CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Community Officials

The Bhaddāli Sutta (MN 65) reports that, as a general principle, the Buddha preferred small Communities over large ones as more conducive to the practice. Nevertheless, large Communities kept developing in his time, sometimes with favorable results (see, for example, MN 118), sometimes not (see Mv.X). In either case, the sheer size of the larger Communities multiplied the burdens of management. To help lighten these burdens, the Buddha allowed Communities to appoint officials to deal with two responsibilities that grow exponentially with an increase in Community size: the allotment of material gains and the supervision of work.

On at least two separate occasions the Buddha compared material gains to excrement (SN 17:5; AN 5:196), but only a rare person will not feel mistreated if he senses that he has received less than his share when excrement of this sort is apportioned out. At the same time, supporters who have donated to the Community’s store of material gains will get upset if they feel that their contributions are being treated like excrement. This is why the proper management of Community property is crucial to peace and harmony within the Community and to continued good will from the Community’s supporters. In receiving and storing goods, care must be taken that they not become damaged or lost through negligence. Otherwise, donors will feel slighted and the potential for future contributions will disappear. In distributing lahubhaṇḍa—light or inexpensive goods—to individual members of the Community, and in assigning garubhaṇḍa—heavy or expensive goodsfor their temporary use, special care must be taken to ensure that everyone gets his fair share. Otherwise, inequities will lead to disharmony, and disharmony to an atmosphere unconducive for practice. So, for smooth relationships both within the Community and between the Community and its supporters, the bhikkhus must take a responsible attitude toward Community property.

As for the Community work, arrangements must be made to keep Community buildings in good repair. Any novices and lay monastery attendants must be supervised to ensure that their work gets done. Otherwise, signs of mismanagement will soon become apparent, leading to dissatisfaction both within the Community and without.

In small Communities the members may take care of these matters on an informal basis. But with larger Communities there is a need for formal accountability. Any area where no one has clear-cut responsibility will tend to be neglected or else fitfully managed. Any area where everyone shares responsibility will take on an unhealthy and disproportionate importance, as the time spent in meetings and discussions would interfere with the training of the mind. This was why the Buddha allowed the Community to assign responsibilities to individual bhikkhus so that the remainder of the Community could focus on the real issues at hand: the training in heightened virtue, heightened mind, and heightened discernment. As for the officials to whom these tasks are assigned, there is no hierarchy among them. Each has full and final authority in his particular sphere, which means that he, too, is freed from having to spend time in long meetings and discussions. Thus he, too, will have more time to devote to his own practice.

Although the standard procedure is to choose officials from among the bhikkhus, the Vibhaṅgas to Pc 13 and Pc 81 indicate that non-ordained people—e.g., novices—can be authorized as officials as well.

To manage material gains, the Canon allows each Community to appoint officials dealing with:

robe-cloth (robe-cloth receiver, robe-cloth keeper, storehouse guardian, robe-cloth distributor, cloth (rains-bathing cloth) bestower);

food (meal designator, conjey distributor, fruit distributor, non-staple food distributor);

lodgings (lodging bestower (senāsana-gāhāpaka), lodging assignor (senāsana-paññāpaka)); and

miscellaneous items (bowl bestower, dispenser of minor items).

To oversee the work of the Community, each Community may appoint officials to supervise:

the work of monastery attendants, and

the work of novices.

It may also appoint bhikkhus to be responsible for the construction of individual buildings, although strictly speaking these bhikkhus do not count as Community officials.

For each Community official, the Canon lists the qualifications that a candidate must meet to be appointed to the office and gives a few rough guidelines for how he should fulfill his duties once appointed. We will follow the same pattern in this chapter, dealing first with the general qualifications applicable to all Community officials, followed by duties specific to each. The Commentary expands on the Canon’s guidelines with long lists of recommendations covering almost every imaginable contingency. Although the Commentary’s recommendations are not binding—and in some cases conflict with the Canon—they reflect generations of experience in these matters. Thus we will give a fairly detailed report of these recommendations, especially with regard to the duties of the most important officials: those responsible for the distribution of cloth and food and for the assigning of lodgings. At the same time we will keep the Commentary’s recommendations clearly separate from the Canon’s so as to maintain a sharp line between those that are binding and those that are not.

It might be useful to point out from the very beginning that the major area of difference between the Canon and the Commentary is that the latter is more consistent in recommending that Community property be allotted in line with seniority. Where the Canon recommends distributing robe-cloth by lot and praises a lodging assignor for housing bhikkhus in like-minded neighborhoods within a monastery, the Commentary in both cases ignores the Canon’s guidelines and recommends giving the best cloth and the best lodgings to the most senior bhikkhus.

In reading this chapter, bear in mind that the Canon’s guidelines and Commentary’s recommendations are directed to all bhikkhus and not just to officials authorized by the Community. As the Vibhaṅga to Pc 13 points out, other bhikkhus—in the absence of formally authorized officials—may also take on the officials’ duties. In fact, the norm in small Communities is that the bhikkhus performing these duties will not be formally authorized. Instead, the abbot will appoint them, or their fellows will encourage them to take on these duties through informal consensus. In these cases, the Canon’s guidelines for the relevant duties still apply. At the same time, bhikkhus who receive allotments of Community property should know the factors that the officials must take into consideration so that they will understand when their allotment is and isn’t fair.

General qualifications

All Community officials must be free of four types of bias: bias based on desire, bias based on aversion, bias based on delusion, and bias based on fear. The Commentary illustrates these biases with examples from the possible behavior of two officials: the robe-cloth receiver and the robe-cloth distributor. A robe-cloth receiver might show bias based on desire by accepting gifts of robe-cloth earlier from those who came later because they’re his relatives, etc., by showing preference to some donors, or by diverting gifts to himself out of greed. He might show bias based on aversion by accepting gifts later from those who came earlier because he dislikes them, or by showing disdain for poor people. He might show bias based on delusion by lacking mindfulness and alertness; and bias based on fear by first accepting gifts, out of fear of their rank, from high-ranking people who came later. A robe-cloth distributor might show bias based on desire by giving expensive cloth to friends even when it isn’t their turn to receive it; bias based on aversion by giving inexpensive cloth to those whose turn it is to receive expensive cloth; bias based on delusion by being so stupid that he doesn’t know the procedures for dividing and distributing cloth; and bias based on fear by being afraid of sharp-tongued younger bhikkhus and so giving them expensive cloth when it isn’t their turn to receive it.

In addition to being free of these four forms of bias, a Community official must be knowledgeable in the duties of his office. For example, a robe-cloth receiver must know when cloth has been properly received and when it hasn’t, a meal designator must know when a meal has been properly distributed and when it hasn’t, and so forth.

Once the Community has found an appropriate candidate for one of these offices, he must first be asked if he is willing to take on the responsibility. Only if he gives his consent may the Community formally authorize him to fill the office. In each case, the transaction statement consists of a motion and a proclamation, although for some undivulged reason the Commentary maintains that a simple announcement is also sufficient. Full transaction statements for some of the more common offices are given in Appendix I.

Robe-cloth officials

The Canon allows that responsibility for managing gifts of cloth to the Community be divided among five officials: one to receive the gifts of cloth, one to put them away, one to guard the storehouse in which they are kept, one to distribute them, and one to bestow bathing cloths. The Vinaya-mukha recommends that a relatively small Community might want to appoint one bhikkhu to fill all of these offices. Only in a very large monastery would it be necessary or desirable to keep the offices separate—in which case the officials would have the added responsibility of coordinating their efforts. The Commentary notes, by way of reminder, that these offices were not created by the Buddha to encourage greed or lack of contentment among the officials, but as a way of helping the Community ensure that cloth is shared out fairly and properly to all.

Receiving & storing

The Commentary states that a robe-cloth receiver should ideally be endowed with good practices in terms of precepts and behavior; wise, mindful, and able to give a blessing with a pleasing voice and clear enunciation so as to inspire confidence in the donors. Once authorized, he should be given residence in a part of the monastery easy for donors to find.

The Canon allows for a building to be formally authorized as the monastery storehouse. The Commentary recommends that the storehouse be located away from the middle of the monastery in a building that is not a general meeting place and is vacant of novices and monastery attendants (for fear that they might steal the cloth). At the same time, it shouldn’t be at the farthest reaches of the monastery where outside thieves might break in. When authorizing the storehouse, the bhikkhus should be in the same territory in which the storehouse is located. In other words, if the monastery has both a main and a subsidiary territory, then if the storehouse is in the main territory that’s the territory where the bhikkhus should assemble to authorize it.

