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Kodex für buddhistische Einsiedler I
Kapitel 8.1
Pācittiya: Das Lügen Chapter
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
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As explained in the preceding chapter, this term is most probably related to the verb pacinati, "to know," and means "to be made known" or "to be confessed." There are 92 rules in this category, divided into eight chapters of ten, and one of twelve.

1. A deliberate lie is to be confessed.

"Now at that time Hatthaka the Sakyan had been overthrown in debate. In discussions with adherents of other religions, he conceded points after having denied them, denied them after having conceded, evaded one question with another, told deliberate lies, made an appointment (for a debate) but then didn't keep it. The adherents of other religions criticized and complained and spread it about...

"The bhikkhus heard them... and having approached Hatthaka the Sakyan, asked him: 'Is it true, friend Hatthaka, that in discussions with adherents of other religions, you conceded points after having denied them, denied them after having conceded, evaded one question with another, told deliberate lies, made an appointment (for a debate) but then didn't keep it?'

"'Those adherents of other religions have to be beaten in some way or another. You can't just give them the victory!'"

A deliberate lie is a statement or gesture made with the aim of misrepresenting the truth to someone else. The K/Kommentar, summarizing the long "wheels" in the Vibhaṅga, states that a violation of this rule requires two factors:

  • 1) Intention: the aim to misrepresent the truth; and
  • 2) Effort: the effort to make another individual know whatever one wants to communicate based on that aim.

Intention. The aim to misrepresent the truth fulfills this factor regardless of what one's motives are. Thus "white lies" — made with benevolent intentions (e.g., to a person whose state of mind is too weak to take the truth) — would fall under this rule, so a bhikkhu who wants to shield an emotionally weak person from harsh truths has to be very skillful in phrasing his statements. Also, outrageous lies meant as jokes — to amuse rather than to deceive — would fall under this rule as well, a point we will discuss further in the non-offense section.

Effort. According to the Vibhaṅga, to misrepresent the truth means to say that one has seen X when one hasn't, that one hasn't seen X when one has, or that one has seen X clearly when one is in doubt about the matter. This pattern holds for the other senses — hearing, smell, taste, touch, and ideation — as well. Thus to repeat what one has heard, seen, etc., even if it actually is misinformation, does not count as a misrepresentation of the truth under this rule, as one is truthfully reporting what one has seen, etc. If, however, one says that one believes in such misinformation — when one actually doesn't — one's statement would count as a misrepresentation of the truth and so would fulfill this factor.

According to the Kommentar, effort here covers falsehoods conveyed not only by speech but also by writing or gesture. As for falsehoods conveyed by silence: Mv.II.3.3 states that if, while listening to the recitation of the Pāṭimokkha, one remembers that one has an unconfessed offense and yet remains silent about it, that counts as a deliberate lie; Mv.II.3.7 then goes on to impose a dukkaṭa for this kind of lie, which suggests that remaining silent in a situation where silence conveys a false message does not fulfill this factor for the full offense here.

Result is not a factor under this rule. Thus whether anyone understands the lie or is deceived by it is irrelevant to the offense.

In cases where a particular lie would fall under another rule — such as Pr 4, Sg 8 or 9, Pc 13, 24, or 76 — the penalties assigned by that rule take precedence over the ones assigned here. For instance, making a false but unspecific claim to a superior human state would entail a thullaccaya under Pr 4; falsely accusing another bhikkhu of a pārājika offense would entail a saṅghādisesa under Sg 8; falsely accusing him of a saṅghādisesa would entail a pācittiya under Pc 76; and falsely accusing him of a lesser offense would entail a dukkaṭa under that rule.

The Vinaya-mukha argues that this rule should take precedence in cases where a particular lie would entail only a dukkaṭa under any of the other rules — as in the last example — but this contradicts the Vibhaṅga.

Non-offenses. A bhikkhu who misrepresents the truth unintentionally commits no offense under this rule. The Vibhaṅga gives two examples: speaking quickly and saying one thing while meaning another. Its word for "quickly" — davāya — can also mean "in fun," but the Vibhaṅga itself, in a passage unusual for the non-offenses clauses, defines the term, limiting its meaning specifically to "hurriedly." In doing so, it conforms to a famous passage from MN 61 where the Buddha shows an empty water dipper to Rāhula, his son, telling him that anyone who feels no shame at uttering a deliberate lie is as empty of the virtues of a contemplative as the dipper is empty of water, and then advises Rāhula to train himself: "I will not utter a deliberate lie, even for a laugh."

