Five: The Naked Ascetic Chapter
Should any bhikkhu give staple or non-staple food with his own hand to a naked ascetic, a male wanderer, or a female wanderer, it is to be confessed.
There are two origin stories here, the first being the more entertaining of the two:
“Now at that time (a lot of) non-staple food accrued to the Community. Ven. Ānanda told this matter to the Blessed One, who said, “In that case, Ānanda, give the cakes to those who eat scraps.’”
“‘As you say, venerable sir,’ Ven. Ānanda responded to the Blessed One. Then, having had those who eat scraps sit down in a line and giving a cake to each, he gave two cakes to a certain female wanderer, thinking they were one. The female wanderers around her said, “That monk is your lover.’
“‘No, he’s not. He just gave me two cakes thinking they were one.’
“A second time…. A third time, Ven. Ānanda, giving a cake to each, gave two cakes to that female wanderer, thinking they were one. The female wanderers around her said, “That monk is your lover.’
“‘No, he’s not. He just gave me two cakes thinking they were one.’
“So—‘Lover!’ ‘Not a lover! (§)’—they kept squabbling.”
The second story, though, gives a better idea of the reason for the rule:
“Then a certain naked ascetic went to a distribution of food. A certain bhikkhu, having mashed some rice with a great deal of ghee, gave a large helping to the naked ascetic. So the naked ascetic, having received his alms, left. Another naked ascetic asked him, ‘Where, friend, did you get your alms?’
“‘At a distribution of food by that shaveling householder, the Gotama monk.’”
This training rule is corollary to the preceding one. Other religions at the Buddha’s time observed the formalities of receiving food from their lay followers just as the bhikkhus did, and thus a bhikkhu who gave food in such a way to a mendicant ordained in another religion would be placing himself in the position of a lay follower of that religion, as the second origin story shows. An interesting point about this rule is that the Buddha formulated it at the request of Buddhist lay followers. Having overheard the naked ascetics’ conversation, they said to him, “Venerable sir, these adherents of other religions enjoy criticizing the Buddha… Dhamma… and Saṅgha. It would be good if the masters did not give to adherents of other religions with their own hands.”
The Vibhaṅga defines the terms naked ascetic and male or female wanderer in such a way that they cover all people who have “gone forth” except for bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, female trainees, and male or female novices. Because “going forth” was how ordination was understood at that time, we can use the Great Standards at present to include anyone ordained in other religions—e.g., Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, Jewish rabbis, Muslim mullahs, etc.—under the factor of object here as well. Different Communities differ as to whether they would include people ordained in other Buddhist religions—such as Zen priests or Tibetan lamas—under this category as well.
Perception as to whether a person would qualify as a naked ascetic or a male or female wanderer is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
Staple and non-staple food here covers all edibles: juice drinks, tonics, and medicines as well as food, but not water or tooth-cleaning sticks. Staple and non-staple foods are grounds for a pācittiya; water and tooth-cleaning sticks, grounds for a dukkaṭa.
To give is defined as giving with the body, with something in contact with the body, or by means of letting go, as in the preceding rule.
To get someone else to give edible things, to give edible things by depositing them near (as in NP 18), or to give ointments for external use entails no offense. The Commentary qualifies the first exemption by saying that the “someone else” must not be fully ordained. The New K/Sub-commentary points out that the last exemption was probably meant to apply to oils, which otherwise would come under “non-staple food” here.
Summary: Handing food or medicine to a person ordained in another religion is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu say to a bhikkhu, “Come, my friend, let’s enter the village or town for alms,” and then—whether or not he has had (food) given to him—dismiss him, saying, “Go away, my friend. I don’t like sitting or talking with you. I prefer sitting or talking alone”—doing it for just that reason and no other—it is to be confessed.
The factors for the full offense here are four.
1) Object: another bhikkhu.
2) Intention: One wants to indulge in misconduct and does not want him to see it.
3) Effort: One dismisses him.
4) Result: He leaves one’s range of hearing and sight.
Although the rule mentions one specific situation—bhikkhus going for alms in a town or village—the non-offense clauses give no exemption for a bhikkhu who, wanting to indulge in misconduct, dismisses another bhikkhu while outside of a village or engaged in an activity other than going for alms. The commentaries notice this point and, reasonably, do not list the specific situation as a necessary factor for the offense. For this reason, the factors for this offense apply in any location and at any time of the day.