The duty of the storehouse guard, according to the Commentary, is to inspect the storehouse for holes in the roofing, walls, or floor where rain, mice, or termites, etc., could enter, and then arrange to have them fixed. He should also keep the storehouse windows closed in the cold season to keep the cloth from getting moldy, and open in the hot season to let in the breeze. Although this office was created to give protection for robe-cloth, scattered passages in the Canon (e.g., Cv.VI.21.3) show that other items—such as bowls and minor accessories—may be kept in the storehouse, so the storehouse guard should look after them as well.

A common duty of the robe-cloth receiver, the robe-cloth keeper, and the storehouse guard is to note whether the donated cloth provided is of a special sort (e.g., in-season or out-of-season robe-cloth (kāla-cīvara or akāla-cīvara)—see NP 3) and also for whom it is meant. The Canon lists eight ways in which a donor may direct his/her gift of cloth:

1. within the territory,

2. within an agreement,

3. where food is prepared,

4. to the Community,

5. to both sides of the Community,

6. to the Community that has spent the Rains,

7. having designated it, and

8. to an individual.

These terms will be discussed in detail under the duties of the robe-cloth distributor, below. The other robe-cloth officials need only know these terms well enough to make sure that they understand the donor’s wishes as clearly as possible, and then can arrange that cloth of special sorts or donated to different groups be kept in separate lots. This is to help the robe-cloth distributor distribute the cloth in line with the donor’s wishes.

Distributing

The Canon’s guidelines for the robe-cloth distributor fall into two main sorts: general procedures for distribution and specific instructions for robe-cloth given to specific groups.

General procedures

The general procedures are as follows: First sort the cloth by type and estimate it by price. Equalize the portions by mixing attractive and unattractive cloth in each, and then tie them in bundles. Assemble all the bhikkhus and novices who are eligible to receive the cloth, arrange them in groups, and then set out the bundles of cloth for them. Novices may be given half-bundles. If a bhikkhu is setting out on a journey, he may be given a bundle beforehand, and more than his share if he gives compensation to the Community. If there are any inequalities in the cloth bundles, even after one has tried one’s best to equalize them, find ways to make up for the inequalities and then have the bhikkhus draw lots.

The Commentary has a fair amount to say about these procedures. When sorting the cloth by type, sort it into piles of coarse and fine, loose-weave and tight-weave, heavy and light, used and unused. Then form shares of cloth, making sure that each share is as equal as possible a mixture of attractive and unattractive cloth. If there is not enough time for individual distribution, bundle up ten shares per bundle and divide the bhikkhus into groups of ten. Have the groups draw lots to determine which group gets which bundle. Then, within each group, have the individual bhikkhus draw lots to determine which bhikkhu gets which share.

As for novices: When distributing akāla-cīvara, if a novice keeps to himself or looks after only his mentor, give him half a portion. If he performs duties for the whole Community, give him a full portion. When distributing kāla-cīvara, give equal portions to all. When Rains cloth is being distributed, have the novices do services—such as making brooms—in exchange for their shares, but if they complain that they already do all kinds of work—boiling porridge, cooking rice, frying foods—go ahead and give them their full portion.

If a bhikkhu has made arrangements to go with a caravan on a journey and doesn’t have time to stay for the entire distribution, give him his portion only after the Community has gathered for distribution. If his share is slightly more or less than that of the others, the Commentary gives two contradictory instructions as to how it should be handled. In one passage it says that there is no need for the cloth-distributor to make up the lack if it is slightly less, nor for the bhikkhu to provide compensation if it is slightly more. Then, a few lines later, it quotes the Buddha as saying that there is no such thing as “slight” with regard to things of the Community or of a group, and that is why he allows inequalities only when compensation is given. Thus, following the Canon, if the bhikkhu gets slightly more than his share he should provide compensation for it.

There are two sorts of inequality that the distributor must keep in mind: inequality in terms of cloth and inequality in terms of individuals.

In terms of cloth: If, after sharing out cloth, there remain a few pieces not enough to share out to all, cut them up into pieces no smaller than four by eight fingerbreadths and share them out as far as possible. The Andhaka Old Commentary adds that when this has been done, add other objects appropriate for a bhikkhu’s use to shares that didn’t get the extra cloth. Give those shares to any bhikkhus who volunteer to take them, then draw lots for the remaining shares.

As for inequality in terms of individuals: One group may have eight or nine bhikkhus instead of ten. Give it a bundle with only eight or nine shares. When the bhikkhus in that group are satisfied with their shares, the remaining bhikkhus should draw lots for the remaining bundles.

Specific groups

The Canon gives the following instructions for dealing with cloth donated in the eight ways mentioned above.

1. If the donor gives within the territory, the cloth is to be divided among however many bhikkhus are within the territory.

2. “If the donor gives within the agreement” refers to cases where a number of monasteries have made an agreement to pool their gains. Whatever is given in one residence is shared among all the residences that have entered into the agreement.

3. If the donor gives “where food is prepared,” the gift is to be shared out among all the monasteries for which the donor provides constant upkeep.

4. If the donor gives to the Community, the cloth is to be shared among all the members of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha who are present for the distribution, and not just among the residents in the monastery. If the bhikkhus in a monastery have spread a kaṭhina, then all cloth given at that monastery for the Community up until the dismantling of the kaṭhina goes only to the bhikkhus who have earned the privileges for that particular kaṭhina and not to any other bhikkhus. If a bhikkhu is living alone for the Rains and is presented with cloth “for the Community,” it is his until his kaṭhina is dismantled. If he receives cloth “for the Community” while he is living alone outside of the Rains, he may determine the cloth for himself. If another bhikkhu comes along before the first bhikkhu has determined the cloth, the first bhikkhu must share the cloth with the newcomer. If a third bhikkhu comes along before the first two have drawn lots for their shares, they must share with him as well. If a fourth bhikkhu comes along before the first three have drawn lots, they do not need to share with him if they don’t want to.

5. If the donor gives to both sides of the Community, one half is to be given to the Bhikkhu Saṅgha and the other half to the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha, regardless of the respective sizes of the two.

6. If the donor gives to the Community that has spent the Rains, the cloth is to be divided among the bhikkhus who have been spending or have spent the Rains in that monastery. A bhikkhu who accepts a share from a monastery where he has not spent the Rains incurs a dukkaṭa. If a bhikkhu has been spending the Rains in two monasteries, then if he has split his time evenly between the two he may receive a half-share at each. If he has spent more time at one than at the other, he may receive a full share at the one where he has spent more time but, apparently, nothing at the other. If a bhikkhu has been spending the Rains but—before cloth is distributed—goes insane, becomes possessed, or is suspended from the Community, another bhikkhu should receive his share for him and give it to him when he recovers or his suspension is revoked. If a bhikkhu dies, disrobes, or admits to not having been a true bhikkhu before the cloth is distributed, his share falls to the Community. If the Community splits before receiving cloth or after receiving cloth but before dividing it up, the cloth is to be shared equally by all the bhikkhus on both sides of the split. If, however, the donors give cloth, etc., to one faction after the split, saying that their gift is for the faction, it is for that faction alone and is not to be shared with the other.

7. If the donor gives having designated, the designation may be expressed in terms of conjey, meals, non-staple foods, robe-cloths, lodgings, or medicines. The Canon has nothing more to say on this topic, but it is explained by the Commentary, below.

8. If the donor gives to an individual, it goes to the individual the donor has named.

The Commentary expands on these instructions as follows:

1. Giving within the territory. There are fifteen kinds of territories, some of which we have already encountered in Chapter 13:

a subsidiary (khaṇḍa) territory;

a precinct (upacāra) territory (the area within the enclosure of a monastery with an enclosure; two leḍḍupātas (36 meters) around the outmost perimeter of a monastery without an enclosure);

a common affiliation territory (this includes all the baddha-sīmās and khaṇḍa-sīmās within the bounds of the territory);

a not-dwelling-apart ((ticīvara-)avippavāsa) territory;

a gains territory (when a king gives the produce of a certain area around the monastery to the monastery, that area is called a gains territory);

a village territory;

a town territory;

a city territory;

a bow-length territory (the territory in a wilderness);

a water-splash territory (the territory in a lake, river, or ocean);

a province territory;

a country territory;

a kingdom territory (the territory of a king’s rule, which may cover more than one country);

an island territory; and

a world-system territory (all the area within the mountains surrounding the world-system (!)).

If a donor says, “I give this cloth to the bhikkhus in x territory,” it goes to all the bhikkhus in that territory, but not to those outside. If the donor doesn’t specify which type of territory, the bhikkhu receiving the cloth should ask him/her to be specific. If he/she doesn’t understand the different types of territories and just says, “in the territory,” give it to the bhikkhus in the precinct territory, i.e., the bounds of the monastery.

