a monk these phrases (in Paali):

“I undertake the training precept:

1) to abstain from taking life.
2) to abstain from taking what is not given.
3) to abstain from sexual misconduct.
4) to abstain from false speech.
5) to abstain from intoxicants causing heedlessness.”

The Eight Precepts [go up]

The Five can then be refined into the Eight Precepts:

“I undertake the training precept:

1) to abstain from taking life.
2) to abstain from taking what is not given.
3) to abstain from unchastity.
4) to abstain from false speech.
5) to abstain from intoxicants causing heedlessness.
6)to abstain from untimely eating.
7) to abstain from dancing, singing, music and unseemly shows, from
wearing garlands, smartening with scents, and beautifying with perfumes.
8) to abstain from the use of high and large luxurious couches.”

Uposatha Observance Days [go up]

In the West, the Sabbath — either Saturday or Sunday — has been
normally the special religious observance day of the week. In Buddhism,
which continues to follow the traditional lunar calendar,[126]
the day set apart for special religious observance is the fortnightly
day of the full and new moons, with the quarter moon days in between.[127] These full and new-moon days, called Uposatha Days, are when the bhikkhus gather to listen to a recitation of their Paa.timokkha Rule.

The weekly observance day on the quarter-moon day is when lay devotees
gather in the local monastery to observe precepts more strictly and
listen to and speak about Dhamma. The basic, minimum standard of
precepts for practising lay Buddhists is the Five Precepts. (Such lay
people who are following the Buddha’s Teaching are know as upaasaka
(male) and upaasikaa (female)).[128]
However, on the Observance day (or other special occasion), they may
decide to train under the Eight Precepts, which brings them closer to
how the monk or nun practises.[129]

The Ten Precepts [go up]

The novice (saama.nera) has Ten Precepts, as does the dasasiila mata
nun. These are the same Eight as above, however the seventh precept is
split into two and an extra tenth precept is added. Thus:

1) to abstain from taking life.
2) to abstain from taking what is not given.
3) to abstain from unchastity.
4) to abstain from false speech.
5) to abstain from intoxicants causing heedlessness.
6) to abstain from untimely eating.
7) to abstain from dancing, singing, music and unseemly shows.
8) to abstain from wearing garlands, smartening with scents, and beautifying with perfumes.
9) to abstain from the use of high and large luxurious couches.
10) to abstain from accepting gold and silver (money).

Appendix B: The Other Patimokkha Rules [go up]

º This book has been mostly focused on those of the 227 Paa.timokkha
Rules that are of concern to the lay devotee. Here we will include a
summary of most of the remaining rules taken from Venerable Thanissaro’s
Introduction to the Paa.timokkha Rules, where he grouped the rules into these categories:

Right Speech [go up]

Making an unfounded charge to a bhikkhu that he has committed a paaraajika offence, in hopes of having him disrobed, is a sa”nghaadisesa offence. [Sa”ngh.8]

Distorting the evidence while accusing a bhikkhu of having committed a paaraajika offence, in hopes of having him disrobed, is a sa”nghaadisesa offence. [Sa”ngh.9]

Making an unfounded charge to a bhikkhu — or getting someone else to make the charge to him — that he is guilty of a sa”nghaadisesa offence is a paacittiya offence. [Paac.76]

Tale-bearing among bhikkhus, in hopes of winning favour or causing a rift, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac.3]

An insult made with malicious intent to another bhikkhu is a paacittiya offence. [Paac.2]

Right Action [go up]

…Intentionally causing oneself to emit semen, or getting someone else
to cause one to emit semen — except during a dream — is a sa”nghaadisesa offence. [Sa”ngha.1]…

Having given another bhikkhu a robe on a condition and then — angry and
displeased — snatching it back or having it snatched back is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac. 25]

Making use of cloth or a bowl stored under shared ownership — unless
the shared ownership has been rescinded or one is taking the item on
trust — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 59]

Right Livelihood [go up]

Keeping a piece of robe-cloth for more than ten days without determining
it for use or placing it under dual ownership — except when the end-of-vassa or ka.thina privileges are in effect — is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.1] Being in a separate zone from any of one’s three robes at dawn — except when the end-of-vassa or ka.thina privileges are in effect, or one has received formal authorization from the Community — is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.2]

Keeping out-of-season cloth for more than 30 days when it is not enough
to make a requisite and one has expectation for more — except when the end-of- vassa and ka.thina privileges are in effect — is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.3] …

When two or more lay people who are not one’s relatives are planning to
get separate robes for one, but have yet to ask one what kind of robe
one wants: Receiving a robe from them after asking them to pool their
funds to get one robe — out of a desire for something fine — is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.9]

Making a felt blanket/rug with silk mixed in it for one’s own use — or having it made — is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.11]

Making a felt blanket/rug entirely of black wool for one’s own use — or having it made — is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.12]