The Vibhaṅga states that a bhikkhu is grounds for a pācittiya here; an unordained person (which for the purpose of this rule would include bhikkhunīs), grounds for a dukkaṭa. Perception as to whether a person is actually a bhikkhu is not a mitigating factor here. In other words, a bhikkhu is grounds for a pācittiya if one perceives him as a bhikkhu, if one perceives him as an unordained person, or if one is in doubt about the matter. An unordained person is grounds for a dukkaṭa if one perceives him as a bhikkhu, if one perceives him as an unordained person, or if one is in doubt about the matter. This pattern—three pācittiyas and three dukkaṭas—is repeated in all the rules where a bhikkhu is grounds for a pācittiya, an unordained person is grounds for a dukkaṭa, and perception is not a mitigating factor.
The Vibhaṅga defines misconduct as laughing, playing, or sitting in private with a woman, or any other misbehavior of any sort. To dismiss the other person, ordained or not, for motives other than a desire to hide one’s own misconduct entails no offense. Examples of such motives given in the non-offense clauses are listed below.
Effort & result
To dismiss the other person means either to say outright for him/her to go away, or else to make remarks that will make him/her want to leave. The Commentary gives an example here—“Look at how this guy stands, sits, and looks around. He stands like a stump, sits like a dog, and looks about like a monkey”—but this would more likely come under Pc 2.
The offenses here are as follows:
a dukkaṭa for speaking the words of dismissal;
a dukkaṭa when the other bhikkhu is leaving the range of hearing and sight; and
a pācittiya when he has left.
The Commentary defines range of hearing and range of sight as twelve cubits, or six meters. If, however, there is a wall or a door within that distance, it says, that delimits the range.
According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense in:
dismissing one’s companion with the thought that two bhikkhus going together won’t obtain enough food;
dismissing him after seeing costly goods ahead, so that he won’t develop a feeling of greed;
dismissing him after seeing a beautiful woman ahead, so that he won’t lose his resolve for the celibate life;
sending him back with food for one who is sick, who was left behind, or who is guarding the monastery; or
dismissing him for any other proper reason as long as one is not planning to indulge in misconduct.
Summary: Sending another bhikkhu away so that he won’t witness any misconduct one is planning to indulge in is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu sit intruding on a family “with its meal,” it is to be confessed.
The origin story here, briefly, is this: Ven. Upananda visits a woman in her private quarters. Her husband approaches him respectfully, has his wife give him alms, and then asks him to leave. The wife senses that her husband wants to have sexual intercourse with her and so—as a game, apparently—keeps detaining Ven. Upananda until the husband gets exasperated and goes to complain to the bhikkhus: “Venerable sirs, this master Upananda is sitting in the bedroom with my wife. I have dismissed him, but he isn’t willing to go. We are very busy and have much work to do.”
A family “with its meal.” This term—sabhojanaṁ—appears to be a pun in the original Pali, meaning either “with its meal”—sa + bhojanaṁ—or “with two people”—sa + ubho + janaṁ. The Vibhaṅga explains it as a euphemism meaning “a man and woman together, both not having gone out (of their bedroom), not both without lust.” As its further explanations show, this means a man and woman together in their private quarters, with at least one of them desiring sexual intercourse with the other. Although the Commentary tries to justify the Vibhaṅga’s explanation etymologically (bhoga, the root form of meal, has other forms meaning enjoyment, indulgence, and use), there is no need to turn to etymology. Since ancient times in all cultures, eating has been commonly used as a metaphor for sex. (Similarly, the husband’s comment that he “has much work to do” could also be taken as a double entendre.)
To sit intruding means to sit—without another bhikkhu present—in the private area of the house, this being defined in terms of how large the house is. In one large enough to have a separate bedroom, the private area is any spot more than one hatthapāsa (1.25 meters) in from the doorway (of the bedroom, says the Commentary). In a smaller house, the private area is the back half of the house. None of the texts discuss such things as one-room apartments or hotel rooms, but these would probably be treated as “separate bedrooms.”
The Vibhaṅga states that perception with regard to the private area is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4) and apparently the same holds true for perception with regard to whether the couple is “with its meal.” As for intention, the Parivāra and commentaries maintain that it is a factor, but the Vibhaṅga does not mention it at all. Thus, to be perfectly safe from an offense in cases like this, a bhikkhu should not sit intruding on a couple unless they both make him 100% certain that he is welcome: a wise policy in any case, regardless of whether one is a bhikkhu.
Cases of sitting with a woman alone in her bedroom—or any other private place—are covered by the following rule.
There is no offense—
if both the man and woman have left the bedroom/private area;
if neither of them is sexually aroused;
if the building is not a “sleeping building”;
if the bhikkhu is not in the private area; or
if he has a second bhikkhu as his companion.
Summary: To sit down intruding on a man and a woman in their private quarters—when one or both are sexually aroused, and when another bhikkhu is not present—is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu sit in private on a secluded seat with a woman, it is to be confessed.
There are three factors for the offense here.
1) Object: a female human being, “even one born that very day, all the more an older one.”