2. Giving within the agreement. Because the Canon does not give a procedure for the agreement by which monasteries may pool their gains, the Commentary recommends a simple announcement, with the following procedure. If the bhikkhus in Monastery X want to share their gains with those in Monastery Y, they should meet in X. (None of the texts address the point explicitly, but it would seem to be appropriate that the bhikkhus who reside in Y should be present to accept or reject the agreement as well.) One of the bhikkhus should state the reason for sharing gains with the bhikkhus in Y, and then announce three times, “The Community is agreeable to making this monastery and that monastery a single-gains territory.”

3. Giving where food is prepared. The request that the cloth be distributed where food is prepared should be treated as follows: If the donor provides regular food for two or more monasteries, the goods should be distributed to all of them. If they have unequal populations, inform the donor. If he/she says, “Divide in line with the number of bhikkhus,” then it is all right to do so. Otherwise, each monastery should get an equal share. If there are articles, such as furniture, that can’t be divided, ask where they should go. If the donor doesn’t say, they should go to the dwelling of the most senior bhikkhu. If that dwelling is already complete in terms of a particular article, the article should go to where it is lacking.

4. Giving to the Community. In all of the Commentary’s examples under this heading, cloth is distributed by seniority, in defiance of the Canon, which as noted above recommends drawing lots. In the phrase, “divide it among all the members of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha who are present for the distribution,” the Commentary says that the word “present” means present within the precinct territory. If within the territory there are slow-moving elder bhikkhus who can’t make it to the distribution in time, the robe-cloth distributor should set aside shares for them and continue with the distribution. If bhikkhus from other monasteries come for shares on hearing that there is to be a cloth distribution, they should be included, too. If they come in the middle of the distribution, have them sit in line with their seniority and continue handing out the cloth in line with seniority (in other words, if they come too late for their turn, they have to wait to see if there is enough cloth for another round). If they are within the precinct territory but haven’t yet entered the line-up, give a share of cloth to their students for their (the teachers’) sake. If they are not within the precinct territory, don’t give that extra portion to the students. If there is enough cloth for a second round, begin again with the most senior bhikkhu.

A bhikkhu observing the discarded-robes dhutaṅga should not take a portion of robe-cloth in the distribution, although a bhikkhu who is not observing that dhutaṅga may give his portion to one who is, and the latter does not thereby break his observance. If cloth or thread is given for purposes other than robes, a bhikkhu observing the discarded-robes dhutaṅga may take a portion. If, after using it for its intended purpose, there is enough cloth or thread left over for making a robe, he may go ahead and use it for that purpose without breaking his observance.

In the case of a bhikkhu who has received cloth “for the Community” while he has entered the Rains alone, if there is no kaṭhina then the cloth is his until the end of the robe season. A similar principle holds true for bhikkhus who enter the Rains as a group: If there is no kaṭhina, any cloth they receive up through the end of the robe season is theirs and need not be shared with visiting bhikkhus who may arrive during the robe season. As for the bhikkhu who has received cloth “for the Community” while living alone outside of the Rains, he should ring a bell, and announce the time for sharing out the robes. (Apparently he should do this regardless of whether he thinks there is anyone to hear the bell.) Whether or not he does so, if he thinks, “Only I am here. These robes are only for me,” that is taking them improperly. If he thinks, “There is no one else here. These fall to me,” he is taking them properly. The Canon’s phrase, “before the first two have drawn lots for their shares” means before they have begun drawing lots. Latecomers who come while lots are being drawn don’t get a share.

5. Giving to both sides of the Community. If the donor says to the robe-cloth receiver, “I’m giving this to both Communities and to you,” then if there are ten bhikkhus and ten bhikkhunīs, 21 portions should be made. The robe-cloth receiver gets the first portion and then has the right to receive another portion in line with his seniority in the distribution to the ten bhikkhus. If the donor doesn’t say that he/she is giving to the two Communities, but just to “the bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs,” the gift is not to be divided half-and-half between the two Communities. Instead, equal portions should be made in line with the total number of bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs, and each individual should receive one portion. If the donor says, “I’m giving this to the bhikkhus and the bhikkhunīs and to you,” the robe-cloth receiver gets only one portion.

6. Giving to the Community that has spent the Rains. If a bhikkhu spending the Rains in one place consents to a portion of robe-cloth from another place, he should return it. If it is worn out or lost, he should make compensation. If when the Community asks for its return he doesn’t return it, the offense is to be determined by the value of the cloth. (?—This follows the theory of bhaṇḍadeyya, which we rejected in the discussion of Pr 2; here in particular it seems excessive punishment for what the Canon explicitly says is only a dukkaṭa.)

If, up through the time of the kaṭhina privileges, the donor says, “I give this cloth to the bhikkhus who have spent the Rains here (this makes it a kāla-cīvara), then the cloth is for all the bhikkhus who spent the first Rains there without break. If any of them have gone off wandering, their portions may be given to their trusted friends for the wandering bhikkhus’ sake.

If the donor says, “I give this cloth to the bhikkhus who are spending the Rains,” then (a) if it’s during the first Rains, it goes to all those who are currently spending the Rains there and have done so without break. (b) If during the fourth month of the rainy season, it’s just for those spending the second Rains who have done so without break.

If the donor says, “I am giving this cloth intended for Rains-dwellers,” then if (a) during the cold season (the first four months of the dry season), it goes to all those who have just spent the Rains. If (b) during the hot season (the last four months of the dry season), the donor should be asked, “For those who have spent the last Rains or those who will spend the next Rains?” If the gift is for the latter but there is no way to keep it, tell this to the donor. If he/she says, “Give it to the Community who is present,” distribute it as cloth given to the Community (as under (4)).

7. Giving having designated. If the designation is related to conjey, meals, or non-staple foods, then the cloth is for those who have been invited to partake of these things and do so. It is not for anyone else.

A designation involving robe-cloths covers the case where the donor says, “This is for those to whom I’ve given cloth in the past.” Whatever item the donor then gives is for them and no one else.

A designation involving lodgings covers the case where the donor says, “This is for those living in the lodging I’ve built.” Whatever item the donor then gives is for them and no one else.

A designation involving medicine covers the case where the donor says, “This is for those to whom I’ve regularly given medicine in the past.” Whatever item the donor then gives is for them and no one else.

8. Giving to an individual. The donor may do this in the individual’s presence by saying, “I’m giving this to you,” or in his absence by saying, “I’m giving this to so-and-so.” If the donor says, “I give this to you and your students,” it goes to the recipient and to all his present and past students (“those who’ve come to study and those who’ve studied and gone”).

Bestowing bathing cloths

The Commentary to AN, in discussing the formulaic suttas at the end of the Fives, defines the office of cloth-bestower (sāṭiya-gāhāpaka) as a bestower of rains-bathing cloths. None of the texts explain why there is a separate official for this purpose or why he is called a bestower (gāhāpaka) rather than a distributor/divider (bhājaka). Cv.II.1 states that a bhikkhu on probation still has the right to receive a rains-bathing cloth in line with seniority, which implies that regular bhikkhus receive them in line with seniority as well. The Commentary to Mv.VII.1.4 states that if any accessory gifts of cloth are donated along with a kaṭhina, they should be handed out beginning where the rains-bathing cloths left off. This suggests that, shortly before the beginning of the Rains, the bathing cloth bestower would take any rains-bathing cloths that have been given to the Community and hand them out in line with seniority, making note of where the cloths run out. This further suggests a possible reason why he is not called a “divider”: i.e., he is not expected to cut up the bathing cloths and distribute equal pieces to everyone in the Community. Instead, he hands out whole bathing cloths even when there are not enough to go around.

Food officials

Responsibility for gifts of food may be divided among four officials: a meal designator, a distributor of conjey, a distributor of fruit, and a distributor of non-staple food. As is the case with the offices dealing with robe-cloth, a Community may decide on the basis of its size whether it wants to appoint one bhikkhu to fill all of these offices or to keep the offices separate. Of the four offices, the texts describe only one—the meal designator—in any detail. The duties of the remaining three, however, can easily be inferred from his.

The Canon’s guidelines

The meal designator is responsible for determining which bhikkhus will be given any of the following meals: Community meals, designated meals, invitational meals, lottery meals, meals given regularly on a particular day (or particular days) of the fortnight (this can include daily meals), meals given regularly on the uposatha day, meals given regularly on the day after the uposatha, meals for newcomers, meals for those going away, meals for the sick, and meals for those tending to the sick.

