This term means “involving the Community in the initial (ādi) and subsequent (sesa) acts.” It derives from the fact that the Community is the agent that initially calls on the bhikkhu who breaks any of the rules in this category to undergo the penalty (of mānatta, penance, and parivāsa, probation), subsequently reimposes the penalty if he does not properly carry it out, and finally lifts the penalty when he does. There are thirteen training rules here, the first nine entailing a saṅghādisesa immediately on transgression, the last four only after the offender has been rebuked three times as part of a Community transaction.
Intentional emission of semen, except while dreaming, entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
The origin story to this rule is as follows:
“Now at that time Ven. Seyyasaka was leading the celibate life dissatisfied. Because of this, he was thin, wretched, unattractive, and pale, his body covered with veins. Ven. Udāyin saw that Ven. Seyyasaka was thin… his body covered with veins. On seeing him, he said to him, ‘Seyyasaka, my friend, why are you thin… your body covered with veins? Could it be that you’re leading the celibate life dissatisfied?’
“‘In that case, eat as you like and sleep as you like and bathe as you like; and having eaten, slept, and bathed as you like, when dissatisfaction arises and lust assails the mind, emit semen having attacked (!) with your hand.’
“‘But is it okay to do that?’
“‘Of course. I do it myself.’
“So then Ven. Seyyasaka ate as he liked and slept as he liked… and when dissatisfaction arose and lust assailed his mind, he would emit semen having attacked with his hand. Then it wasn’t long before he became attractive, with rounded features, a clear complexion, and very bright skin. So the bhikkhus who were his friends said to him, ‘Before, friend Seyyasaka, you were thin… your body covered with veins. But now you are attractive, with rounded features, a clear complexion, and very bright skin. Could it be that you’re taking medicine?’
“‘No, I’m not taking medicine, my friends. I just eat as I like and sleep as I like… and when dissatisfaction arises and lust assails my mind, I emit semen having attacked with my hand.’
“‘But do you emit semen having attacked with the same hand you use to eat the gifts of the faithful?’
“‘Yes, my friends.’”
This rule, in its outline form, is one of the simplest to explain. In its details, though, it is one of the most complex, not only because the subject is a sensitive matter but also because the Commentary deviates from the Vibhaṅga in its explanations of two of the three factors that constitute the full offense.
The three factors are result, intention, and effort: emission of semen caused by an intentional effort. When all three factors are present, the offense is a saṅghādisesa. If the last two—intention and effort—are present, the offense is a thullaccaya. Any single factor or any other combination of two factors—i.e., intention and result without making a physical effort, or effort and result without intention—is not grounds for an offense.
It may seem strange to list the factor of result first, but I want to explain it first partly because, in understanding the types of intention and effort covered by this rule, it is necessary to know what they are aimed at, and also because result is the one factor where the Vibhaṅga and Commentary are in basic agreement.
The Vibhaṅga states that semen can come in ten colors—a classification derived from a diagnostic practice in ancient Indian medicine in which a doctor would examine his male patients’ ejaculates as a way of diagnosing their health. After presenting a long series of wheels based on these ten colors of semen, the Vibhaṅga arrives at the simple conclusion that the color and quality of the semen are irrelevant to the offense. This suggests that a bhikkhu who has had a vasectomy can still commit an offense under this rule, because he can still discharge the various components that go into seminal fluid—minus only the sperm—at orgasm.
Although the Vibhaṅga adds that semen is discharged when it “falls from its base,” it does not discuss this point in any detail. The Commentary discusses three opinions as to precisely when this happens in the course of sexual stimulation. Although its discussion is framed in terms of the physiology of ejaculation as understood at the time, its conclusion is clear: Semen moves from its base when “having made the whole body shake, it is released and descends into the urinary tract”—in other words, at the point of orgasm. The Commentary further explains that semen falls from its base when it enters the urinary tract, because from that point on the process is irreversible. Thus if the process of sexual stimulation has reached this point, the factor of result has been fulfilled even if one tries to prevent the semen from leaving the body at orgasm by pinching the end of one’s penis. Once in the urinary tract, it has already fallen from its base, so whether it then leaves the body is irrelevant as far as the factors of the offense are concerned.
Although some sub-sub-commentaries have ventured a more cautious opinion than the Commentary’s—saying that semen counts as having fallen from its base when there appears a small amount of the clear alkaline fluid produced by the prostate and Cowper’s glands prior to ejaculation—there is nothing in the Vibhaṅga to prove the Commentary wrong.
The Vibhaṅga defines intentionally as “having willed, having made the decision knowingly and consciously.” The Commentary explains these terms as follows: Having willed means having willed, having planned, with the intention of enjoying bringing about an emission. Having made the decision means having summoned up a reckless mind state, “crushing” through the power of an attack. (These are the same terms it uses to explain the same phrase under Pr 3, Pc 61, and Pc 77. The meaning is that one is not simply toying with the idea. One has definitely made up one’s mind to overcome all hesitation by aggressively setting upon an action aimed at causing emission.) Knowingly means knowing that, “I am making an exertion”—which the Sub-commentary explains as knowing that, “I am making an exertion for the sake of an emission.” Consciously means being aware that one’s efforts are bringing about an emission of semen.
The Commentary’s definition of “having willed” is where it deviates from the Vibhaṅga’s discussion of the factor of intention. The Vibhaṅga, throughout its analysis, expresses this factor simply as “aiming at causing an emission,” and it lists ten possible motives for wanting to bring the emission about:
for the sake of health,
for the sake of pleasure,
for the sake of a medicine,
for the sake of a gift (to insects, says the Commentary, although producing semen as a gift to one‘s partner in a tantric ritual would also come under this category),
for the sake of merit,
for the sake of a sacrifice,
for the sake of heaven,
for the sake of seed (to produce a child—a bhikkhu who gave semen to be used in artificial insemination would fit in this category),
for the sake of investigating (e.g., to diagnose one’s health), or
for the sake of playfulness or fun.
Each of these motives, the Vibhaṅga says, fulfills the factor of intention here. Thus for the Commentary to limit the question of “deliberate intention” strictly to the enjoyment of the act of bringing about an emission (numbers 2 and 10 in the Vibhaṅga’s list) has no basis in the Canon. This means that the factor of intention under this rule is defined by deliberateness and immediate aim—causing an emission of semen—regardless of impulse or motive.
Given the way intention is defined, there is no offense for a bhikkhu who brings on an emission of semen—
accidentally—e.g., toying with his penis simply for the pleasure of the contact, when it suddenly and unexpectedly goes off;
not knowing that he is making an effort—e.g., when he is dreaming or in a semi-conscious state before fully waking up from sleep;
not conscious that his efforts are bringing about an emission of semen—e.g., when he is so engrossed in applying medicine to a sore on his penis that he doesn’t realize that he is bringing on an ejaculation;
or when his efforts are motivated by a purpose other than that of causing an emission—e.g., when he wakes up, finds that he is about to have a spontaneous ejaculation, and grabs hold of his penis to keep the semen from soiling his robes or bedding.
The Vibhaṅga defines four types of effort that fulfill this factor: A bhikkhu causes an emission making an effort (1) at an internal object, (2) at an external object, (3) at both an internal and an external object, or (4) by shaking his pelvis in the air. It then goes on to explain these terms: The internal object is one’s own living body. External objects can either be animate or inanimate objects. The third type of effort involves a combination of the first two, and the fourth covers cases when one makes one’s penis erect (“workable”) by making an effort in the air.
The extremely general nature of these definitions gives the impression that the compilers of the Vibhaṅga wanted them to cover every imaginable type of bodily effort aimed at arousing oneself sexually, and this impression is borne out by the wide variety of cases covered in the Vinita-vatthu. They include, among others, a bhikkhu who squeezes his penis with his fist, one who rubs his penis with his thumb, one who rubs his penis against his bed, one who inserts his penis into sand, one who bathes against the current in a stream, one who rubs his preceptor’s back in the bathing room, one who gets an erection from the friction of his thighs and robes while walking along, one who has his belly heated in the bathing room, and one who stretches his body. In each of these cases, if the bhikkhu aims at and succeeds in causing an emission, he incurs a saṅghādisesa.
The Vinita-vatthu also includes a case in which a bhikkhu, desiring to cause an emission, orders a novice to take hold of his (the bhikkhu’s) penis. He gets his emission and a saṅghādisesa to boot, which shows that getting someone else to make the effort for one fulfills the factor of effort here. Under the factor of consent, below, we will discuss a similar case from the Vinita-vatthu to Pr 1 which indicates that simply lying still while allowing someone else to bring one to an orgasm fulfills the factor of effort here as well.
In discussing the factor of effort, though, the Commentary adds an additional sub-factor: that the effort must be directed at one’s own penis. If this were so, then a bhikkhu who succeeded in causing an emission by stimulating any of the erogenous zones of his body aside from his penis would incur no penalty. The Commentary itself actually makes this point, and the Sub-commentary seconds it, although the V/Sub-commentary says that such a bhikkhu would incur a dukkaṭa—what it bases this opinion on, it doesn’t say: perhaps a misreading of the Case of the Sleeping Novice, which we will discuss below.
At any rate, the Commentary in adding this last factor runs up against a number of cases in the Vinita-vatthu in which the effort does not involve the penis: the bhikkhu warming his belly, the bhikkhu rubbing his preceptor’s back, a bhikkhu having his thighs massaged, and others. The Commentary deals with these cases by rewriting them, stating in most cases that the effort somehow had to involve the penis. This in itself is questionable, but when the Commentary actually contradicts the Vinita-vatthu in the case of the bhikkhu who warms his belly, saying that this sort of effort could not involve an offense at all, even if one aims at and succeeds in causing an emission, the commentators have moved beyond the realm of commenting into the realm of rewriting the rule.
As stated in the Introduction, we have to go on the assumption that the compilers of the Vibhaṅga knew the crucial factors of each offense well enough to know what is and is not an offense, and were careful enough to include all the relevant facts when describing the precedents in the Vinita-vatthu in order to show how the Buddha arrived at his judgments. Because the Commentary’s position—adding the extra factor that the physical effort has to involve one’s own penis—directly contradicts the Vibhaṅga on this point, the extra factor cannot stand.
The question then is why the commentators added the extra factor in the first place. An answer may be found in one of the cases in the Vinita-vatthu: the Case of the Sleeping Novice.
“On that occasion a certain bhikkhu grabbed hold of the penis of a sleeping novice. His semen was emitted. He felt conscience-stricken…. ‘Bhikkhu, there is no saṅghādisesa offense. There is a dukkaṭa offense.’”
The issue here is whose semen was emitted. Pali syntax, unlike English, doesn’t give us a clue, for there is no syntactical rule that the pronoun in one sentence should refer to the subject of the preceding sentence. There are many cases under Pr 3 that follow the form, “A stone badly held by the bhikkhu standing above hit the bhikkhu standing below on the head. The bhikkhu died. He felt conscience-stricken.” In these cases it is obvious from the context within the story which bhikkhu died and which one felt conscience-stricken, while with the sleeping novice we have to look for the context in other parts of the Vibhaṅga.
If the bhikkhu was the one who emitted semen, then perhaps there is a contradiction in the Vibhaṅga, and the Commentary is justified in saying that the effort must involve one’s penis, for otherwise the case would seem to fulfill the Vibhaṅga’s general definition for the factor of effort: The bhikkhu is making an effort at an outside body and has an emission. Following the general pattern of the rule, he would incur a saṅghādisesa if he intended emission, and no penalty at all if he didn’t. Yet—deviating from the standard pattern for the Vinita-vatthu cases—the Buddha does not ask whether he aimed at emitting semen, and simply gives the bhikkhu a dukkaṭa, which suggests an inconsistency.
If, however, the novice was the one who emitted, there is no inconsistency at all: The bhikkhu incurs his dukkaṭa for making lustful bodily contact with another man (see the discussion under Sg 2, below), and the case is included here to show that the full offense under this rule concerns instances where one makes oneself emit semen, and not where one makes others emit. (Other than this case, there is nothing in the rule or the Vibhaṅga that expressly makes this point. The rule simply mentions bringing about the emission of semen, without explicitly mentioning whose. This would explain the bhikkhu’s uncertainty as to whether or not he had committed a saṅghādisesa.) And the reason there is no mention of whether or not the bhikkhu intended to emit semen is because—as it comes under another rule—it is irrelevant to the case.
Thus, inasmuch as the second reading—the novice was the one who had an emission—does no violence to the rest of the Vibhaṅga, it seems to be the preferable one. If this was the case that led the commentators to add their extra factor, we can see that they misread it and that the Vibhaṅga’s original definition for the factor of effort still stands: Any bodily effort made at one’s own body, at another body or physical object, at both, or any effort made in the air—like shaking one’s pelvis or stretching one’s body—fulfills the factor of effort here.
One case that does not fulfill the factor of effort, according to the Vinita-vatthu, is when one is filled with lust and stares at the private parts of a woman or girl. In the case dealing with this contingency, the bhikkhu emits semen, but again the Buddha does not ask whether he intended to. Instead, he lays down a separate rule, imposing a dukkaṭa for staring lustfully at a woman’s private parts. This suggests that efforts with one’s eyes do not count as bodily efforts under this saṅghādisesa rule, for otherwise the penalty would have been a saṅghādisesa if the bhikkhu had intended emission, and no offense—not a dukkaṭa—if he hadn’t. And this also suggests that the dukkaṭa under this separate rule holds regardless of intention or result. The Commentary adds that this dukkaṭa applies also to staring lustfully at the genitals of a female animal or at the area of a fully-clothed woman’s body where her sexual organ is, thinking, “Her sexual organ is there.” At present we would impose the penalty on a bhikkhu who stares lustfully at a woman’s private parts in a pornographic photograph.
As we will see under the non-offense clauses, there is no offense in a nocturnal emission. The Commentary, however, discusses the question of conscious efforts made prior to sleep aimed at a nocturnal emission, and arrives at the following verdicts: If a bhikkhu, “usurped” with lust while lying down, grabs his penis with his fist or thighs and drops off to sleep maintaining that position in hopes of inducing an emission, he incurs the full offense if the emission takes place. If, however, he suppresses his “lust-usurpation” by reflecting on the foulness of the body and then dozes off with a pure mind, he incurs no offense even if an emission later occurs. The analysis here seems to be that the bhikkhu’s change of mind would separate the emission from the earlier effort enough so that it would not be regarded as a direct result of that effort. The Sub-commentary adds that, in addition to suppressing the lust in his mind, he also has to discontinue his effort to be free of an offense in this way. And both texts have to be qualified by saying that the “no offense” would apply only to the emission, for the earlier intentional effort would incur a thullaccaya.
A special contingency covered by this rule occurs in two nearly identical cases in the Vinita-vatthu for Pr 1: A woman approaches a bhikkhu and offers to make him emit semen by attacking with her hand (§). In both cases the bhikkhu lets her go ahead, and the Buddha says that he incurs a saṅghādisesa in doing so. The commentaries treat the cases as self-evident and offer no extra details. Thus, given the facts as we have them, it would seem that consent under this rule can be expressed physically simply by letting the act happen. A bhikkhu who acquiesces mentally when someone tries and succeeds in making him emit semen is not absolved from the full offense here even if he otherwise lies perfectly still throughout the event.
As stated above, a bhikkhu who fulfills all three factors—result, intention, and effort—incurs a saṅghādisesa. One who fulfills only the last two—intention and effort—incurs a thullaccaya.
In discussing the case of a bhikkhu with fat thighs who develops an erection simply by walking along, the Commentary mentions that if one finds sensual “fever” arising in such a case, one must immediately stop walking and start contemplating the foulness of the body so as to purify the mind before continuing on one’s way. Otherwise, one would incur a thullaccaya simply for moving one’s legs. Sensual fever, here, probably refers to the desire to cause an emission, for there are several spots where the Commentary discusses bhikkhus who stimulate an erection simply for the enjoyment of the contact rather than to cause an emission, and the judgment is that they incur no penalty, even if an emission does inadvertently result.
Aside from the thullaccaya, the Vibhaṅga assigns no other derived offenses under this rule. A bhikkhu who has an ejaculation while thinking sensual thoughts but without making any physical effort to cause it, incurs no penalty regardless of whether the idea crosses his mind that he would like to have an emission, and regardless of whether he enjoys it when it occurs. However, the Commentary notes here that even though there is no offense involved, one should not let oneself be overcome by sensual thoughts in this way. This point is borne out by the famous simile that occurred to Prince Siddhattha before his Awakening and that later, as Buddha, he related to a number of listeners:
“‘Suppose there were a wet sappy piece of timber lying on dry ground far from water, and a man were to come along with an upper fire-stick, thinking, “I’ll light a fire. I’ll produce heat.” Now what do you think? Would he be able to light a fire and produce heat by rubbing the upper fire-stick in the wet sappy timber…?’
“‘No, Master Gotama. And why is that? Because the wood is wet and sappy, even though it is lying on dry ground far from water. The man would reap only his share of weariness and disappointment.’
“‘So it is with any brahman or contemplative who lives withdrawn from sensuality only in body, but whose desire, infatuation, urge, thirst, and fever for sensuality is not relinquished and stilled within him: Whether or not he feels painful, racking, piercing feelings due to his striving (for Awakening), he is incapable of knowledge, vision, and unexcelled self-awakening.’”—MN 36
In addition to the cases already mentioned—the bhikkhus who bring about emissions accidentally, not knowing that they are making an effort, not conscious that their efforts are bringing about an emission, whose efforts are motivated by a purpose other than that of causing an emission, or who without making any physical effort have an ejaculation while overcome by sensual thoughts—there is no offense for a bhikkhu who has an ejaculation while dreaming.