2) Effort: One sits with her in a private, secluded seat without another man present.
3) Intention: One is aiming at privacy.
Woman here includes women as well. In other words, even if one is sitting with many women in the secluded area, one is not exempt from this factor.
A female human being is grounds for a pācittiya; a paṇḍaka, a female peta, a female yakkha, and an animal in the form of a woman, grounds for a dukkaṭa.
Perception as to whether a person is actually a woman is not a mitigating factor (see Pc 4).
Sitting also includes lying down. Whether the bhikkhu sits near the woman when she is already seated, or the woman sits near him when he is already seated, or both sit down at the same time, makes no difference.
Private means private to the eye and private to the ear. Two people sitting in a place private to the eye means that no one else can see if they wink, raise their eyebrows, or nod (§). If they are in a place private to the ear, no one else can hear what they say in a normal voice.
A secluded seat is one behind a wall, a closed door, a large bush, or anything at all that would afford them enough privacy to commit the sexual act.
According to the Commentary, private to the eye is the essential factor here. Even if a knowledgeable man is within hearing but not within sight—i.e., he is sitting just outside the door to the private place—that does not exempt one from the offense here.
The Vibhaṅga states that the presence of a man within sight absolves one from this factor only if he is knowledgeable enough to know what is and is not lewd. The Commentary adds that he must also be awake and neither blind nor deaf. Even a distracted or drowsy man, though, if he meets these criteria, would absolve one from this factor.
The non-offense clauses give an exemption for a bhikkhu “not aiming at privacy,” but the Vibhaṅga nowhere explains what this means. In light of its definition of private, “aiming at privacy” could mean simply not wanting anyone near enough to hear what he is saying or to see him wink, raise his eyebrow, or nod.
The Commentary offers an alternative explanation, defining aiming at privacy as being impelled by any defilement related to sex, but this explanation opens as many questions as it tries to resolve. Does it refer solely to the desire for intercourse or to other more subtle sexually-related desires such as those listed in AN 7:47? That is the discourse describing a brahman or contemplative who observes the celibate life by not engaging in sexual intercourse but whose celibacy is “broken, cracked, spotted, and blemished” by the joy he finds in any of the following activities:
1) He consents to being anointed, rubbed down, bathed, and massaged by a woman.
2) He jokes, plays, and amuses himself with a woman.
3) He stares into a woman’s eyes.
4) He listens to the voices of women outside a wall as they laugh, speak, sing, or cry.
5) He recollects how he used to laugh, converse, and play with a woman.
6) He sees a householder or householder’s son enjoying himself endowed with the five sensual pleasures.
7) He practices the celibate life intent on being born in one or another of the deva hosts, (thinking) “By this virtue or practice or abstinence or celibate life I will be a deva of one sort or another.”
The joy a person finds in any of these things is termed a sexual fetter (methuna-saṁyoga) that prevents him from gaining release from birth, aging, and death, and from the entire round of suffering. If the Commentary is indeed referring to this sort of thing when it mentions “defilements related to sexual intercourse” (methuna-nissita-kilesa), then in light of its interpretation, the factor of intention under this rule would be fulfilled by such things as wanting to joke with the woman, to stare into her eyes, or to enjoy hearing her voice as she talks or laughs.
The Vinaya-mukha provides a third interpretation, defining “not aiming at privacy” with the following illustration: A bhikkhu is sitting in a secluded place with a man and woman present, but the man gets up and leaves before the bhikkhu can stop him. In other words, the bhikkhu is not intending to sit alone in private with the woman at all, but circumstances beyond his control force him to.
Although the first interpretation, because it adheres most closely to the wording in the Vibhaṅga, is probably the correct one here, the Vinaya-mukha’s is probably the safest, and many Communities adhere to it with good reason. Both the Canon and the Commentary give frequent warnings about the dangers that can arise when a bhikkhu sits alone with a woman even when his original intention is innocent. His own defilements may eventually tempt him to do, say, or think things that are detrimental to his resolve in the celibate life; and even when his motives are pure, he is inviting the suspicions of others. Ay 1 requires that if a trustworthy outside witness is suspicious of a bhikkhu’s sitting alone with a woman—and unless he is sitting with his mother or other elderly relative, it’s rare that outsiders won’t be suspicious—the Community must meet to investigate the issue. Even though they may find him innocent of any wrong doing, the fact that they have had to investigate his behavior is usually enough to keep suspicions alive among the laity and to create resentment among his fellow bhikkhus over the waste of their time due to his indiscretion. At the same time, a bhikkhu sitting alone with a woman is leaving himself at the mercy of the woman, who will later be free to make any claims she likes about what went on while they were alone together. As Lady Visākhā said in the origin story to Ay 1, “It is unfitting and improper, venerable sir, for the master to sit in private, alone with a woman…. Even though the master may not be aiming at that act, cynical people are hard to convince.”
