This term means “to be trained in.” There are 75 training rules in this category, divided by subject into four groups: etiquette in dressing and behaving when in inhabited areas; etiquette in accepting and eating almsfood; etiquette when teaching the Dhamma; and etiquette in urinating, defecating, and spitting.
The rules themselves do not impose a direct penalty. Instead, they simply say, “(This is) a training to be observed.” The Vibhaṅga, though, says that to violate any of these rules out of disrespect incurs a dukkaṭa. The non-offense clauses state in each case that to violate them unintentionally, unthinkingly, or unknowingly, or to disobey them when there are dangers or (in most cases) when one is ill, incurs no penalty. (The exemption for dangers is not in the Burmese edition of the Canon.)
The Commentary adds that unknowingly in this case does not mean not knowing the rule. For a new bhikkhu not to make the effort to know the rules, it says, would qualify as disrespect. So unknowingly here means not knowing that a situation contrary to the rules has developed. For instance, if one does not know that one’s robes have gotten out of kilter, that would not count as a breach of the relevant rule.
One: The 26 Dealing with Proper Behavior
The Canon contains several stories in which a bhikkhu’s behavior causes another person to become interested in the Dhamma. The most famous example is the story of Ven. Sāriputta’s first encounter with Ven. Assaji.
“Now at that time the wanderer Sañjaya was staying in Rājagaha with a large company of wanderers—250 in all. And at that time Sāriputta and Moggallāna were practicing the celibate life under Sañjaya. They had made this agreement: Whoever attains the Deathless first will inform the other.
“Then Ven. Assaji, dressing early in the morning, taking his bowl and (outer) robe, entered Rājagaha 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. Sāriputta the wanderer saw Ven. Assaji going for alms in Rājagaha: gracious… his eyes downcast, his every movement consummate. On seeing him, the thought occurred to him: ‘Surely, of those bhikkhus in this world who are arahants or have entered the path to arahantship, this is one. What if I were to go to him and question him: “Friend, on whose account have you gone forth? Or who is your teacher? Or in whose Dhamma do you delight?”’
“But then the thought occurred to Sāriputta the wanderer: ‘This is the wrong time to question him. Having entered among houses, he is going for alms. What if I were to follow behind this bhikkhu, (to know) the path found out by those who seek it?’”—Mv.I.23.1-3
Even though the following rules deal with minor matters, a bhikkhu should remind himself that the minor details of his behavior can often make the difference between sparking and killing another person’s interest in the Dhamma.
I will wear the lower robe [upper robe] wrapped around (me): a training to be observed.
To wear the lower robe wrapped around means to wear the upper edge circling the waist, covering the navel, and the lower edge covering the kneecaps. This is called covering the “three circles.” The Commentary states that when one is standing, the lower edge should be not more than eight fingerbreadths below the knees, although if one’s calves are disfigured, it is all right to cover them more than that.
To wear the upper robe wrapped around means, according to the Vibhaṅga, keeping both ends of the top edge in line with each other, and the same with both ends of the bottom edge. The bottom edge of the upper robe, though, does not have to be level with the bottom edge of the lower robe. Given the size of the upper robe in the Buddha’s time, it would not have extended down that far.
Intentionally to wear either robe hanging down in front or in back is a breach of these rules. The Commentary states that the purpose of these rules is to prevent bhikkhus from wearing their robes in any of the various ways that lay people in those days wore theirs—e.g., pleated “with 100 pleats,” tied up, or tucked up between the legs. It also comments that because these rules are not qualified, as the following ones are, with the phrase, “in inhabited areas,” they should be followed in the monastery and wilderness areas as well. However, the wilderness protocols (Cv.VIII.6.2-3) clearly show that bhikkhus were not expected to wear the upper robe wrapped around them in the wilderness; and the sauna protocols (Cv.VIII.8.2) seem to indicate that bhikkhus on their way to and from the sauna were not required to wear their lower robes covering the three circles as long as they covered their private parts front and back.
As a practical matter, if one is working on a high ladder or in a tree—whether in a village, a monastery, or the wilderness—a wise policy is to tuck one’s lower robe up between the legs for decency’s sake.