The Commentary notes that some interpreters had taken the idiomatic term in the rule translated as, “while dreaming (supinantā),” and read it as a compound meaning literally “at the end of a dream (supin’antā),” thus opening an allowance for intentional effort and emission when awakening from a soon-to-be-wet dream. However, the Commentary goes on to rule out this overly literal interpretation, stating that what happens in the mind while one is sleeping falls in the bounds of the Abhidhamma, but what happens after one awakens falls within the bounds of the Vinaya; and that there is no such thing as a misdeed performed when one is in a “non-negligible” state of mind that does not count as an offense. (Non-negligible, according to the Sub-commentary, means “normal.”)
In making the exception for what happens while asleep, the Buddha states that even though there may be the intention to cause an emission, it doesn’t count. The Commentary goes on to say, however, that if a bhikkhu fully awakens in the course of a wet dream, he should lie still and be extremely careful not to make a move that would fulfill the factor of effort under this rule. If the process has reached the point where it is irreversible and the ejaculation occurs spontaneously, he incurs no penalty regardless of whether he enjoys it. And as the Commentary quotes from the Kurundī, one of the ancient Sinhalese commentaries on which it is based, if he wakes up in the course of a wet dream and grabs hold of his penis to prevent the ejaculation from soiling his robes or bedding, there is no offense.
However, the Commentary’s two cases concerning nocturnal emissions, mentioned above, indicate that if a nocturnal emission occurs after a bhikkhu made a fully intentional effort toward an emission before falling asleep, he would incur the full offense under this rule unless the effort and intent were clearly stopped with a clear change of heart while he was still awake. This is because all three factors under this rule would be fully present: a conscious, unhesitating decision to cause an emission; a conscious effort based on that decision; and the resulting emission. Whether or not one was conscious while it occurred is of no account.
Summary: Intentionally causing oneself to emit semen, or getting someone else to cause one to emit semen—except during a dream—is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
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.
This rule has sometimes been viewed as a sign of prejudice against women. But, as the origin story makes clear, the Buddha formulated the rule not because women are bad, but because bhikkhus sometimes can be.
“Now at that time, Ven. Udāyin was living in the wilderness. His dwelling was beautiful, attractive, and appealing. The inner chamber was in the middle, entirely surrounded by the outer chamber. The bed and bench, the mattress and pillow were well arranged, the water for washing and drinking well placed, the surrounding area well swept. Many people came to look at it. Even a certain brahman together with his wife went to Ven. Udāyin and on arrival said, ‘We would like to look at your dwelling.’
“‘Very well then, brahman, have a look.’ Taking the key, unfastening the lock, and opening the door, he entered the dwelling. The brahman entered after Ven. Udāyin; the brahman lady after the brahman. Then Ven. Udāyin, opening some of the windows and closing others, walking around the inner room and coming up from behind, rubbed up against the brahman lady limb by limb.
“Then, after exchanging pleasantries with Ven. Udāyin, the brahman left. Delighted, he burst out with words of delight: ‘How grand are these Sakyan contemplatives who live in the wilderness like this! And how grand is Ven. Udāyin who lives in the wilderness like this!’
“When this was said, his wife said to him, ‘From where does he get his grandeur? He rubbed up against me limb by limb just the way you do!’
“So the brahman criticized and complained and spread it about: ‘They’re shameless, these bhikkhus—immoral, liars!… How can this contemplative Udāyin rub up against my wife limb by limb? It isn’t possible to go with your family wives, daughters, girls, daughters-in-law, and female slaves to a monastery or dwelling. If family wives, daughters, girls, daughters-in-law, and female slaves go to a monastery or dwelling, the Sakyan-son monks will molest them!’”
There are two ways in which a bhikkhu can come into contact with a woman: either actively (the bhikkhu makes the contact) or passively (the woman does). Because the Vibhaṅga uses different terms to analyze these two possibilities, we will discuss them separately.
The full offense for active contact here is composed of four factors.
1) Object: a living woman—“even one born on that very day, all the more an older one.” Whether she is awake enough to realize what is going on is irrelevant to the offense.
2) Perception: The bhikkhu correctly perceives her to be a woman.
3) Intention: He is impelled by lust.
4) Effort: He comes into physical contact with her.
Of these four factors, only two—intention and effort—require detailed explanation.
The Vibhaṅga explains the term overcome with lust as meaning “impassioned, desiring, a mind bound by attraction.” Altered, it says, can refer in general to one of three states of mind—passion, aversion, or delusion—but here it refers specifically to passion.
The Commentary adds a piece of Abhidhamma analysis at this point, saying that altered refers to the moment when the mind leaves its state of pure neutrality in the bhavaṅga under the influence of desire. Thus the factor of intention here can be fulfilled not only by a prolonged or intense feeling of desire, but also by a momentary attraction.
The Commentary also tries to limit the range of passion to which this rule applies, saying that it covers only desire for the enjoyment of contact. As we noted under Pr 1, the ancient commentators formulated a list of eleven types of lust, each mutually exclusive, and the question of which rule applies to a particular case depends on which type of lust provokes the bhikkhu’s actions. Thus if a bhikkhu lusting for intercourse touches a woman, it says, he incurs only a dukkaṭa as a preliminary to sexual intercourse under Pr 1. If he touches her through his lust for an ejaculation, he incurs a thullaccaya as a preliminary to causing an emission under Sg 1. Only if he touches her with the simple desire to enjoy the sensation of contact does he incur a saṅghādisesa under this rule.
This system, though very neat and orderly, flies in the face of common sense and, as we noted under Pr 1, contradicts the Vibhaṅga as well, so there is no need to adopt it. We can stick with the Vibhaṅga to this rule and say that any state of passion fulfills the factor of intention here. The Commentary’s discussion, though, is useful in showing that the passion needn’t be full-scale sexual lust. Even a momentary desire to enjoy the sensation of physical contact—overwhelming enough that one acts on it—is enough to fulfill this factor.
The Vibhaṅga illustrates the effort of making physical contact with a list of activities: rubbing, rubbing up against, rubbing downwards, rubbing upwards, bending down, pulling up, drawing to, pushing away, seizing hold (restraining or pinning down—abhiniggaṇhanā), squeezing, grasping, or touching. The Vinita-vatthu includes a case of a bhikkhu giving a woman a blow with his shoulder: He too incurs a saṅghādisesa, which shows that the Vibhaṅga’s list is meant to cover all similar actions as well. If a bhikkhu with lustful mind does anything of this sort to a living woman’s body, perceiving her to be a woman, he incurs the full penalty under this rule. As noted under Pr 1, mouth-to-mouth penetration with any human being or common animal would incur a thullaccaya. If this act is accompanied by other lustful bodily contact, the thullaccaya would be incurred in addition to any other penalty imposed here.
Each of the factors of an offense allows a number of permutations that admit for different classes of offenses. Taken together, they form a complex system. Here we will consider each factor in turn.
Assuming that the bhikkhu is acting with lustful intentions and is perceiving his object correctly, he incurs a thullaccaya for making bodily contact with a paṇḍaka, a female yakkha, or a dead woman; and a dukkaṭa for bodily contact with a man (or boy), a wooden doll, or a male or female animal.
Paṇḍaka is usually translated as eunuch, but eunuchs are only one of five types of paṇḍakas recognized by the Commentary to Mv.I.61:
1) An āsitta (literally, a “sprinkled one”)—a man whose sexual desire is allayed by performing fellatio on another man and bringing him to climax. (Some have read this as classing all homosexual males as paṇḍakas, but there are two reasons for not accepting this interpretation: (a) It seems unlikely that many homosexuals would allay their sexual desire simply by bringing someone else to climax through oral sex; (b) other homosexual acts, even though they were known in ancient India, are not included under this type or under any of the types in this list.)
2) A voyeur—a man whose sexual desire is allayed by watching other people commit sexual indiscretions.
3) A eunuch—one who has been castrated.
4) A half-time paṇḍaka—one who is a paṇḍaka only during the waning moon. (! — The Sub-commentary’s discussion of this point shows that its author and his contemporaries were as unfamiliar with this type as we are today. Perhaps this was how bisexuals were understood in ancient times.)
5) A neuter—a person born without sexual organs.
This passage in the Commentary further states that the last three types cannot take the Going-forth, while the first two can (although it also quotes from the Kurundī that the half-time paṇḍaka is forbidden from going-forth only during the waning moon (!).) As for the prohibition in Mv.I.61, that paṇḍakas cannot receive full ordination, the Commentary states that that refers only to those who cannot take the Going-forth.
However, in the context of this rule, and other rules in the Pāṭimokkha where paṇḍakas enter into the calculation of an offense, the Commentary does not say whether paṇḍaka covers all five types of paṇḍakas or only those not allowed to ordain. In other words, in the context of these rules do “sprinkled ones” and voyeurs count as paṇḍakas or men? In the context of this rule the practical implications of the distinction are minor: If counted as men, they would be grounds for a dukkaṭa; if paṇḍakas, grounds for a thullaccaya. However, under Pc 6, 44, 45, & 67, the distinction makes the difference between an offense and a non-offense, and so it is an important one to draw. There seems good reason to count them as men under all rules, for if they could ordain and yet were considered paṇḍakas under these rules, the texts would have been obliged to deal with the issue of how bhikkhus were to treat validly ordained paṇḍakas in their midst in the context of these rules. But they don’t. This shows that the issue never arose, which means that, for the purposes of all the rules, these two types of individuals count as men.
As for female yakkhas, the Commentary says that this also includes female devas. There is an ancient story in Chieng Mai of a bhikkhu who was visited by a dazzling heavenly maiden late one night while he was meditating alone in a cave at Wat Umong. She told him not to touch her, but he did—and went immediately out of his mind. The moral: This is one thullaccaya not to be taken lightly.
There is one exception to the dukkaṭa for lustful contact with an animal: Mv.V.9.3 states that a bhikkhu who touches the genitals of cattle incurs a thullaccaya.
Other information from the Commentary:
1) The thullaccaya for lustfully touching female corpses applies only to those that would be grounds for a full offense under Pr 1, i.e., those with an anal, oral, or genital orifice intact enough for one to perform the sexual act. Female corpses decomposed beyond that point are grounds for a dukkaṭa here.
2) The dukkaṭa for lustfully touching wooden dolls (mannequins) applies also to any female form made out of other materials, and even to any picture of a woman.
3) Female animals include female nāgas as well as any female offspring of a union between a human being and an animal.
For some reason, male yakkhas and devas slipped out of the list. Perhaps they should come under men.
The Vibhaṅga shows that misperception affects the severity of the offense only in the cases of women and paṇḍakas. A bhikkhu who makes lustful bodily contact with a woman while under the impression that she is something else—a paṇḍaka, a man, or an animal—incurs a thullaccaya. If he makes lustful bodily contact with a paṇḍaka while under the impression that the paṇḍaka is a woman, a man, or an animal, the penalty is a dukkaṭa. In the cases of men and animals, misperception has no effect on the severity of the case: Lustful bodily contact—e.g., with a male transvestite whom one thinks to be a woman—still results in a dukkaṭa.
The Vinita-vatthu contains cases of a bhikkhu who caresses his mother out of filial affection, one who caresses his daughter out of fatherly affection, and one who caresses his sister out of brotherly affection. In each case the penalty is a dukkaṭa.
A bhikkhu who strikes a woman—or anyone else—out of anger would be treated under Pc 74. Both under that rule and in the context of Passive Contact under this rule, below, a bhikkhu who strikes or otherwise touches a woman out of a desire to escape from her commits no offense.
Otherwise, the Vibhaṅga does not discuss the issue of bhikkhus who intentionally make active contact with women for purposes other than lust or affection—e.g., helping a woman who has fallen into a raging river—but the Commentary does. It introduces the concept of anāmāsa, things carrying a dukkaṭa penalty when touched; women and women’s clothing top the list. (See BMC2, Appendix V for the entire list.) It then goes into great detail to tell how one should behave when one’s mother falls into a raging river. Under no circumstances, it says, should one grab hold of her, although one may extend a rope, a board, etc., in her direction. If she happens to grab hold of her son the bhikkhu, he should not shake her off but should simply let her hold on as he swims back to shore.
Where the Commentary gets the concept of anāmāsa is hard to say. Perhaps it came from the practices of the brahman caste, who are very careful not to touch certain things and people of certain lower castes. At any rate, there is no direct basis for it in the Canon. Although the concept has received wide acceptance in Theravādin Communities, many highly respected Vinaya experts have made an exception right here, saying that there is nothing wrong in touching a woman when one’s action is based not on lust but on a desire to save her from danger. Even if there is an offense in doing so, there are other places where Buddhaghosa recommends that one be willing to incur a minor penalty for the sake of compassion (e.g., digging a person out of a hole into which he has fallen), and the same principle surely holds here.
The Vibhaṅga assigns no offense for touching a being other than a woman if one’s intentions are not lustful, although tickling is an offense under Pc 52.
Acts of lustful but indirect bodily contact with a woman one perceives to be a woman and a paṇḍaka one perceives to be a woman carry the following penalties:
For the woman: Using one’s body to make contact with an article connected to her body—e.g., using one’s hand to touch a rope or stick she is holding: a thullaccaya.
Using an item connected with one’s body to make contact with her body—e.g., using a flower one is holding to brush along her arm: a thullaccaya.
Using an item connected with one’s body to make contact with an item connected with her body: a dukkaṭa.
Taking an object—such as a flower—and tossing it against her body, an object connected with her body, or an object she has tossed: a dukkaṭa.
Taking hold of something she is standing or sitting on—a bridge, a tree, a boat, etc.—and giving it a shake: a dukkaṭa.
For the paṇḍaka one assumes to be a woman, the penalty in all the above cases is a dukkaṭa.
These penalties for indirect contact have inspired the Commentary to say that if a bhikkhu makes contact with a clothed portion of a woman’s body or uses a clothed portion of his body to make contact with hers, and the cloth is so thick that neither his body hairs nor hers can penetrate it, the penalty is only a thullaccaya because he is not making direct contact. Only if the contact is skin-to-skin, skin-to-hair, or hair-to-hair (as might be possible through thin cloth) does he commit the full offense. Thus a bhikkhu who fondles the breasts, buttocks, or crotch of a fully clothed woman would incur only a thullaccaya because the contact was indirect.
There is a certain logic to the commentators’ assertion here, but why they adopted it is unclear. Perhaps they drew a parallel to the following rule—concerning lustful remarks made to a woman—which also contains derived offenses for remarks directed at items “connected with the body.” In that case, defining connected with the body to include clothing worn by the woman does no violence to the nature of the activity covered by the rule, for it is possible to make remarks about a woman’s clothing without using words that touch on her body at all.
Here, however, the nature of the activity is different. If one pushes a woman, it does not matter how many layers of cloth lie between her body and one’s hand: One is pushing both the cloth and her. If one squeezes her fully clothed breasts, again, one is squeezing both the cloth and the breasts. To say that one is pushing or squeezing only the cloth is a denial of the true nature of the action. Also, if one stroked a woman’s fully clothed thigh, it is unlikely that the strength of her reaction would depend on whether her body hairs penetrated the cloth, or if one was wearing latex gloves that prevented her hair from touching one’s skin. Common linguistic usage reflects these facts, as does the law.
The question is, does the Vibhaṅga follow this common linguistic usage, and the answer appears to be Yes. In none of the Vinita-vatthu cases concerning physical contact with women does the Buddha ever ask the bhikkhu if he made contact with the clothed or unclothed portions of the woman’s body. This suggests that the question of whether she was clothed or unclothed is irrelevant to the offense. In one of the cases, “a certain bhikkhu, seeing a woman he encountered coming in the opposite direction, was impassioned and gave her a blow with his shoulder.” Now, bhikkhus sometimes have their shoulders bared and sometimes robed; women walking along a road may have different parts of their body clothed or bared. If the presence or absence of a layer or two of cloth between the bhikkhu’s shoulder and the woman’s body were relevant to the severity of the offense, then given the Buddha’s usual thoroughness in cases like this he would have asked about the amount, location, and thickness of clothing on both the bhikkhu and the woman, to determine if the offense was a dukkaṭa, a thullaccaya, or a saṅghādisesa. But he didn’t. He simply penalized the bhikkhu with a saṅghādisesa, which again suggests that the presence or absence of cloth between the bhikkhu and the woman is irrelevant in all cases under this rule.
The only cases of indirect contact mentioned in the Vinita-vatthu refer to contact of a much more remote sort: A bhikkhu pulls a cord of which a woman is holding the other end, pulls a stick of which she is holding the other end, or gives her a playful push with his bowl.
Thus in the context of this rule the Vibhaṅga defines “object connected to the body,” through which indirect contact is made, with examples of things that the person is holding. The Vinaya-mukha adds things that are hanging from the person, like the hem of a robe or a dress. In this context, contact made through cloth that the person is wearing would be classed as direct. This would parallel Pr 1, in which the question of whether there is anything covering either of the organs involved in intercourse is completely irrelevant to the offense. Thus the concept of direct and indirect contact here would seem to follow general linguistic usage: If a woman is wearing a long-sleeved shirt, for instance, grabbing her by the arm and grabbing her by the cuff of her shirt are two different things, and would receive different penalties under this rule.
According to the Vibhaṅga, if a bhikkhu feels desire for contact with a woman and makes an effort that does not achieve even indirect contact—e.g., making a squeezing motion in the air near one of her breasts—the penalty is a dukkaṭa.