Making a felt blanket/rug that is more than one-half black wool for one’s own use — or having it made — is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.13]

Unless one has received authorization to do so from the Community,
making a felt blanket/rug for one’s own use — or having it made — less
than six years after one’s last one was made is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.14] Making a felt sitting rug for one’s own use — or having it made — without incorporating a one-span piece of old felt is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.15]

Seeking and receiving a rains-bathing cloth before the fourth month of the hot season is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. Using a rains-bathing cloth before the last two weeks of the fourth month of the hot season is also a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.24]…

Keeping robe cloth offered in urgency past the end of the robe season
after having accepted it during the last eleven days of the Rains
Retreat is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.28] …

Making use of an unmarked robe is a paacittiya offence. [Paac.58]

Acquiring an overly large sitting cloth after making it — or having it made — for one’s own use is a paacittiya offence requiring that one cut the cloth down to size before confessing the offence. [Paac.89]

Acquiring an overly large skin-eruption covering cloth after making it — or having it made — for one’s own use is a paacittiya offence requiring that one cut the cloth down to size before confessing the offence. [Paac.90]

Acquiring an overly large rains-bathing cloth after making it — or having it made — for one’s own use is a paacittiya offence requiring that one cut the cloth down to size before confessing the offence. [Paac.91]

Acquiring an overly large robe after making it — or having it made — for one’s own use is a paacittiya offence requiring that one cut the robe down to size before confessing the offence. [Paac.92]

Food [go up]

Eating food obtained from the same public alms centre two days running, unless one is too ill to leave the centre, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac.31] …

Accepting more than three bowlfuls of food that the donors prepared for
their own use as presents or for provisions for a journey is a paacittiya offence. [Paac.34]

Eating staple or non-staple food, after accepting it — when one is
neither ill nor invited — at the home of a family formally designated
as “in training,” is a patidesaniya offence. [Pat. 3]…

Lodgings [go up]

When a bhikkhu is building or repairing a large dwelling for his own
use, using resources donated by another, he may not reinforce the window
or door frames with more than three layers of roofing material or
plaster. To exceed this is a paacittiya offence. [Paac.19]

Acquiring a bed or bench with legs longer than eight Sugata
fingerbreadths after making it — or having it made — for one’s own use
is a paacittiya offence requiring that one cut the legs down before confessing the offence. [Paac.87]

Acquiring a bed or bench stuffed with cotton down after making it — or having it made — for one’s own use is a paacittiya offence requiring that one remove the stuffing before confessing the offence. [Paac.88]…

Bowls and other requisites [go up]

Carrying wool that has not been made into cloth or yarn for more than three leagues is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.16]

Keeping an alms bowl for more than ten days without determining it for use or placing it under dual ownership is a nissaggiya paacittiya offence. [Nis. Paac.21]

Acquiring a needle box made of ivory, bone or horn after making it — or having it made — for one’s own use is a paacittiya offence requiring that one break the box before confessing the offence. [Nis. Paac.86]

Communal Harmony [go up]

To persist in one’s attempts at a schism, after the third announcement of a formal rebuke in a meeting of the Community, is a sa”nghaadisesa offence. [Sa”ngh. 10]

To persist in supporting a potential schismatic, after the third
announcement of a formal rebuke in a meeting of the Community, is a sa”nghaadisesa offence. [Sa”ngh. 11]

To persist in being difficult to admonish, after the third announcement of a formal rebuke in the Community, is a sa”nghaadisesa offence. [Sa”ngh. 12]

To persist — after the third announcement of a formal rebuke in the
Community — in criticizing an act of banishment performed against
oneself is a sa”nghaadisesa offence. [Sa”ngh. 13]…

Telling an unordained person of another bhikkhu’s serious offence — unless one is authorized by the Community to do so — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 9]

Persistently replying evasively or keeping silent when being questioned
in a meeting of the Community in order to conceal one’s own offences —
after a formal charge of evasiveness or uncooperativeness has been
brought against one — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 12]

If a Community official is innocent of prejudice, criticizing him within earshot of another bhikkhu is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 13]

When one has set a bed, bench, mattress or stool belonging to the
Community out in the open: Leaving its immediate vicinity without
putting it away or arranging to have it put away is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 14]

When one has spread bedding out in a dwelling belonging to the
Community: Departing from the monastery without putting it away or
arranging to have it put away is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 15]

Encroaching on another bhikkhu’s sleeping or sitting place in a dwelling
belonging to the Community, with the sole purpose of making him
uncomfortable and forcing him to leave, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 16]

Causing a bhikkhu to be evicted from a dwelling belonging to the Community — when one’s primary motive is anger — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 17]

Sitting or lying down on a bed or bench with detachable legs on an
unplanked loft in a dwelling belonging to the Community, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 18]