I will go [sit] well-covered in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
The Vibhaṅga does not define inhabited areas in this or any of the following rules. The term thus probably has the same meaning as under Pd 1: in the homes of lay people, or along the streets and alleys of villages, cities, or towns. This does not include, however, monasteries located in inhabited areas, for the incoming bhikkhu’s protocols (Cv.VIII.1.2) show that when the Canon was composed, bhikkhus were not required to wear their upper robes in the monastery. At present, though, many monasteries located in inhabited areas require that bhikkhus living with them observe many of these rules when outside of their personal quarters but still within monastery grounds.
Well-covered, according to the Commentary, means not exposing one’s chest or knees. One should have the upper edge of the upper robe around the neck, and the lower edge covering the wrists. The lower edge of the lower robe, as stated above, should cover the knees. When seated, only one’s head, hands, and legs from the calves on down should show.
Sk 4 here has an added non-offense clause: There is no offense if one sits not “well-covered” within one’s residence (§). According to the Vinaya-mukha, this means within one’s room when staying overnight in a lay person’s home; when outside of one’s room, though, one should follow the rule.
I will go [sit] well-restrained in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
Well-restrained, according to the Vibhaṅga, means not playing with the hands or feet. This would include such things as dancing, cracking one’s knuckles, or wiggling one’s fingers or toes.
I will go [sit] with eyes lowered in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
The Vibhaṅga says that a bhikkhu should keep his gaze lowered to the ground the distance of a plow’s length ahead of him—this equals two meters, according to the Commentary. The purpose of this rule, it adds, is to prevent one from gazing aimlessly at the sights here and there as one walks along. There is nothing wrong, though, in looking up when one has reason to do so. An example given in the Commentary is stopping to look up and see if there are dangers from approaching horses or elephants. A more modern example would be checking the traffic before crossing a road.
I will not go [sit] with robes hitched up in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
According to the Vibhaṅga, to hitch up one’s robes means to lift them so as to expose either side or both sides of the body. Sk 10 here, like Sk 4, does not apply when one is sitting in one’s residence in an inhabited area (§).
I will not go [sit] laughing loudly in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
According to the Vibhaṅga, if there is any reason for amusement, one should simply smile. It also states that there is no offense in laughing loudly when ill or there are dangers. The editors of the Thai edition of the Pali Canon question these exemptions on the grounds that they see no reason why anyone would laugh loudly in either of these situations, but this objection shows a lack of imagination.
I will go [sit] (speaking) with a lowered voice in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
The Commentary defines a lowered voice as follows: Three bhikkhus are sitting in a row at intervals of three meters. The first bhikkhu speaks. The second can hear him and clearly catch what he is saying. The third can hear his voice but not what he is saying. If the third can clearly catch what he is saying, it maintains, the first bhikkhu is speaking too loudly. As the Vinaya-mukha notes, though, when one is speaking to a crowd of people, there is nothing wrong in raising one’s voice provided that one does not shout. And as the non-offense clauses show, there is nothing wrong in shouting if there are dangers—e.g., someone is about to fall off a cliff or be hit by a car. It would also seem that there is no offense in shouting if one’s listener is partially deaf.
I will not go [sit] swinging my body in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
I will not go [sit] swinging my arms in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
According to the Commentary, this means that one should keep one’s arms still, although as the Vinaya-mukha points out, there is nothing wrong in swinging one’s arms slightly to keep one’s balance as one walks. The non-offense clauses indicate that Sk 18, like Sk 4, does not apply when one is sitting in one’s residence in an inhabited area.
I will not go [sit] swinging my head in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
This refers to swinging the head from side to side or letting it droop forward or back. Of course, there is no offense if one is dozing off, and like Sk 4, Sk 20 does not apply when one is sitting in one’s residence in an inhabited area.
I will not go [sit] with arms akimbo in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
Akimbo means with the hand on the hip. This rule, the Vibhaṅga says, forbids having one arm or both arms akimbo. Sk 22 does not apply when one is sitting in one’s residence in an inhabited area.
I will not go [sit] with my head covered in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
Covered here means covered with a robe, a scarf, or other similar piece of cloth. Sk 24 does not apply when one is sitting in one’s residence in an inhabited area. The allowance for “one who is ill” under both rules means that one may cover one’s head when the weather is unbearably cold or the sun unbearably hot.
I will not go tiptoeing or walking just on the heels in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
This translation of the rule follows the Commentary.
I will not sit clasping the knees (§) in inhabited areas: a training to be observed.