The Vibhaṅga’s analysis of passive contact—when the bhikkhu is the object rather than the agent making the contact—deals with only a limited number of variables.
Either a woman the bhikkhu perceives to be a woman, or a paṇḍaka he perceives to be a woman.
The agent’s effort:
Any of the actions that fulfill the factor of effort for the full offense under active contact—rubbing, pulling, pushing, squeezing, etc.
The bhikkhu’s aim
The Vibhaṅga lists only two possibilities here: the desire to partake (of the contact) and the desire to escape (§). The Sub-commentary explains the first as desiring the pleasurable feeling of contact. It also states that if, in the course of receiving contact, one’s motives change from desiring contact to desiring escape, the second motive is what counts.
The bhikkhu either makes a physical effort or he doesn’t. The Commentary includes under this factor even the slightest physical movements, such as winking, raising one’s eyebrows, or rolling one’s eyes.
The bhikkhu either detects the contact or he doesn’t.
The most important factor here is the bhikkhu’s aim: If he desires to escape from the contact, then no matter who the person making the contact is, whether or not the bhikkhu makes an effort, or whether or not he detects the contact, there is no offense. The Vinita-vatthu gives an example:
“Now at that time, many women, pressing up to a certain bhikkhu, led him about arm-in-arm. He felt conscience-stricken…. ‘Did you consent, bhikkhu?’ (the Buddha) asked.
‘No, venerable sir, I did not.’
‘Then there was no offense, bhikkhu, as you did not consent.’”
The Commentary mentions another example, in which a bhikkhu not desiring the contact is molested by a lustful woman. He remains perfectly still, with the thought, “When she realizes I’m not interested, she’ll go away.” He too commits no offense.
However, if the bhikkhu desires the contact, then the Vibhaṅga assigns offenses as follows:
The agent is a woman, the bhikkhu makes an effort and detects contact: a saṅghādisesa. He makes an effort but detects no contact: a dukkaṭa. He makes no effort (e.g., he remains perfectly still as she grasps, squeezes, and rubs his body): no offense regardless of whether or not he detects contact. One exception here, though, would be the special case mentioned under “Consent” in the preceding rule, in which a bhikkhu lets a woman—or anyone at all, for that matter—make him have an emission and he incurs a saṅghādisesa under that rule as a result.
The agent is a paṇḍaka whom the bhikkhu perceives to be a woman, the bhikkhu makes an effort and detects contact: a dukkaṭa. He doesn’t detect contact: a dukkaṭa (this point is included in the PTS edition, but not in the Sri Lankan or the Thai). Other possibilities—detected contact but no effort, no effort and no detected contact: no offense.
Other derived offenses for passive contact
Other derived offenses for passive contact all deal with cases in which the bhikkhu desires contact and makes an effort. The variables focus on the agent, the agent’s effort, and the question of whether the bhikkhu detects contact or not, with the pattern of offenses following the pattern of derived offenses for active contact. In other words:
If the agent is a woman whom the bhikkhu perceives to be a woman, then if she makes an effort at the bhikkhu’s body using something connected to her body, and the bhikkhu detects contact: a thullaccaya. If she makes an effort at something connected to the bhikkhu’s body using her body, and the bhikkhu detects contact: a thullaccaya. If she makes contact at something connected to the bhikkhu’s body using something connected to her body, and the bhikkhu detects contact: a dukkaṭa. If, in any of these cases, the bhikkhu does not detect contact, the offense is a dukkaṭa.
If she tosses something at or on his body, something connected with his body, or something he has tossed, then the offense is a dukkaṭa regardless of whether he detects contact or not.
If the agent is a paṇḍaka whom the bhikkhu perceives to be a woman, the offense is a dukkaṭa in each of the above cases.
According to the Vibhaṅga, if a bhikkhu has lustful bodily contact with x number of people in any of the ways that constitute an offense here, he commits x number of offenses. For example, if he lustfully rubs up against two women in a bus, he incurs two saṅghādisesas. If, out of fatherly affection, he hugs his two daughters and three sons, he incurs two dukkaṭas for hugging his daughters and no penalty for hugging his sons.
The Commentary adds that if he makes lustful contact with a person x number of times, he commits x number of offenses. For instance, he hugs a woman from behind, she fights him off, and he strikes her out of lust: two saṅghādisesas.
The question of counting saṅghādisesas, though, is somewhat academic because the penalty for multiple offenses is almost identical with the penalty for one. The only difference is in the formal announcements in the community transactions that accompany the penalty—e.g., when the Community places the offender under probation, when he informs others bhikkhus of why he is under probation, etc. For more on this point, see the concluding section of this chapter.
There is no offense for a bhikkhu who makes contact with a woman—
unintentionally—as when accidentally touching a woman while she is putting food in his bowl;
unthinkingly—as when a woman runs into him and, startled, he pushes her away;
unknowingly—as when, without lust, he touches a tomboy he thinks to be a boy (this example is from the Commentary), when he doesn’t even know that he has run into a woman in a crowd, or when a woman touches him while he is asleep; or
when he doesn’t give his consent—as in the case of the bhikkhu led around arm-in-arm by a crowd of women.
For some reason, the non-offense clauses omit the non-offenses the Vibhaṅga lists under passive contact—i.e., there is no offense if:
the bhikkhu does not desire contact or
he does desire contact and yet makes no effort.
Summary: Lustful bodily contact with a woman whom one perceives to be a woman is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
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.
“Now at that time Ven. Udāyin was living in the wilderness. And on that occasion many women came to the monastery to look at his dwelling. They went to him and on arrival said to him, ‘Venerable sir, we would like to look at your dwelling.’ Then Ven. Udāyin, showing the dwelling to the women and referring to their genital and anal orifices, praised and criticized and begged and implored and asked and quizzed and advised and instructed and insulted them. Those of the women who were brazen, mischievous, and shameless giggled along with Ven. Udāyin, coaxed him on, laughed aloud, and teased him; while those of the women who had a sense of shame complained to the bhikkhus as they left: ‘It’s improper, venerable sirs, and unbecoming! Even by our husbands we wouldn’t want (to hear) this sort of thing said, much less by Master Udāyin.’”
The K/Commentary, summarizing the Vibhaṅga’s discussion, lists five factors for a full breach of this rule.
1) Object: a woman, i.e., any female human being experienced enough to know what is properly said and improperly said, what is lewd and not lewd.
2) Perception: The bhikkhu perceives her to be a woman.
3) Intention: He is impelled by lust. As in the preceding rule, we can take the Commentary’s definition of lust here as the minimum amount of lust to fulfill this factor: He wants to enjoy saying something lewd or improper.
4) Effort: He makes remarks praising, criticizing, begging, imploring, asking, quizzing, advising, instructing, or insulting with reference to her genitals or anus, or to her performing sexual intercourse.
5) Result: The woman immediately understands.
The only factors requiring detailed explanation here are object, intention, effort, and result.
As the Commentary notes, a woman who does not know what is properly and improperly said, what is lewd and not lewd, may either be too young to know or, if she is an adult, too innocent or retarded to know. A woman who does not know the language in which one is speaking would also not fulfill the factor of object here.
The minimum level of desire required to fulfill this factor means that this rule covers cases where a bhikkhu simply gets a charge out of referring to a woman’s genitals, etc., in her presence, without necessarily having any desire actually to have sex with her.
The Vibhaṅga makes clear that this rule does not cover statements made in anger. Thus any insults a bhikkhu may direct at a woman out of anger rather than out of desire—even if they refer to her genitals, etc.—would come under Pc 2, rather than here.
The Vibhaṅga states that to incur the full penalty here when speaking to a woman, one must refer to her genitals, anus, or performing sexual intercourse (§).
The Commentary goes further and asserts that to incur the full penalty one must make direct mention of one of these three things, or accuse her of being sexually deformed in a way that refers directly to her genitals. Otherwise, if one refers lustfully to these matters without directly mentioning them, there is no saṅghādisesa, although the Sub-commentary quotes ancient texts called the Gaṇṭhipadas as assigning a dukkaṭa for such an act.
However, these assertions from the commentaries contradict the Vibhaṅga. After listing the ways of referring to the woman’s anus, genitals, and sexual intercourse that would entail the full penalty under this rule, it illustrates them with examples. Many of the examples, although referring to the woman’s private parts or to her performing sexual intercourse, do not actually mention those words: “How do you give to your husband?” “How do you give to your lover?” “When will your mother be reconciled (to our having sex)?” “When will you have a good opportunity?” Although all of these statements refer to sexual intercourse, and people in those days would have understood them in that light, none of them actually mentions it.
Thus the Vibhaṅga’s examples indicate that if a bhikkhu is using slang expressions, euphemisms, or indirect statements to refer lustfully to the woman’s private parts or to her performing sexual intercourse, he fulfills this factor. There is no need for the euphemisms to be well known. If the speaker intends it as a reference to the forbidden topics, that fulfills the factor of effort. If his listener understands it as such, that fulfills the factor of result. Whether anyone else understands it as such is irrelevant to the offense.
The K/Commentary notes that a hand gesture denoting the genitals, anus, or sexual intercourse of the person to whom it is directed would fulfill the factor of effort here as well.
None of the texts mention the case in which a bhikkhu talks to one person about another person’s private parts, etc. Thus it is apparently not an offense.
The K/Commentary insists that the factor of result is fulfilled only if the woman immediately understands. As the Vibhaṅga points out, if she does not understand, the bhikkhu incurs a lesser offense, which will be discussed below. If she understands only later, that does not turn the lesser offense into a saṅghādisesa. The examples from the Vinita-vatthu indicate that the woman’s immediate understanding can be known by her immediate response to one’s comments.
The factors of effort, object, perception, and result, taken together, yield a number of permutations to which the Vibhaṅga assigns lesser offenses. As for the permutations of intention, see the section on non-offenses, below.
A bhikkhu speaks to a woman he perceives to be a woman and refers lustfully to parts of her body—aside from her private parts—below her collarbones and above her knees, such as her breasts, buttocks, or thighs: a thullaccaya. He refers to parts of her body outside of that area, such as her face or hairdo, or to clothing or jewelry she is wearing: a dukkaṭa.
A bhikkhu speaks to a paṇḍaka (in this and the following cases we are assuming that he perceives his object correctly) and refers lustfully to his private parts or to his performing sexual intercourse: a thullaccaya (§). He refers lustfully to other parts of the paṇḍaka’s body, his clothing, etc.: a dukkaṭa (§).
A bhikkhu speaks to a man (or boy) and refers lustfully to any part of his listener’s body, clothing, etc.: a dukkaṭa (§). The same penalty holds for speaking lustfully to an animal—e.g., a nāga—about his/her body, ornaments, etc. (§).
For some reason the PTS edition of the Canon omits these derived offenses related to object under this rule. The Burmese and Sri Lankan editions are non-committal on the topic, for the relevant paragraphs are filled with ellipses that have been read in two ways. The PTS edition of the K/Commentary reads the ellipses as including the thullaccaya and dukkaṭa for speaking lustfully to a paṇḍaka, but not the dukkaṭas for speaking lustfully to a man or animal. The editors of the Thai edition of the Canon have interpreted the parallelism with the similar paragraph in Sg 2 as indicating that “man” and “animal” would come under the ellipses, and so have included these cases in the text. This interpretation closes an important loophole and thus seems the more correct, so I have followed it here.
None of the texts make any mention of speaking lustfully to a woman/girl too inexperienced to understand what is and is not lewd. Using the Great Standards, though, we might argue from the cases included in the Vinita-vatthu—where bhikkhus make punning references to women’s private parts, and the women do not understand—that a bhikkhu incurs a thullaccaya for referring directly to her genitals, anus, or performing sexual intercourse in her presence, and a dukkaṭa for referring indirectly in her presence to such things.
A bhikkhu speaking to a woman whom he perceives to be something else—a paṇḍaka, a man, an animal—incurs a thullaccaya if he refers lustfully to her genitals, anus, or performing sexual intercourse. If he is speaking to a paṇḍaka, a man, or an animal he misperceives—e.g., he thinks the paṇḍaka is a woman, the man is a paṇḍaka, the animal is a man—he incurs a dukkaṭa if he refers lustfully to those topics (§). (Again, the PTS edition omits most of the cases in this last sentence and includes only the case of a bhikkhu speaking lustfully to a paṇḍaka he perceives to be a woman; the Thai edition seems more correct in including the remaining cases as well.)
As mentioned above, the Vinita-vatthu contains a number of cases where bhikkhus speaking to women make punning references to the women’s genitals that the women do not understand. In one case the penalty is a thullaccaya; in the others, a dukkaṭa. The Commentary takes no note of the difference; the Sub-commentary notes it but has trouble making sense of it. In fact, it maintains that the bhikkhu in the thullaccaya case should receive a thullaccaya if the woman does understand his pun, which—given the explicit nature of the pun—makes no sense at all.
There is, however, a pattern to the Vinita-vatthu cases. The thullaccaya case is the only one in which the bhikkhu actually mentions a word for genitals or anus (magga, which also means road, the meaning the woman understood). In the dukkaṭa cases, bhikkhus either use euphemisms for sexual intercourse (“plowing,” “working”) or else they make statements in which the words genitals or anus are implied but not actually stated. From this pattern we can argue that if a bhikkhu speaking to a woman makes direct reference to her genitals or anus, and the woman doesn’t immediately understand that he is referring to those things, he incurs a thullaccaya. If he makes a euphemistic reference to sexual intercourse or an implied reference to her genitals or anus, and she doesn’t immediately understand what he is referring to, he incurs a dukkaṭa.
A bhikkhu making a remark of the sort covered by this rule to x number of people commits x number of offenses, the type of offense being determined by the factors discussed above. Thus for a lustful remark to two women referring to their breasts, he would incur two thullaccayas; for a lustful remark to three men concerning their bodies, three dukkaṭas; for teasing a group of twenty old ladies about how their time for sexual performance is past, twenty saṅghādisesas.
The Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense for a bhikkhu who speaks aiming at (spiritual) welfare (attha—this can also mean the “meaning of the Dhamma”), aiming at Dhamma, or aiming at teaching. Thus, for example, if one is talking in front of women and has no lustful intent, one may recite or explain this training rule or go into detail on the topic of the loathsomeness of the body as a topic of meditation, all without incurring a penalty. The Commentary here adds an example of a bhikkhu addressing a sexually deformed woman, telling her to be heedful in her practice so as not to be born that way again. If, however, one were to broach any of these topics out of a desire to enjoy saying something lewd to one’s listeners, one would not be immune from an offense. The New K/Sub-commentary illustrates this point with an example: A bhikkhu, teaching the Vibhaṅga of this rule to a bhikkhunī, departs from a normal tone of voice and keeps sniggering while reciting the examples of lewd speech. This sort of behavior, it says, incurs the full offense here.
A bhikkhu who without intending to be lewd makes innocent remarks that his listener takes to be lewd commits no offense.
Summary: Making a lustful remark to a woman about her genitals, anus, or about performing sexual intercourse is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu, overcome by lust, with altered mind, speak in the presence of a woman in praise of ministering to his own sensuality thus: “This, sister, is the foremost ministration, that of ministering to a virtuous, fine-natured follower of the celibate life such as myself with this act”—alluding to sexual intercourse—it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
“Now at that time a certain woman, a widow, was beautiful, attractive, and appealing. So Ven. Udāyin, dressing (§) early in the morning, taking his robe and bowl, went to her residence. On arrival, he sat on an appointed seat. Then the woman went to him and, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As she was sitting there, Ven. Udāyin instructed, urged, roused, and encouraged her with a talk on Dhamma. Then the woman—instructed, urged, roused, and encouraged with Ven. Udāyin’s talk on Dhamma—said to him, ‘Tell me, venerable sir, what I would be capable of giving you that you need: Robe-cloth? Almsfood? Lodgings? Medicines for the sick?’
“‘Those things aren’t hard for us to come by, sister…. Give just what is hard for us to come by.’
“‘What, venerable sir?’
“‘Is it a need, venerable sir?’
“‘A need, sister.’
“‘Then come, venerable sir.’ Entering into an inner room, taking off her cloak, she lay back on a bed. Then Ven. Udāyin went to the woman and, on arrival, said, ‘Who would touch this vile, stinking thing?’ And he departed, spitting.
“So the woman criticized and complained and spread it about… ‘How can this monk Udāyin, when he himself begged me for sexual intercourse, say, “Who would touch this vile, stinking thing?” and depart spitting? What’s evil about me? What’s stinking about me? In what am I inferior to whom?’”
At first glance this rule might seem redundant with the preceding one, for what we have here is another case of a bhikkhu advising, begging, or imploring a woman to perform sexual intercourse. The Sub-commentary, borrowing the Commentary’s classification of types of lust, states that the rules differ in terms of the lust involved. According to it, only the desire to say something lewd would fall under the preceding rule; only the desire for sexual intercourse would fall here. However, as we have seen, the Commentary’s neat system for classifying desires contradicts some important passages in the Vibhaṅga, and so the Sub-commentary’s explanation has no ground on which to stand.
A more likely explanation for the need for this rule derives from some facts about language and belief in the Buddha’s time that might have led some people to feel that the behavior in the origin story here was a special case not covered by the preceding rule. To prevent this sort of misunderstanding, it gets separate treatment under this rule.
