CHAPTER TEN

Misbehavior

The material in this chapter draws on rules scattered widely through the Khandhakas and the Pāṭimokkha, as well as on passages from the suttas. The misdeeds covered here range from simple childishness to more serious wrong doings, such as cruel mistreatment of animals.

Bad habits

The origin story to Cv.V.36 lists bad habits from which a bhikkhu should abstain. The list is long and varied, and can be divided into the following sub-topics:

Corrupting families

The bhikkhus in question planted flowering trees and had them planted; watered them and had them watered; plucked them and had them plucked; tied the flowers into garlands and had them tied; made garlands with stalks on one side and had them made; made garlands with stalks on two sides and had them made; made branching stalk arrangements (stringing flowers on thorns or palm-frond stems) and had them made; made floral arrangements in bunches (BD: wreaths) and had them made; made forehead garlands and had them made; made floral ear ornaments and had them made; made floral breast-plates and had them made. They took these garlands or had them sent to wives of reputable families, daughters of reputable families, girls of reputable families, daughters-in-law of reputable families, female slaves of reputable families. They ate from the same dish with wives of reputable families, daughters of reputable families, girls of reputable families, daughters-in-law of reputable families, female slaves of reputable families; drank from the same beaker, sat down on the same seat, shared the same bench, shared the same mat, shared the same blanket, shared the same mat and blanket.

The Commentary has a great deal to say on these topics. It begins by listing five methods by which a bhikkhu might get someone else to do something for him: (1) improper wording, (2) proper wording, (3) description (saying that doing such-and-such is good), (4) physical gesture (e.g., standing with a shovel in one’s hand as a gesture that a plant should be planted), and (5) a sign (e.g., leaving a shovel on the ground next to an unplanted plant for the same purpose). A bhikkhu who wants flowering trees planted for the sake of corrupting families incurs a dukkaṭa if he uses any of these methods to get someone else to do the planting. If he wants fruiting trees planted so that he can eat the fruit, only (1) and (2) are improper. If he wants trees planted for the sake of having a forest, a garden, or shade, or for having flowers to give in offering to the Triple Gem, only (1) is improper (i.e., one cannot say, “Dig this soil” in violation of Pc 10). There is no offense in taking or getting someone to take flower-garlands or other flower arrangements as an offering to the Triple Gem.

However, the Commentary insists that under no circumstances should a bhikkhu arrange flowers in any of the ways mentioned above, even as an offering to the Triple Gem. It fields the questions as to why there is the discrepancy here—i.e., why it is all right to take flower arrangements for the Triple Gem, but not to make them—but its answer is simply that the ancient commentaries say so, and what they say must be right. This is not supported by the Canon, in which flower arranging is criticized only in the context of corrupting families. Bhikkhus obviously have better things to do with their time than arranging flowers on altars, etc., but that is no reason for imposing an offense for doing so. Nevertheless, to summarize the Commentary’s long discussion of the matter: To arrange flowers in any of the ways described in the above passage incurs a dukkaṭa; to arrange them in other ways, no matter how elaborately, is an offense only if one is planning to corrupt families with the arrangement; to get others to make flower arrangements as an offering to the Triple Gem is no offense if one uses any of the methods from (2) to (5) listed in the preceding paragraph.

Violations of the eight precepts

The bhikkhus in the origin story to Cv.V.36 ate at the wrong time, drank strong drink, wore garlands, scents, and cosmetics; they danced, they sang, they played instruments, they directed (§). (According to the Commentary, to Sg 13, this last word means that, “Having gotten up, floating as if in rapture, they get a dramatic dancer to dance; they give the revaka.” The Sub-commentary states that revaka, which is found nowhere in the Canon and nowhere else in the Commentary, means that they demonstrated expressive or dramatic gestures (abhinaya): “Having declared their intent, ‘This is how to dance,’ they get up first and demonstrate the motions of the dance.” The Thai translator of the Commentary suggests instead that revaka might mean the musical beat. Under either interpretation, conducting a musical performance at present would also come under this term.) They danced while a woman danced, sang while she danced, played instruments while she danced, directed while she danced. They danced… sang… played instruments… directed while she sang. They danced… sang… played instruments… directed while she played instruments. They danced… sang… played instruments… directed while she directed…. Having spread out their outer robes as a stage, they said to a dancing girl, “Dance here, sister.” They applauded her (according to the Commentary, they placed their fingers first on their own foreheads, then on her forehead, saying “Good, good!” This, however, would seem to be a violation of Sg 2).

Games and other playful behavior

The bhikkhus played eight-row chess/checkers, ten-row chess/checkers, chess/checkers in the air, hopscotch, spillikins, dice games, stick games, hand-pictures, marble-games; blew through toy pipes, played with toy plows, turned somersaults, played with toy windmills, toy measures, toy chariots, toy bows; guessed letters drawn in the air or on the back of the body, guessed thoughts, mimicked deformities. Reasoning from the Great Standards, other toys and games, such as computer games, would be forbidden as well.