The Kommentar explains the Vibhaṅga's two exemptions as follows:
Speaking quickly means speaking before one has carefully considered the matter.
Saying one thing while meaning another means making a slip of the tongue, either out of stupidity or carelessness.
It also seconds the Vibhaṅga in not exempting inaccurate statements made in fun from a penalty under this rule. It illustrates this point with several stories that convey a sense of what passed for humor among the less scrupulous bhikkhus of its time. In the first, a novice asks a bhikkhu, "Have you seen my preceptor?" and the bhikkhu, teasing the novice, responds, "Your preceptor's probably gone, yoked to a firewood-cart." In the second story, a novice, hearing the yapping of hyenas, asks a bhikkhu, "What's making that noise?" and the bhikkhu replies, "That's the noise of those who are lifting the stuck-in-the-mud wheel of the carriage your mother's going in." In addition, the Kommentar quotes a few statements that today would be classified as exaggeration or sarcasm, saying that these, too, are forbidden by this rule.

Whatever humor these jokes originally contained has been so dulled by time that the statements now seem obviously unworthy of a bhikkhu. A bhikkhu at present whose sense of humor tends toward misrepresentation and exaggeration would do well to develop a similar perspective on his own jokes. This is not to deny the value or potential wisdom of humor; simply to note that a bhikkhu's sense of humor should be kept in service to his values, and that the most memorable wit is memorable precisely because it tells the straight truth.

As we noted above, a bhikkhu who speaks from mistaken assumptions — truthfully reporting any mistaken information he may have received or mistaken beliefs he may have thought up — does not come under this rule.

Broken promises. Mv.III.14.1-14 imposes a dukkaṭa on the act of making a promise with pure intentions but later breaking it. Because the texts make no mention of any circumstances beyond one's control that would exempt one from that penalty, a bhikkhu should be very careful of how he states his plans for the future. A special instance of breaking a promise — accepting an invitation to a meal but then not going — is treated under Pc 33.

Summary: The intentional effort to misrepresent the truth to another individual is a pācittiya offense.

2. An insult is to be confessed.

An insult is a gesture or statement, written or spoken, made with the malicious intent of hurting another person's feelings or of bringing him/her into disgrace. The Vibhaṅga analyzes the full offense under this rule in terms of three factors:

  • 1) Effort: One insults a person directly to his face, touching on any one of the ten topics for abuse (akkosa-vatthu) listed below.
  • 2) Object: The person is a bhikkhu.
  • 3) Intention: One's motive is to humiliate him.

Effort. The Vibhaṅga lists ten ways a verbal insult can be phrased: making remarks about the other person's

  • race, class, or nationality (You nigger! You bum! You Frenchman!);
  • name (You really are a Dick!);
  • family or lineage (You bastard! You son of a bitch!);
  • occupation (You pimp! You capitalist pig!);
  • craft (What would you expect from a guy who crochets?);
  • disease or handicap (Hey, Clubfoot! Spastic!);
  • physical characteristics (Hey, Fatty! Beanpole! Shrimp! Hulk!);
  • defilements (You control freak! Fool! Queer! Breeder!);
  • offenses (You liar! You thief!); or
  • using an abusive form of address, such as, "You camel! You goat! You ass! You penis! You vagina!" (§) (All five of these come from the Vibhaṅga.)

(The category of "offense" — which literally means "falling" — contains an interesting sub-category, in that the noble attainment of stream-entry is, literally, "falling into the stream." Thus an insult along the lines of, "Some stream-winner you are!" would also fit under this category as well.)

These ten topics are called the akkosa-vatthu — topics for abuse — and appear in the following training rule as well.

As the examples in the Vibhaṅga show, the remark that fulfills the factor of effort here must touch on one of these topics for abuse and must be made directly to the listener: "You are X." It may be phrased either as sarcastic praise or as out-and-out abuse. The Kommentar and Sub-commentary say that any insulting remark not listed in the Vibhaṅga would only be grounds for a dukkaṭa, but the Vibhaṅga defines the topics for abuse in such a general way that any term related to them in any way would fulfill this factor here.

Remarks made in an indirect or insinuating manner, though, would not fulfill this factor. Indirect remarks are when the speaker includes himself together with the target of his insult in his statement ("We're all a bunch of fools.") Insinuating remarks are when he leaves it uncertain as to whom he is referring to ("There are camels among us"). Any remark of this sort, if meant as an insult, entails a dukkaṭa regardless of whether the target is a bhikkhu or not.

All of the insults mentioned in the Vibhaṅga take the form of remarks about the person, whereas insults and verbal abuse at present often take the form of a command — Go to hell! F--- off! etc. — and the question is whether these too would be covered by this rule. Viewed from the standpoint of intent, they fit under the general definition of an insult; but if for some reason they would not fit under this rule, they would in most cases be covered by Pc 54.