“Giving,” in the Buddha’s time, was a common euphemism for having sex. If a woman “gave” to a man, that meant that she willingly engaged in sexual intercourse with him. Now, Buddhism was not the only religion of the time to teach that gifts—of a more innocent sort—given to contemplatives produced great reward to those who gave them, and ultimately somebody somewhere came up with the idea that because sex was the highest gift, giving it to a contemplative would produce the highest reward. Whether this idea was first formulated by faithful women or by clever contemplatives is hard to say. Several cases in the Vinita-vatthu to Pr 1 tell of bhikkhus approached or attacked by women professing this belief, which shows that it had some currency: Sex was somehow seen as a way to higher benefits through the law of kamma.
Because the preceding rule gives exemptions for bhikkhus speaking “aiming at (spiritual) welfare (attha), aiming at Dhamma,” some misguided souls who did not comprehend the Buddha’s teachings on sensuality might believe that welfare of this sort might fit under the exemption. The origin story alludes to this point in a punning way, in that the word for “need” is also attha, and perhaps the widow, in using the word, had both its meanings in mind: Her spiritual welfare would be enhanced by meeting a bhikkhu’s needs. Even today, although the rationale might be different, there are people who believe that having sex with spiritual teachers is beneficial for one’s spiritual well being. Thus we have this separate rule to show that the Buddha would have no part in such a notion, and that a bhikkhu who tries to suggest that his listener would benefit from having sex with him is not exempt from an offense.
The K/Commentary lists five factors for the full offense here, but only four of them have a basis in the Vibhaṅga: object, perception, intention, and effort.
A woman experienced enough to know what is properly or improperly said, what is lewd and not lewd.
The bhikkhu perceives her to be a woman.
He is impelled by lust. According to the K/Commentary, this means he is lustful for his listener to minister to his desire for sexual intercourse. However, the Vibhaṅga defines overcome with lust here in the same broad terms it uses under Sg 2 & 3. This suggests that the factor of intention here can be fulfilled simply by the desire to enjoy making such remarks in a woman’s presence—say, getting a charge out of testing her reaction, which appears to have been Ven. Udāyin’s impulse in the origin story—regardless of how one feels about actually having sex with her.
The bhikkhu speaks to the woman in praise of her ministering to his sensual needs, referring to sexual intercourse as a meritorious gift. The Commentary maintains that his remarks must directly mention sexual intercourse for this factor to be fulfilled, but the examples in the rule itself and in the Vibhaṅga contradict its assertion. Some of the examples in the Vibhaṅga state simply, “This is foremost. This is best. This is the utmost. This is highest. This is excellent.” These statements are followed by the explanation that they have to allude to or be connected with sexual intercourse. It does not say that the allusion has to be explicit.
Also, the Vinita-vatthu contains a number of cases in which bhikkhus simply tell women to give the highest gift, sexual intercourse—and one in which a bhikkhu simply tells a woman that sexual intercourse is the highest gift—without explicitly saying to whom it should be given. The bhikkhus all earn saṅghādisesas for their efforts, which shows that the reference to oneself need not be explicit, either.
Both the Commentary and the K/Commentary state that a physical gesture—this would include writing a letter—can fulfill the factor of effort here as well.
The K/Commentary adds result as a fifth factor, saying that the woman must immediately understand one’s remark, but there is no basis for this in the Canon.
The only factors with permutations leading to lesser offenses are object and perception.
A bhikkhu, correctly perceiving his object and impelled by lust, makes such a remark to a paṇḍaka: a thullaccaya. To a man or animal: a dukkaṭa (§). (As under the preceding rule, the PTS edition of the Canon omits all of these cases, and the K/Commentary omits the man and the animal. The Burmese and Sri Lankan editions of the Canon put the relevant passages in ellipses; the Thai edition seems to be correct in mentioning all of these cases explicitly.)
A bhikkhu, impelled by lust, makes such a remark to a woman he perceives to be something else—a paṇḍaka, man, or animal: a thullaccaya. To a paṇḍaka, a man, or an animal he perceives to be something else: a dukkaṭa (§). (Again, as under the preceding rule, the PTS edition omits most of the cases in this last sentence, including only the case of a bhikkhu speaking lustfully to a paṇḍaka he perceives to be a woman; the Thai edition seems more correct in including the remaining cases as well.)
Offenses are counted by the number of people to whom one makes such a remark.
The non-offense clauses in the Vibhaṅga, in addition to the blanket exemptions mentioned under Pr 1, read simply: “There is no offense if he speaks saying, ‘Support us with the requisites of robe-cloth, almsfood, lodgings, or medicines for the sick.’” The K/Commentary explains this as meaning that if one is motivated by a sensual desire for robe-cloth, etc., one may speak to a potential donor in praise of giving these things. In other words, given this sort of desire, this sort of statement is allowable. From this interpretation it can be argued that when a bhikkhu is speaking without any lust or sensual desire of any sort, he may make any of the remarks that would fulfill the factor of effort here in the presence of others without incurring an offense. A prime example would be when, while explaining this rule, he quotes examples of the remarks it forbids.
Summary: Telling a woman that having sexual intercourse with a bhikkhu would be beneficial is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
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.
There are two factors for a full offense under this rule: effort and object.
The Commentary says that to engage in conveying means to take on the role of a go-between. This includes helping to arrange not only marriages and affairs but also “momentary associations” that, from the way it describes them, could include anything from appointments with a prostitute to arrangements for X to be Y’s date.
The Vibhaṅga sets the component factors of a go-between’s role at three:
1) accepting the request of one party to convey a proposal;
2) inquiring, i.e., informing the second party and learning his/her/their reaction; and
3) reporting what one has learned to the first party.
The penalties for these actions are: a dukkaṭa for performing any one of them, a thullaccaya for any two, and a saṅghādisesa for the full set of three. Thus a bhikkhu acting on his own initiative to sound out the possibility of a date between a man and a woman would incur a thullaccaya for inquiring and reporting. A bhikkhu planning to disrobe who asks a woman if she would be interested in marrying him after his return to lay life would incur a dukkaṭa for inquiring. If, on the way to inquire about a woman after accepting a man’s request to inquire about her, a bhikkhu asks people along the way of her whereabouts, that does not count as inquiring. If he goes no further in acting as a go-between, he incurs only a dukkaṭa.
The penalties are the same if the bhikkhu, instead of acting as a go-between himself, gets someone else to act for him. Thus a bhikkhu who agrees to convey such a proposal but then gets a lay follower or another bhikkhu to do the inquiring and reporting would incur a saṅghādisesa all the same.
If a bhikkhu agrees to a man’s request to inquire about a woman, gets his student (§) to do the inquiring, and then the student of his own accord reports to the man, both the original bhikkhu and his student—assuming that he, too, is a bhikkhu—incur thullaccayas.
If a group of bhikkhus are asked to act as go-betweens and they all accept, then even if only one of them performs any or all of the actions of a go-between, all the bhikkhus in the group incur the penalty for his actions.
“Result” is not a factor here, so the Commentary mentions that whether the arrangements succeed has no bearing on the offense.
“Intention” is also not a factor, which leads the Sub-commentary to raise the issue of a man who writes his proposal in a letter and then, without disclosing the contents, gets a bhikkhu to deliver it. Its conclusion, though, is that this case would not qualify as an offense under this rule, in that both the Vibhaṅga and the Commentary define the action of conveying as “telling”: Only if the bhikkhu himself tells the proposal—whether repeating it orally, making a gesture, or writing a letter—does he commit an offense here. Simply carrying a letter, not knowing its contents, would not fulfill the factor of effort under this rule.
The full offense is for acting as a go-between between a man and a woman who are not married to each other. If, instead of dealing directly with the man and woman, one deals with people speaking on their behalf (their parents, a pimp), one incurs the full penalty all the same.
There is no offense for a bhikkhu who tries to effect a reconciliation between an estranged couple who are not divorced, but a full offense for one who tries to effect a reconciliation between a couple who are. “Perception” is also not a factor here, which inspires the Commentary to note that even an arahant could commit an offense under this rule if he tried to effect a reconciliation between his parents whom he assumed to be separated when they were actually divorced.
Elsewhere, in its discussion of the five precepts, the Commentary includes couples who live as husband and wife without having gone through a formal ceremony under its definition of married, and the same definition would seem to apply here.
The Vibhaṅga assigns a thullaccaya for acting as a go-between for a paṇḍaka; according to the Commentary, the same penalty applies for acting as a go-between for a female yakkha or peta (!).
The Vibhaṅga states that, in addition to the usual exemptions, there is no offense if a bhikkhu conveys a message from a man to a woman or vice versa dealing with “business of the Community, of a shrine, or of a sick person.” The Commentary illustrates the first two instances with cases of a bhikkhu conveying a message dealing with construction work for the Community or a shrine; and the third with a case where a bhikkhu, acting on behalf of a fellow bhikkhu who is sick, is sent by a male lay follower to a female lay follower for medicine.
The Sub-commentary adds that any similar errand—i.e., not involving any sort of romantic liaison—is also exempt from penalty as long as it is not a form of subservience to lay people (see Sg 13, below).
Summary: Acting as a go-between to arrange a marriage, an affair, or a date between a man and a woman not married to each other is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
When a bhikkhu is having a hut built from (gains acquired by) his own begging (§)—having no sponsor and destined for himself—he is to have it built to the standard measurement. Here the standard is this: twelve spans, using the sugata span, in length (measuring outside); seven in width, (measuring) inside. Bhikkhus are to be assembled to designate the site. The site the bhikkhus designate should be without disturbances and with adequate space. If the bhikkhu should have a hut built from his own begging on a site with disturbances and without adequate space, or if he should not assemble the bhikkhus to designate the site, or if he should have the standard exceeded, it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
“At that time the bhikkhus of Āḷavī were having huts built from their own begging—having no sponsors, destined for themselves, not to any standard measurement—that did not come to completion. They were continually begging, continually hinting: ‘Give a man, give labor, give an ox, give a wagon, give a knife, give an ax, give an adze, give a hoe, give a chisel, give rushes, give bamboo, give reeds, give grass, give clay.’ People, harassed with the begging, harassed with the hinting, on seeing bhikkhus would feel apprehensive, alarmed, would run away; would take another route, face another direction, close the door. Even on seeing cows, they would run away, imagining them to be bhikkhus.”
There are three factors for a full offense under this rule.
Effort: One completes, or gets someone else to complete, through begging for its materials,
Object: a hut that exceeds the standard mentioned in the rule or whose site has not been designated by the Community.
Intention: One intends the hut for one’s own use.
We will discuss these factors in reverse order.
The Canon repeatedly refers to two arrangements for the ownership of dwellings used by bhikkhus: They belong either to the Community or to an individual (or group of individuals). From the point of view of Community governance, the prior arrangement is preferable, for the Community can then allot the dwelling as it sees fit (see BMC2, Chapter 18). Also, a number of the rules governing the care and use of huts—such as Pc 15, 16, & 17—apply only to dwellings belonging to the Community.
The Vibhaṅga to this rule defines destined for himself as “for his own use.” On the surface this could mean that one plans to use the hut after handing ownership over to the Community, but the Commentary states that this is not so. To dedicate something for one’s own use, it says, is to claim ownership over it: In this case, one regards the dwelling as “mine.” The Commentary’s position is supported by the protocols followed by the lodging claim-giver and lodging assignor (see BMC2, Chapter 18) in allotting dwellings belonging to the Community: Outside of the Rains-residence, a bhikkhu could be moved from a Community dwelling at any time; during the Rains-residence, the bhikkhu who built a particular dwelling might find himself unable to stay there because many bhikkhus with more seniority or more pressing needs had decided to spend the Rains in that location. Thus if a bhikkhu planned the dwelling for his own use, he would not want it to be subject to the protocols governing Community dwellings.
The Commentary’s interpretation thus suggests that this rule and the following one were intended to discourage bhikkhus from maintaining ownership over the huts they build, for as the non-offense clauses state, the stipulations in this rule do not apply to huts built for the use of others. As the Commentary notes, this exemption applies both to huts built for other people—such as one’s preceptor or mentor—or for the Community. This would open a loophole for one to build a hut for another bhikkhu and for him to claim ownership over it independently of the Community, all without following the stipulations under the rules, but apparently the compilers of the Vibhaṅga did not regard the act of building a hut as a gift for another bhikkhu as something they had the right to forbid.
This factor is divided into two main sub-factors: the hut and the procedures that need to be followed to get the Community’s permission for its construction.
The hut. The Vibhaṅga defines a hut as “plastered inside, outside, or both.” It also states that this rule does not apply to a leṇa, a guhā, or to a grass hut. A leṇa, according to the Commentary, is a cave. A guhā it doesn’t define, except to say that guhās may be built out of wood, stone, or earth. And as for a grass hut, the Commentary says that this refers to any building with a grass roof, which means that even a dwelling with plastered walls but a grass roof would not count as a hut under this rule (although a hut whose roof has been plastered and then covered with grass would count as a hut here).
The Commentary goes on to stipulate that the plastering mentioned in the Vibhaṅga refers to a plastered roof, that the plaster must be either clay or white lime (plastering with cow dung or mud doesn’t count, although cement would probably come under “white lime” here), and that the plastering on the inside or outside of the roof must be contiguous with the plastering on the inside or outside of the walls. Thus if the builder leaves a gap in the plastering around the top of the wall so that the plastering of the roof and the plastering of the walls don’t touch at any point, the building doesn’t qualify as a hut and so doesn’t come under the rule.
The Sub-commentary treats the question raised by the Commentary’s emphasis on the plastering of the roof: Does this mean that a dwelling with a plastered roof but unplastered walls would also count as a hut? Arguing from the Commentary’s many references to making the roof-plastering contiguous with the wall-plastering, the Sub-commentary concludes that the answer is No: Both the roof and the walls must be plastered.
The commentaries’ stipulations on these points may seem like attempts to create gaping loopholes in the rule, but there is nothing in the Vibhaṅga to prove them wrong. Perhaps in those days only buildings that were fully plastered, roof and all, were considered to be finished, permanent structures, while everything else was considered makeshift and temporary and thus not worth the fuss and bother of the procedures we will discuss below.
At another point in its discussions, the Commentary adds that any building three sugata spans wide or less is not big enough to move a bed around in and so does not count as a hut under this rule. The Commentary itself defines a sugata span as three times the span of a normal person, which would put it at approximately 75 cm. More recent calculations based on the fact that the Buddha was not abnormally tall set the sugata span at 25 cm.
The maximum size of the hut, as the rule states, is no more than twelve spans long and seven spans wide, or approximately 3 x 1.75 meters. For some reason the Vibhaṅga states that the length of the hut is measured from the outside (excluding the plastering, says the Commentary), while the width is measured from the inside. Neither of these measurements may be exceeded even by the breadth of a hair. Thus a hut measuring ten by eight spans, even though it has less floor area than a twelve-by-seven-span hut, would exceed the standard width and so would be a violation of this rule.
The procedures. If, for his own use, a bhikkhu is planning to build a hut as defined in this rule, he must choose a site, clear it, and ask for a Community to inspect and approve it before he can go ahead with the actual construction.
—The site must be free of disturbances and have adequate space.
The Vibhaṅga gives a long list of “disturbances,” which for ease of understanding we can divide into three categories: A site free of disturbances is (1) not the abode of such creatures as termites, ants, or rats who might do harm to the building. (2) It is not the abode of those—such as snakes, scorpions, tigers, lions, elephants, or bears—who might do harm to its inhabitant. The Commentary states that the Vibhaṅga’s purpose in forbidding a bhikkhu from building on a site where termites and other small animals have their home is to show compassion to these and other small creatures like them by not destroying their nests. As for the stipulation against building where snakes and other dangerous animals live, this also extends, it says, to the areas where they regularly forage for food.
(3) The site is not near any places that will disturb the bhikkhu’s peace and quiet. Examples given in the Vibhaṅga are: fields, orchards, places of execution, cemeteries, pleasure groves, royal property, elephant stables, horse stables, prisons, taverns, slaughterhouses, highways, crossroads, public rest-houses, and meeting places.
Adequate space means that there is enough room on the site for a yoked wagon or a man carrying a ladder to go around the proposed hut. The question arises as to whether this means that all trees within that radius of the hut must be cut down or simply that there must be enough land around the hut so that if the trees were not there it would be possible to go around the hut in the ways mentioned. The Sub-commentary states that the stipulation for adequate space is so that the hut will not be built on the edge of a precipice or next to a cliff wall, and the Vinaya-mukha notes that the Vibhaṅga here is following the Laws of Manu (an ancient Indian legal text) in ensuring that the dwelling not be built right against someone else’s property. Both of these statements suggest that there is no need to cut the trees down.
The Vinaya-mukha deduces further from the Vibhaṅga’s discussion that the procedures for getting the site approved are concerned basically with laying claim to unclaimed land and thus don’t need to be followed in locations where the Community already owns the land, such as in a monastery; if a bhikkhu in such Communities wishes to build a hut for his own use on monastery land, he need only get the approval of the abbot. Nothing in the ancient texts, however, supports this opinion.
—Clearing the site. Before notifying the local Community, the bhikkhu must get the site cleared—so says the Vibhaṅga, and the Commentary adds that he should get it leveled as well. In both cases, he should arrange to have this done in such a way that does not violate Pc 10 & 11. If one is planning to build the hut on monastery grounds, the wise policy would be to obtain permission from the abbot before clearing the site. Again, the question arises as to whether clearing the site means cutting down the trees on the spot where one proposes building the hut. In the origin story to the following rule, Ven. Channa caused an uproar by cutting down a venerated tree on a site where he planned to build, which led the Buddha to formulate the rule that the Community must inspect and approve the site to prevent uproars of this sort. This suggests that clearing the site here means clearing the underbrush so that the presence or absence of termites, etc., can be clearly determined. Only after the Community has approved the site should the necessary trees be cut down.