Athletics, military skills, and acrobatics

The bhikkhus trained in elephant skills (how to catch, care for, ride elephants), horse skills, chariot skills, archery skills, swordsmanship. They ran in front of elephants… horses… chariots. They ran forwards and backwards. They whistled (cheered?—this term, usseḷhenti, is uncertain), they clapped their hands, wrestled, boxed.

This list, though long, is not intended to be exhaustive. The origin story adds that the bhikkhus in question indulged in other bad habits as well. Cv.V.36 states simply that a bhikkhu who engages in bad habits should be dealt with in accordance with the rule. This, the Commentary says, means that if no higher penalty is assigned elsewhere, the bhikkhu incurs a dukkaṭa.

We have noted elsewhere—for example, under the discussions of NP 10 and Pc 11 in BMC1—that the Commentary seems to have used the open-ended nature of this list of bad habits to impose dukkaṭas on activities that, according to DN 2, a bhikkhu consummate in virtue would abstain from but are not explicitly mentioned in the Vinaya. Because the Commentary has a canonical source for these judgments, this seems a legitimate use of this rule.

If a bhikkhu engages in any of these bad habits repeatedly to the point where his bad habits are seen and heard about, and the families corrupted by his behavior are seen and heard about, he is further subject to the procedures and penalties given under Sg 13.

Other rules

Other rules related to the list of bad habits include the following:

A bhikkhu should not eat from the same dish, drink from the same beaker, share the same bed, share the same mat, share the same blanket, or share the same mat and blanket with anyone at all, lay or ordained. According to the Commentary, this means that one should not eat from a dish or drink from a beaker in the presence of another person who is also eating from that dish or drinking from that beaker (see Chapter 4). As for sharing bedding, a similar principle would apply: One may use bedding that someone else has used or is planning to use, but not at the same time that the other person is actually using it.

There is a dukkaṭa for going to see dancing, singing, or music. According to the Commentary, dancing includes going to see even peacocks dancing. It also includes dancing oneself and getting others to dance. (The Roṇa Sutta—AN 3:108—notes that, in the discipline of the noble ones, dancing counts as insanity.) Singing includes drama music as well as “sādhu music,” which the Commentary to Bhikkhunī Pc 10 defines as songs sung “at the time of the total Unbinding of a noble one, connected with the virtues of the Triple Gem.” The Sub-commentary to Cv.V.36 defines it as music dealing with Dhamma themes such as impermanence. Other religious music would come under this prohibition as well. The Commentary adds that “singing” also includes singing oneself and getting others to sing. The same holds true for “playing music.” (The Roṇa Sutta also notes that, in the discipline of the noble ones, singing counts as wailing.) However, there is no offense in snapping one’s fingers or clapping one’s hands in irritation or exasperation. There is also no offense if, within the monastery, one happens to see/hear dancing, singing, or music, but if one goes from one dwelling to another with the intention to see/hear, one incurs a dukkaṭa. The same holds true for getting up from one’s seat with the intention to see/hear; or if, while standing in a road, one turns one’s neck to see.

DN 2’s list of forbidden shows includes the following: dancing, singing, instrumental music, plays, legend recitations, hand-clapping, cymbals and drums, magic-lantern scenes, acrobatic and conjuring tricks; elephant fights, horse fights, buffalo fights, bull fights, goat fights, ram fights, cock fights, quail fights; fighting with staves, boxing, wrestling, war-games, roll calls, battle arrays, and regimental reviews (see Pc 50). Reasoning from this list, it would seem that a bhikkhu would be forbidden from watching athletic contests of any type. Movies and shadow-puppet plays would fit under the category of magic lantern scenes, and—given the Commentary’s prohibition against “sādhu music,” above—it would seem that fictional movies, plays, etc., dealing with Dhamma themes would be forbidden as well. Non-fictional documentary films would not seem to come under the rule, and the question of their appropriateness is thus an issue more of Dhamma than of Vinaya. Because many of even the most serious documentaries treat topics that come under “animal talk” (see Pc 85), a bhikkhu should be scrupulously honest with himself when judging whether watching such a documentary would be beneficial for his practice.

Arguing from the Great Standards, a bhikkhu at present would commit an offense if he were to turn on an electronic device such as a television, radio, VCR, computer, or CD/DVD player for the sake of entertainment, or if he were to insert a CD or a tape into such a device for the sake of entertainment. He would also commit an offense if he went out of his way to watch or listen to entertainment on such a device that was already turned on.

In connection with the rules against playful behavior, there is a rule that a bhikkhu should not climb a tree. (“People criticized and complained… saying, ‘Like monkeys!’”) However, if there is good reason to do so, one may climb a tree up to the height of a man. If there are dangers, one may climb as high as is necessary in order to escape the danger. An example of a good reason, according to the Commentary, is to collect dry kindling. Examples of dangers include dangerous animals, being lost, or an approaching flood or fire: In the latter cases, one may climb a tree to escape the rising water or to get a sense of direction.