This, the Vibhaṅga says, refers to sitting with one or both arms or hands hugging one or both knees; or with a strap or a strip of cloth around one or both knees and the torso (§). The bas-reliefs at Borobudur show royalty using this latter position as a way of keeping the body erect when tired or weak.
This rule does not apply when one is sitting in one’s residence in an inhabited area (§).
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In addition to the rules listed here, there are others in the Khandhakas concerning behavior in inhabited areas. These include:
A bhikkhu entering an inhabited area must wear all three of his basic set of robes unless—
he is ill;
there is sign of rain;
his kaṭhina privileges are in effect;
he is going to cross a river; or
he has a secure dwelling (or other hiding place, the Commentary says, such as a hollow in a tree or a rock) in which to place the robe he leaves behind (Mv.VIII.23.2-3).
He should also wear his waistband. The bhikkhu who instigated this rule had the unforgettable experience of having his lower robe slip off in front of a group of people who thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle (Cv.V.29.1).
A bhikkhu entering an inhabited area, though, should not spread out his outer robe to sit on (Cv.VIII.4.3) and, unless he is ill, should not wear footwear—shoes, sandals, boots, etc.—(Mv.V.12) or use an umbrella or sunshade (Cv.V.23.3). The Commentary to the umbrella rule includes physical or mental discomfort under ill in this case, and says that one may also use the umbrella to protect one’s robes from the rain.
Two: The 30 Dealing with Food
I will receive almsfood appreciatively: a training to be observed.
This rule was formulated in response to an incident in which some group-of-six bhikkhus accepted almsfood unappreciatively, as if—to quote the Vibhaṅga—“they wanted to throw it away.” The Commentary explains appreciatively as “with mindfulness established.” One should also remind oneself of the trouble and expense the donors incurred in providing the food.
I will receive almsfood with attention focused on the bowl: a training to be observed.
The purpose of this rule is to prevent one from looking at the donor’s face (see Cv.VIII.5.2) or gazing aimlessly in other directions while he/she is placing food in the bowl. However, one of the “duties to be observed on alms round,” (Cv.VIII.5) is that one should not stand too long or turn away too soon. This means that one should glance at what the donor has prepared to give, so that one will not stand waiting for more when the donor has finished giving, or turn away when he/she has more to give.
I will receive almsfood with bean curry in proper proportion: a training to be observed.
This rule refers specifically to eating habits at the time of the Buddha. Bean curry means dishes made with gram, pulses, vetch, etc., thick enough that they can be placed in the bowl by the hand. In proper proportion, according to the Commentary, means no more than one-quarter of the total food. The Vinaya-mukha tries to interpret this rule as covering curries and soups of all kinds, but the Vibhaṅga and commentaries state unequivocally that it covers only bean curries. Other gravies, soups, stews, and sauces are exempt.
This rule probably refers to situations in which bhikkhus are offered food from a serving dish from which they help themselves—as was the custom when they were invited to homes in the Buddha’s time, and is still the custom in Sri Lanka and Burma—for the Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense in receiving more than the proper proportion if one is invited to accept more than that. There is also no offense in taking more than the proper proportion if one is ill, one is accepting it from relatives, one is accepting it for the sake of another, or one has obtained the food through one’s own resources. (This interpretation follows the Commentary. The K/Commentary, for some reason, maintains that these latter non-offense situations—accepting from one’s relatives, from people who have offered an invitation, for the sake of another, or from food obtained through one’s own resources—apply only to dishes that are not bean curries, but this interpretation does not fit with the Vibhaṅga.)
I will receive almsfood level with the edge (of the bowl): a training to be observed.
Iron bowls in the past had a hoop approximately 1 cm. wide around the inside of the mouth. According to the Commentary, edge here means the bottom edge of this hoop. A bhikkhu is prohibited from accepting so much food that it would pile up above this level, although of course there is nothing against accepting less.
The Commentary contains a long discussion of what does and does not come under almsfood in this rule, and concludes that the term covers only staple and non-staple foods. Thus if one receives a sweet, the “tail” of whose leaf-wrapper extends above the edge of the bowl (such sweets are still common in Asia today), it would not count as an infraction of this rule. The same holds true if one receives foods that do not fill the bowl but extend above the edge—such as a length of sugar cane—or if the donor places on top of one’s bowl another vessel containing food, such as a box of sweets or a bag of fruit.