Thus the wise policy would be to be no less strict than one’s Community in interpreting this factor.
In addition to the bhikkhu not aiming at privacy, there is no offense for the bhikkhu who sits alone with a woman when his attention is elsewhere—e.g., he is absorbed in his work or his meditation when a woman comes in and sits down in the room where he is sitting. Also, there is no offense if either the bhikkhu or the woman or both are standing, or if both are sitting when a knowledgeable man is present.
Summary: When aiming at privacy, sitting or lying down with a woman or women in a private, secluded place with no other man present is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu sit in private, alone with a woman, it is to be confessed.
The full offense here has three factors that differ slightly from those for the preceding rule.
Here woman is defined as a female human being who knows what is properly and improperly said, what is lewd and not lewd. Paṇḍakas, female petas, female yakkhas, and animals in the form of a woman are again grounds for a dukkaṭa. As under the preceding rule, perception as to whether a person is actually a woman is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
One sits with her alone—without another person present—in a place private to the ear and to the eye, but not secluded. Examples of such places would be spots out in the open (e.g., a bench in an open, deserted park), seats in a glassed-in porch or room, or in an open-air pavilion. The Commentary would include walled-in open areas—such as a park with a fence around it—here as well, but outside areas screened by a wall or a bush would fall under the preceding rule. Ay 1 & 2 suggest that the distinguishing factor here would be how hidden it is. If it would be convenient for committing sexual intercourse, it would fall under the preceding rule; if not, it would fall here.
Sitting is defined as under the preceding rule.
This rule’s expression for alone—one man with one woman—implies that the other person whose presence exempts one from this factor can be either a man or a woman. The Commentary states explicitly that this is so, and adds that this person must also know what is properly and improperly said, what is lewd and not lewd; must be awake; must not be deaf or blind; and must be sitting “within sight,” i.e., a radius of six meters. As in the preceding rule, whether or not the man or woman is distracted or drowsy is of no consequence.
One must be aiming at privacy for this factor to be fulfilled. See the discussion under the preceding rule.
Strangely enough, the Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clauses here are identical with those for the preceding rule—i.e., they make no mention of the fact that the presence of another woman would exempt one from an offense. The Commentary seems justified in inferring this fact from the rule, though, for otherwise there would be no reason to have these two separate rules on the same subject.
Summary: When aiming at privacy, sitting or lying down alone with a woman in an unsecluded but private place is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu, being invited for a meal and without taking leave of an available bhikkhu, go calling on families before or after the meal, except at the proper occasions, it is to be confessed. Here the proper occasions are these: a time of giving cloth, a time of making robes. These are the proper occasions here.
The origin story here suggests that the purpose of this rule is to prevent bhikkhus from wandering off before an appointed meal time so that they will not show up late or be difficult to track down; and to prevent them, after the meal, from using the invitation as an excuse to go off wandering without taking leave (see Pc 85). However, the definition of the factor of object—which limits this rule to visiting lay people’s houses—and the non-offense clauses—which allow one to visit monasteries and nunneries without taking leave—suggest a more over-riding purpose: to prevent bhikkhus from taking the invitation as an excuse to visit lay people and spend their time in inappropriate activities.
There are two factors for the full offense here.
1) Object: a family residence.
2) Effort: One enters such a residence—without having taken leave of an available bhikkhu—on a morning when one has been invited to a meal, except during the time exemptions mentioned in the rule.
A family residence is grounds for a pācittiya here; its yard, grounds for a dukkaṭa.
Entering the residence is defined as having both feet inside the threshold. Having only one foot over the threshold incurs a dukkaṭa, in addition to the dukkaṭa for entering the yard.
Meal means one consisting of any of the five staple foods. The Vibhaṅga indicates that the amount eaten
As for the question of how to determine whether another bhikkhu is or is not available, the Commentary draws the distinction like this: After the desire to go calling on families arises in one’s mind and one takes a normal path to leave the monastery, if one comes across a bhikkhu who is close enough to address in a normal tone of voice (within six meters, says the Sub-commentary), that means that a bhikkhu is available and one should inform him of where one is going. If one does not come across a bhikkhu that close, no bhikkhu is available, and there is no need to go out of one’s way to find one.
This, though, is in direct contradiction to the Vibhaṅga’s definition of available—“It is possible to go, having taken leave”—that is, if there is another bhikkhu in the monastery, and there are no obstacles to taking one’s leave from him (e.g., he is asleep, he is sick, he is receiving important visitors), one is obliged to go out of one’s way to inform him.