—Getting the site inspected. The bhikkhu then goes to the Community and formally asks them to inspect the site. (The Pali passages for this and the remaining formal requests and announcements are in the Vibhaṅga.) If all the members of the Community are able to go and inspect the site, they should all go. If not, the Community should select some of its members to go and inspect the site in its stead. The Vibhaṅga says that these inspectors should know what does and does not constitute a disturbance and adequate space, and requires that they be chosen by a formal motion with one announcement. The Commentary says that they may also be chosen by a simple declaration (apalokana), but this opinion violates the principle set forth in Mv.IX.3.3 that if a shorter form is used for a transaction requiring a longer form, the transaction is invalid. Thus the Commentary’s opinion here cannot stand.
The inspectors then visit the site. If they find any disturbances or see that the site has inadequate space, they should tell the bhikkhu not to build there. If the site passes inspection, though, they should return and inform the Community that the site is free of disturbances and has adequate space.
—Getting the site approved. The bhikkhu returns to the Community and formally asks it to approve the site. The transaction statement involves a motion and one announcement. Once this has passed, the bhikkhu may start construction.
Offenses. The Vibhaṅga allots the penalties related to the factor of object—a hut without a sponsor, for one’s own use, built without regard for the stipulations in this rule—as follows:
an oversized hut—a saṅghādisesa;
a hut on an unapproved site—a saṅghādisesa;
a hut on a site without adequate space—a dukkaṭa;
a hut on a site with disturbances—a dukkaṭa.
These penalties are additive. Thus, for example, an oversized hut on an unapproved site would entail a double saṅghādisesa.
The wording of the training rule, though, suggests that building a hut without a sponsor, for one’s own use, on a site with disturbances and without adequate space would entail a saṅghādisesa; but the Sub-commentary says—without offering explanation—that to read the rule in this way is to misinterpret it. Because the penalty for a multiple saṅghādisesa is the same as that for a single one, there is only one case where this would make an appreciable difference: a hut of the proper size, built on an approved site that has disturbances or does not have adequate space. This is a case of a Community transaction improperly performed: Either the bhikkhus inspecting the site were incompetent, or the disturbances were not immediately apparent. Because the usual penalty for improperly performing a Community transaction is a dukkaṭa (Mv.II.16.4), this may be why the Vibhaṅga allots penalties as it does. As we noted in the Introduction, in cases where the Vibhaṅga is explaining the training rules that deal with Community transactions, it sometimes has to deviate from the wording of the rules to bring them in line with the general pattern for such transactions, a pattern that was apparently formulated after the rules and came to take precedence over them.
Usually, if a Community transaction has been improperly performed, it is invalid and unfit to stand even if the bhikkhus involved think that they are following the proper procedure. In other words, in the case just mentioned, the site would strictly speaking not count as approved, and the hut would involve a saṅghādisesa. However, the Vibhaṅga seems to be making a special exemption here in assigning only a dukkaṭa, perhaps so as not to punish unduly a bhikkhu who went to all the trouble to follow, as best he and his fellow bhikkhus knew how, the proper procedures prior to building his hut.
The Vibhaṅga allots the derived penalties related to the factor of effort under this rule as follows: If the hut is such that when finished it will entail a saṅghādisesa or two, each act in its construction entails a dukkaṭa, until the next to the last act, which entails a thullaccaya.
If a bhikkhu, intending it for his own use, completes a hut that others have started, he is still bound by the stipulations given in this rule. In other words, the offenses here do not apply only to the original initiator of the hut’s construction.
The Commentary mentions a special case in which two bhikkhus, building a hut for their own use but not to the stipulations under this rule, complete it without having decided which part of the hut will go to which bhikkhu. Because of their indecision, the Commentary states that neither of them incurs the full offense until he has laid claim to his part of the hut.
Getting others to build the hut. The Vibhaṅga states that if, instead of building the hut himself, a bhikkhu tells others, “Build this hut for me,” he must inform them of the four stipulations mentioned in this rule. If he neglects to inform them, and they finish the hut in such a way that it does not meet any or all of the stipulations, he incurs all the relevant offenses for the stipulations that he neglected to mention and that the builders violated. For example: He tells them to build a hut of the right size, but neglects to tell them to have the site approved. They build it to the right size, the site is without disturbances and has adequate space but is not approved, and he incurs a saṅghādisesa. Offenses in cases like this apply whether he gets them to start the hut’s construction or gets them to complete a hut that he has started.
If, while the builders are still building the hut, he hears of what they are doing, he must either go himself or send a messenger to tell them of the stipulations he neglected to mention. If he does neither, he incurs a dukkaṭa, and when the hut is finished he incurs all the relevant offenses for the stipulations that he neglected to mention and that the builders violated.
If, while the hut is still unfinished, he returns to the site and discovers that the stipulations he neglected to mention are being violated, he must either have the hut torn down (to the ground, says the Commentary) and have it rebuilt in line with the stipulations, give it to another bhikkhu or the Community, or face the full penalty—when the hut is finished—for each of the stipulations that he neglected to mention and that the builders violated.
If the bhikkhu originally mentions the proper stipulations but later learns that the builders are ignoring them, he must go himself or send a messenger to reiterate the stipulations. Not to do so incurs a dukkaṭa. If, having been reminded of the stipulations, the builders still ignore them, the bhikkhu incurs no penalty; but they—if they are bhikkhus—incur a dukkaṭa for each of the three criteria regarding the site that they disobey. As for the standard measurement, they are not bound by it as they are building the hut for another’s use.
The Vibhaṅga to this rule does not go into any great detail on the issue of begging for construction materials. However, the Commentary contains a long discussion of what a bhikkhu may and may not beg for when building any kind of building, even those not covered by this rule. Because the Commentary’s discussion here is not based on the Canon, not all Communities regard these points as binding. Still, many of its suggestions merit serious consideration. Its main points are these:
A bhikkhu may ask for people to give labor in any situation (although this point seems to conflict with the spirit of the origin story to this rule). Thus he may ask stone masons to carry stone posts to his construction site, or carpenters to carry boards there. If, after he has asked them to help with the labor, they volunteer to donate the materials as well, he may accept them without penalty. Otherwise, he has to reimburse them for the materials.
As for tools, vehicles, and other things he will use in the process of construction, he may ask only to borrow them from other people and may not ask for them outright (except when asking from relatives or those who have made an offer). If the tools get damaged, he is responsible for getting them repaired before returning them to the owner. (This opinion, however, seems based on the Commentary’s concept of bhaṇḍadeyya, which we have already rejected under Pr 2.) The only things he needn’t return to the owner are light articles (lahubhaṇḍa), which the Sub-commentary identifies as things like reeds, rushes, grass, and clay—i.e., things having little or no monetary value at all.
This means that unless a bhikkhu is going to build his dwelling out of reeds, etc., or out of thrown-away scraps, he may not ask people in general for any of the materials that will actually go into the dwelling. Keep in mind that these rules were made during a period when wilderness was still plentiful, and solid building materials such as timber and stones were free for the taking. At present, unless a bhikkhu has access to unclaimed wilderness of this sort, to unclaimed garbage, or has enough funds on deposit with his steward (see NP 10) to cover the cost of materials, his only recourse if he wants a solid structure is either to rammed earth or to hinting.
The Commentary notes that while hinting is not allowed with regard to food or cloth, it is allowed with regard to construction materials (although again, this point seems to conflict with the spirit of the origin story). One example it gives is asking, “Do you think this is a good place to build a hut? An ordination hall?” Another example is staking out a construction site in hope that someone will ask, “What are you planning to do here?” If people get the hint and offer the materials, the bhikkhu may accept them. If they don’t, he may not ask directly for any materials except the “light articles” mentioned above.
From this it should be obvious that even in cases not covered by this rule—i.e., the dwelling he is building doesn’t qualify as a “hut,” or he is building something for other people to use—a bhikkhu engaged in construction work should not be burdensome to the laity. This is an important point, as the Buddha illustrated in a story he told to the bhikkhus at Āḷavī. A certain bhikkhu had once come to him with a complaint, and he reports the conversation as follows:
“‘Venerable sir, there is a large stand of forest on the slopes of the Himalayas, and not far from it is a broad, low-lying marsh. A great flock of birds, after feeding all day in the marsh, goes to roost in the forest at nightfall. That is why I have come to see the Blessed One—because I am annoyed by the noise of that flock of birds.’
“‘Bhikkhu, do you want those birds not to come there?’
“‘Yes, venerable sir, I want them not to come there.’
“‘Then in that case, go back there, enter the stand of forest, and in the first watch of the night make this announcement three times: “Listen to me, good birds. I want a feather from everyone roosting in this forest. Each of you give me one feather.” In the second watch…. In the third watch of the night make this announcement three times: “Listen to me, good birds. I want a feather from everyone roosting in this forest. Each of you give me one feather”…. (The bhikkhu did as he was told.) Then the flock of birds, thinking, ‘The bhikkhu asks for a feather, the bhikkhu wants a feather,’ left the forest. And after they were gone, they never again returned. Bhikkhus, begging is unpleasant, hinting is unpleasant even to these common animals—how much more so to human beings?”
The Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clauses mention, in addition to the usual exemptions, that there is no offense “in a leṇa, in a guhā, in a grass hut, in (a dwelling) for another’s use, or in anything other than a dwelling.” The Commentary explains that no offense here means that these cases are not subject to any of the four stipulations given in this rule. With regard to “another’s use,” it says that this could mean a dwelling that will belong to another individual—such as one’s preceptor or mentor—or to the Community. As for the last case, it explains that if a bhikkhu is building, e.g., a meeting hall, he is not bound by this rule, but if he plans to lay claim to it and use it as his dwelling as well, he is.
Further restrictions and allowances
Summary: 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 saṅghādisesa offense. Building a plastered hut—or having it built—without a sponsor, destined for one’s own use, exceeding the standard measurements, is also a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
When a bhikkhu is having a large dwelling built—having a sponsor and destined for himself—he is to assemble bhikkhus to designate the site. The site the bhikkhus designate should be without disturbances and with adequate space. If the bhikkhu should have a large dwelling built on a site with disturbances and without adequate space, or if he should not assemble the bhikkhus to designate the site, it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
The Vibhaṅga defines dwelling here with the same terms it uses for hut in the preceding rule. All explanations for this rule may be inferred from those above, the only difference being that, as the dwelling here has a sponsor, no begging is involved in its construction and so there is no need to limit its size.
None of the texts define sponsor aside from the Vibhaṅga’s statement that the sponsor can be a man or a woman, a householder or one gone forth. The Pali term for “sponsor” here, sāmika, can also mean “owner,” and this has led some to suggest that this rule covers only those cases where the donor maintains ownership over the dwelling even after the bhikkhu has finished it. This, however, would create a serious gap in the rules. Suppose a donor offers to provide all the materials for a bhikkhu to build himself a large hut and to hand ownership of the hut over to the bhikkhu when it is finished as well. This is an extremely common case, and yet it would not be covered by the preceding rule, for that rule deals only with instances where the bhikkhu has to beg for his materials. If sāmika under this rule were confined to the restrictive sense of “owner” given above, the case would not be covered by this rule, either.
There is evidence in the Canon, though, that the word sāmika can have another meaning aside from “owner.” The non-offense clauses to NP 10 use the word sāmika to describe a person who creates a robe-fund for a bhikkhu but does not retain ownership of the robe once it has been given to the bhikkhu, and it seems reasonable to use the word in the same sense under this rule as well. Thus a sponsor here would be anyone—man or woman, ordained or not—who underwrites the cost of building a hut in such a way that the bhikkhu does not have to beg for his materials. Thus if a bhikkhu building a hut for his own use draws entirely on funds deposited with his steward for all materials and labor, the case would come under this rule as well.
Given the way the Commentary defines destined for oneself, if the sponsor maintained ownership of the finished hut, the case would not fall under this rule. If a sponsor is building a dwelling to give to a bhikkhu, and the bhikkhu is not involved in any way in building it or getting it built, this rule does not apply.
Summary: Building a hut with a sponsor—or having it built—destined for one’s own use, without having obtained the Community’s approval, is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu—corrupt, aversive, disgruntled—charge a bhikkhu with an unfounded case entailing defeat, (thinking), “Perhaps I may bring about his fall from this celibate life,” then regardless of whether or not he is cross-examined on a later occasion, if the issue is unfounded and the bhikkhu confesses his aversion, it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
“Now at that time a householder who served fine food gave food to the Community on a regular basis, four bhikkhus every day…. (One day) he happened to go on some business to the monastery. He went to Ven. Dabba Mallaputta and on arrival bowed down to him and sat to one side…. Ven. Dabba Mallaputta roused… him with a Dhamma talk. Then the householder with fine food… said to Dabba Mallaputta, ‘To whom, venerable sir, is tomorrow’s meal in our house assigned?’
“‘…To (the) followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja (§), householder.’ [Mettiya and Bhummaja were among the leaders of the group-of-six bhikkhus—so called because the group had six ringleaders—a faction notorious for its shameless behavior, and instigators of many of the situations that compelled the Buddha to formulate training rules.]
“This upset the householder with fine food. Thinking, ‘How can these evil bhikkhus eat in our house?’ he returned home and ordered his female slave, ‘Hey. Those who are coming for a meal tomorrow: Prepare a seat for them in the gatehouse and serve them unhusked rice porridge with pickle brine.’
“‘As you say, master,’ the female slave answered….
“Then the followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja said to one another, ‘Yesterday we were assigned a meal at the house of the householder with fine food. Tomorrow, attending with his wives and children, he will serve us. Some will offer rice, some will offer curry, some oil, and some condiments.’ Because of their joy, they didn’t sleep as much that night as they had hoped.
“Early the next morning… they went to the home of the householder with fine food. The female slave saw them coming from afar. On seeing them, and having prepared them a seat in the gatehouse, she said to them, ‘Have a seat, honored sirs.’
“The thought occurred to the followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja, ‘No doubt the food isn’t ready yet, which is why we’re being made to sit in the gatehouse.’
“Then the female slave presented them with unhusked rice porridge with pickle brine and said, ‘Eat, honored sirs.’
“‘Sister, we’re the ones here for the regular meal.’
“‘I know you’re the ones here for the regular meal. But yesterday the householder ordered me, “Hey. Those who are coming for a meal tomorrow: Prepare a seat for them in the gatehouse and serve them unhusked rice porridge with pickle brine.” So eat, honored sirs.’
“Then the followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja said to one another, ‘Yesterday the householder with fine food went to the monastery and met with Dabba Mallaputta. No doubt Dabba Mallaputta turned him against us.’ Because of their disappointment, they didn’t eat as much as they had hoped.
“Then… they returned to the monastery and, putting away their robes and bowls, went outside the monastery gatehouse and sat with their outer robes holding up their knees (§)—silent, abashed, their shoulders drooping, their heads down, brooding, at a loss for words.
“Then Mettiyā Bhikkhunī approached them… and said to them, ‘I salute you, masters.’ But when she had said this, they didn’t respond. A second time… A third time she said, ‘I salute you, masters.’ And a third time they didn’t respond.
“‘Have I offended you, masters? Why don’t you respond to me?’
“‘Because you, sister, look on impassively while Dabba Mallaputta treats us like dirt.’
“‘What can I do?’
“‘If you want, you could get the Blessed One to expel Dabba Mallaputta right this very day.’
“‘What can I do? How could I do that?’
“‘Come, sister. Go to the Blessed One and say this: “It is unfitting, venerable sir, and improper. The quarter without dread, without harm, without danger, is (now) the quarter with dread, with harm, with danger. From where there was a calm, there is (now) a storm-wind. The water, as it were, is ablaze. I have been raped by Master Dabba Mallaputta.”’
“‘As you say, masters.’ (And she went to carry out their bidding.)”
This is just the heart of the origin story to this rule, which is one of the longest and most controversial accounts in the Vinaya. After Mettiyā Bhikkhunī made her charge, the Buddha convened a meeting of the Saṅgha to question Ven. Dabba Mallaputta. The latter, who had attained arahantship at the age of seven, responded truthfully that he could not call to mind ever having indulged in sexual intercourse even in a dream, much less when awake. The Buddha then told the Saṅgha to expel Mettiyā Bhikkhunī and to interrogate (§) her instigators, after which he returned to his quarters. When the bhikkhus had expelled her, the followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja told them, “Friends, don’t expel Mettiyā Bhikkhunī. She hasn’t done anything wrong. She was instigated by us, who were upset, dissatisfied, and wanted to see him fall.”
“‘You mean you were charging Ven. Dabba Mallaputta with an unfounded case entailing defeat?’
“So the bhikkhus criticized and complained and spread it about, ‘How can the followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja charge Ven. Dabba Mallaputta with an unfounded case entailing defeat?’”
In the centuries after the Canon was composed, however, many people have criticized and complained more about the Buddha’s treatment of Mettiyā Bhikkhunī. According to the Commentary, her expulsion was one of the controversial points dividing the bhikkhus in the Abhayagiri Vihāra from those in the Mahāvihāra in the old Sri Lankan capital of Anurādhapura. Even modern scholars have objected to the Buddha’s treatment of Mettiyā Bhikkhunī and interpret this passage as a “monkish gloss,” as if the Buddha himself were not a monk, and the entire Canon not the work of monks and nuns. The Commentary maintains that the Buddha acted as he did because he knew if he treated her less harshly, the followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja would never have volunteered the information that they had put her up to making the charge in the first place, and the truth would never have come out. This would have led some people to remain secretly convinced of Ven. Dabba Mallaputta’s guilt and—because he was an arahant—would have been for their long-term detriment and harm.