The Vinaya-mukha, in discussing this rule, makes the following point: “In terms of present-day customs, receiving a lot of food in a way that demonstrates greed is unacceptable. There is nothing wrong, however, in receiving a lot in a way that demonstrates compassion. For instance, when a newly-ordained bhikkhu goes to receive alms at his family home, if he accepts only one bowlful, not everyone will have a chance to put food in his bowl. If they take his bowl and pour out the contents (into a basin), and he then continues accepting food until everyone has had a chance, this is no breach of manners, and no one would criticize him as greedy.” Because this is an instance of breaking the rule not out of disrespect, it would incur no offense; the same observation can be applied to similar situations as well.
I will eat almsfood appreciatively: a training to be observed.
According to the Vinaya-mukha, this rule forbids doing other things—such as reading—while eating one’s food. The Recollection at the Moment of Using One’s Requisites requires that one reflect that one is eating “not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification; but simply for the survival and continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the celibate life, (thinking) ‘I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] without creating new feelings [from overeating]: Thus will I maintain myself, be blameless, and live in comfort.’” One should also remind oneself of the effort and expense the donors went to in providing the meal.
I will eat almsfood with attention focused on the bowl: a training to be observed.
The purpose of this rule is to prevent one from gazing aimlessly about while eating. The Vinaya-mukha notes, though, “To look elsewhere in ways related to one’s eating—e.g., looking with the thought of providing a nearby bhikkhu with whatever he is lacking—is not prohibited.” (See Sk 38, below.)
I will eat almsfood methodically (§): a training to be observed.
The aim of this rule is that a bhikkhu work steadily across his food from one side to another while eating and not pick at it here and there. Special treats, though, may be passed over—either as a form of self-denial or to save them for the end of the meal. Also, there is no offense in picking here and there when taking food from one’s bowl to give to another person (§).
I will eat almsfood with bean curry in proper proportion: a training to be observed.
This rule does not apply to foods that are not thick bean curries, or to situations where one is ill or where one has received bean curry from relatives, from people who offered an invitation to take more, or from one’s own resources.
I will not eat almsfood taking mouthfuls from a heap: a training to be observed.
This refers to the food on one’s plate or in one’s bowl. The Commentary explains from a heap as from the top or from the middle. As noted under Sk 33, one should work across one’s food systematically; this rule indicates that one should start from the side when taking mouthfuls and not from the middle of the heap. The non-offense clauses state that if a little food remains scattered in one’s bowl, there is no offense in gathering it together in a small heap and eating from that (§). The Vinaya-mukha maintains that it is a custom among bhikkhus before eating to level off the food in their bowls so that its surface is even, but I have found no reference to this point in any of the other texts. However, the Vinaya-mukha does make the helpful point that if one is served other foods—such as sweets—stacked on a platter, it would be impolite to level them off (or to take from the edge in a way that would collapse the heap), so in such cases one may take from the top of the heap.
I will not hide bean curry and foods with rice out of a desire to get more: a training to be observed.
Some donors, if they see that a bhikkhu has nothing but rice in his bowl, will go out of their way to provide him with extra food. This rule is to prevent bhikkhus from taking advantage of their kind intentions.
According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense if donors cover the food in one’s bowl with rice, or if one covers it with rice oneself for some reason other than a desire for more.
The Commentary takes special note of the fact that the Vibhaṅga gives no exception here for a bhikkhu who is ill.
Not being ill, I will not eat rice or bean curry that I have requested for my own sake: a training to be observed.
The Commentary to Pc 39 says that rice or bean curry here covers all foods not covered in that rule.
There is no offense in requesting these foods from relatives, from people who have offered an invitation to request, or if one is ill (weak from hunger would be included here). There is also no offense in obtaining these foods by means of one’s own resources. The Sub-commentary raises the question of how the blanket Sekhiya exemptions for the bhikkhu acting “unintentionally” or “without mindfulness” apply to this rule, and comes up with the following example: A bhikkhu takes the food into his mouth and then, on feeling regret, spits it out in displeasure. A better example might be that of a bhikkhu who asks for these foods from a lay person and then eats them, having forgotten that the lay person’s invitation to ask for such foods has expired.
The Meṇḍaka Allowance (Mv.VI.34.21) permits a bhikkhu to search for provisions of husked rice, kidney beans, green gram (mung beans), salt, sugar, oil, and ghee when going on a journey through a wilderness area where almsfood will be hard to find. For details, see the discussion under Pc 39.