According to the K/Commentary, taking leave in the context of this rule means the simple act of informing the other bhikkhu that, “I am going to the house of so-and-so,” or any similar statement. In other words, one is not asking permission to go (see the discussion of taking leave under Pc 14). However, if the other bhikkhu sees that one is doing something improper in going, he is perfectly free to say so. If one treats his comments with disrespect, one incurs at least a dukkaṭa under Pc 54. (See the discussion under that rule for details.)
For a new bhikkhu still living in dependence (nissaya) on his mentor, though, taking leave is a matter of asking permission at all times, whether one has been invited to a meal or not. The Mahāvagga (I.25.24; II.21.1) states that one of the duties of such a bhikkhu is that he must receive permission from his mentor before entering a village, going to a cemetery, or leaving the district. Not to ask permission before going, or to go after being denied permission, is to incur a dukkaṭa. As for the mentor, if he gives permission to go when it is not appropriate to do so, he is the one who incurs the dukkaṭa.
Perception as to whether one has actually been invited to a meal is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
As the rule states, there is no offense in not taking leave at the time of giving cloth—the robe season—or at a time of making robes, i.e., any time when one is making a robe. These exceptions enable a bhikkhu to visit his lay supporters easily to obtain any gifts of thread, cloth, or scissors, etc., he may need at such times.
There is also no offense in going to or through a family residence when one has taken leave of another bhikkhu, or in going when one has not taken leave under any of the following circumstances:
—There is no bhikkhu available (in addition to the examples mentioned above, this would include cases where one is living alone, all the other bhikkhus have left, or all the bhikkhus in the monastery are going together).
—One is going to the house where one was invited for the meal.
—The path to the house in which the meal is to be given leads through another house or its yard.
—One is on one’s way to another monastery (§), to bhikkhunīs’ quarters, to the residence of people ordained in another religion (located in a village, says the Commentary), or one is returning from any of these places.
—There are dangers. This, according to the Commentary, refers to dangers to one’s life or to one’s resolve in remaining celibate.
The non-offense clauses do not mention this point, but the perception section of the Vibhaṅga makes clear that this rule does not apply when one is not invited to a meal.
The general principle
This rule, in conjunction with Pc 85, is designed to keep bhikkhus from visiting lay people and spending their time in inappropriate ways. Pc 85 deals with entire villages and towns, and covers the act of leaving the monastery during the period from noon until the following dawnrise. This rule deals with family residences and covers the act of leaving the monastery during the period from dawnrise until noon on days when one has been invited to a meal. The period from dawnrise to noon on days when one is not invited to a meal, and would be expected to go on alms round, is thus not covered by either rule. Note, however, that in the origin story to this rule the Buddha reprimands Ven. Upananda for visiting families during the latter part of a morning after going for alms. This shows that he did not approve of such behavior even though he had practical reasons for not laying down a rule against it: On mornings when one is going for alms—and in his time, alms-going could often be an all-morning affair—there is no convenient way to draw a hard and fast line between appropriate alms-going and inappropriate visiting. Thus we have the rules as they stand. At present, though, in monasteries where alms-going takes up much less of the morning or where the bhikkhus do not go outside the monastery for alms at all, a wise policy is to adhere to the general principle by informing a fellow bhikkhu whenever possible when one is leaving the monastery for errands or visits involving lay people, even during periods not covered by the rules.
Summary: Visiting lay families—without having informed an available bhikkhu—before or after a meal to which one has been invited is a pācittiya offense except during the robe season or any time one is making a robe.
* * *
A bhikkhu who is not ill may accept (make use of) a four-month invitation to ask for requisites. If he should accept (make use of) it beyond that—unless the invitation is renewed or is permanent—it is to be confessed.
An invitation to ask for requisites is an offer made by a lay person to supply a bhikkhu with requisites whenever he (the bhikkhu) asks for them. Such invitations may be made either to individual bhikkhus, to groups, or to entire Communities. The responsibilities incumbent on the two sides in such an arrangement are well illustrated in a passage from the origin story to this rule.
“Now at that time some group-of-six bhikkhus wore their lower robes improperly, their upper robes improperly, and were not at all consummate in their deportment. Mahānāma the Sakyan criticized them: ‘Venerable sirs, why do you wear your lower robes improperly, your upper robes improperly, and why are you not at all consummate in your deportment? Shouldn’t a person who has gone forth wear his lower robe properly, his upper robe properly, and be consummate in his deportment?’
“The group-of-six bhikkhus nursed a grudge against him. They thought, ‘Now, how can we make Mahānāma the Sakyan feel abashed?’ Then the thought occurred to them, ‘He has made an invitation to provide the Community with medicines. Let’s ask him for ghee.’
“So they went to Mahānāma the Sakyan and on arrival said to him, ‘We need a tubful of ghee, my friend.’