There are rules forbidding a bhikkhu from riding in a vehicle unless he is ill, in which case he may ride in a handcart or a cart yoked with a bull. In modern times, ill is interpreted here as meaning too weak to reach one’s destination on foot in the time available, and the allowance for a cart yoked with a bull is extended to cover motorized vehicles such as automobiles, airplanes, and trucks, but not to motorcycles or bicycles, as the riding position in the latter cases is more like riding on an animal’s back. There is also a rule allowing a bhikkhu to ride in a sedan-chair, although the origin story to that rule suggests that the allowance is intended specifically for a bhikkhu too ill to ride in a vehicle. In discussing these rules, the Commentary states that the sedan-chair may be carried by women or men, and the vehicle may be driven by a woman or a man (although see the discussion under Pc 67 in BMC1). Even then, though, the Commentary does not extend permission for the bhikkhu to drive the vehicle himself. Thus it is improper for a bhikkhu to drive a motorized vehicle of any sort.

Also, to prevent the kind of harm that can come from negligence, the Vibhaṅga to Pr 3 imposes a dukkaṭa each on throwing a stone over a precipice in fun, on throwing oneself over a precipice, and on sitting in a seat without first checking it.

Wrong livelihood

A bhikkhu lives in an economy of gifts, entrusting his livelihood to the gifts of the faithful. To maintain the purity of this arrangement, he must not try to influence their faith for his own material benefit through inappropriate means or for the sake of items inappropriate for his use. We have already discussed this topic briefly under Sg 13. Here we will treat it more fully.

Cv.I.14.1 states that a bhikkhu who engages repeatedly in wrong livelihood may be subject to banishment. Only a few of the rules dealing with wrong livelihood are given in the Khandhakas. More information is given in the Pāṭimokkha and in the suttas.

Inappropriate items

NP 18 & 19 forbid a bhikkhu from accepting gold and silver (money) or from engaging in an exchange that would result in his receiving such things. Even when he has forfeited these items after confessing his offense under those rules, he is not allowed to receive them in return. (However, there is an allowance for a steward to accept money to be used for a bhikkhu’s needs. This is called the Meṇḍaka allowance, after the lay man who inspired it, and is discussed under NP 10.)

In addition, DN 2 states that the bhikkhu consummate in virtue “abstains from accepting uncooked grain… raw meat… women and girls… male and female slaves… goats and sheep… fowl and pigs… elephants, cattle, steeds, and mares… fields and property.” The Commentary to NP 19 terms these items dukkaṭa-vatthu, items entailing a dukkaṭa when accepted.

Inappropriate means

The section on wrong livelihood in the Rule Index to Volume One lists the rules in the Pāṭimokkha related to the issue of wrong livelihood, the most serious being the pārājika for making false claims to superior human attainments. Most discussions of the type of wrong livelihood that would be grounds for banishment, however, focus on the issue of acting as a go-between (Sg 5) and that of asking for items in inappropriate situations or from inappropriate people.

In general, a bhikkhu may ask for food and tonics only when ill (Pc 39, Sk 37), and for robe-cloth only when two or more of his own robes have been lost or stolen (NP 6). He may ask for enough construction materials for his own purposes only when the hut he is building is no larger than the prescribed measure (Sg 6). For further details, see the discussions under these rules. In all circumstances a bhikkhu may ask for items from his relatives and from those who have given him an invitation to ask—although, in this latter case, he must stay within the bounds of the invitation.

In addition to asking outright, there are other inappropriate ways of influencing donors to make donations. MN 117 defines wrong livelihood as dissembling, talking, hinting, belittling, and pursuing gain with gain. The Visuddhimagga’s long discussion of these terms (I.60-82) may be summarized as follows:

dissembling means making a show of not wanting fine food, etc., in hopes that donors will be impressed with one’s fewness of wants and offer fine food as a result;

talking means speaking with donors in any way that will make them want to give donations—examples include persuading, suggesting, ingratiating oneself with them, and showing affection for their children;

hinting means speaking or gesturing in an indirect way that will get donors to give donations;

belittling means speaking of or to a person in a reproachful or sarcastic way, in hopes that he/she will be shamed into giving;

pursuing gain with gain means making a small gift in hopes of getting a large gift in return (this would include making investments in hopes of profit, and offering material incentives to those who make donations).

Under the category of hinting fall three rules given in the Vibhaṅga to Pr 2 (Pr.II.7.25). Dealing with three variables, they cover the case where Bhikkhu X is going to a place where supporters of Bhikkhu Y live. In the first variable, X volunteers to take Y’s greetings to the supporters (apparently in hopes that they will send gifts to Y, which is what happens). In the second, Y asks X to take his greetings. In the third, they put their heads together and agree for X to take Y’s greetings. In all three cases, the bhikkhu who says, “I will take your greetings,” or “Take my greetings” incurs a dukkaṭa. Although the rules seem aimed at preventing a form of wrong livelihood, they make no exception for a bhikkhu taking another bhikkhu’s greetings with other, more innocent purposes in mind.

DN 2 contains an even more detailed description of inappropriate means for gaining a livelihood. The ideal bhikkhu, it says,

“abstains from conveying messages and running errands… from buying and selling… from dealing with false scales, false metals, and false measures… from bribery, deception, fraud, and crooked practices in general. He abstains from mutilating, executing, imprisoning, highway robbery, plunder, and violence….