I will not look at another’s bowl intent on finding fault: a training to be observed.
The K/Commentary defines finding fault as taking note of the fact that the other bhikkhu or novice has something. What this probably means is that he has some especially nice food that he is not sharing. The Vinaya-mukha provides an alternative suggestion, that this rule refers to finding fault with another’s sloppy manner of eating. Sloppiness, though, is something about which bhikkhus may admonish one another, so the K/Commentary’s interpretation seems more to the point.
The Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense in looking at another’s bowl if one is not meaning to find fault or if one wants to provide him with whatever he may be lacking.
Here again, the Commentary notes that there is no exception for a bhikkhu who is ill.
I will not take an extra-large mouthful: a training to be observed.
According to the Commentary, a mouthful the size of a peacock egg is too large, while one the size of a chicken egg is too small (!). One midway between these two sizes is just right. This seems hard to fathom unless chicken eggs in those days were much smaller than they are now.
According to the Vibhaṅga, this rule does not cover fruits, solid foods such as roots, or special confections (sandwiches at present would fit here). Apparently, if these items are a little large, it is all right to stick them whole into the mouth, although if they are very large it would be better to take bites out of them (see Sk 45).
I will make a rounded mouthful: a training to be observed.
People at that time ate food with their hands, and formed mouthfuls of the food with their fingers before taking them to the mouth.
This rule, like the preceding one, does not cover fruits, solid foods such as roots, or special confections such as sandwiches. In other words, one does not have to mash these things up and form them into rounded mouthfuls before eating.
I will not open the mouth when the mouthful has yet to be brought to it: a training to be observed.
I will not insert the whole hand into the mouth while eating: a training to be observed.
The Commentary and K/Commentary are in agreement that this is the proper translation for this rule. The Sub-commentary insists that it should be “any part of the hand” rather than “the whole hand,” but according to the Commentary the act of sticking a finger in one’s mouth while eating comes under Sk 52. Although there are people with small hands and large mouths who have actually succeeded in inserting their whole hands into their mouths, the rarity of this ability has given rise to alternative interpretations for this rule. For instance, although the verb in the rule clearly means “insert,” some have suggested that this rule forbids taking a handful of food in the palm of the hand and pushing the palm right up against the mouth. Others have suggested that it forbids inserting all five of one hand’s fingers into the mouth. However, even though these suggestions promote good manners, they do not fit the precise act mentioned in the rule, and so at most can be taken on an individual basis as wise policies to follow.
I will not speak with the mouth full of food: a training to be observed.
According to the Commentary, if the amount of food in one’s mouth is not enough to affect the clarity of one’s pronunciation, it is all right to speak.
I will not eat from lifted balls of food: a training to be observed.
What this means is that one should not lift food from the bowl in one hand and then use the other hand to take parts of that handful to put in the mouth. According to the Vibhaṅga, this rule does not cover fruits or solid foods. Thus, for example, it is all right to pick up a bunch of grapes in one hand and then take the grapes one by one with the other hand to put them in the mouth.
This rule is often translated as, “I will not eat tossing up balls of food,” but it seems unlikely that there would be an allowance for tossing fruit, etc., into the air and catching it in the mouth. Because the Pali term ukkhepa can mean “lifting,” the above translation is probably more correct.
I will not eat nibbling at mouthfuls of food: a training to be observed.
Again, this rule does not cover fruits, solid foods, or special confections (§—these last two items are missing in the PTS edition of the Canon). In other words, there is nothing wrong in taking bites from any of these foods that are too large to fit into the mouth, although the etiquette in many Asian countries at present frowns on taking bites even out of things such as these.
I will not eat stuffing out the cheeks: a training to be observed.
This is another rule that does not cover fruits, solid foods, or special confections. Apparently this allowance covers cases where the fruits, etc., would make up a mouthful a little on the large side, as defined under Sk 39.
I will not eat shaking (food off) the hand: a training to be observed.
According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense in shaking the hand while throwing away scraps.
I will not eat scattering lumps of rice about: a training to be observed.
The Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense in throwing away lumps of rice while throwing away scraps.
I will not eat sticking out the tongue: a training to be observed.
I will not eat smacking the lips: a training to be observed.
I will not eat making a slurping noise: a training to be observed.