Insulting remarks made about someone behind his/her back are dealt with under Pc 13.

Object. To insult a bhikkhu incurs a pācittiya; to insult an unordained person — according to the Kommentar, this runs the gamut from bhikkhunīs to all other living beings — a dukkaṭa.

Intent. The Vibhaṅga defines this factor as "desiring to jeer at, desiring to scoff at, desiring to make (him) abashed." If, with no insult intended, a bhikkhu jokes about another person's race, etc., he incurs a dubbhāsita, regardless of whether the person is lay or ordained, mentioned outright or insinuatingly, and regardless of whether he/she takes it as a joke or an insult. This is the only instance of this class of offense.

The K/Kommentar adds result as a fourth factor — the target of one's insult knows, "He's insulting me" — but there is no basis for this in either the Vibhaṅga or the Kommentar. If one makes an insulting remark under one's breath, not intending to be heard — or in a foreign language, not intending to be understood — the motive would be to let off steam, which would not qualify as the intention covered by this rule. If one truly wants to humiliate someone, one will make the necessary effort to make that person hear and understand one's words. But if for some reason that person doesn't hear or understand (a loud noise blots out one's words, one uses a slang term that is new to one's listener), there is nothing in the Vibhaṅga to indicate that one would escape from the full penalty.

For this reason, whether the person addressed actually feels insulted by one's remarks is irrelevant in determining the severity of the offense. If one makes a remark to a fellow bhikkhu, touching on one of the topics for abuse and meaning it as an insult, one incurs a pācittiya even if he takes it as a joke. If one means the remark as a joke, one incurs a dubbhāsita even if the other person feels insulted.

Non-offenses. According to the Vibhaṅga, a bhikkhu who mentions another person's race, etc., commits no offense if he is "aiming at Dhamma, aiming at (the person's) benefit (attha — this can also mean "the goal"), aiming at teaching." The Kommentar illustrates this with a bhikkhu saying to a member of the untouchable caste: "You are an untouchable. Don't do any evil. Don't be a person born into misfortune and going on to misfortune."

Another example would be of a teacher who uses insulting language to get the attention of a stubborn student so that the latter will bring his behavior in line with the Dhamma. This would entail no offense, but one should be very sure of the purity of one's motives and of the beneficial effect of one's words before using language of this sort.

Summary: An insult made with malicious intent to another bhikkhu is a pācittiya offense.

3. Malicious tale-bearing among bhikkhus is to be confessed.

Malicious tale-bearing is described in the Vibhaṅga with a series of examples in the following form: X makes remarks about Y touching on his race, name, or any of the other ten akkosa-vatthu listed in the explanation to the preceding rule. Z, hearing these remarks, goes to tell someone else — either W or Y himself — in hopes of causing a rift between X and his listener or of winning favor with his listener in case there is already a rift between the two. For example:

  • a) X calls Y a bastard behind his back. Z tells Y, in hopes of ingratiating himself with Y.
  • b) X makes racist remarks about Y to his face. Z knows that W is a friend of Y and hates racists, and so tells W what X said, in hopes of causing a rift between W and X.

Bhikkhu Z commits the full offense here when three factors are fulfilled: object, effort, and intent.

  • 1) Object: Both Z's listener and X are bhikkhus; X has made remarks about Y that qualify as a direct insult under the preceding rule (or, if he didn't make them in Y's presence, remarks that would have qualified as a direct insult had he done so).
  • 2) Effort: Z reports X's remarks to his listener verbally or by gesture (as in writing a letter),
  • 3) Intent: with the intent of ingratiating himself with his listener, or of causing a rift between his listener and X.

The K/Kommentar adds a fourth factor — Z's listener understands what he is saying — but, as with the preceding rule, there is no basis for this in the Vibhaṅga.

Object. If either X or Z's listener — or both — are not bhikkhus, then the penalty for Z is a dukkaṭa.

If X's remarks qualified only as an indirect insult under the preceding rule — e.g., he said with reference to Y that, "There are camels among us" — then Z incurs a dukkaṭa if he reports them with the intent to ingratiate himself or cause a rift, regardless of whether his listener or X are bhikkhus or not.

The Sub-commentary states that there is a dukkaṭa for bearing tales dealing with matters other than remarks about the ten akkosa-vatthu — i.e., telling Y about things said or done by X, to make X appear in a bad light in hopes of winning favor or causing a rift — although some cases of this sort would come under Pc 13.

Effort. This rule is sometimes translated as dealing with slander — false tale-bearing — but as the examples in the Vibhaṅga show, it actually deals with true tale-bearing: X really does say insulting things about Y, and Z gives a true report. The Vinaya-mukha notes that if Z engages in false tale-bearing, then regardless of whether X and Z's listener are bhikkhus, Z incurs the full penalty under Pc 1.