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, are intent on conveying messages and running errands for people such as these—kings, ministers of state, noble warriors, brahmans, householders, or youths (who say), ‘Go here,’ ‘Go there,’ ‘Take this there,’ ‘Fetch that here’—he abstains from conveying messages and running errands for people such as these….

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such “animal” arts as:

reading marks on the limbs (e.g., palmistry);

reading omens and signs;

interpreting celestial events (falling stars, comets);

interpreting dreams;

reading features of the body (e.g., phrenology);

reading marks on cloth gnawed by mice;

offering fire oblations, oblations from a ladle, oblations of husks, rice powder, rice grains, ghee, and oil;

offering oblations from the mouth;

offering blood-sacrifices;

making predictions based on the fingertips;

geomancy;

making predictions for state officials;

laying demons in a cemetery;

placing spells on spirits;

earth-skills (divining water and gems?);

snake-skills, poison-skills, scorpion-skills, rat-skills, bird-skills, crow-skills;

predicting life spans;

giving protective charms;

casting horoscopes—

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from “animal” arts such as these.

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such “animal” arts as: determining lucky and unlucky gems, staffs, garments, swords, arrows, bows, and other weapons; women, men, boys, girls, male slaves, female slaves; elephants, horses, buffaloes, bulls, cows, goats, rams, fowl, quails, lizards, rabbits, tortoises, and other animals—he abstains from wrong livelihood, from “animal” arts such as these.

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such “animal” arts as (forecasting):

the rulers will march forth;

the rulers will not march forth;

our rulers will attack, and their rulers will retreat;

their rulers will attack, and our rulers will retreat;

there will be triumph for our rulers and defeat for their rulers;

there will be triumph for their rulers and defeat for our rulers;

thus there will be triumph this one, defeat for that one—

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from “animal” arts such as these.

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such “animal” arts as (forecasting):

there will be a lunar eclipse;

there will be a solar eclipse;

there will be an occultation of (a conjunction of the moon or a planet with) an asterism;

the sun and moon will be favorable;

the sun and moon will be unfavorable;

the asterisms will be favorable;

the asterisms will be unfavorable;

there will be a meteor shower;

there will be a flickering light on the horizon (an aurora?);

there will be an earthquake;

there will be thunder coming from dry clouds;

there will be a rising, a setting, a darkening, a brightening of the sun, moon, and asterisms;

such will be the result of the lunar eclipse… the rising, setting, darkening, brightening of the sun, moon, and asterisms—

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from “animal” arts such as these.

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such “animal” arts as (forecasting):

there will be abundant rain; there will be a drought;

there will be plenty; there will be famine;

there will be rest and security; there will be danger;

there will be disease; there will be freedom from disease;

or they earn their living by accounting, counting, calculation, composing poetry, or teaching hedonistic arts and doctrines (lokāyata)—

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from “animal” arts such as these.

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such “animal” arts as:

calculating auspicious dates for marriages—both those in which the bride is brought home and those in which she is sent out; calculating auspicious dates for betrothals and divorces; for collecting debts or making investments and loans; reciting charms to make people attractive or unattractive; curing women who have undergone miscarriages or abortions;

reciting spells to bind a man’s tongue, to paralyze his jaws, to make him lose control over his hands, or to bring on deafness;

getting oracular answers to questions addressed to a spirit in a mirror, in a young girl, or to a spirit medium;

worshipping the sun, worshipping the Great Brahmā, bringing forth flames from the mouth, invoking the goddess of luck—

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from “animal” arts such as these.

“Whereas some contemplatives and brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such “animal” arts as:

promising gifts to deities in return for favors; fulfilling such promises;

demonology;

reciting spells in earth houses (see earth skills, above);

inducing virility and impotence;

preparing sites for construction;

consecrating sites for construction;

giving ceremonial mouthwashes and ceremonial baths;

offering sacrificial fires;

administering emetics, purges, purges from above, purges from below, head-purges; ear-oil, eye-drops, treatments through the nose, ointments, and counter-ointments; practicing eye-surgery (or: extractive surgery), general surgery, pediatrics; administering root-medicines and binding medicinal herbs—

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from “animal” arts such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.”

The Khandhakas contain only a few rules related to wrong livelihood. A bhikkhu who learns or teaches any of the “animal” arts mentioned above incurs a dukkaṭa. The same holds true for a bhikkhu who learns or teaches lokāyata, a term whose meaning is controversial. SN 12:48 indicates that lokāyata is a form of metaphysics, cosmology, or systematic ontology. The four main tenets of lokāyata, it says, are: everything exists, nothing exists, everything is a oneness, everything is a plurality. The Commentary defines lokāyata as sophistry (“For this and this reason, crows are white, herons are black”) and the teachings of other religions. Because the lokāyatans of the Buddha’s time tended to use their first principles to argue for a life of hedonism, some modern scholars translate lokāyata as hedonism. Whatever the term’s precise definition, it can be extended through the Great Standards to cover all philosophical and religious systems at variance with Buddhist practice.

The Vinaya-mukha objects to this particular prohibition, saying that it would make bhikkhus narrow and ill-informed, unable to argue effectively against non-Buddhist teachings. We must remember, however, that when the Canon was first composed, “learning” a philosophical system meant apprenticing oneself to one of its teachers and memorizing its texts. Thus it is possible to argue that this prohibition does not extend to the simple act of reading about systems whose teachings would undermine Buddhist practice. Still, one must be sensitive to one’s motivation for reading about such things, and to the question of whether such reading is taking up valuable time better spent in the practice.