“‘Please wait for the rest of today, venerable sirs. People have just gone to the cattle pen to get ghee. You may come and fetch it in the morning.’
A second time… A third time, they said to him, ‘We need a tubful of ghee, my friend.’
“‘Please wait for the rest of today, venerable sirs. People have just gone to the cattle pen to get ghee. You may come and fetch it in the morning.’
“‘What’s with this invitation without wanting to give, friend, in that having made the invitation you don’t give?’
“So Mahānāma the Sakyan criticized and complained and spread it about, ‘How can their reverences, being told, “Please wait for the rest of today, venerable sirs,” not wait?’”
As the story shows, the person making the invitation was expected to provide the goods he offered, while bhikkhus were expected to be reasonable in their requests.
The Vibhaṅga‘s discussion here assumes that this rule applies to invitations offering medicines, but it does not say explicitly whether it covers invitations made to individuals or to those made to entire Communities. The Commentary, however, argues reasonably from a statement in the Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clauses (see below) that it covers only invitations made to Communities.
The rule and origin stories show that invitations of this sort originally had three standard forms: a four-month invitation (each of the major seasons in India lasts four months, which may have been the reason for this type of invitation), a renewed four-month invitation, and a permanent invitation. Eventually, though, the Vibhaṅga worked out the following fourfold schema to cover invitations of a wide variety of sorts: those that specify (1) requisites (medicines), (2) a time period, (3) both, or (4) neither.
1) An invitation specifying requisites may specify merely the type of item offered—“Let me know if you ever need any honey or sugar”—or also the amount—“Let me know if you ever need a bottle of honey… a pound of sugar.” In cases like these, a bhikkhu may ask for the type or amount of the item offered. If he asks for other items or for more of the proper item than the amount offered, if that too is specified, he incurs a pācittiya. However, because the donor mentions no time limit, the Vibhaṅga says that the bhikkhu may ask at any time.
2) An invitation specifying the time period may be phrased, for example, “Let me know if you need any medicine during this Rains-residence.” In cases like this, a bhikkhu may ask for any type or amount of medicine during that time period. But as the origin stories to this and the other rules dealing with asking make clear (see Sg 6 and NP 6 & 7), he should be moderate and reasonable when making requests, and not abuse the lay supporter’s generosity. If, not being ill, he asks after the period has expired, he incurs a pācittiya.
3) An invitation specifying requisites and the time period might be phrased, “Let me know if you need any honey during the Rains-residence.” In cases like this, a bhikkhu incurs a pācittiya if he asks for items other than those offered—or for more of the proper item than the amount offered, if that too is specified—regardless of whether he asks during the specified time period. He also incurs a pācittiya if, not being ill, he asks for the items offered after the time period has expired.
4) An invitation specifying neither requisites nor the time period may be phrased, for example, “Let me know if you ever need any medicine.” In cases like this, the bhikkhu may ask for any medicine at any time. As in case (2), though, he should try to be reasonable in his requests.
The factors of the offense
The factors of the offense here are two.
1) Object: medicine that a donor has invited a Community to request.
2) Effort: One requests it outside of the terms of the invitation when one is not ill.
The Vibhaṅga does not define medicine here, but its examples all deal with the five tonics, and that is how the Commentary defines medicine under this rule. The Great Standards could be used to extend medicine to cover lifetime medicines as well.
The Vibhaṅga also neglects to give an explicit definition for not ill, but in one of its wheels it states that if a bhikkhu asks for a medicine when he has no need for a medicine (§—reading na-bhesajjena karaṇiye with the Thai and Sri Lankan editions of the Canon), he incurs a pācittiya in the asking. The Commentary explains having no need for medicine as being well enough to get by on “mixed” food, which is apparently its term for food acquired at random (see BMC2, Chapter 18).
The Vibhaṅga’s wheel goes on to state that if a bhikkhu requests one medicine when he actually has need of another (e.g., he has a disease that calls for a disgusting ghee concoction (see Mv.VIII.1.23-26) but requests honey instead), he incurs a pācittiya in the requesting as well. These penalties apply regardless of whether he receives what he requests.
Perception as to whether one is making a request outside the terms of the invitation is not a mitigating factor here (Pc 4).
Three of the non-offense clauses require no explanation: There is no offense in asking from relatives, for the sake of another, or for medicine to be bought with one’s own resources.