We have already discussed the first six types of meals in Appendix III to BMC1. A Community meal is one to which the donor invites all members of the Community. A designated meal is one for which the donor requests x number of bhikkhus from the Community. An invitational meal is one where the donor specifies which individual bhikkhus are to receive the meal. A lottery meal is one in which the recipients are chosen by drawing lots. The periodic meals are given regularly to a rotating roster of x number of bhikkhus every time the specified date comes around.

Meals for newcomers are meant specifically for any bhikkhus who have newly arrived at a monastery; meals for those going away are meant for bhikkhus about to leave the monastery on a journey. Meals for the sick and for those tending to the sick are self-explanatory.

The first six types of meals may either be (1) gifts of food that are sent to the monastery or (2) meals outside the monastery, either at the donor’s home or at another place specified by the donor. In the prior case, Cv.VI.21.1 allows the meal designator to divide the food into portions, tying a ticket or leaf to each portion, and then to appoint the portions to the bhikkhus who are to receive them. In the latter case, the origin story to Sg 8 shows that the bhikkhus who will be taking the meal would be informed of the fact two days before the meal.

In the case of designated, lottery, fortnight, uposatha, and day-after-the-uposatha meals, the origin story to Sg 8 shows that the meal designator should keep rotating rosters for the designated category, and apparently the other categories as well, to make sure that all the bhikkhus have an equal chance to receive meals of each sort.

The Commentary’s recommendations

The Commentary’s recommendations are as follows:

Community meals

These are for bhikkhus who have already come to the monastery on that day. Those who come on later days have no right to ask for special consideration to compensate for not receiving Community meals on days when they were not present in the monastery.

Designated meals

The meal designator should announce the time that the designation will be made. When the bhikkhus have assembled he should ask them where the last designated meal left off. If it left off at the end of the line, or if—after he has asked them three times—no one can remember where it left off, he should start with the most senior bhikkhu. But if, for example, someone remembers that the roster left off with bhikkhus of ten Rains, then all those with ten Rains should be gathered and told to stay quiet. Then precise seniority—in terms of month, day, and hour—should be worked out. If, while seniority is being determined, other ten-Rains bhikkhus come, they should be included in the group. If they come after the requisite number of bhikkhus have been designated to go, they (the latecomers) lose their turn. Even those who have undertaken the dhutaṅga practice of eating only alms meals should not be skipped over: If they want to maintain their dhutaṅga, they will ask to be skipped over on their own.

If a donor tells a bhikkhu that he/she will give a designated meal for ten bhikkhus tomorrow, the bhikkhu should inform the meal designator today. If he forgets, he should inform the meal designator early in the morning. If he forgets and remembers to inform the meal designator only after some of the bhikkhus have left for their alms round, the bhikkhus to be designated for the meal should be taken from those who haven’t left the precinct of the monastery. All bhikkhus present are eligible to be designated, whether they come from this monastery or not (e.g., they have heard that a lot of designated meals have been arranged for the bhikkhus of this monastery and they come for a share). To determine whether a bhikkhu is “present,” follow the guidelines given above under the discussion of the Commentary’s recommendations for distributing robe-cloth given to the Community.

In addition to the two sorts of meals mentioned in the Canon—food sent to the monastery and meals outside the monastery—the Commentary mentions a third, in which the donors or their workers come to the monastery, take the bowls of x number of bhikkhus back to their home, and then return with the bowls filled with food. The Commentary then discusses a difficulty that might come with this arrangement: If the donor takes the bowls of eight bhikkhus, fills seven with food and one with water, the food is to be treated in line with what the donor says. If he/she tells all eight to share the food and water, then it must be shared out among all eight. If he/she says nothing and leaves, the seven who get food don’t have to share the food with the eighth, while the eighth should be first in line for the next designated meal. (In the meantime, apparently, he is to content himself with the water if the bowls are returned when it is too late to go for alms.)

If the donor specifically asks to provide a designated meal for senior bhikkhus, he/she should be told that their turn hasn’t yet come. The meal designator should then send bhikkhus in line with the regular roster. If a king or king’s minister provides especially fine designated meals on a regular basis, the meal designator should make a separate roster for these meals so that every bhikkhu in the monastery gets to go. If a donor brings a tray of food “for the Community,” divide it—into meal-sized rather than bite-sized portions—and distribute it according to the roster for designated meals. If there’s enough for everyone, don’t follow the roster but distribute it beginning with the most senior bhikkhu. If the donor designates a gift of tonics or medicines for the Community, these should have their separate rosters—i.e., one each for ghee, oil, sugar, honey, and other medicines.

Invitational meals

The Commentary says that the meal designator should not be involved with meals of this sort, but a common practice at present is for donors to ask him to inform the bhikkhus who have been invited to their meal. As we noted under Pc 32, no more than three bhikkhus may be invited to such meals unless the proper occasions are in effect. If the donor wants more than three to attend the meal, the remaining bhikkhus should be taken from the roster for designated meals.

Lottery meals

The lottery should be held in the monastery, not outside. The meal designator should write the names of the donors on slips of wood, bamboo, or palm leaf (paper would be appropriate at present), and then pile them in a basket or in a fold of his robe. Mix them together thoroughly—left and right, up and down—and have the bhikkhus take them beginning where the last lottery allocation left off. If, for some reason, a bhikkhu refuses to go to the meal he has drawn by lot, he shouldn’t be allowed to draw lots for the next three days (or turns). After that, he may be allowed to draw one more lot. If he draws a ticket for a house nearer than the one he rejected before and then accepts it, he should not be allowed to draw lots again. He should also be heavily punished: If the punishment is to fetch water, it should be no less than 50-60 pails; if it’s to carry firewood, no less than 50-60 bundles; if it’s to carry sand, no less than 50-60 alms bowls full. (!—This seems excessive. The Canon contains no allowance for punishing a bhikkhu in this way.)

Lotteries for fruit, sweets, tonics, etc., should be held separately.

Bhikkhus observing the alms-goer’s practice should not accept items distributed by lottery, even if they are tonics and medicines. (The Sub-commentary disagrees with this last point, on the grounds that a lottery counts as special gains only in the area of meals, and not for tonics and medicines. Also note that the Commentary allows such bhikkhus to receive shares of medicines, and tonics given to the Community, below.)

Meals for newcomers

If a visiting bhikkhu comes every day, he should be included in these meals only on the first day of his repeated visits. If there’s a gap between visits, he should be allowed to accept newcomers’ meals for the first two or three days of each visit.

If the donor says that, on days when there are no newcomers, the resident bhikkhus may have shares of his/her meals, it is all right for them to do so. If he/she doesn’t give this permission, they may not take shares of the meals—although if there are bhikkhus who are about to leave on a trip, they may take shares of the meals for newcomers.

Meals for bhikkhus who are leaving

A bhikkhu may have a share in this meal for only one day unless he is prevented from leaving as planned, in which case he is allowed to take a share again on the next day. If his plans to leave are thwarted by robbers, floods, etc., he may continue to take a share of these meals for two or three days while waiting for the obstacles to pass.

Meals for the sick

These are meant for any bhikkhu with an illness that will get worse if he eats “mixed” food, which apparently means food acquired at random (see Pc 47). In other words, he requires a special diet so as not to aggravate his condition. (From the Commentary’s other explanations, it would seem reasonable that these meals would also be meant for bhikkhus who do not require a special diet but are too weak or disabled to go for alms.) If there is not enough food in these meals for all the sick bhikkhus in the monastery, the food should first be given to those who are too sick to go for alms. Among those who are that sick, it should be given first to those who do not have other sources of support. There is no time limit on how long a sick bhikkhu may have a share in these meals. He may continue taking them until he is well enough to eat “mixed” food without adversely affecting his health.

Meals for those who are tending to the sick

These should be distributed along the same principles as meals for the sick: i.e., with first preference to those who are nursing patients who are very sick, and to those who are nursing those with no other sources of support.

In addition to the meals mentioned in the Canon, the Commentary mentions the following types of meals for which the meal designator is responsible:

Dwelling meals

These are for bhikkhus resident in a specific dwelling and go to whichever bhikkhu(s) are residing in the dwelling that day. If the dwelling was given to an individual and not to the Community, the dwelling meal is for him alone. If he goes elsewhere, his students may eat it in his stead.

Roster meals

These are meals in which donors take turns in providing food for bhikkhus during a time of famine. If they use the word food or meal in announcing their gift, bhikkhus observing the alms-goer’s dhutaṅga practice may not have a share. If the donors don’t use the word “food” or “meal,” they may (?).

Monastery meals

These are meals made from food growing on monastery land. Bhikkhus observing the alms-goers practice may accept these meals (?). They are to be treated as a gift to the Saṅgha as a whole, and not just to the residents of the monastery.