A bhikkhu is allowed to take another person’s belongings on trust and make them his own only if the original owner is endowed with five characteristics: He/she is an acquaintance, he/she is an intimate, he/she has spoken of the matter, he/she is still alive, and one knows that “he/she will be pleased with my taking this.” This topic is discussed in detail under Pr 2. As noted under that discussion, the Commentary states that only three characteristics have to be met: the fourth, the fifth, and any one of the first three. Mv.VIII.31.2-3 lists the conditions that have to be met to legitimately take an item on trust when conveying it from a donor to an intended recipient. These conditions, too, are discussed under Pr 2.

Mv.VI.37.5 tells the story of a former barber who had ordained late in life and still kept his barber’s equipment at hand. Giving his equipment over to his sons, who were also skilled barbers, he had them go from house to house taking the equipment along to ask for offerings of food. The boys were very successful. Donors, feeling intimidated by the razors, etc., gave donations even though they didn’t want to. As a result, the Buddha laid down a double rule: that a bhikkhu should not get others to do what is unallowable, and that one who was formerly a barber should not keep barber’s equipment. The first rule seems to mean that one should not get others to dissemble, talk, hint, etc., for the sake of material gain. The second rule seems related to the fear that people in those days had of barbers, who were reputed to be so skilled with their razors that they could kill without leaving a visible wound. Thus, to make sure that a bhikkhu who was formerly a barber cannot intimidate anyone, he should not have barber’s equipment at hand. The Commentary states that a former barber is allowed to use barber’s equipment (e.g., to shave the heads of his fellow bhikkhus) but is not allowed to keep it or to accept payment for using it. Other bhikkhus may keep barber’s equipment without offense.

To prevent a bhikkhu from pursuing gain with gain—and from displeasing his donors—there is a rule that a bhikkhu living off the gifts of the faithful should not take those gifts and give them to lay people. To do so is called bringing a gift of faith (saddhā-deyya) to waste. The one exception is that one may always give those gifts to one’s mother or father. The Commentary notes that this allowance holds even if one’s parents are royalty. However, it does not extend to other relatives.

None of the texts define which gains do and do not constitute gifts of faith, but the term itself suggests that it would not apply to gains accruing to a bhikkhu for reasons other than the faith of the donor, such as an inheritance from his parents or funds derived from work done before his ordination.

Gifts of almsfood, however, are obviously gifts of faith, which raises the question: What is to be done with leftovers? Mv.III.7.8 mentions a person called a bhikkhu-bhatika (vl.: bhikkhu-gatika), which the Commentary defines as a man living in the same dwelling with bhikkhus. There may have been a custom for bhikkhus to give their leftovers to such people, but the Canon does not explicitly address the issue. The Vinaya-mukha does, saying that a bhikkhu may take any gains beyond his own needs and give them as compensation to lay people who do work in the monastery. (The Commentary to Cv.X.15.1 says that a bhikkhu may take the best part of what is given to him and then give the remainder to others. Also, if the gift is not congenial to him, he may relinquish it to others. He may also use a robe or alms bowl for a day or two and then give it away.) If a bhikkhu gains an excess of items of a more permanent nature, he may give them to his fellow bhikkhus or to the Community. If the Community has an excess, it may have the items exchanged for something more needed (see Chapter 7). Or, as the origin story to Pc 41 shows, it may arrange to have them distributed to “those who eat scraps (vighāsāda),” which, as that story also shows, may include wanderers of other sects.

Cruelty

A bhikkhu should not grab cattle by the horns, ears, dewlaps, or by their tails, nor should he mount on their backs. (In some Communities, this rule is extended so that a bhikkhu is forbidden from riding on the back of any animal and, as noted above, from riding bicycles and motorcycles.) Furthermore, there is a thullaccaya for touching, with lustful thoughts, the sexual organs of cattle. The Commentary explains that this applies only to touching their sexual organs with one’s own sexual organ, but there is nothing in the Canon to indicate that this is the case. The Sub-commentary adds that it is all right to grab cattle by their horns, etc., if one’s intention is to free them from difficulty or danger.

Destructive behavior

The Vibhaṅga to Pr 2 states that a bhikkhu who breaks, scatters, burns, or otherwise renders unusable the property of another person incurs a dukkaṭa. Cv.V.32.1 adds that a bhikkhu is not allowed to burn underbrush. However, if a brush fire is burning, a counter-fire may be lit and protection (paritta) made. This last phrase apparently means reciting a protective charm, such as the Vaṭṭaka Paritta (Cp 3.9), but the Commentary interprets it in a different way: Making protection includes cutting grass and digging a trench, activities otherwise forbidden (see Pc 10-11); if an unordained person (this includes novices) is present, have him/her light the counter-fire; one may light it oneself only when no unordained person is present (although if that person needs help, there should be no offense in providing that help). The same holds true, the Commentary adds, for cutting underbrush, digging a trench, and cutting fresh branches used to stamp out fire: These things are all right to do regardless of whether the fire has reached one’s dwelling. If, however, the fire can be put out using nothing but water, these other special allowances don’t hold.