In the origin story to this rule, a certain brahman prepared a milk drink for the bhikkhus, who drank it making a hissing or slurping sound. One of the bhikkhus, a former actor, made a joke about the fact: “It’s as if this entire Saṅgha were cooled.” (This of course, is a pun on the higher meaning of the term, cooled.) Word got to the Buddha, who in addition to formulating this rule, also imposed a dukkaṭa on the act of making a joke about the Buddha, Dhamma, or Saṅgha.
I will not eat licking the hands: a training to be observed.
According to the Commentary, this rule also covers the act of sticking a finger into the mouth. There are times, though—it says—when one is eating a semi-liquid food with one’s hand, in which case it is all right to stick the tips of the fingers into the mouth so as to get as much of the food as possible into the mouth without spilling it.
I will not eat licking the bowl: a training to be observed.
The Commentary shows that the verb lick here also means scrape, when it says that scraping the bowl even with one finger is a breach of this rule. The Commentary is surely correct here, for otherwise there is no making sense of the Vibhaṅga’s allowance that if there are a few scattered crumbs left in the bowl, one may gather them into one last mouthful, “lick” them up, and eat them.
If the crumbs are not enough to form a mouthful, though, the Vinaya-mukha recommends leaving them as they are. One would then throw them out with the bowl-washing water (see Sk 56). This practice of leaving a little food uneaten is a point of etiquette common throughout Asia. If one is a guest and has been offered food or drink, one should not eat it to the last crumb or drink it to the last drop, for that would imply that one was not offered enough and is hungry or thirsty for more. Wasting a few bits of food is less serious than hurting the feelings of one’s host. (For more on this point, see Pc 35.) Even when one is eating in a situation where the donor is not around to watch, it is generally a good practice to leave a few crumbs—to be thrown away a good distance from one’s dwelling—as a gift to insects or other small, hungry beings.
I will not eat licking the lips: a training to be observed.
I will not accept a water vessel with a hand soiled by food: a training to be observed.
The Vibhaṅga says that if one’s hand is soiled, one may take the water vessel with the thought that, “I will wash it or get it washed (§),” although this allowance might be qualified with the consideration that one should try to get it washed before anyone else wants to use it.
According to the Commentary, this rule was formulated to prevent unclean habits, and so it changes the verb in the Pali—“accept” or “receive”—to “take” or “take hold of.” In other words, it applies this rule not only to situations where one is accepting the water vessel from someone else, but also to those in which one simply picks it up on one’s own. It adds that water vessel here applies to anything from which one would drink water, whether it belongs to oneself or to others. If one’s hand is partially soiled, it says, one may pick up a water vessel with the unsoiled part.
I will not, in an inhabited area, throw away bowl-rinsing water that has grains of rice in it: a training to be observed.
The custom in those times, when bhikkhus were invited to eat at a lay person’s home, was for the donor to offer water to the bhikkhus to rinse out their bowls before the meal and again after it. In both cases, each bhikkhu was to hold his bowl in both hands, receive the water into the bowl, swish it around without scraping it (against the ground or floor), and pour it into a receptacle if there was one—or on the ground if not—taking care not to splash any nearby people or his own robes (Cv.VIII.4.4-6).
This rule applies to the after-meal rinsing. The Vibhaṅga says that there is no offense in throwing away bowl-rinsing water if the rice grains are removed or if they are squashed so as to dissolve in the water. Different editions of the Canon have variant readings for the remaining non-offense clauses. According to the PTS edition, there is no offense “in having received or in having carried out,” but it is hard to tell what having received would mean here. According to the reading given in the Thai and Sri Lankan editions of the Canon, as well as the Commentary, there is no offense “in a receptacle (paṭiggahe) or in having carried out.” The reading “receptacle” here is supported by the Meal-hall Protocols in Cv.VIII.4.6 (BMC2, Chapter 9), and so is probably correct. Thus, as the Commentary explains, there is no offense in pouring the water with rice grains into a receptacle, nor is there an offense in carrying the bowl containing water with rice grains outside the inhabited area to throw it away there.
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In addition to the above rules, the duties observed on alms round and in eating at a lay person’s home include the following points of etiquette:
While on alms round. One should go unhurriedly, and stand neither too close to nor too far from the donor (Cv.VIII.5.2).
While eating in a home. One should select a seat that does not encroach on the senior bhikkhus’ spaces but that also does not preempt the seats of the junior ones (Cv.VIII.4.3).