Gifts of tonics/medicines

If a large donation is given, the meal designator should ring the bell and hand out portions to fill the containers the bhikkhus bring. If an elderly bhikkhu comes after his spot in line has been passed, back up to give him his portion. Bhikkhus observing the alms-goer’s dhutaṅga practice may also accept portions. Bhikkhus from other monasteries should be given portions as well; the question of their being present or not is to be decided in line with the guidelines given under gifts of cloth to the Community. (If the donation of a tonic or medicine is not enough for everyone, it becomes the responsibility of the dispenser of minor items—see below.)

Lodging officials

The Canon allows for two officials related to lodgings: the lodging bestower (senāsana-gāhāpaka) and the lodging assignor (senāsana-paññāpaka). Neither the Canon nor the Commentary clearly distinguishes between the duties of the two. The Vinaya-mukha suggests a rather unnatural division of labor between them, with the lodging bestower responsible for assigning bhikkhus to particular dwellings, while the lodging assignor assigns them to sleeping places within the lodgings.

A more likely division of labor is suggested by the Canon’s accounts of how the two offices were established to begin with. The lodging assignor was one of the very first offices to be established, while the office of the lodging bestower was established only after bhikkhus were allowed to lay claim to lodgings. Because these claims are good only during the three months of a bhikkhu’s Rains-residence, it would seem that the lodging bestower is responsible for granting claims to lodgings during the Rains, while the lodging assignor assigns them during the rest of the year, when bhikkhus are more mobile. This fits with the origin story in Sg 8, which tells how Ven. Dabba Mallaputta, the first lodging assignor, had to assign lodgings to visiting bhikkhus who would arrive at all hours of the day and night. This division of labor also fits with the various guidelines covering the allotment of lodgings, which differ considerably for the two different time periods. The discussion in this section will be arranged around this division of labor, discussing first some general guidelines that apply to both officials, followed by the guidelines for giving lodging claims for the Rains and then by guidelines for assigning lodgings outside of the Rains.

General guidelines

The lodging officials are responsible only for lodgings belonging to the Community. They cannot move bhikkhus into or out of lodgings belonging to individual bhikkhus. Within certain limits, they may move a bhikkhu from one Community lodging to another as they see fit. The limitations, set by the Vibhaṅga to Pc 16, Cv.VI.10.2, and Mv.VIII.8.2, are these:

A senior bhikkhu is not to be moved to make room for a junior bhikkhu.

The storehouse guardian is not to be moved.

In general, an ill bhikkhu is not to be moved, but there are provisions to make sure that this privilege is not abused. For example, a bhikkhu may not use a slight illness (such as a headache, says the Commentary) as a pretext for not being moved. When some group-of-six bhikkhus made their illness an excuse to hold onto the best lodgings, the Buddha gave permission for “appropriate lodgings” to be provided for ill bhikkhus. This is apparently an allowance to set aside a sick ward in the monastery and to move sick bhikkhus into the ward. This hypothesis is supported by a reference to a sick ward in SN 36:7. The Commentary adds that appropriate lodgings also be provided for bhikkhus who mix medicines and administer medical treatments—these would be lodgings adjacent to the sick ward—and that these bhikkhus not be moved.

The Commentary states further that a bhikkhu who has received a lodging from the Community should not be moved. An obvious example of this case is that of a bhikkhu who has been allowed to lay claim to a lodging for the Rains. He is not to be moved for the duration of his Rains-residence. The Commentary, however, gives another example, that of a bhikkhu who is learned: The Community, seeing the service he performs in teaching others, may provide him with a lodging and decree that he not be moved from that lodging at all. Because the Commentary was compiled by learned bhikkhus, this judgment seems a little self-serving.

A bhikkhu may not be moved from his lodging by anyone other than the lodging official(s), except in the circumstances discussed under Pc 17.

The texts do not mention this point, but all of these prohibitions against moving a bhikkhu apparently refer to cases of moving him against his will. If he requests to be moved to a place that seems fitting to the lodging official, the latter may move him in line with his request.

As noted in Cv.VI.6.4 and Cv.VI.7, bhikkhus may not preempt Community lodgings in line with seniority, either for themselves or for their mentors (see Chapter 8). The lodgings official may want to take seniority into consideration when allotting lodgings, but as the origin story to Sg 8 shows, he should take other factors into consideration as well.

Having been authorized (as the lodging assignor), Ven. Dabba Mallaputta assigned lodgings in the same place for bhikkhus congenial with one another. For those who knew the suttas, he assigned lodgings in the same place, (thinking,) “They will rehearse the suttas with one another.” For Vinaya experts, he assigned lodgings in the same place, (thinking,) “They will investigate the Vinaya with one another.” For Dhamma teachers, he assigned lodgings in the same place, (thinking,) “They will discuss the Dhamma with one another.” For those who practiced jhāna, he assigned lodgings in the same place, (thinking,) “They will not disturb one another.” For those who spent their time in animal talk and body-building, he assigned lodgings in the same place, (thinking,) “In this way, these venerable ones will be left to their wishes.”

This passage suggests that the Commentary is off the mark in requiring that the best lodgings must be allotted in line with seniority. Given the many different features that different bhikkhus might regard as ideal in a lodging, there can be no one criterion for deciding what constitutes a “best” lodging. The lodging official must have an eye more for human psychology than for material comforts when deciding which lodging is best for which bhikkhu.

As the Vinaya-mukha points out, the Commentary also seems mistaken in requiring that each Community appoint two lodging officials so that each may assign a lodging for the other. The Commentary does not say why this is necessary in the case of lodging officials and not in the case of other officials. Perhaps it is trying to account for the two separate offices dealing with lodgings, but as we have mentioned above, the two offices are more likely based on a different division of labor.

Lodging claims for the Rains

There are three periods for laying claim to lodgings for the Rains: earlier, for the first Rains-residence (beginning the day after the full moon of Āsāḷha); later, for the second Rains-residence (beginning the day after the following full moon); and free in the interval, lasting from the day after the Invitation day to the beginning of the following Rains, during which one may lay claim to a lodging for the sake of the next Rains but must leave it free for more senior bhikkhus to use in the interim.

An individual bhikkhu may hold only one lodging claim at a time (although see below). He may not accept a claim for a lodging at a monastery where he is not currently dwelling. Once he has received a lodging claim, it is good only for the three months of his Rains-residence. He may not hold a lodging claim for the “season time,” which the Sub-commentary interprets as the cold and hot seasons.

Earlier & later claims

The Canon recommends that the lodging bestower allot lodgings at the beginning of the first Rains as follows: He is to count the bhikkhus, then count the sleeping spaces, and then assign claims by sleeping spaces. If many sleeping spaces are left over, he may give each bhikkhu a claim to an entire dwelling. If many dwellings are left over, he may give each bhikkhu a claim to an entire neighborhood of dwellings. If there are many neighborhoods left over, he may give extra shares. This would seem to contradict the rule against laying claim to more than one lodging, but that rule is apparently meant to prevent two things:

laying claims in more than one monastery; and

laying claims in one monastery in a way that would deny a lodging to another bhikkhu already present in the monastery.

The purpose behind the present allowance is to arrange for every dwelling in the monastery to have a bhikkhu responsible for looking after it to ensure that it does not fall into disrepair. However, the Cv.VI.11.3 adds that even when a bhikkhu has received an extra share he does not have to relinquish it against his will to another bhikkhu who comes later (e.g., for the second Rains).

As for the rule against holding claims for two lodgings, the origin story to Cv.VI.12 states that if a bhikkhu lays claim to lodging X and then to lodging Y, the claim to X expires when he lays claim to Y. The Commentary adds that if he leaves the monastery shortly before the beginning of the Rains with the intent of laying claim to a lodging elsewhere, his claim to X expires when he sets foot outside the monastery precinct. If he goes thinking, “I’ll lay claim to a lodging elsewhere if it’s comfortable,” but can find no comfortable lodging, his claim to X still holds.

The Commentary to Cv.VI.11.4 also gives the following recommendations for bhikkhus in general as they are about to enter the Rains: If a bhikkhu wants to spend the Rains in a monastery other than the one in which he is currently dwelling, he should start heading there a month before the start of the Rains, both so as to see if the place is congenial in terms of teachings, meditation, and requisites, and so as not to inconvenience the lodging bestower and other bhikkhus in that monastery by arriving just before the Rains begins. Resident bhikkhus (planning to stay on in their monastery) should spend the month preparing any worn-down buildings so that those who come for the Rains will study or practice meditation in comfort.