Although the Commentary may be mistaken in reading making protection in this way, one could argue from the Great Standards that in a situation where a bhikkhu is allowed to light a counter-fire he should also be allowed to do any of the activities needed to guarantee that the counter-fire does not turn around and burn the area he is trying to protect.

Self-mutilation

A bhikkhu who cuts off his own genitalia incurs a thullaccaya.

Now at that time a certain bhikkhu, tormented by dissatisfaction, cut off his own penis. They reported this matter to the Blessed One (who said), “When one thing should have been cut off, that foolish man cut off something else.”

The “thing that should have been cut off,” the Sub-commentary notes, was the obsession for passion.

The Commentary adds that cutting off any other part of one’s body—such as an ear, nose, or finger—out of spite entails a dukkaṭa. However, one is allowed to cut or cut off any part of one’s body for a medical purpose (as in an amputation); or to let blood, for example, when bitten by a snake or an insect, or to treat a disease that calls for blood-letting (see Chapter 5; Mv.VI.14.4).

Charms & omens

A prince once invited the Community of bhikkhus headed by the Buddha to a meal at his residence. Having spread out a strip of cloth in the entrance to his palace, he the Buddha to step on it but didn’t say why. According to the Commentary he planned to take it as a sign: If the Buddha stepped on the cloth, that meant that he, the prince, would have a son. In any event, the Buddha did not step on the cloth and furthermore forbade the bhikkhus from ever stepping on a strip of cloth in a similar situation. The Commentary explains that this rule was formulated to keep lay people from looking down on bhikkhus who couldn’t accurately predict the future. The Canon contains two exceptions, however: The first is that if lay people spread out a strip of cloth and specifically ask a bhikkhu to step on it for their good luck, he is allowed to do so (although the examples of allowable good luck omens given in the Commentary—that a woman might either have a miscarriage or become pregnant—seem bizarre at the least); the second is that one may step on a cloth for drying the feet after they are washed.

A similar pattern of prohibitions and allowances surrounds wishes for health and long life after a sneeze. The Buddha once sneezed while giving a Dhamma talk, and the talk was interrupted as the bhikkhus said, “May you live!” He asked them, “Bhikkhus, when ‘May you live!’ is said when someone has sneezed, can he for that reason live or die?” The answer, of course, was No, and the Buddha went on to forbid bhikkhus from saying “May you live!” (modern equivalents would be “Gesundheit!” or “Bless you!”) when someone sneezed. However, an exception was made for the case where a bhikkhu sneezes and lay people wish him a long life. The custom in those days was for the person who had sneezed to respond, “And a long life to you!” and the Buddha allowed the bhikkhu to respond in the customary fashion.

As noted in the section on wrong livelihood, above, a bhikkhu is forbidden from giving protective charms, or paritta. However, the Commentary to Pr 3 applies the above pattern surrounding cloths and sneezes to instances when lay people, for the sake of good luck, ask a bhikkhu to chant paritta or make paritta-water. Whether this is allowable or not, it says, depends on the way in which the invitation is phrased and the ceremony arranged. If they ask him to do these things for an ill person, he should not accept the invitation (as it would count as a way of practicing medicine); but if they simply ask him to do so for good luck, he may. If, when he is invited to their home, they ask him to make paritta-water, he may stir the water with his hand or touch the string attached to its vessel only if the lay people provide these things. If he provides them himself, he incurs a dukkaṭa. The Commentary’s allowances on this topic are controversial, and not all Communities follow them.

However, the Canon clearly allows a bhikkhu to chant a paritta protection for himself. Cv.V.6 allows him to protect himself from being bitten by snakes through suffusing the four royal families of snakes with an attitude of good will (mettā) and to make a self-protection, stipulating the paritta to be chanted (AN 4:67). DN 32 and Sn&2:1 (= Khp 6) contain similar charms for protecting oneself against the depredations of unruly spirits. And, as noted above, one is allowed to recite a self-protective charm if a brush fire is approaching.

What is worth noting here is that all of these parittas stake their power on skillful qualities in the mind of the person chanting them: good will, respect for the Triple Gem, and truthfulness. Thus, other self-protective charms that stake their power on skillful qualities of mind would seem to be allowable under the Great Standards. Charms based on unskillful mental states, such as the desire to bring harm to whatever is threatening one’s safety, would not. One might also argue that charms staking their powers on other principles—such as the Mahāyāna charms whose powers are said to come from the supposed magical qualities of words and syllables or from the power of an external being—would also not be allowable, but this is a controversial point.

Displaying psychic powers

In AN 3:61, the Buddha tells a brahman that many hundreds of his bhikkhu disciples are endowed with psychic powers. Nevertheless, he forbade them from displaying those powers to householders. The origin story to this prohibition—which we cited briefly in connection with Pc 8—shows why:

Now at that time a costly block of sandalwood, from sandalwood heartwood, accrued to the Rājagaha financier. The thought occurred to him, “What if I were to have an alms bowl carved from this block of sandalwood? The chips will be for my own enjoyment, and I’ll give the bowl as a gift.” So the financier, having had a bowl carved from the block of sandalwood, having looped a string around it, having hung it from the top of a bamboo pole, having had the bamboo pole fastened on top of a series of bamboo poles, one on top of another, announced: “Any brahman or contemplative who is a worthy one (arahant) with psychic powers: Fetch down the bowl and it is given to you.”