At any rate, what concerns us here is that at some point after this rule was formulated, the Buddha put the Saṅgha in charge of judging accusations of this sort and gave them a definite pattern to follow to ensure that their judgments would be as fair and accurate as possible. Because the Vibhaṅga and Commentary to this rule are based on this pattern, we will discuss the pattern first before dealing with the special case—unfounded charges—covered by this rule.
As the Buddha states in Sg 12, one of the ways bhikkhus may hope for growth in his teachings is through mutual admonition and mutual rehabilitation. If a bhikkhu commits an offense, he is responsible for informing his fellow bhikkhus so that they may help him through whatever procedures the offense may entail. Human nature being what it is, there are bound to be bhikkhus who neglect this responsibility, in which case the responsibility falls to the offender’s fellow bhikkhus who know of the matter to admonish him in private, if possible, or—if he is stubborn—to make a formal charge in a meeting of the Community.
The pattern here is this: Before admonishing the bhikkhu, one must first make sure that one is qualified to admonish him. According to Cv.IX.5.1-2, this means knowing that:
1) One is pure in bodily conduct.
2) One is pure in verbal conduct.
3) One is motivated by good will, not vindictiveness.
4) One is learned in the Dhamma.
5) One knows both Pāṭimokkhas (the one for the bhikkhus and the one for the bhikkhunīs) in detail.
Furthermore, one determines that:
1) I will speak at the right time and not at the wrong time.
2) I will speak about what is factual and not what is unfactual.
3) I will speak gently and not harshly.
4) I will speak what is connected with the goal (attha) and not what is unconnected with the goal (this can also mean: what is connected with the case and not what is unconnected with the case).
5) I will speak from a mind of good will and not from inner aversion.
Cv.IX.5.7 and Pv.XV.5.3 add that one should keep five qualities in mind: compassion, solicitude for the other’s welfare, sympathy, a desire to see him rehabilitated, and esteem for the Vinaya.
If one feels unqualified in terms of these standards yet believes that another bhikkhu has committed an offense for which he has not made amends, one should find another bhikkhu who is qualified to handle the charge and inform him. Not to inform anyone in cases like this is to incur a pācittiya or a derived offense under Pc 64, except in the extenuating circumstances discussed under that rule.
The next step, if one is qualified to make the charge, is to look for a proper time and place to talk with the other party—for example, when he is not likely to get embarrassed or upset—and then to ask his leave, i.e., to ask permission to speak with him: “Let the venerable one give me leave. I want to speak with you—Karotu āyasmā okāsaṁ. Ahan-taṁ vattukāmo.” To accuse him of an offense without asking leave is to incur a dukkaṭa (Mv.II.16.1).
As for the other party, he may give leave, or not, depending on his assessment of the individual asking for leave, for it is possible that someone might ask for leave without any real grounds, simply to be abusive. (This interpretation follows the Burmese edition on the relevant passage, Mv.II.16.3. In other editions, the same passage says that one is allowed to make another bhikkhu give leave after having assessed him. However, in the context of the allowance—some group-of-six bhikkhus ask leave of bhikkhus they know are pure—there seems no need to allow a bhikkhu to reflect on whether the person he plans to accuse might be pure. That is one of the accuser’s duties, as enforced by the present rule along with the following rule, Pc 76, and another passage in Mv.II.16.3. As for the case of asking leave of someone who might prove abusive, that is already covered in Mv.II.16.2, which says that even after another bhikkhu has given leave, one should assess him before leveling a charge against him. Thus, in context, the Burmese reading makes more sense: Having been asked to give leave, one is allowed to assess the person making the request before giving him leave to speak. If we did not follow the Burmese reading here, there would be no allowance in the Vibhaṅga or the Khandhakas not to give leave to an abusive accuser.) A bhikkhu who asks for leave with no grounds—i.e., he has not seen the other party commit the offense, has heard no reliable report to that effect, and has no reason to suspect anything to that effect—incurs a dukkaṭa (Mv.II.16.3).
Pv.XV.4.7 gives further support to the Burmese reading here by suggesting that one should not give leave to a bhikkhu who:
1) is unconscientious,
2) is ignorant,
3) is not in regular standing (e.g., he is undergoing penance for a saṅghādisesa offense or has been placed under a disciplinary transaction),
4) speaks intent on creating a disturbance, or
5) is not intent on rehabilitating the bhikkhu he is accusing.
Pv.XV.5.4 suggests further that one should not give leave to a bhikkhu who:
1) is not pure in bodily conduct,
2) is not pure in verbal conduct,
3) is not pure in his livelihood,
4) is incompetent and inexperienced, or
5) is unable to give a consistent line of reasoning when questioned.
If the bhikkhu is not unqualified in any of these ways, though, one should willingly give him leave to speak. Cv.IX.5.7 says that, when being admonished or accused, one should keep two qualities in mind: truth and staying unprovoked. The Pāṭimokkha also contains a number of rules imposing penalties on behaving improperly when one is being admonished formally or informally: Sg 12 for being difficult to admonish in general, Pc 12 for being evasive or refusing to answer when being formally questioned (see below), Pc 54 for being disrespectful to one’s accuser or to the rule one is being accused of breaking, and Pc 71 for finding excuses for not following a particular training rule.
If both sides act in good faith and without prejudice, accusations of this sort are easy to settle on an informal basis. If an accusation can’t be settled informally, it should be taken to a meeting of the Community so that the group as a whole may pass judgment. The procedures for this sort of formal meeting will be discussed under the aniyata and adhikaraṇa-samatha rules. If the issue is to be brought up at a Community meeting for the uposatha, there are extra procedures to be followed, which are discussed in BMC2, Chapter 15. If the issue is to be brought up at the Invitation at the end of the Rains, the procedures to be followed are discussed in BMC2, Chapter 16.
Abuse of the system
As shown in the origin story to this rule, a bhikkhu making a charge against another bhikkhu might be acting out of a grudge and simply making up the charge. This rule and the following one cover cases where the made-up charge is that the other bhikkhu has committed a pārājika. Pc 76 covers cases where the made-up charge is that he has broken a less serious rule.
The full offense under this rule involves four factors.
1) Object: The other bhikkhu is regarded as ordained.
2) Perception: One perceives him to be innocent of the offense one is charging him with.
3) Intention: One wants to see him expelled from the Saṅgha.
4) Effort: One makes an unfounded charge in his presence that he is guilty of a pārājika offense.
The definition of this factor—the other bhikkhu is regarded as ordained—may sound strange, but it comes from the K/Commentary, which apparently extended the principle expressed in the factor of perception, explained below, that if one perceives the bhikkhu as innocent of the charge one is making, the fact of whether he is actually innocent is irrelevant to the offense under this rule. In the same way, the K/Commentary seems to be reasoning, if one perceives the bhikkhu to be a bhikkhu, the fact of whether he is actually a bhikkhu is irrelevant to this offense. The K/Commentary makes this point for a reason: In normal cases the object of this rule will be an innocent bhikkhu, but there may be cases where a bhikkhu has actually committed a pārājika offense that no one knows about; instead of disrobing, he acts as if he were still a bhikkhu, and everyone else assumes that he still is. Yet even a “bhikkhu” of this sort would fulfill this factor as far as this rule is concerned.
For example, Bhikkhu X steals some of the monastery funds, but no one knows about it, and he continues to act as if he were a bhikkhu. Bhikkhu Y later develops a grudge against him and makes an unfounded charge that he has had sexual intercourse with one of the monastery supporters. Even though X is not really a bhikkhu, the fact that people in general assume him to be one means that he fulfills this factor.
If one perceives the bhikkhu one is charging with a pārājika offense to be innocent of the offense, that is enough to fulfill this factor regardless of whether the accused is actually innocent or not. To make an accusation based on the assumption or suspicion that the accused is not innocent entails no offense.
The wording of the training rule suggests that this factor would have to be fulfilled by impulse—aversion—together with motive—desiring the other bhikkhu’s expulsion—but the Vibhaṅga consistently conflates these two sub-factors under motive. Thus all that is needed to fulfill this factor is the desire to see the other bhikkhu expelled. If one’s motive is simply to insult him, the Vibhaṅga says that one’s actions would come under Pc 2. If one’s motive is both to see him expelled and to insult him, one incurs both a saṅghādisesa and a pācittiya. The texts do not explicitly mention this point, but it would appear that if one has a strange sense of humor and is making the false charge as a joke with no intention of being insulting or taken seriously, one’s actions would come under Pc 1.
According to the Vibhaṅga, confessing one’s aversion simply means admitting that the charge was empty or false. Thus the level of malice impelling one’s desire to see the other bhikkhu expelled need not be severe: If one wants to see him expelled just for the fun of it, that would fulfill the factor of intention here.
The act covered by this rule is that of making an unfounded charge of a pārājika in the accused’s presence. Whether one makes the charge oneself or gets someone else to make it, the penalty is the same. If that “someone else” is a bhikkhu and knows the charge is unfounded, he too incurs the full penalty.
The Vibhaṅga defines an unfounded charge as one having no basis in what has been seen, heard, or suspected. In other words, the accuser has not seen the accused committing the offense in question, nor has he heard anything reliable to that effect, nor is there anything in the accused’s behavior to give rise to any honest suspicion.
Seeing and hearing, according to the Commentary, also include the powers of clairvoyance and clairaudience one may have developed through meditation. Thus if one charges X with having committed a pārājika offense on the basis of what one has seen clairvoyantly, this would not be an unfounded charge, although one should be careful to make clear from the very beginning what kind of seeing the charge is based on.
The Vibhaṅga adds that if there is some basis in fact, but one changes the status of the evidence, the penalty is the same. Changing the status means, e.g., saying that one saw something when in actuality one simply heard about it or suspected it, or that one saw it clearly when in actuality one saw it indistinctly.
An example from the Commentary: Bhikkhu X goes into a grove to relieve himself. Ms. Y goes into the same grove to get something there. One sees them leaving the grove at approximately the same time—which could count as grounds for suspicion—but one then accuses Bhikkhu X, saying that one actually saw him having sex with Ms. Y. This would count as an unfounded charge. Another example: In the dark of the night, one sees a man stealing something from the monastery storehouse. He looks vaguely like Bhikkhu Z, but one can’t be sure. Still, one firms up one’s accusation by saying that one definitely saw Z steal the item. Again, this would count as an unfounded charge.
The Commentary states that for an unfounded charge to count under this rule, it must state explicitly (a) the precise act the accused supposedly committed (e.g., having sexual intercourse, getting a woman to have an abortion) or (b) that the accused is guilty of a pārājika, or (c) that the accused is no longer a true bhikkhu. If one simply says or does something that might imply that the accused is no longer a bhikkhu—e.g., refusing to show him respect in line with his seniority—that does not yet count as a charge.
The Commentary adds that charging a bhikkhu with having committed an equivalent or derived pārājika, as discussed in the conclusion to the preceding chapter, would fulfill this factor as well. For instance, if one makes an unfounded charge accusing Bhikkhu A of having killed his father before his ordination, that would constitute a full offense here. The Vibhaṅga makes no mention of these equivalent pārājikas under this rule, but the Great Standards can be used to justify their inclusion here.
All of the charges given as examples in the Vibhaṅga are expressed directly to the accused—“I saw you commit a pārājika offense,” “I heard you commit a pārājika offense”—and the Commentary concludes from this that the full offense occurs only when one makes the charge in the accused’s presence, in line with the pattern for admonition discussed above. To make an unfounded charge behind the accused’s back, it states, incurs a dukkaṭa.
There is nothing in the Vibhaṅga to indicate that the Commentary is wrong here, aside from the consideration that—because the charge is unfounded—it could entail a pācittiya for deliberate lying. Some people, however, have objected to the Commentary’s position here, saying that a dukkaṭa or even a pācittiya is a very light penalty for backhanded character assassination. Nevertheless, we should remember that the correct procedures for making an accusation require that an earnest charge be made in the presence of the accused. If a bhikkhu spreads gossip about another bhikkhu, accusing him of having committed a pārājika, he should be asked whether he has taken up the matter with the accused. If he hasn’t, he should be told to speak to the accused before he speaks to anyone else. If he says that he doesn’t feel qualified or that he fears the accused will retaliate, he should be told to take the matter up with the bhikkhus who will be responsible for calling a meeting of the Community. If he refuses to do that, he shouldn’t be listened to.
For some reason, the Commentary maintains that a charge made in writing does not count, although a charge made by gesture—e.g., pointing at the accused when one is asked who committed the pārājika—does. Perhaps in those days written charges were regarded as too cowardly to take seriously.
The rule seems to require that the accuser confess that he was acting out of depraved impulses, although the Vibhaṅga states that this means simply that he admits the charge was a lie. The Commentary states further that here the rule is showing the point where the rest of the Community knows that the bhikkhu making the charge is guilty of a saṅghādisesa: He actually committed the offense when he made the charge.
The K/Commentary adds “result” as a further factor to the offense under this rule, saying that the accused must immediately understand the charge—but nothing in the Vibhaṅga supports this added factor.
Whether anyone actually believes the charge is not a factor here.
If one understands the accused to be guilty of a pārājika and accuses him honestly on the basis of what one has seen, heard, or suspected, then—regardless of whether he is guilty or not—one has not committed an offense. Even in a case such as this, though, one incurs a dukkaṭa if making the charge without asking leave of the accused, and a pācittiya if making the charge so as to insult him.
Summary: Making an unfounded charge to a bhikkhu that he has committed a pārājika offense, in hopes of having him disrobed, is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu—corrupt, aversive, disgruntled—using as a mere ploy an aspect of an issue that pertains otherwise, charge a bhikkhu with a case entailing defeat, (thinking), “Perhaps I may bring about his fall from this celibate life,” then regardless of whether or not he is cross-examined on a later occasion, if the issue pertains otherwise, an aspect used as a mere ploy, and the bhikkhu confesses his aversion, it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
“At that time the followers of Mettiya and Bhummaja, descending from Vulture Peak Mountain, saw a billy-goat copulating with a nanny-goat. Seeing them, they said, ‘Look here, friends, let’s name this billy goat Dabba Mallaputta, and this nanny goat Mettiyā Bhikkhunī. Then we’ll phrase it like this: “Before, my friends, we accused Dabba Mallaputta on the basis of what we had heard, but now we have seen him with our very own eyes fornicating with Mettiyā Bhikkhunī!”’”
Some grudges die hard. This rule is almost identical with the preceding one and involves the same factors except for one of the sub-factors under “Effort”: “Unfounded charge” here becomes “a charge based on an issue (adhikaraṇa) that pertains otherwise.” The phrase sounds strange, but the origin story gives a perfect example of what it means.
The precise difference between the two rules is this: With an unfounded charge, one has neither seen, heard, nor suspected that an offense has been committed; or if one has, one changes the status of the evidence—e.g., one states something one has suspected as if one has heard it, or something one has heard as if one has seen it. In a charge based on an issue that pertains otherwise, one has seen an action that would be an offense if committed by a bhikkhu, and one does not change the status of the evidence, but one distorts the facts of the case.
The Vibhaṅga lists ten factors that can be used as a ploy in distorting the facts this way. They are: birth (caste), name, clan (family name), physical characteristics, offenses, bowl, robe, preceptor, mentor, lodging. Given the way in which the Vibhaṅga illustrates these factors in action, they fall into two classes: (1) offenses and (2) the remaining nine factors.
1) An example of using an offense as a ploy: One sees Bhikkhu Y actually committing an offense. Although one perceives it as a lesser offense, one magnifies the charge to a pārājika. For instance, one sees him get into an argument with Bhikkhu Z and in a fit of anger give Z a blow to the head. Z goes unconscious, falls to the floor, and suffers a severe concussion resulting in death. Because Y’s intention was simply to hurt him, not to kill him, he incurs only a pācittiya. If one realizes the nature of Y’s intention and the fact that the penalty is a pācittiya, and yet accuses him of having committed a pārājika, one would incur a saṅghādisesa under this rule. For ease of remembrance, this use of a ploy can be called “same person, different offense.”
2) An example of using any of the other nine factors as a ploy: X, who may or may not be a bhikkhu, has something in common with Bhikkhu Y—they are both tall, short, dark, fair, share the same name, are students of the same preceptor, live in the same dwelling, use similar looking bowls or robes, etc. One sees X committing an action that, if he were a bhikkhu, would amount to a pārājika offense; on the basis of the similarity between the two, one claims to have seen Bhikkhu Y committing a pārājika. For instance, X and Y are both very tall. Late at night one sees X—knowing that it is X—stealing tools from the monastery storeroom. One has a grudge against Y and so accuses him of being the thief, saying, “I saw this big tall guy stealing the tools, and he looked just like you. It must have been you.” For ease of remembrance, this use of a ploy can be called “same offense, different person.”
None of the texts mention the scenario of a double ploy—i.e., “different person, different offense”—but from the way the Vibhaṅga defines an issue that pertains otherwise, a double ploy would fit the definition as well. In other words, if—having seen X engage in lustful contact with a woman—one then accuses Bhikkhu Y, who shares the same family name with X, of engaging in sexual intercourse with the woman, the case would apparently come under this rule.