One of the two non-offense clauses requiring explanation is that there is no offense in asking “from those by whom one was invited with medicine.” This the Commentary explains by saying that if one has received a personal invitation, one may ask in line with its terms, but that otherwise the limits set by this rule apply only to invitations made to an entire Community and not to those made on a personal basis to individual bhikkhus. Although the Vibhaṅga makes no specific mention of this point, the Commentary’s explanation seems the best way to make sense of this non-offense clause and the relationship between this rule and Pc 39. Under that rule, a bhikkhu who is not ill and has not been invited incurs a dukkaṭa in asking for any one of the five tonics, and there seems no reason to impose a heavier penalty for requesting one of the five tonics after a personal invitation to do so has expired. If, though, the invitation referred to in this rule is one made to an entire Community, the heavier penalty makes sense as an added protection to the donor against having his/her invitation abused by the less conscientious members of the Community. This added protection would also be a means of encouraging further invitations of this sort in the future.
The second non-offense clause requiring explanation is the one for an ill bhikkhu. Reading the rule, one might imagine that the exemption for an ill bhikkhu would read simply, “There is no offense if one is ill,” but instead it reads, “There is no offense if one says, ‘The time period for which we were invited has passed, but we have need of medicine.’” This is an important point of etiquette. Normally, an ill bhikkhu may ask anyone for medicine at any time, but in dealing with a person who has made an invitation for medicine to the Community, he has to show special consideration. In mentioning the fact that the time period for the invitation has expired, he gives recognition of the fact that the donor is no longer under any obligation to provide the medicine, thus giving the donor a convenient “out” in case he/she can no longer provide it. This simple gesture is the least consideration that can be shown to someone who has had the generosity to invite the Community to ask for medicines. And again, simple gestures of this sort help to protect donors and encourage similar invitations again in the future.
Although this last non-offense clause applies explicitly only to an invitation specifying the time period, the Great Standards could be used to apply it to an invitation specifying requisites as well. In other words, an ill bhikkhu could say, “You invited the Community with honey, but I have need of ghee.”
An alternative interpretation
The Vinaya-mukha tries to extend this rule to cover invitations of every sort, individual and communal, dealing with any sort of requisite. It also reads the training rule to mean that if a time limit is not specified on an invitation, a four-month time limit is to be assumed. All of this has no support in the Vibhaṅga and so is not binding, but the last point is something that individual bhikkhus may adopt as a personal policy to teach themselves moderation in their requests. A donor’s faith and financial position can change quickly, and it is reasonable not to depend on an invitation for longer periods of time unless the donor makes it clear that he/she is still willing to continue providing the item offered on a long-term basis.
Summary: When a supporter has made an offer to supply medicines to the Community: Asking him/her for medicine outside the terms of the offer when one is not ill is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
Should any bhikkhu go to see an army on active duty, unless there is a suitable reason, it is to be confessed.
This is an offense with three factors: object, effort, and intention.
An army in the time of the Buddha was a very different affair from what an army is now. We will start with a discussion of how the Vibhaṅga explains this factor in terms of armies at that time, and then follow with a discussion of how it may be applied to armies at present.
Armies in the Buddha’s time consisted mainly of what we would call reserve units. These were organized into four divisions: elephant units, cavalry units, chariot units, and infantry units. The soldiers for the most part were citizens who would live at home until called up on active duty to engage in actual warfare or to practice maneuvers, activities that normally took place outside the city. Battles, both actual and practice, were fought according to rules—total warfare did not come to India until many centuries after the Buddha’s time—and it was possible for non-military citizens to watch, with occasional danger to life and limb, much as people at present watch football games. (Going to a battlefield is listed in the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1) as a form of entertainment.)
With this information in mind, it is easy to understand the Vibhaṅga’s treatment of this rule: An army on active duty—composed of a full panoply of elephant, cavalry, chariot, and infantry units who have left the city—is grounds for a pācittiya. This applies whether the army is camped or on the move. Any segment of an army on duty—even one armed archer, says the Commentary—is grounds for a dukkaṭa. An army not on duty—the Commentary illustrates this with a king’s pleasure trip—is not grounds for an offense.
To apply these definitions to armed forces at present: The Vibhaṅga’s definition for army comes close to the modern definition of a field army with a full array of artillery, armored, airborne, and infantry divisions. Navies, marines, and air forces did not exist at that time, but the Great Standards would allow us to extend the definition of army to cover similar large units of these branches of the military as well. Because armies on active duty no longer limit their activities to areas outside of cities—they are sometimes based in cities, run practice drills there, and can be called in to quell riots or fight enemy forces there—the definition of “on active duty” must be changed to fit the way armies use it at present. Thus soldiers at work on base or off would count as being on duty. An army camped—on base or off—for active duty would also count as being on active duty. There is some controversy at present as to whether the on-base areas for staff housing would count as an army camped, but because the Vibhaṅga defines active duty as being away from home, it would seem that the homes within a base would not come under this rule.
With these points in mind, we may say that a full field army—or the equivalent in naval, marine, or air forces—on active duty would be grounds for a pācittiya here. Any smaller unit of the military on active duty—a regiment, a division, or even one armed soldier—would be grounds for a dukkaṭa. Armies not on active duty, as when they organize charity events, would not be grounds for an offense.