Then Pūraṇa Kassapa went to the Rājagaha financier and, on arrival, said to him, “Because I am a worthy one with psychic powers, give me the bowl.” “If, venerable sir, you are a worthy one with psychic powers, fetch down the bowl and it is given to you.”

Then Makkali Gosāla… Ajita Kesakambalin… Pakudha Kaccāyana… Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta… Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta went to the Rājagaha financier and, on arrival, said to him, “Because I am a worthy one with psychic powers, give me the bowl.” “If, venerable sir, you are a worthy one with psychic powers, fetch down the bowl and it is given to you.”

Now at that time Ven. Mahā Moggallāna and Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja, each having dressed early in the morning, each taking his robe and bowl, had gone into Rājagaha for alms. Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja was a worthy one with psychic powers, and Ven. Mahā Moggallāna was a worthy one with psychic powers (§). Then Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja said to Ven. Mahā Moggallāna: “Go, friend Moggallāna, and fetch down the bowl. That bowl is yours.” Then Ven. Mahā Moggallāna said to Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja: “Go, friend Bhāradvāja, and fetch down the bowl. That bowl is yours.”

So Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja, rising up into the sky, took the bowl and circled three times around Rājagaha. Now at that time the Rājagaha financier was standing in his house compound with his wife and children, paying homage with his hands palm-to-palm over his heart, (saying,) “May Master Bhāradvāja land right here in our house compound.” So Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja landed in the financier’s house compound. Then the financier, having taken the bowl from Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja’s hand, having filled it with costly non-staple foods, presented it to Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja. Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja, taking the bowl, returned to the monastery.

People, hearing that “Master Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja, they say, has fetched down the financier’s bowl,” followed right after him, making a shrill noise, a great noise. The Blessed One, hearing the shrill noise, the great noise, asked Ven. Ānanda, “Ānanda, what is that shrill noise, that great noise?”

“Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja has fetched down the Rājagaha financier’s bowl, venerable sir. People, hearing that ‘Master Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja, they say, has fetched down the financier’s bowl,’ are following right after him, making a shrill noise, a great noise. That is the shrill noise, the great noise, that the Blessed One (hears).”

Then the Blessed One, with regard to this cause, to this incident, had the Community of bhikkhus convened and questioned Ven. Piṇḍola Bhāradvāja: “Is it true, as they say, Bhāradvāja, that you fetched down the financier’s bowl?”

“Yes, venerable sir.”

The Awakened One, the Blessed One, rebuked him: “It’s not appropriate, Bhāradvāja, not fitting for a contemplative, improper, and not to be done. How can you display a superior human state, a wonder of psychic power, to lay people for the sake of a miserable wooden bowl? Just as a woman might expose her sexual organ for the sake of a miserable wooden coin, so too have you displayed a superior human state, a wonder of psychic power, to lay people for the sake of a miserable wooden bowl.”—Cv.V.8

Strangely, the Commentary insists that the prohibition against displaying psychic powers applies only to vikubbana (harmful/ violent)-iddhi, not to adhiṭṭhāna (mental determination) -iddhi. It doesn’t elucidate the difference between the two, but the Sub-commentary notes that vikubbana-iddhi means, for example, changing one’s appearance to that of another being, such as a child or a nāga (as Devadatta did with Prince Ajātasattu) or to a manifold army in battle formation; whereas adhiṭṭhāna-iddhi means simply multiplying one’s ordinary appearance 100, 1,000, or 100,000 times through the power of a determination “May I be many.” The distinction is fascinating but bears no relation to the origin story—Ven. Piṇḍola did not engage in vikubbana-iddhi—and has no basis in the Canon.

Notice that the dukkaṭa here is for displaying psychic powers. If one tells an unordained person of one’s actual psychic powers, the penalty would be a pācittiya offense under Pc 8. Unlike the dukkaṭa here, the pācittiya applies to telling novices as well. If one displays one’s powers to a novice or an ordained person, or tells an ordained person of one’s actual powers, there is no offense.

Off-limits

The Vibhaṅga to Sg 1 imposes a dukkaṭa on the act of staring lustfully at a woman (or girl’s) private parts.

Also, the second book to the Abhidhamma—the Vibhaṅga—lists individuals and places that are “out-of-range” (agocara) to a bhikkhu, i.e., off-limits for him to associate with. The commentaries list items that are “untouchable” (anāmāsa), i.e., off-limits for him to touch. As neither of these lists comes from the canonical Vinaya, they are discussed in Appendix V.