A case that would not come under this rule is one based on seeing or hearing Y commit an action that bears some resemblance to an offense but is actually not. For instance, one overhears him teaching Vinaya to some new bhikkhus and quoting, by way of illustration, a few of the statements that would count as claims of superior human states. Because this does not constitute an offense, there is no issue (adhikaraṇa) pertaining otherwise that can be used as a ploy. In shorthand terms, this would count as “same person, no offense.” If, realizing the context, one later accuses him of having violated Pr 4, the accusation would count as an unfounded charge and so would come under the preceding rule.
The remaining explanations for this rule are exactly the same as those for the preceding rule, except that in the non-offense clauses the Vibhaṅga states that if one makes a charge—or gets someone else to make a charge—against the accused based on what one actually perceives, there is no offense even if the issue turns out to pertain otherwise. For instance, from the examples already given: One sees X stealing tools in the dark and, because of his resemblance to Y, actually thinks Y is the thief. One sees Y give a fatal blow to Z and actually thinks that Y’s intention was to kill Z. In either of these cases, if one then accuses Y of a pārājika offense, one incurs no penalty regardless of how the case comes out, although—as under the preceding rule—one should be careful to ask Y’s leave before making the charge and to have no intention of insulting him.
Summary: Distorting the evidence while accusing a bhikkhu of having committed a pārājika offense, in hopes of having him disrobed, is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu agitate for a schism in a united Community, or should he persist in taking up an issue conducive to schism, the bhikkhus are to admonish him thus: “Do not, venerable sir, agitate for a schism in a united Community or persist in taking up an issue conducive to schism. Let the venerable one be reconciled with the Community, for a united Community, on courteous terms, without dispute, with a common recitation, dwells in peace.”
And should that bhikkhu, thus admonished by the bhikkhus, persist as before, the bhikkhus are to rebuke him up to three times for the sake of relinquishing that. If while being rebuked up to three times he relinquishes that, that is good. If he does not relinquish (that), it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
A schism is a serious division in the Community—so serious that, if achieved in a dishonest way, it ranks with matricide, patricide, killing an arahant, and maliciously shedding the Tathāgata’s blood as one of the five most heinous crimes a person can commit (AN 5:129).
To qualify as a schism, the division has to meet five criteria:
1) The Community is originally united, which means that it is composed of bhikkhus of common affiliation living in the same territory.
2) It contains at least nine bhikkhus.
3) It becomes involved in a dispute over any of eighteen grounds for a creating a schism. In other words, one of the sides advocates any of the following positions, explaining:
Dhamma as not-Dhamma;
not-Dhamma as Dhamma;
Vinaya as not-Vinaya;
not-Vinaya as Vinaya;
what was not spoken by the Buddha as having been spoken by him;
what was spoken by the Buddha as not;
what was not regularly practiced by him as having been regularly practiced by him;
what was regularly practiced by him as not;
what was not formulated by him as having been formulated by him;
what was formulated by him as not;
an offense as a non-offense;
a non-offense as an offense;
a heavy offense as a light offense;
a light offense as heavy;
an offense leaving a remainder (i.e., not a pārājika) as an offense leaving no remainder (§);
an offense leaving no remainder as an offense leaving a remainder (§);
a serious offense as not serious; or
a not-serious offense as serious.
4) There are at least four bhikkhus on either side.
5) The dispute reaches the point where the two sides conduct separate Pāṭimokkha recitations, Invitation ceremonies, or other Community transactions within the same territory.
The Canon tells of two schisms during the time of the Buddha, one involving the bhikkhus in the city of Kosambī, reported in Mv.X; and the other, Devadatta‘s schism, reported in Cv.VII. The two schisms began from different motives, with both sides in Kosambī thinking that they were following the Dhamma and Vinaya, whereas Devadatta knew that he was not. The two schisms were also accomplished in different ways—unilaterally in the Kosambī case, bilaterally in Devadatta’s—and resolved in different ways as well, with a full reconciliation in the Kosambī case and only a partial one in Devadatta’s. As we will see below, the different patterns followed in these two schisms led to different patterns in the rules dealing with the topic of schism as a whole.
Schism is the result of a dispute, but not all disputes—even when prolonged—will lead to schism. An example is the dispute that led to the Second Council (Cv.XII). Even though it was bitterly fought, there was never a point when either faction thought of splitting off and conducting communal business separately in the same territory. Still, even minor disputes can be potentially schismatic. At the same time, as we will see below, it is possible to act in a divisive way prior to a dispute without yet broaching the questions around which a dispute could develop. This rule and the following one are designed to nip both sorts of behavior in the bud before they can become schismatic. Once a dispute has become a major issue, these rules cannot be used, for at that point the procedures given in Cv.IV.14.16-26—explained in Chapter 11—should be followed. Questions of how to behave once a schism has occurred and how it can be ended are discussed in BMC2, Chapter 21.
The roots of schism
According to Cv.IV.14.4, the act of taking a position in a dispute can be rooted either in unskillful mind states (covetous, corrupt, or confused) or in skillful ones (not covetous, not corrupt, not confused). Given the false nature of the grounds for a schism, the mind state of a bhikkhu agitating for schism must be unskillful. However, it is crucial to determine the way in which his impulses and motivations are unskillful, for this question determines his personal fate and the prospects for whether the schism can be successfully resolved.
Cv.VII.5.3 and Cv.VII.5.5-6 explain that a bhikkhu who accomplishes a schism in the following way is automatically consigned to hell for an eon. The Commentary to Mv.I.67 adds that as soon as the schism is accomplished he is no longer a bhikkhu and is to be expelled from the Saṅgha.
1) The Community, of common affiliation and living in the same territory, is united around a correct understanding of the Dhamma and Vinaya.
2) The bhikkhu agitates for a schism, advocating any of the 18 grounds for creating a schism.
3) He views his explanations or the act of a schism as not-Dhamma—i.e., he knows that what he is doing is contrary to the Dhamma—or he is doubtful about the matter.
4) Nevertheless, he misrepresents his views and actions, claiming that they are Dhamma.
If, however, a bhikkhu advocates any of the 18 grounds for creating a schism with the understanding that he is advocating the Dhamma and that the schism would be in line with the Dhamma, then even if he accomplishes a schism he is still a bhikkhu, he is not automatically consigned to hell, and there is the possibility that he can be reconciled with the Community and the schism resolved.
Strategies for schism
The Cullavagga presents two patterns by which a schism may happen. The first pattern, derived from Devadatta’s schism and given in Cv.VII.5.1, states that schism occurs when a disagreement over the Dhamma, the Vinaya, or the Teacher’s instruction is put to a vote in a Community of at least nine bhikkhus with at least four on either side of the split. It further adds that all the bhikkhus involved must be bhikkhus of regular standing in affiliation with the group as a whole (e.g., they are not already of a separate affiliation, they haven’t been suspended from the Community), and they are living in the same territory (see BMC2, Chapter 13).
If any of these qualifications is lacking—the issue goes to a vote in a Community of less than nine bhikkhus, one side or the other gains less than four adherents, or the bhikkhus involved are not of regular standing, are not of common affiliation, or are not in the same territory—the efforts at schism count as a crack (rāji) in the Community, but not as a full split (bheda).
A second pattern—which describes the Kosambī schism but is given in Cv.VII.5.2 (as well as in AN 10:35 & AN 10:37)—lists two steps by which a group becomes schismatic:
1) The members of the group advocate one or more of the 18 grounds for creating schism.
2) On the basis of any of these 18 points, they draw themselves apart, performing a separate Pāṭimokkha recitation, a separate Invitation, (or) a separate Community transaction.
The Parivāra (XV.10.9), trying to collate these two patterns into one, lists five ways in which a schism can take place: discussion, announcement, vote, transaction, and recitation. The Commentary interprets the five ways as four steps in a single process (with the last two ways counting as alternative forms of a single step):
1) Discussion. A bhikkhu aiming at schism advocates any of the 18 positions listed above.
2) Announcement. He announces that he is splitting off from the Community and asks other bhikkhus to take sides.
3) Vote. The issue goes to a vote in a Community of at least nine bhikkhus, with at least four on either side.
4) Transaction or recitation. The bhikkhus who side with the schismatic split from the others and recite the Pāṭimokkha or perform another Community transaction separately.
According to the Commentary, the actual schism has not taken place until step 4, when the schismatic group conducts communal business separately within the same territory as the group from which it has split. This is in accordance with Cv.VII.5.2 but conflicts with Cv.VII.5.1, so the Commentary explains that if the vote is taken in a split-off meeting of the Community, steps 3 and 4 happen simultaneously, and the schism has been accomplished. Otherwise, if the vote is taken outside of the territory, the schism is not finalized until the split-off faction conducts Community transactions separately within the same territory as the other faction (Pv.VI.2 & XV.10.10).
However, it’s possible that the compilers of the Cullavagga intentionally listed two patterns for a schism because there are two ways in which it can happen: bilaterally and unilaterally. In a bilateral schism, the schismatic group meets with the group from which it is splitting and asks everyone to take sides. This is the pattern presented in Cv.VII.5.1. In a unilateral schism, the schismatic group meets on its own, announces that it has separated from the other bhikkhus in the same territory, and conducts Community transactions separately from them. This is the pattern presented in Cv.VII.5.2.
The Vinaya-mukha, in trying to make the case that not all the canonical Vinaya reflects the Buddha’s intent, focuses on these detailed descriptions of schism as a case in point, arguing that they actually encourage schism by providing precise instructions for how to go about it. This, it says, is not the sort of thing an enlightened teacher would teach. This argument, however, misses the point of the descriptions. They are meant to provide well-meaning bhikkhus with a clear template so that they can recognize an attempt at schism when they see it.
The factors for an offense
The K/Commentary analyzes the factors for an offense under this rule as one—effort—dividing it into several sub-factors. However, it also classifies this rule as sacittaka, which means that either perception or intention must play a role in the offense. Because the Vibhaṅga explicitly rules out perception as a factor, that leaves intention. The Sub-Commentary says that “intention” here refers to the offending bhikkhu’s intention not to relinquish his behavior after being rebuked by the Community. However, the Vibhaṅga’s definition of one of the first sub-factors of effort—agitating for a schism—includes intention as an integral part of the effort. Because the alternative sub-factor—persisting in taking up an issue conducive to schism—does not include intention in its definition, this rule is best explained as covering two separate but related offenses with different factors. (See Sg 2, NP 18, and NP 24 for other instances of this sort.)
In the first offense, the factors are two.
1) Intention: Acting with the thought, “How might these be divided, how might they be separated, how might they become a faction?”
2) Effort: a) one agitates for a schism in a united Community—i.e., one of common affiliation in a single territory—
b) even when rebuked three times in a properly performed Community transaction.
In the second offense, there is only one factor, divided into two sub-factors.
1) Effort: a) One persists in taking up an issue conducive to schism in a united Community—i.e., one of common affiliation in a single territory—
b) even when rebuked three times in a properly performed Community transaction.
According to the Vibhaṅga, to agitate for a schism is to search for a partisan following or to bind together a group, with the above intention. To persist in taking up an issue conducive to schism is to take a stance on any of the 18 positions mentioned above. The two types of effort may overlap—a bhikkhu attempting to split off a schismatic faction could do so based on any of the 18 positions—but not necessarily. A bhikkhu might try to create a faction in other ways—for example, by arranging special meals exclusively for his friends (see Pc 31). A stubborn bhikkhu might refuse to abandon a position conducive to schism even if he is not yet aiming at schism. In fact, the use of this rule is most effective before the two activities have overlapped. Once a bhikkhu has succeeded in binding together a group around any of the 18 grounds for schism, the Community will have trouble achieving unanimity in rebuking him, for his group will be free to protest the transaction.
Note that, unlike the definition of united Community in Cv.VII.5.3, the Vibhaṅga’s definition of a united Community here does not specify that it has to be united around a correct understanding of the Dhamma and Vinaya. This means, in the case of the first offense, that if a bhikkhu tries to create a partisan following by explaining Vinaya as Vinaya in a Community whose practice has gone astray, the Community could still legitimately rebuke him. If he did not abandon his behavior, he would incur the full offense. This further means that if one wants to establish a return to the genuine Dhamma and Vinaya in such a Community, one should aim at converting the entire Community and not just a clique. If the Community judges one’s efforts to be divisive, one can either search for help from other Communities, as explained in Chapter 11 and exemplified in the story of the Second Council, or simply leave the Community in search of a more conducive location to practice. If other bhikkhus in the Community, approving of one’s views, come to the new location of their own accord, well and good. Nevertheless, this rule indicates that one’s aim in expounding the Dhamma and Vinaya should never be to create a faction. Instead, it should be to convince all who are sincere to join in the pursuit of correct practice. Thus when leaving one’s original Community, one should do so in as amicable a way as possible so as not to alienate those whom one should be aiming to win over to one’s views.
The Vibhaṅga states that if the bhikkhus see or hear of a bhikkhu who has begun agitating for a schism or persists in taking up an issue conducive to schism in a united Community, it is their duty to reprimand him three times. Otherwise, if he goes unreprimanded, he is free to continue with his efforts as he likes without incurring a penalty. If they neglect this duty, they each incur a dukkaṭa. The Commentary adds that this dukkaṭa applies to every bhikkhu within a half-yojana (five-mile/eight-kilometer) radius who learns of the instigator’s efforts. Furthermore, it says that one may fulfill one’s duty here only by going to him in person, and not by sending a letter or a messenger. (According to the Sub-commentary, any bhikkhu within the half-yojana radius who is ill or otherwise unable to go reprimand the instigator is not subject to this penalty.) As for any bhikkhu outside the half-yojana radius, even though he may not be subject to the penalty, the Commentary states that he should still regard it as his duty if he is able to go reprimand the instigator as well.
If the attempt takes place during the Rains-residence, the Mahāvagga allows bhikkhus at other locations to cut short their stay at those locations and to come help end the attempt (Mv.III.11.6-9). It also allows a bhikkhu who has tried to prevent a schism, and yet sees that his efforts are likely to fail, to leave that Community even during the Rains-residence if he does not wish to be present for the turmoil that may follow (Mv.III.11.5).
If, after being reprimanded three times, the instigator abandons his efforts—i.e., stops agitating for a schism or abandons his position with regard to the 18 issues conducive to a schism—he incurs no penalty and nothing further need be done.
If he is still recalcitrant, though, he incurs a dukkaṭa. The next step is to take him into the midst of a formal meeting of the Community (seizing him by the hands and feet if necessary, says the Commentary) and admonish him formally three more times. If he abandons his efforts before the end of the third admonition, well and good. If not, he incurs another dukkaṭa. The next step is to recite a formal rebuke by mandate of the Community, using a formula of one motion and three announcements (see Appendix VIII). If the instigator remains obstinate, he incurs an additional dukkaṭa at the end of the motion, a thullaccaya at the end of each of the first two announcements, and the full saṅghādisesa at the end of the third. Once he commits the full offense, the penalties he incurred in the preliminary stages are nullified.
The Vibhaṅga states that if the rebuke transaction is carried out properly—i.e., the bhikkhu really is looking for a faction or taking up an issue conducive to schism, and the various other formal requirements for a valid transaction are fulfilled—then if he does not abandon his efforts, he incurs the full saṅghādisesa regardless of whether he perceives the transaction to be proper, improper, or doubtful. If the transaction is improperly carried out, then regardless of how he perceives its validity, he incurs a dukkaṭa for not abandoning his efforts (§).
The fact that the bhikkhu is not free from an offense in the latter case is important: There are several other, similar points in the Vinaya—such as the Buddha’s advice to the Dhamma-expert in the controversy at Kosambī (Mv.X.1.8)—where for the sake of the harmony of the Community in cases that threaten to be divisive, the Buddha advises bhikkhus to abandon controversial behavior and to yield to the mandate of the Community even if it seems unjust.
The non-offense clauses, in addition to the usual exemptions, state that there is no offense if the bhikkhu is not reprimanded or if he gives up his efforts (prior to the end of the third reprimand).
If the bhikkhu is so stubborn that he refuses to abandon his schismatic efforts even through the third rebuke, he will probably not acknowledge that the Community has acted properly, in which case he will not admit that he has incurred a saṅghādisesa offense or that he has to make amends for it. This gives the Community clear grounds, if it sees fit, for suspending him then and there (see BMC2, Chapter 20). In fact, this may have been the original intention behind the protocols outlined in this and the remaining three saṅghādisesa rules: to give the Community a clear opportunity to test how stubborn a divisive or recalcitrant bhikkhu is and to end his affiliation with them if he proves this stubborn. For this reason, a Community planning to impose any of these rules on one of its members should be prepared to recite the transaction statement for suspension against him as well.
Once the offender’s affiliation with the Community is ended, he may not accost—go up to talk to—any member of the Community at all. Technically speaking, the fact that he is no longer in affiliation means that he can cause no more than a crack, rather than a full split, in the Saṅgha. This, of course, may not end his schismatic efforts, but the fact that the Community met to deal with his case should be enough to alert well-meaning bhikkhus that he is following a wrong course of action, and this should help unite the Community against his efforts. If they deem it necessary—to keep the laity from being swayed by his arguments—they may authorize one or more of their members to inform the lay community that the schismatic has committed this offense (see Pc 9) and explain why. If, unrepentant, he leaves to go elsewhere, they may send word to any Community he tries to join. Of course, if it turns out that the schismatic was actually in the right in his explanation of the Dhamma and Vinaya, the efforts of the original Community will call unflattering attention to its own behavior. This means that a Community is well advised to reflect on its own practice before bringing this rule to bear.