Perception as to whether a group qualifies as an army on duty is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
This factor is fulfilled simply by staying still and watching an army on duty except when one has a suitable reason. The Vibhaṅga gives a dukkaṭa for every step one makes in going to watch an army on duty, and a pācittiya for staying still and watching. It also gives an extra pācittiya for every time one returns to watch after going away.
The origin story’s example of a suitable reason is that a bhikkhu’s uncle in the army had fallen ill and wished to see him. The non-offense clauses also allow one to take shelter with the army to escape dangers. (This the Commentary defines as dangers to one’s life or celibacy.) Other suitable reasons would include accepting an invitation from the soldiers to receive alms or to give a Dhamma talk.
There is no offense—
if, having gone on business, one sees the army;
if, standing within a monastery, one watches an army fighting or holding practice maneuvers nearby;
if an army comes to where one happens to be;
if one meets an army coming from the opposite direction; or
if there are dangers.
Summary: Watching a field army—or similar large military force—on active duty, unless there is a suitable reason, is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
There being some reason or another for a bhikkhu to go to an army, he may stay two or three (consecutive) nights with the army. If he should stay beyond that, it is to be confessed.
Unusually, the Vibhaṅgas to this rule and the next do not define army, a crucial term in both rules. But because these rules are continuations of the preceding one, we may be justified in reading their Vibhaṅgas as continuations of the preceding one as well. If so, army means the same thing in all three rules, and the permutations for object are identical in all three as well. Thus this rule does not apply to the housing where military officers live with their families, whether on base or off.
As under Pc 5—the rule that deals with sleeping in the same dwelling with an unordained person—nights here are counted by dawns. If a bhikkhu leaves the army before dawn at the end of any night, that night is not counted. If he returns to spend another night/dawn with the army, the series starts over again from one. If, however, he has spent three consecutive nights with the army and is still with the army at any time beginning with sunset of the fourth night, he incurs a pācittiya. Unlike Pc 5, he does not need to be lying down for this factor to count. The Commentary illustrates this point by saying that even if he is using his psychic power to sit levitating above the army at sunset on the fourth day, he still fulfills this factor.
Perception as to whether more than three consecutive nights have actually passed is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).
There is no offense in staying longer than three nights if they are not consecutive, or in staying longer than three consecutive nights:
if one is ill or caring for someone else who is ill;
if the army is surrounded by opposing forces (so that the road out is blocked, says the Commentary);
if one is being constrained (either by the army or its opponents, says the Commentary); or
if there are other dangers (which the Commentary in many other non-offense clauses defines as dangers to one’s life or one’s celibacy).
Summary: Staying more than three consecutive nights with an army on active duty, unless one has a suitable reason to be there, is a pācittiya offense.
* * *
If a bhikkhu staying two or three nights with an army should go to a battlefield, a roll call, the troops in battle formation, or to see a review of the (battle) units, it is to be confessed.
“Then a certain group-of-six bhikkhu, having gone to the battlefield, was pierced by an arrow. People made fun of him: ‘We hope (the battle) was well fought, venerable sir. How many points did you get? (§)’”
A battlefield, according to the Vibhaṅga and Commentary here, is a place where actual fighting may be seen; according to the Commentary to the Brahmajāla Suttanta, it is a place where war games are held. Both interpretations seem valid, especially considering the organized and decorous nature of warfare in those days.
The Commentary also says that a review of battle units can mean anything down to a review of a single unit.
Roll call and troops in battle formation are self-explanatory.
DN 1 mentions all four of these activities as forms of entertainment. From this, using the Great Standards, we may say that any show the armed forces put on for the public—parades, air shows, etc.—would also fall under this factor.
Notice that these activities fulfill this factor even if they do not include the full array of forces that one would find in a field army or similar large military unit. In other words, a bhikkhu staying with the army would incur the full penalty here for watching these activities even if they involve only a small segment of a single division. If he is not staying with the army, though, then under Pc 48 he would incur a pācittiya for watching these activities if they contain the full complement of artillery, armored, airborne, and infantry forces; and a dukkaṭa if they contain only a segment.
As with Pc 48, there is a dukkaṭa for every step one takes toward watching these activities, and a pācittiya for staying still and watching them.
The Vibhaṅga’s non-offense clauses here are identical with those for Pc 48. In other words, there is no offense:
if, having gone on business, one happens to see any of these activities;
if, staying within a monastery, one watches these activities;
if an army comes to where one happens to be;
if one meets an army coming from the opposite direction; or
if there are dangers.
Summary: Going to a battlefield, a roll call, an array of troops in battle formation, or to see a review of the battle units while one is staying with an army is a pācittiya offense.