Deliberately tricking another bhikkhu into breaking Paacittiya 35, in hopes of finding fault with him, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 36]

Speaking or acting disrespectfully when being admonished by another bhikkhu for a breach of the training rules is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 54]

Agitating to reopen an issue, knowing that it was properly dealt with, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 63]

Not informing other bhikkhus of a serious offence that one knows another
bhikkhu has committed — either out of a desire to protect him from
having to undergo the penalty, or to protect him from the jeering
remarks of other bhikkhus — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 64]

Acting as the preceptor in the ordination of a person one knows to be less than 20 years old is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 65]

Refusing to give up the wrong view that there is nothing wrong in
intentionally transgressing the Buddha’s ordinances — after the third
announcement of a formal rebuke in a meeting of the Community — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 68]

Consorting, joining in communion or lying down under the same roof with a
bhikkhu who has been suspended and not been restored — knowing that
such is the case — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 69]

Supporting, receiving services from, consorting or lying down under the
same roof with an expelled novice — knowing that he has been expelled
– is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 70]

Saying something as a ploy to excuse oneself from training under a
training rule when being admonished by another bhikkhu for a breach of
the rule is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 71]

Criticizing the discipline in the presence of another bhikkhu, in hopes of preventing its study, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 72]

Using half-truths to deceive others into believing that one is ignorant
of the rules in the Patimokkha, after one has already heard the
Patimokkha in full three times, and a formal act exposing one’s deceit
has been brought against one, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 73]

Giving a blow to another bhikkhu, when motivated by anger, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 74]

Making a threatening gesture against another bhikkhu when motivated by anger is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 75]

Saying to another bhikkhu that he may have broken a rule unknowingly, simply for the purpose of causing him anxiety, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 77]

Eavesdropping on bhikkhus involved in an argument over an issue — with
the intention of using what they say against them — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 78]

Complaining about a formal act of the Community to which one gave one’s
consent — if one knows that the act was carried out in accordance with
the rule — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 79]

Getting up and leaving a meeting of the Community in the midst of a
valid formal act — without having first given one’s consent to the act,
and with the intention of invalidating it — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 80]

After participating in a formal act of the Community giving robe-cloth
to a Community official: Complaining that the Community acted out of
favouritism is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 81]

When the Community is dealing formally with an issue, the full Community
must be present, as must all the individuals involved in the issue; the
proceedings must follow the patterns set out in the Dhamma and Vinaya. [Adhikarana samatha 1]

If the Community unanimously believes that a bhikkhu is innocent of a
charge made against him, they may declare him innocent on the basis of
his memory of the events. [Adhikarana samatha 2]

If the Community unanimously believes that a bhikkhu was insane while
committing offences against the rules, they may absolve him of any
responsibility for the offences. [Adhikarana samatha 3]

If a bhikkhu commits an offence, he should willingly undergo the
appropriate penalty in line with what he actually did and the actual
seriousness of the offence. [Adhikarana samatha 4]

If an important dispute cannot be settled by a unanimous decision, it
should be submitted to a vote. The opinion of the majority, if in
accordance with the Dhamma and Vinaya, is then considered decisive. [Adhikarana samatha 5]

If a bhikkhu admits to an offence only after being interrogated in a
formal meeting, the Community should carry out an act of censure against
him, rescinding it only when he has mended his ways. [Adhikarana samatha 6]

If, in the course of a dispute, both sides act in ways unworthy of
contemplatives, and the sorting out of the penalties would only prolong
the dispute, the Community as a whole may make a blanket confession of
its light offences. [Adhikarana samatha 7]

The Etiquette of a Contemplative [go up]

… Handing food or medicine to a mendicant ordained outside of Buddhism is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 41]

When on almsround with another bhikkhu: Sending him back so that he
won’t witness any misconduct one is planning to indulge in is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 42]…

Watching a field army — or similar large military force — on active duty, unless there is a suitable reason, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 48]

Staying more than three consecutive nights with an army on active duty
– even when one has a suitable reason to be there — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 49]

Going to a battlefield, a roll call, an array of the troops in battle
formation or to see a review of the battle units while one is staying
with an army is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 50]…

Tickling another bhikkhu is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 52]

Jumping and swimming in the water for fun is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 53]

Attempting to frighten another bhikkhu is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 55]

Lighting a fire to warm oneself — or having it lit — when one does not need the warmth for one’s health is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 56]

Bathing more frequently than once a fortnight when residing in the middle Ganges Valley, except on certain occasions, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 57]

Hiding another bhikkhu’s bowl, robe, sitting cloth, needle case or belt
– or having it hid — either as a joke or with the purpose of annoying
him, is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 60]

Travelling by arrangement with a group of thieves from one village to another — knowing that they are thieves — is a paacittiya offence. [Paac. 66]

Eating alms food [go up]

When eating, a bhikkhu should:

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