Rules

Bad Habits

“Various kinds of bad habits are not to be indulged in. Whoever should indulge in them is to be dealt with in accordance with the rule.”—Cv.V.36

“One should not eat from the same dish (with another person), drink from the same beaker, share the same bed, share the same mat, share the same blanket, share the same mat and blanket. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.V.19.2

“One should not go to see dancing, singing, or music. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.V.2.6

“A tree should not be climbed. Whoever should climb one: an offense of wrong doing”…. “I allow that, when there is a reason, a tree be climbed to the height of a man, and as high as is necessary in case of dangers.”—Cv.V.32.2

“One should not ride in a vehicle. Whoever should ride: an offense of wrong doing.”—Mv.V.9.4“I allow a vehicle for one who is ill.”—Mv.V.10.2“I allow a hand cart and a cart yoked with a bull (§)“… “I allow a sedan-chair and a hammock sedan-chair.”—Mv.V.10.3

Wrong Livelihood

“There are people of conviction and confidence who place gold and silver in the hands of stewards, saying, ‘Give the master whatever is allowable.’ I allow that whatever is allowable coming from that be accepted. But in no way at all do I say that money is to be accepted or sought for.”—Mv.VI.34.21

“Cosmology (hedonism—lokāyata) should not be learned. Whoever should learn it: an offense of wrong doing”… “Cosmology (hedonism) should not be taught. Whoever should teach it: an offense of wrong doing”… “‘Animal’ arts should not be learned. Whoever should learn them: an offense of wrong doing”… “‘Animal’ arts should not be taught. Whoever should teach them: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.V.33.2

“I allow that an object be taken on trust when (the owner) is endowed with five qualities: he is an acquaintance, an intimate, has spoken (of the matter), is still alive, and one knows, ‘ He will be pleased with my taking (it).’ I allow that an object be taken on trust when (the owner) is endowed with these five qualities.”—Mv.VIII.19

When a bhikkhu conveying robe-cloth may, along the way, rightly take it on trust in the original owner: (The original owner says: “Give this robe-cloth to so-and-so”)… When, along the way, he may rightly take it on trust in the intended receiver: (The original owner says: “I give this robe-cloth to so-and-so”).—Mv.VIII.31.2-3

“One who has gone forth should not get others to undertake what is not allowable. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing. And one who was formerly a barber should not keep barber equipment. Whoever should keep it: an offense of wrong doing.”—Mv.VI.37.5

“I allow giving to one’s mother and father. But a gift of faith should not be brought to waste. Whoever does so: an offense of wrong doing.”—Mv.VIII.22

Are gold and silver permissible?

They are not permissible.

Where is it objected to?

In Rājagaha, in the Sutta Vibhaṅga (NP 18)

What offense is committed?

A pācittiya for accepting gold and silver.—Cv.XII.2.8

Cruel Behavior

“One should not grab cattle by their horns… by their ears… by their dewlaps, by their tails. One should not mount on their backs. Whoever should mount (one): an offense of wrong doing. One should not touch their sexual organs with lustful thoughts. Whoever touches (one): a grave offense. One should not kill a young calf. Whoever kills (one) is to be dealt with in accordance with the rule (Pc 61).”—Mv.V.9.3

“One should not incite another to kill an animal. Whoever should incite is to be dealt with in accordance with the rule (Pc 61).”—Mv.V.10.10

Destructive Behavior

“Underbrush should not be burned. Whoever should burn it: an offense of wrong doing”… “I allow that when a brush fire is burning that a counter-fire be lit (and) protection made (§).”—Cv.V.32.1

Self-mutilation

“One’s own penis/genitals are not to be cut off. Whoever should cut them off: a grave offense.”—Cv.V.7

Charms & Omens

“A strip of cloth (celapaṭṭika) should not be stepped on. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.V.21.3

“I allow that, when requested by householders for the sake of good luck, one step on a strip of cloth”… “I allow that a cloth for drying washed feet be stepped on.”—Cv.V.21.4

“‘May you live!’ should not be said when someone has sneezed. Whoever should say it: an offense of wrong doing”… “I allow that, when householders say to you, ‘May you live!’ you respond, ‘Long life (to you).’”—Cv.V.33.3

“(Following the Sri Lankan, Burmese, and PTS editions) “I allow that these four royal families of snakes be suffused with an attitude of good will; and that a self-protection be made for the sake of self-guarding, for the sake of self-warding. And this is how it is to be made:

“I have good will for the Virūpakkhas,

good will for the Erāpathas,

good will for the Chabyāputtas,

good will for the Dark Gotamakas.

I have good will for footless beings,

good will for two-footed beings,

good will for four-footed beings,

good will for many-footed beings.

May footless beings        do me no harm.

May two-footed beings        do me no harm.

May four-footed beings        do me no harm.

May many-footed beings        do me no harm.

May all creatures,

all breathing things, all beings

—each & every one—

meet with good fortune.

May none of them come to any evil.

Limitless is the Buddha,

limitless the Dhamma,

limitless the Saṅgha.

There is a limit to creeping things:

snakes, scorpions, centipedes,

spiders, lizards, & rats.

I have made this safeguard,

I have made this protection.

May the beings depart.

I pay homage

to the Blessed One,

homage

to the seven

rightly self-awakened ones.”—Cv.V.6

Psychic Powers

“A superior human state, a miracle of psychic power, should not be displayed to householders. Whoever should display it: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.V.8.2