All of this shows why schism is regarded so seriously: As the Buddha states in the second discourse on future dangers (AN 5:78), it is difficult to find time to practice when the Community is embroiled in controversy this way.
Summary: To persist—after the third announcement of a formal rebuke in the Community—in trying to form a schismatic group or in taking up a position that can lead to schism is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
Should bhikkhus—one, two, or three—who are followers and partisans of that bhikkhu, say, “Do not, venerable sirs, admonish that bhikkhu in any way. He is an exponent of the Dhamma. He is an exponent of the Vinaya. He acts with our consent and approval. He knows, he speaks for us, and that is pleasing to us,” the bhikkhus are to admonish them thus: “Do not say that, venerable sirs. That bhikkhu is not an exponent of the Dhamma and he is not an exponent of the Vinaya. Do not, venerable sirs, approve of a schism in the Community. Let the venerable ones’ (minds) be reconciled with the Community, for a united Community, on courteous terms, without dispute, with a common recitation, dwells in peace.”
And should those bhikkhus, thus admonished by the bhikkhus, persist as before, the bhikkhus are to rebuke them up to three times for the sake of relinquishing that. If while being rebuked up to three times they relinquish that, that is good. If they do not relinquish (that), it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
If the schismatic mentioned in the preceding rule begins to attract adherents, they are to be treated under this rule—and quickly, before the schismatic gains a fourth adherent. The reasons are these:
1) One Community cannot impose a penalty on another Community (four or more bhikkhus) in any one transaction (Mv.IX.2).
2) Penalties of this sort may be imposed only with the unanimous agreement of all the bhikkhus present in the meeting. If there is a fourth adherent present in the meeting, his protest can invalidate the rebuke.
3) As the Sub-commentary points out, once the adherents of a potential schismatic have reached four, they are in a position to go ahead with the schism even if he is observing penance under the preceding rule.
The procedures for dealing with these partisans—reprimanding them in private, admonishing and rebuking them in the midst of the Community—are the same as under the preceding rule. The formula for the rebuke is given in Appendix VIII.
As noted under the preceding rule, the procedures to follow once the schismatics have succeeded in creating a schism are discussed in BMC2, Chapter 21.
Summary: To persist—after the third announcement of a formal rebuke in the Community—in supporting a potential schismatic is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
In case a bhikkhu is by nature difficult to admonish—who, when being legitimately admonished by the bhikkhus with reference to the training rules included in the (Pāṭimokkha) recitation, makes himself unadmonishable, (saying,) “Do not, venerable ones, say anything to me, good or bad; and I won’t say anything to the venerable ones, good or bad. Refrain, venerable ones, from admonishing me”—the bhikkhus are to admonish him thus: “Let the venerable one not make himself unadmonishable. Let the venerable one make himself admonishable. Let the venerable one admonish the bhikkhus in accordance with what is right, and the bhikkhus will admonish the venerable one in accordance with what is right; for it is thus that the Blessed One’s following is nurtured: through mutual admonition, through mutual rehabilitation.”
And should that bhikkhu, thus admonished by the bhikkhus, persist as before, the bhikkhus are to rebuke him up to three times for the sake of relinquishing that. If while being rebuked up to three times he relinquishes that, that is good. If he does not relinquish (that), it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
If a bhikkhu breaks any of the rules of the Vinaya without undergoing the penalties they entail, the other bhikkhus have the duty of admonishing him, as explained under Sg 8. If he is difficult to admonish, he is subject to additional penalties: under Pc 12 if he is evasive or uncooperative while being admonished, under Pc 54 if he shows disrespect, and under Pc 71 if he tries to excuse himself from training in the rule in question. If he becomes so difficult to admonish that he will accept criticism from no one at all, he is to be treated under this rule.
The Commentary defines difficult to admonish as “impossible to speak to” and adds that a bhikkhu difficult to admonish is one who cannot stand being criticized or who does not mend his ways after his faults are pointed out to him. It quotes from the Anumāna Sutta (MN 15) a list of traits, any one of which makes a bhikkhu difficult to admonish: He has evil desires; exalts himself and degrades others; is easily angered; because of this he harbors ill will, holds a grudge, utters angry words; accused, he throws a tantrum (literally, “explodes”); accused, he is insulting; accused, he returns the accusation; he evades back and forth; he does not respond; he is mean and spiteful; jealous and possessive; scheming and deceitful; stubborn and proud; attached to his own views, obstinate, unable to let them go.
A fair number of these traits are exemplified by Ven. Channa—according to tradition, the Buddha’s horseman on the night of the great Going Forth—in the origin stories to Pc 12, 54, and 71, and especially in the origin story to this rule.
“You think you are to admonish me? It is I who should admonish you! The Buddha is mine, the Dhamma is mine, it was by my young master that the Dhamma was realized. Just as a great wind when blowing would gather up grass, sticks, leaves, and rubbish, or a mountain-born river would gather up water weeds and scum, so you, in going forth, have been gathered up from various names, various clans, various ancestries, various families. You think you are to admonish me? It is I who should admonish you!”
The procedures to follow when a bhikkhu is difficult to admonish—reprimanding him in private, admonishing and rebuking him in a formal meeting of the Community—are the same as under Sg 10, beginning with the fact that a bhikkhu who, hearing that Bhikkhu X is being difficult to admonish, incurs a dukkaṭa if he does not reprimand him. The question of perception and the non-offenses are also the same as under that rule. The formula for the rebuke is given in Appendix VIII.
If the bhikkhu difficult to admonish carries on as before, even after incurring the full penalty under this rule, the Community may perform a banishment transaction (pabbājanīya-kamma) against him for speaking in dispraise of the Community (Cv.I.13—see BMC2, Chapter 20). If he refuses to see that he has committed this saṅghādisesa offense or to undergo the penalty, the Community may exclude him from participating in the Pāṭimokkha and Invitation ceremonies (Mv.IV.16.2; Cv.IX.2—see BMC2, Chapters 15 and 16) or suspend him from the entire Saṅgha (Cv.I.26; Cv.I.31—see BMC2, Chapter 20).
Summary: To persist—after the third announcement of a formal rebuke in the Community—in being difficult to admonish is a saṅghādisesa offense.
* * *
In case a bhikkhu living in dependence on a certain village or town is a corrupter of families, a man of depraved conduct—whose depraved conduct is both seen and heard about, and the families he has corrupted are both seen and heard about—the bhikkhus are to admonish him thus: “You, venerable sir, are a corrupter of families, a man of depraved conduct. Your depraved conduct is both seen and heard about, and the families you have corrupted are both seen and heard about. Leave this monastery, venerable sir. Enough of your staying here.”
And should that bhikkhu, thus admonished by the bhikkhus, say about the bhikkhus, “The bhikkhus are biased through desire, biased through aversion, biased through delusion, biased through fear, in that for this sort of offense they banish some and do not banish others,” the bhikkhus are to admonish him thus: “Do not say that, venerable sir. The bhikkhus are not biased through desire, are not biased through aversion, are not biased through delusion, are not biased through fear. You, venerable sir, are a corrupter of families, a man of depraved conduct. Your depraved conduct is both seen and heard about, and the families you have corrupted are both seen and heard about. Leave this monastery, venerable sir. Enough of your staying here.”
And should that bhikkhu, thus admonished by the bhikkhus, persist as before, the bhikkhus are to rebuke him up to three times for the sake of relinquishing that. If while being rebuked up to three times he relinquishes that, that is good. If he does not relinquish (that), it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.
A corrupter of families is a bhikkhu who—behaving in a demeaning, frivolous, or subservient way—succeeds in ingratiating himself to lay people to the point where they withdraw their support from bhikkhus who are earnest in the practice and give it to those who are more ingratiating instead. This is illustrated in the origin story of this rule, in which the followers of Assaji and Punabbasu (leaders of one faction of the group of six) had thoroughly corrupted the lay people at Kīṭāgiri.
“Now at that time a certain bhikkhu, having finished his Rains-residence among the people of Kāsi and on his way to Sāvatthī to see the Blessed One, arrived at Kīṭāgiri. Dressing (§) early in the morning, taking his bowl and (outer) robe, he entered Kīṭāgiri for alms: gracious in the way he approached and departed, looked forward and behind, drew in and stretched out (his arm); his eyes downcast, his every movement consummate. People seeing him said, ‘Who is this weakest of weaklings, this dullest of dullards, this most snobbish of snobs? Who, if this one approached (§), would even give him alms? Our masters, the followers of Assaji and Punabbasu, are compliant, genial, pleasing in conversation. They are the first to smile, saying, “Come, you are welcome.” They are not snobbish. They are approachable. They are the first to speak. They are the ones to whom alms should be given.’”
The Vibhaṅga lists the ways of corrupting a family as giving gifts of flowers, fruit, etc., practicing medicine, and delivering messages—although the Commentary qualifies this by saying there is no harm in delivering messages related to religious activities, such as inviting bhikkhus to a meal or to deliver a sermon, or in conveying a lay person’s respects to a senior bhikkhu.
Depraved conduct the Vibhaṅga defines merely as growing flowers and making them into garlands, but this, the Commentary says, is a shorthand reference to the long list of bad habits mentioned in the origin story, which includes such things as presenting garlands to women, eating from the same dish with them, sharing a blanket with them; eating at the wrong time, drinking intoxicants; wearing garlands, using perfumes and cosmetics; dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, directing musical performances (§); playing games, performing stunts; learning archery, swordsmanship, and horsemanship; boxing and wrestling. (For the full list, see BMC2, Chapter 10.) Any one of these actions taken in isolation carries only a minor penalty—a dukkaṭa or a pācittiya (see Cv.V.36)—but if indulged in habitually to the point where its bad influence becomes “seen and heard about,” i.e., common knowledge, it can become grounds for the offender’s fellow bhikkhus to banish him from their particular Community until he mends his ways.
The Cullavagga, in a section that begins with the same origin story as the one for this rule (Cv.I.13-16), treats the banishment transaction in full detail, saying that a Community of bhikkhus, if it sees fit, has the authority to perform a banishment transaction against a bhikkhu with any of the following qualities:
1) He is a maker of strife, disputes, quarrels, and issues in the Community.
2) He is inexperienced, incompetent, and indiscriminately full of offenses (§).
3) He lives in unbecoming association with householders.
4) He is defective in his virtue, conduct, or views.
5) He speaks in dispraise of the Buddha, Dhamma, or Saṅgha.
6) He is frivolous in word, deed, or both.
7) He misbehaves in word, deed, or both.
8) He is vindictive in word, deed, or both.
9) He practices wrong modes of livelihood.
This last category includes such practices as:
a) running messages and errands for kings, ministers of state, householders, etc. A modern example would be participating in political campaigns.
b) scheming, talking, hinting, belittling others for the sake of material gain, pursuing gain with gain (giving items of small value in hopes of receiving items of larger value in return, making investments in hopes of profit, offering material incentives to those who make donations). (For a full discussion of these practices, see Visuddhimagga I.61-82.)
c) Practicing worldly arts, e.g., medicine, fortune telling, astrology, exorcism, reciting charms, casting spells, performing ceremonies to counteract the influence of the stars, determining propitious sites, setting auspicious dates (for weddings, etc.), interpreting oracles, auguries, or dreams, or—in the words of the Vibhaṅga to the the bhikkhunīs’ Pc 49 & 50—engaging in any art that is “external and unconnected with the goal.” The Cullavagga (V.33.2) imposes a dukkaṭa on studying and teaching worldly arts or hedonist doctrines (lokāyata). (For extensive lists of worldly arts, see the passage from DN 2 quoted in BMC2, Chapter 10. For the connection between lokāyata and hedonism (e.g., the Kāma Sūtra), see Warder, Outline of Indian Philosophy, pp. 38-39.)
A bhikkhu banished for indulging in any of these activities is duty-bound to undergo the observances listed in Cv.I.15 (see BMC2, Chapter 20) and to mend his ways so that the Community will revoke the banishment transaction.
Two of those duties are that he not criticize the act of banishment or those who performed it. If he does not observe either of those two, he is subject to this rule. The procedure to follow in dealing with him—reprimanding him in private, admonishing and rebuking him in a formal meeting of the Community—is the same as under Sg 10, beginning with the fact that a bhikkhu who, hearing that Bhikkhu X is criticizing the act of banishment, incurs a dukkaṭa if he does not reprimand X. The question of perception and the non-offenses are also the same as under that rule. The formula for the rebuke is given in Appendix VIII. As with the preceding three rules, if the offender does not respond to the rebuke or recognize that he has a saṅghādisesa offense for which he must make amends, the Community would then have grounds to suspend him as well.
Summary: To persist—after the third announcement of a formal rebuke in the Community—in criticizing a banishment transaction performed against oneself is a saṅghādisesa offense.
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A bhikkhu who commits any one of these thirteen saṅghādisesa offenses is duty-bound to inform a fellow bhikkhu and to ask a Community of at least four bhikkhus to impose a six-day period of penance (mānatta) on him. (The Canon says, literally, a six-night period: At the time of the Buddha, the lunar calendar was in use and, just as we using the solar calendar count the passage of days, they counted the passage of nights; a 24-hour period, which is a day for us, would be a night for them, as in the Bhaddekaratta Sutta (MN 131), where the Buddha explicitly says that a person who spends a day and night in earnest practice has had an “auspicious night.”)
Penance does not begin immediately, but only at the convenience of the Community giving it. During his period of penance, the offender is partially stripped of seniority and must observe 94 restrictions (Cv.II.5-6), discussed in detail in BMC2, Chapter 19. The four most important are:
1) He must not live under the same roof as a regular bhikkhu.
2) He must live in a monastery with at least four regular bhikkhus.
3) If he goes anyplace outside the monastery, he must be accompanied by four full-fledged bhikkhus unless (a) he is going to escape dangers or (b) he is going to another place where there are regular bhikkhus of the same affiliation and he can reach it in one day’s time.
4) Every day he must inform all the bhikkhus in the monastery of the fact that he is observing penance and the precise offense for which the penance was imposed. If visiting bhikkhus come to the monastery, he must inform them as well; if he goes to another monastery, he must inform all the bhikkhus there, too.
If, on any day of his penance, the bhikkhu neglects to observe any of these four restrictions, that day does not count toward the total of six. In addition, he incurs a dukkaṭa each time he fails to observe any of the 94 restrictions.
Once the bhikkhu has completed his penance, he may ask a Community of at least 20 bhikkhus to give him rehabilitation. Once rehabilitated, he returns to his previous state as a regular bhikkhu in good standing.
If a bhikkhu who commits a saṅghādisesa offense conceals it from his fellow bhikkhus past dawnrise of the day following the offense, he must observe an additional period of probation (parivāsa) for the same number of days as he concealed the offense. Only after he has completed his probation may he then ask for the six-day period of penance.
The Commentary to Cv.III sets the factors of concealment at ten, which may be arranged in five pairs as follows:
1) He has committed a saṅghādisesa offense and perceives it as an offense (i.e., this factor is fulfilled even if he thinks it is a lesser offense).
2) He has not been suspended and perceives that he has not been suspended. (If a bhikkhu has been suspended, he cannot accost other bhikkhus, and thus he cannot tell them until after his suspension has been lifted.)
3) There are no obstacles (e.g., a flood, a forest fire, dangerous animals) and he perceives that there are none.
4) He is able to inform another bhikkhu (i.e., a fellow bhikkhu suitable to be informed lives in a place that may be reached in that day, one is not too weak or ill to go, etc.) and he perceives that he is able. (According to Cv.III.34.2, going insane after committing the offense (!) would count as “not being able to inform another bhikkhu.”) A bhikkhu suitable to be informed means one who is—
a) of common affiliation,
b) in good standing (e.g., not undergoing penance, probation, or suspension himself), and
c) not on uncongenial terms with the offender.
5) He (the offender) desires to conceal the offense and so conceals it.
If any of these factors are lacking, there is no penalty for not informing another bhikkhu that day. For instance, the following cases do not count as concealment:
A bhikkhu does not suspect that he has committed an offense and realizes only much later, after reading or hearing about the rules in more detail, that he has incurred a saṅghādisesa.
A bhikkhu lives alone in a forest and commits a saṅghādisesa in the middle of the night. Afraid of the snakes or other wild animals he might encounter in the dark, he waits until daylight before going to inform a fellow bhikkhu.
A bhikkhu lives alone in a forest, but the only other bhikkhu within one day’s traveling time is a personal enemy who, if he is informed, will use this as an opportunity to smear the offender’s name, so the offender travels another day or two before reaching a congenial bhikkhu whom he informs.
A bhikkhu intends to tell another bhikkhu before dawn but falls asleep and either wakes up too late or else wakes up in time but remembers his offense only after dawnrise has past.
Once all of the first eight factors are complete, though, one must inform another bhikkhu before dawn of the next day or else incur a dukkaṭa and undergo the penalty for concealment.
A bhikkhu who commits a lesser offense that he thinks is a saṅghādisesa and then conceals it, incurs a dukkaṭa (Cv.III.34.1).
The restrictions for a bhikkhu undergoing probation—and the other possible steps in the rehabilitation process—are similar to those for one undergoing penance and are discussed in detail in BMC2, Chapter 19.
Saṅghādisesas are classified as heavy offenses (garukāpatti), both because of the seriousness of the offenses themselves and because the procedures of penance, probation, and rehabilitation are burdensome by design, not only for the offender but also for the Community of bhikkhus in which he lives—a fact intended to act as added deterrent to anyone who feels tempted to transgress.