The lodging bestower should allot lodgings for the Rains at dawn of the day the Rains begins. If other bhikkhus come on that day, they should be told that the lodgings have been laid claim to and that they should go to other lodgings, such as the foot of a tree. What this means is that they should enter the second Rains somewhere else.

Free in the interval

The Canon does not explain the allowance for claims of this sort, but the Commentary says that it is for the sake of dwellings whose sponsors give special gifts to the residents once a year at the end of the Rains, and where those residents tend to be visiting bhikkhus who take the gifts and leave. Such places are in danger of not being looked after by the resident bhikkhus during the non-Rains period, so the lodging bestower should offer claims to such places to the bhikkhus in the monastery in line with seniority. Whoever accepts such a claim is responsible for looking after the lodging for the eight non-Rains months. Visiting senior bhikkhus should be allowed to stay there during that time, but when the following Rains comes the person responsible for it gets to live there.

A reasonable policy would be for the lodging bestower to make a similar arrangement for any other dwelling that is falling into disrepair, whatever the cause.

Building responsibility

The Canon does mention another arrangement that allows a bhikkhu to lay claim to a space in a dwelling for several Rains in a row. That is by taking on building responsibility for the dwelling. The stipulations here are as follows: A bhikkhu may be given this responsibility only in a monastery where he is dwelling, and for only one dwelling at a time. His responsibility consists of building a new dwelling or finishing an unfinished dwelling. Repairing a finished dwelling does not qualify as taking on building responsibility. Before giving a bhikkhu the responsibility for a dwelling, the Community is to consider the type of dwelling (or to inspect the dwelling, if it is half-finished) and then determine the number of Rains that he may hold the right to reserve a sleeping space in it when it is finished. This length of time depends on the dwelling’s size: five to six Rains for a small dwelling, seven to eight for a barrel-vaulted dwelling, and ten to twelve for a large dwelling. The transaction statement for giving building responsibility is included in Appendix I.

A bhikkhu who has been given building responsibility is to make an effort for the dwelling to be finished quickly. Once it is finished, he is responsible for repairing things that get cracked or broken during the period in which he has a right to reserve a sleeping space there. The Commentary quotes the Kurundī as saying that he should not use tools himself, but should simply oversee the work. However, the Canon’s many stories of bhikkhus’ doing construction work suggest that the Kurundī’s recommendation is not binding.

The Canon notes that a bhikkhu who has been given building responsibility maintains his right to his sleeping space even if he goes insane, gets possessed, is delirious with pain, or gets suspended. However, he may not transfer it to anyone else. Also, he may not use this right to preempt a sleeping place outside of the Rains-residence, nor may he preempt the entire dwelling. If he decides to spend the Rains elsewhere during the period when his claim to this right is still in force, no one else—not even his students, says the Commentary—may stay in the sleeping place he has claimed. This prohibition, together with that against having a bhikkhu take on responsibility for more than one dwelling at a time, is to prevent bhikkhus from forming cliques by building multiple dwellings and then passing along their special lodging rights to their friends. If, however, a bhikkhu with building responsibility leaves the Saṅgha or admits to not having been a true bhikkhu to begin with, his claim to the resulting sleeping space is rendered null and void. The lodging bestower may then assign that space to any bhikkhu as he sees fit.

If a bhikkhu takes on building responsibility but any of the following events takes place before he has finished the building work—he leaves the monastery, disrobes, dies, admits to not being a true bhikkhu, goes insane, gets possessed, gets delirious with pain, or is suspended—the Community may give building responsibility for that dwelling over to another bhikkhu, and the right to the sleeping space passes on to him.

The Commentary has only a few points to add here: The length of the claim should be in proportion to the length of the building, one Rains for each half-meter in length, up to twelve Rains. When the dwelling needs repair, one should ask for material help from people in this order:

1) the original sponsor of the monastery or his heir,

2) one’s own relatives/supporters,

3) the Community.

If help is not forthcoming from any of these sources, one may sell off monastic property to get the funds needed for repairs. This, though, would require the consent of the Community. The Commentary quotes the Kurundī as saying that if a bhikkhu doesn’t feel up to repairing Community property, he should be told to repair it as his own; it then becomes the Community’s again after his death. This, however, contradicts the Canon’s prohibition against giving Community lodgings over to individuals (see Chapter 7).

The Vinaya-mukha, citing a story in the Dhammapada Commentary in which the Buddha appoints Ven. Mahā Moggalāna to oversee construction of the Eastern Monastery in Sāvatthī, maintains that giving building responsibility to a bhikkhu is tantamount to appointing him as a Community official in charge of monastery construction work in general. However, because a bhikkhu may accept building responsibility for no more than one building at a time, and because there is no limit to the number of bhikkhus who may be granted building responsibility in a monastery at any given time, the Vinaya-mukha seems mistaken on this point. The purpose of the allowance for giving building responsibility seems aimed more at sharing building tasks out among the bhikkhus and getting them to care for the Community property they use.

Assigning lodgings outside of the Rains

The Canon has nothing to say on this topic beyond the general guidelines mentioned above, but the Commentary says this: When visiting bhikkhus come to stay, reassign lodgings right away in keeping with seniority. Keep an extra sleeping space or two set aside for visiting bhikkhus so that if senior bhikkhus arrive at night there’s no need to reassign lodgings at that time. If, however, more senior bhikkhus arrive at night than there are sleeping spaces set aside, reassign the bhikkhus then. It’s possible to assign up to three bhikkhus per sleeping space, with the arrangement that one bhikkhu will sleep during the first watch of the night, another during the second, and another during the third. The second bhikkhu has the right to wake the first, and the third the second.

All of this assumes that the lodgings have a clear order of desirability that can be assigned by seniority. And, as we noted above, the Commentary’s insistence on rights of seniority in this area runs counter to the Canon. The Commentary, however, does quote “some bhikkhus in India” as saying that certain lodgings are comfortable for some but not for others (i.e., there’s no clear order of desirability) and so they recommend re-assigning lodgings both for resident bhikkhus and for visiting bhikkhus every day.

All of this would make life in a monastery outside of the Rains-residence fairly unsettled. And perhaps that is why the Buddha did not allow bhikkhus to preempt lodgings outside of the Rains. Those who disliked the uncertainty of being forced to move from dwelling to dwelling without warning would be inclined to spend the dry months wandering in the wilderness rather than trying to become settled monastery dwellers. Those who stayed on at the monastery would be forced to keep their possessions to a minimum so that they could move at a moment’s notice with ease.

Miscellaneous

There are two officials responsible for miscellaneous goods: the bowl bestower and the dispenser of minor items.

The bowl bestower

The bowl bestower is the official mentioned under NP 22, responsible for supervising the bowl exchange when a bhikkhu has received a bowl in defiance of that rule. See the discussion there for details. It would seem reasonable to assume that the Community might have a store of bowls and that it would need an official to bestow those bowls as needed, but none of the texts mention this possibility.

The dispenser of minor items

The dispenser of minor items may hand out the following items—which have been donated to the Community—to individual bhikkhus who request them (comments from the Commentary are in brackets): a needle, a small knife [to be given out to those who need them], a pair of sandals [to be given out to those who are going on a rough journey], a waistband [to those who need them], a shoulder strap (for the alms bowl or for carrying loads—see Chapter 3) [to those whose shoulder straps are getting old], a straining cloth [to those who need them], a water strainer [to those who need them], pieces of cloth [to those who ask for them, although there are limits here: If a bhikkhu asks for cloth to apply to a robe (as a patch), he may be given enough to make a “dike” and a “half dike”; if he asks for a “plot,” he may be given enough for a single plot or two half plots, but not enough for two full plots; if he asks for border pieces, he may be given enough to provide a border for a whole robe]. If the Community has ghee, oil, honey, or molasses, an individual is to be given one sip. If he has need of more, he is to be given another. If he has need of still more, he is to be given yet another. [If he needs a fourth portion, the Community should be informed first before giving it to him.]

Work supervisors

To oversee the work of the Community, each Community may appoint officials to supervise the work of monastery attendants and the work of novices. The Canon has little to say about the duties of these officials other than that they should make sure that the work of the monastery attendants and novices gets done.

Removing officials from office

None of the texts provide procedures for removing officials who prove to be biased or incompetent, or who would like to be relieved of their duties. In the case of biased or incompetent officials, Pv.XV.13.3-15 says that their bias or incompetence is enough to make them suffer as if they were carried off straight to hell, so there is no need for their fellow bhikkhus to punish them further. As for the bhikkhus who suffer injustice because of an official’s bias, they should use it as an opportunity to develop patience and equanimity. However, Pc 13 does allow for bhikkhus to complain about an official’s behavior if he is truly biased. What is not mentioned is how the Community should handle the complaint.