If there are any special foods, the most senior bhikkhu should tell the donor to make sure that everyone gets equal portions. He should also not begin eating until everyone is served rice (Cv.VIII.4.4), nor should he accept water for rinsing his bowl until everyone has finished eating (Cv.VIII.4.6).
For more details, see BMC2, Chapter 9.
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The Vinaya-mukha notes that some of the rules and allowances in this section outline table manners that would be regarded as either excessively fussy or messy by polite modern standards. Thus wherever ancient and modern codes of etiquette are at variance, the wise policy would be to adhere to whichever code is more stringent on that particular point.
Three: The 16 Dealing with Teaching Dhamma
SN 6:2 records that the Buddha himself had the highest respect for the Dhamma he had discovered; that, as others might live under the guidance of a teacher, honoring and revering him, the Buddha lived under, honored, and revered the Dhamma. He enjoined his followers to show the same respect for the Dhamma not only when listening to it but also when teaching it, by refusing to teach it to a person who shows disrespect.
The following set of rules deals with situations in which a listener, in terms of the etiquette at that time, would be regarded as showing disrespect for a teacher or his teaching. As the Vinaya-mukha notes, a few of these cases—such as those concerning footwear—are not considered disrespectful under certain circumstances at present, although here the exceptions given for listeners who are ill might be stretched to cover any situation where the listener would feel inconvenienced or awkward if asked to comply with the etiquette of the Buddha’s time. On the other hand, there are many ways of showing disrespect at present that are not covered by these rules, and an argument could be made, reasoning from the Great Standards, that a bhikkhu should not teach Dhamma to a person who showed disrespect in any way.
Dhamma here is defined as any statement spoken by the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or devatās, connected with the teaching or with its goal. See Pc 7 for a more detailed discussion of this point.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person with an umbrella in his hand who is not ill: a training to be observed.
An umbrella or sunshade, at that time, was considered a sign of rank. According to the Commentary, this rule applies regardless of whether the umbrella is open or closed, as long as one’s listener has his/her hand on it. If, however, the umbrella is on the listener’s lap, resting against his/her shoulder, or if someone else is holding it over the listener’s head, there is no offense in teaching him/her any Dhamma. This last point may have been offered as a concession to royalty at the time.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person with a staff in his hand who is not ill: a training to be observed.
According to the Vibhaṅga, a staff is a pole two meters long. For some reason, any pole shorter or longer than that would not come under this rule—perhaps because a two-meter pole was used as a weapon, whereas other poles, such as walking sticks, were not.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person with a knife in his hand who is not ill: a training to be observed.
The term knife here includes anything with a blade. According to the Commentary, if the knife is not in the listener’s hand—e.g., it is in a sheath attached to a belt—there is no penalty in teaching him/her any Dhamma.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person with a weapon in his hand who is not ill: a training to be observed.
The Vibhaṅga defines weapon as a bow, and the Commentary includes arrows here as well. The Vinaya-mukha adds guns; and in fact any weapon that does not have a blade would seem to fall under this rule.
Again, if the weapon is not in the listener’s hand—e.g., it is in a holster attached to the belt—there is no penalty in teaching him/her any Dhamma.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person wearing non-leather [leather] footwear who is not ill: a training to be observed.
The Pali terms for non-leather and leather footwear—pādukā and upāhanā—cover all forms of shoes, sandals, and boots (see Mv.V.1.30-8.3).
Wearing means any one of three things: placing one’s feet on top of the footwear without inserting the toes; inserting the toes without fastening the footwear; or fastening the footwear with the toes inside.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person in a vehicle who is not ill: a training to be observed.
The Commentary makes the point that if the vehicle is large enough to seat two or more, the bhikkhu may sit together with his listener and teach Dhamma without penalty. The same holds true if the bhikkhu and his listener are in separate vehicles, as long as the bhikkhu’s vehicle is the same height or higher than his listener’s and is not following along behind it.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person lying down who is not ill: a training to be observed.
The Commentary goes into great detail on this rule, listing the various permutations of the bhikkhu’s position and his listener’s, saying which ones are allowable and which ones not:
A bhikkhu lying down may teach any listener who is standing or sitting down. He may also teach a listener lying down on a piece of furniture, a mat, or the ground, as long as the bhikkhu’s position is on an equal level or higher than his listener’s.
A bhikkhu standing may teach a listener who is also standing, but not one who is sitting or lying down, again unless the listener is ill (see Sk 70).