Technically, one could argue that the official’s bias or incompetence disqualified him from the position, and that the transaction appointing him—in lacking “validity of object”—was thus not fit to stand. Thus the Community acting in unity can appoint another bhikkhu to replace him. If, however, the biased official or any of his friends protests the new transaction, he cannot be replaced.

This problem is often circumvented in Thailand by having the abbot of the monastery appoint Community officials. Because these officials are not authorized by the Community (see Pc 13), they can be easily removed from office if they prove unworthy or want to resign. In a Community where officials are appointed in this way, the honorable practice—if bhikkhus have a complaint against a Community official—is to speak up in a Community meeting. (The dishonorable practice is to write anonymous letters to the abbot or to post anonymous notices around the monastery.) If the abbot agrees that the official’s behavior is truly biased, he may remove him from office and appoint another bhikkhu in his place. I personally know of a case, dating from three decades ago, in which a meal designator had such a personal animosity for a junior bhikkhu that he arranged for the junior bhikkhu to be excluded from the rosters for all the meals for which he, the official, was responsible. This situation lasted for several months, during which time the junior bhikkhu never voiced a complaint. Finally, when the abbot checked the rosters and realized what was happening, he persuaded the official to resign his position and replaced him with the junior bhikkhu. The latter has proved so unbiased—even to the official who had wronged him—that he has maintained the position ever since.

As for the case of a bhikkhu who wants to resign his position, the common practice in Thailand is for him to tender his resignation to the abbot. If the abbot accepts it, the official is freed from his duties. If not, he must continue in the office. At that point, if he is serious about wanting to be relieved of his duties, his only recourse is to leave the monastery and live elsewhere.

If an official authorized by the Community wants to resign his position, the humane policy would be to accept his resignation and find another bhikkhu to fill his place. However, so many variables can surround such a situation that the Canon is wise in not trying to legislate for it. Each Community must thus handle the case in whatever way seems fit.

Rules

Robe-cloth

“I allow that a bhikkhu endowed with five qualities be authorized as a robe-cloth receiver: whoever is not biased with the bias of desire, not biased with the bias of aversion, not biased with the bias of delusion, not biased with the bias of fear, and who knows what has and has not been received.”—Mv.VIII.5.1 (Repeated at Cv.VI.21.2)

Transaction statement—Mv.VIII.5.2 (Repeated at Cv.VI.21.2)

“I allow that a bhikkhu endowed with five qualities be authorized as a robe-cloth keeper: whoever is not biased with the bias of desire, not biased with the bias of aversion, not biased with the bias of delusion, not biased with the bias of fear, and who knows what has and has not been put away.”—Mv.VIII.6.1

Transaction statement—Mv.VIII.6.2

“I allow that a storehouse be authorized wherever the Community desires: a dwelling, a barrel-vaulted building, a multi-storied building, a gabled building, a cell.”—Mv.VIII.7.1

Transaction statement—Mv.VIII.7.2

“I allow that a bhikkhu endowed with five qualities be authorized as a storehouse guardian: whoever is not biased with the bias of desire, not biased with the bias of aversion, not biased with the bias of delusion, not biased with the bias of fear, and who knows what has and has not been guarded.”—Mv.VIII.8.1 (Repeated at Cv.VI.21.2)

Transaction statement—Mv.VIII.8.1 (Repeated at Cv.VI.21.2)

“I allow that a bhikkhu endowed with five qualities be authorized as a robe-cloth divider (distributor): whoever is not biased with the bias of desire, not biased with the bias of aversion, not biased with the bias of delusion, not biased with the bias of fear, and who knows what has and has not been divided.”—Mv.VIII.9.1 (Repeated at Cv.VI.21.2)

Transaction statement—Mv.VIII.9.1 (Repeated at Cv.VI.21.2)

General Rules for Dividing/distributing Cloth

“I allow that (robe-cloth) be divided up among the Community that is present.”—Mv.VIII.9.1

“I allow that, having first sorted the cloth (by type) and estimated it (by price), having combined the attractive with the unattractive (in each portion), having assembled the bhikkhus and gathered them in groups, a bundle of robe-cloth be set out… I allow that half a bundle be given to novices.”—Mv.VIII.9.2

“I allow that one who is going off be given his own portion… I allow that one be given more than his portion when he gives a compensation.”—Mv.VIII.9.3

“I allow that, having made up for any inequality, lots be cast with blades of kusa-grass.”—Mv.VIII.9.4

“There are these eight standards for the arising of robe-cloth:

1. One gives within the territory.

2. One gives within the agreement.

3. One gives where food is prepared.

4. One gives to the Community.

5. One gives to both sides of the Community.

6. One gives to the Community that has spent the Rains.

7. One gives having designated.

8. One gives to an individual.”—Mv.VIII.32

1. It is to be divided among however many bhikkhus are within the territory.

2. Many residences pool their gains. Whatever is given in one residence is given everywhere.

3. It is given where they do the constant business (upkeep) of the Community.

4. It is divided among the entire Community that is present.—Mv.VIII.32

“There is the case where a bhikkhu has entered the Rains alone. There, people (saying), ‘We are giving to the Community,’ give robe-cloths. I allow that those robe-cloths be just for him until the dismantling of the kaṭhina.”—Mv.VIII.24.2

“There is the case where a bhikkhu has entered the non-rainy season alone. There, people (saying), ‘We are giving to the Community,’ give robe-cloths. I allow that he determine the robe-cloths, ‘These robe-cloths are mine.’ If, when he has not yet determined the robe-cloths, another bhikkhu comes along, then an equal share is to be given to him. If, while those bhikkhus are dividing the cloth but have not yet drawn kusa-lots, another bhikkhu comes along, an equal share is to be given to him. If those bhikkhus dividing the cloth have drawn kusa-lots and another bhikkhu comes along, they do not have to give him a share if they don’t want to.”—Mv.VIII.24.4

Now at that time two elder brothers, Ven. Isidāsa and Ven. Isibhatta, having spent the Rains-residence in Sāvatthī, went to a certain village monastery. People (saying), “At long last the elders have come,” gave food together with robe-cloths. The resident bhikkhus asked the elders, “Venerable sirs, these Community robe-cloths have arisen because of your coming. Will you consent to a portion?” The elders said, “As we understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, these robe-cloths are yours alone until the dismantling of the kaṭhina.”—Mv.VIII.24.5

Now at that time three bhikkhus were spending the Rains-residence in Rājagaha. There, people (saying), “We are giving to the Community,” gave robe-cloths. The thought occurred to the bhikkhus, “It has been laid down by the Blessed One that a Community is at least a group of four, but we are three people. Yet these people (saying), ‘We are giving to the Community,’ have given robe-cloths. So how are these to be treated by us?” Now at that time a number of elders—Ven. Nīlvāsī, Ven. Sāṇavāsī, Ven. Gopaka, Ven. Bhagu, and Ven. Phalidasandāna—were staying in Pāṭaliputta at the Rooster Park. So the bhikkhus, having gone to Pāṭaliputta, asked the elders. The elders said, “As we understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, these robe-cloths are yours alone until the dismantling of the kaṭhina.”—Mv.VIII.24.6

5. Even if there are many bhikkhus and one bhikkhunī, she is to be given half. Even if there are many bhikkhunīs and one bhikkhu, he is to be given half. —Mv.VIII.32

6. It is to be divided among however many bhikkhus have spent the Rains in that residence. —Mv.VIII.32

“One who has entered the Rains in one place should not consent to a portion of robe-cloth in another place. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing.”—Mv.VIII.25.3

“There is the case where a bhikkhu enters the Rains in two residences, (thinking), ‘In this way a great deal of robe-cloth will come to me.’ If he spends half the time here and half the time there, he should be given half a portion here and half a portion there. Or wherever he spends more time, he should be given a (full) portion there.”—Mv.VIII.25.4

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having spent the Rains, goes away before robe-cloth arises. If there are appropriate receivers (in his place), it should be given to them.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having spent the Rains and before robe-cloth arises, renounces the training… dies… admits (§) to being a novice… to having renounced the training… to having committed an extreme offense. The Community is the owner.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having spent the Rains and before robe-cloth arises, admits (§) to being insane… possessed… delirious with pain… to having been suspended for not seeing an offense… to having been suspended for not making amends for an offense… to having been suspended for not relinquishing an evil view. If there are appropriate receivers (in his place), it should be given to them.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having spent the Rains and before robe-cloth arises, admits (§) to being a paṇḍaka… a person in affiliation through theft… a bhikkhu who has gone over to another religion… an animal… a matricide… a patricide… a murderer of an arahant… a molester of a bhikkhunī… a schismatic… one who has shed (a Tathāgata’s) blood… a hermaphrodite. The Community is the owner.”—Mv.VIII.30.2

Similarly if robe-cloth has arisen but not yet been divided up—Mv.VIII.30.3

“There is the case where bhikkhus have spent the Rains and the Community splits before robe-cloth arises. People give water to one faction and robe-cloth to the other faction, saying, ‘We are giving to the Community.’ That is for the (entire) Community… People give water to one faction and robe-cloth to the same faction, saying, ‘We are giving to the Community.’ That is for the (entire) Community. People give water to one faction and robe-cloth to the other faction, saying, ‘We are giving to the faction.’ That is just for the faction (to which the respective items were given). People give water to one faction and robe-cloth to the same faction, saying, ‘We are giving to the faction.’ That is just for the faction.”—Mv.VIII.30.4-5

“There is the case where bhikkhus have spent the Rains and, when robe-cloth has arisen but before it is divided, the Community splits. That is to be divided equally among them all.”—Mv.VIII.30.6

7. Conjey or meals or non-staple foods or robe-cloths or lodgings or medicines.—Mv.VIII.32

8. ‘I am giving this robe-cloth to so-and-so.’—Mv.VIII.32

Meals

Procedure and transaction statement for authorizing a meal designator. “I allow that food be appointed after having tied on a ticket or a leaf and having heaped up (the corresponding tickets, which are to be drawn by the bhikkhus—reading opuñjitvā with the Sri Lankan and Burmese editions).”—Cv.VI.21.1

“I allow a Community meal, a designated meal, an invitational meal, a lottery meal, a meal on (particular day(s) of) the fortnight, an uposatha meal, a day-after-the-uposatha meal.”—Cv.VI.21.1

“I allow meals for newcomers, meals for those going away, meals for the sick, meals for those tending the sick, constant conjey.”—Mv.VIII.15.15

Lodgings

Qualifications for a lodging bestower (senāsana-gāhāpaka): not biased with the bias of desire, aversion, delusion, or fear; knows what has and has not been bestowed. Procedure and transaction statement for authorizing a lodging bestower.—Cv.VI.11.2

Qualifications for a lodging assignor (senāsana-paññāpaka): not biased with the bias of desire, aversion, delusion, or fear; knows what has and has not been assigned. Procedure and transaction statement for authorizing a lodging assignor.—Cv.VI.21.2

“An ill bhikkhu should not be made to move. Whoever should make him move: an offense of wrong doing”…. (Group-of-six bhikkhus used their illness as an excuse to keep the best lodgings:) “I allow that an appropriate sleeping place be given to one who is ill”…. “A lodging should not be preempted on a slight pretext. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.VI.10.2

“A bhikkhu should not be evicted from a dwelling belonging to the Community by one who is angry and displeased. Whoever should evict him should be dealt with in accordance with the rule (Pc 17). I allow that lodgings be laid claim to (§).”—Cv.VI.11.1

“A storehouse guardian is not to be moved. Whoever should move him: an offense of wrong doing.”—Mv.VIII.8.2

How lodging claims are to be allotted: “I allow you first to count the bhikkhus, then to count the sleeping spaces, then to allot by sleeping spaces”… (Many sleeping spaces were left over:) “I allow you to allot by dwellings”… (Many dwellings were left over:) “I allow you to allot by areas”… (Many areas were left over:) “I allow you to give an extra share. When one has taken an extra share and another bhikkhu comes, one does not have to give it to him if one does not want to”… “A bhikkhu staying outside the (monastery) territory should not lay claim to a lodging. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing”… “Having laid claim to a lodging, one should not preempt it for all seasons (§). Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing. I allow it to be claimed for the three months of the Rains, but not to be preempted for the (dry-) season-time.”—Cv.VI.11.3

“There are three lodging-claim-layings: earlier, later, and ‘free in the interval.’ The earlier is to be laid claim to the day after the full moon of Āsāḷhi; the later is to be laid claim to a month after Āsāḷhi; the ‘free in the interval’ is to be laid claim to a day after the Invitation, for the purpose of the coming Rains-residence.”—Cv.VI.11.4

“Two lodgings are not to be preempted by one (bhikkhu). Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing.”—Cv.VI.12

Building Responsibility

“I allow that building (responsibility) (§) be given. The builder bhikkhu will make an effort (thinking), ‘How can the dwelling be finished quickly?’ and will repair things that are broken down and dilapidated.”—Cv.VI.5.2

Procedure and transaction statement—Cv.VI.5.3

“Building responsibility should not be assigned simply for piling up lumps (of clay), smearing a wall, placing a door, making a post for the bolt, making a window-hole, plastering with white, plastering with black, plastering with ochre, thatching a roof, tying down a roof, erecting a cornice (reading bhaṇḍikādhāna- with the Thai edition of the Canon and the PTS edition of the Commentary), restoring broken-down and dilapidated parts, making a ledge. It should not be assigned for twenty years, thirty years, for life. Building responsibility for a completed dwelling until the time of one’s cremation should not be assigned. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing. I allow that building responsibility be assigned for an unbuilt or unfinished dwelling. Having considered (inspected) the building work (§) in the case of a small dwelling, building responsibility may be assigned for five to six years. Having considered (inspected) the building work (§) in the case of a barrel-vaulted dwelling, building responsibility may be assigned for seven to eight years. Having considered (inspected) the building work (§) in the case of a large dwelling, building responsibility may be assigned for ten to twelve years.”—Cv.VI.17.1

“Building responsibility for an entire dwelling should not be given. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing”… “Building responsibility for two (dwellings) should not be given to one (bhikkhu). Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing”… “Having taken on building responsibility, one should not have another one stay (there). Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing”… “Having taken on building responsibility, one should not preempt what belongs to the Community. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing. I allow that one excellent sleeping place be taken”… “Building responsibility should not be given to one staying outside the (monastery) territory. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing”… “Having taken on building responsibility, one should not preempt it (the excellent sleeping place) for all seasons (§). Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing. I allow it to be preempted for the three months of the Rains, but not to be preempted for the (dry-) season-time.”—Cv.VI.17.2

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having taken on building responsibility, goes away. (Thinking,) ‘May what belongs to the Community not go to ruin,’ it (building responsibility) should be given to another. There is the case where a bhikkhu, having taken on building responsibility but leaving it unfinished, renounces the training… dies… admits (§) to being a novice… to having renounced the training… to having committed an extreme (pārājika) offense… to being insane… possessed… delirious with pain… suspended for not seeing an offense… suspended for not making amends for an offense… suspended for not relinquishing an evil view… a paṇḍaka… a person in affiliation through theft… a bhikkhu who has gone over to another religion… an animal… a matricide… a patricide… a murderer of an arahant… a molester of a bhikkhunī… a schismatic… one who has shed (a Tathāgata’s) blood… a hermaphrodite. (Thinking,) ‘May what belongs to the Community not go to ruin,’ it (building responsibility) should be given to another.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having taken on building responsibility but leaving it unfinished, goes away… admits (§) to being a hermaphrodite. (Thinking,) ‘May what belongs to the Community not go to ruin,’ it (building responsibility) should be given to another.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having taken on building responsibility, on finishing it goes away. It is his.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having taken on building responsibility, on finishing it renounces the training… admits (§) to having committed an extreme offense. The Community is the owner.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having taken on building responsibility, on finishing it admits (§) to being insane… possessed… delirious with pain… suspended for not seeing an offense… suspended for not making amends for an offense… suspended for not relinquishing an evil view. It is his.

“There is the case where a bhikkhu, having taken on building responsibility, on finishing it admits (§) to being a paṇḍaka… a hermaphrodite. The Community is the owner.”—Cv.VI.17.3

Various Officials

Procedure and transaction statements for appointing:

a lodging assignor (senāsana-paññāpaka)

a storeroom keeper

a robe-cloth receiver

a robe-cloth distributor

a conjey distributor

a fruit distributor

a non-staple food distributor —Cv.VI.21.2

Procedure and transaction statements for appointing a dispenser of minor items. Things to be given out to individuals: a needle, a small knife, a pair of sandals, a waistband, a shoulder strap, a straining cloth, a water strainer (§), pieces of cloth. If the Community has ghee, oil, honey, molasses, an individual is to be given one sip. If he has need of more, he is to be given another. If he has need of still more, he is to be given yet another (§).—Cv.VI.21.3

Procedure and transaction statements for appointing:

a bathing cloth bestower (§)

a bowl bestower (§)

a supervisor of monastery attendants

a supervisor of novices—Cv.VI.21.3