I will not teach Dhamma to a person who sits clasping his knees and who is not ill: a training to be observed.
The position of clasping the knees is discussed in detail under Sk 26.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person wearing headgear who is not ill: a training to be observed.
This rule applies only to headgear—such as turbans or hats—that hide all of the hair. If the hat/turban does not hide all of the hair, or if the listener adjusts it so as to expose some hair, it would not come under this rule.
I will not teach Dhamma to a person whose head is covered (with a robe or scarf) and who is not ill: a training to be observed.
There is no offense in teaching if the listener adjusts the robe or scarf to uncover his/her head.
Sitting on the ground, I will not teach Dhamma to a person sitting on a seat who is not ill: a training to be observed.
According to the Commentary, a seat here includes even a piece of cloth or a pile of grass.
Sitting on a low seat, I will not teach Dhamma to a person sitting on a high seat who is not ill: a training to be observed.
The Commentary states that this rule also covers cases where the bhikkhu and his listener are both sitting on the ground but the listener is sitting on a higher piece of ground than the bhikkhu.
Standing, I will not teach Dhamma to a person sitting who is not ill: a training to be observed.
Walking behind, I will not teach Dhamma to a person walking ahead who is not ill: a training to be observed.
There is no offense, the Commentary says, if the bhikkhu and his listener are walking side by side; or if two bhikkhus are walking along, one in front of the other, and they practice reciting a passage of Dhamma together.
Walking beside a path, I will not teach Dhamma to a person walking on the path who is not ill: a training to be observed.
Four: The 3 Miscellaneous Rules
Not being ill, I will not defecate or urinate while standing: a training to be observed.
Arguing from the Commentary’s allowance under the following rule, it would seem that a bhikkhu who needs to urinate, finds himself in a public restroom, and can no longer hold himself in while waiting for a toilet, would qualify as “ill” here and so would be able to use a urinal without penalty.
Not being ill, I will not defecate, urinate, or spit on living crops: a training to be observed.
The Vinaya-mukha says that crops here includes all plants that are tended—such as in gardens, farms, or lawns—but not plants growing wild. The Commentary includes roots of living trees that appear above ground, in addition to green plants running along on top of the ground. It also notes that the Mahā Paccarī, one of the ancient commentaries on which it is based, includes blowing the nose under the term spitting in this rule and the next.
According to the Vibhaṅga, there is no offense if—after defecating, urinating, or spitting on a place where there are no plants—the feces, urine, or saliva then spreads to a place where there are plants (§). The Commentary adds that if a bhikkhu looking for a place without crops to do his business can’t find one and is unable to hold himself in any longer, he would qualify as “ill” under this rule.
Not being ill, I will not defecate, urinate, or spit in water: a training to be observed.
According to the Commentary, water here includes water fit for drinking or bathing, but not water unfit for such use—e.g., salt water, stagnant water, water already befouled with spit, urine, or feces—or water in a toilet. If there is a flood with no dry ground available, there is no offense in relieving oneself in the water.
As under the preceding rule, the Vibhaṅga says that there is no offense if—after defecating, urinating, or spitting on the ground—the feces, urine, or saliva then spreads into the water (§).
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Cv.VIII.10 contains a series of rules on the etiquette in using a restroom. Among them:
—The restroom should be used in order of arrival, rather than in order of seniority. (“Now at that time, bhikkhus used the restroom in order of seniority. Newly-ordained bhikkhus, having arrived first and having to wait, keeled over in a faint from holding themselves in.”)
—One’s robes should be hung up on a line or rod before entering. This, according to the Vinaya-mukha, refers to one’s upper and outer robe (inasmuch as one is not to lift up one’s lower robe until astride the toilet—see below).
—One should not go bursting into the restroom. Before entering, one should cough or clear one’s throat; if a bhikkhu is inside, he should cough or clear his throat in response.
—One should not have one’s lower robe open or pulled up while entering, and instead should wait to pull up one’s robe only when astride the toilet.
—One should not make grunting or groaning noises while relieving oneself.
—If the toilet or restroom is dirty, one should clean it for the next person.
—One should not go bursting out of the restroom when finished—again, taking care not to have one’s lower robe pulled up or open.
Cv.VIII.9 adds that after one has defecated—inside a restroom or not—one should always rinse oneself if water is available.
For more details, see BMC2, Chapter 9.