Intent. To give a true report of such matters with motives other than those of winning favor or causing a rift entails no offense. Examples of this would include:

  • informing a senior bhikkhu when one bhikkhu has accused another of a serious offense, so that an inquiry can be made for the sake of harmony in the Community; or
  • telling a senior bhikkhu about a student of his who is making racist remarks, so that the senior bhikkhu can put a stop to it.

Summary: Telling a bhikkhu about insulting remarks made by another bhikkhu — in hopes of winning favor or causing a rift — is a pācittiya offense.

4. Should any bhikkhu have an unordained person recite Dhamma line by line (with him), it is to be confessed.

This is an offense with two factors:

  • 1) Effort: One gets a student to recite Dhamma line-by-line with oneself (which, as we shall see below, means to train the student to be a skilled reciter of a Pali Dhamma text).
  • 2) Object: The student is neither a bhikkhu nor a bhikkhunī.

Only the first factor needs explanation, and is best treated under two headings: Dhamma and reciting line-by-line.

Dhamma the Vibhaṅga defines as "a saying made by the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or heavenly beings, connected with the teaching or connected with the goal." The Kommentar devotes a long discussion to these terms, coming to the conclusion that connected with the Dhamma refers to the Pali Canon — in Pali, not in translation — as agreed on in the first three councils, while connected with the goal (attha) refers to the Mahā Aṭṭhakathā, the most revered ancient commentary (only in its original Pali version, the Sub-commentary says).

The ancient commentaries disagreed as to what other works would fit under this category, but Buddhaghosa's conclusion seems to be that — in the Milinda Pañhā, for example — Ven. Nāgasena's quotes of the Buddha's words would count, but not his own formulations of the teaching, and the same principle holds for other texts quoting the Buddha's words as well. The ancient commentaries are unanimous, though, in saying that Dhamma does not cover the Mahāyāna sūtras or any compositions (this would include translations) dealing with the Dhamma in languages other than Pali.

This interpretation, identifying Dhamma with particular Pali texts, has caused no controversy in the context of this rule — although it seems unlikely that the compilers of the Vibhaṅga would have had the commentaries in mind when they said, "connected with the goal" — but it has met with disagreement in the context of Pc 7, and so we will discuss it in more detail there.

Reciting line-by-line. To make someone recite line by line means to train him/her by rote to be a skilled reciter of a text.

Bhikkhus in the days of the Buddha committed the teachings in the Canon to memory to preserve them from generation to generation. Although writing was in use at the time — mainly for keeping accounts — no one used it to record teachings either of the Buddha or of any other religious teacher. Der Pali-Kanon was not written down until approximately 500 years after the Buddha's passing away, after an invasion of Sri Lanka had threatened its survival.

The Vibhaṅga lists four ways in which a person might be trained to be a reciter of a text:

  • 1) The teacher and student recite in unison, i.e., beginning together and ending together.
  • 2) The teacher begins a line, the student joins in, and they end together.
  • 3) The teacher recites the beginning syllable of a line together with the student, who then completes it alone.
  • 4) The teacher recites one line, and the student recites the next line alone.

At present, reciters of the Vedas still use these methods when practicing their texts.

The origin story states that the Buddha forbade these methods of training unordained people because they caused the lay students to feel disrespect for the bhikkhus. The Vinaya-mukha explains this by noting that if a teacher made a slip of the tongue while teaching in this way, his students would look down on him for it. If this were the right explanation, though, the non-offense clauses would have listed "proper" ways of training novices and lay people to recite the Dhamma, but they don't.

A more likely explanation is that at the time of the Buddha the duty of memorizing and reciting the texts was considered the province of the bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs. Although some lay people memorized discourses (Mv.III.5.9), and bhikkhus of course taught the Dhamma to lay people, there was apparently the feeling that to teach non-ordainees to become skilled reciters of the texts was not good for the relationship between bhikkhus and the unordained. There are three possible reasons for this:

  • 1) People may have felt that the bhikkhus were shirking their responsibilities by trying to pass their duty off onto others.
  • 2) Brahmans at the time were very strict in not allowing anyone outside their caste to memorize the Vedas, and their example may have led lay people to feel disrespect for bhikkhus who were not equally protective of their own tradition.
  • 3) A bhikkhu acting as a tutor for a lay person wishing to memorize the Dhamma might, over time, come to be seen as the lay person's hireling.

At present, the entire Canon is available in print, and even bhikkhus rarely commit it to memory, although they do frequently memorize parts of it, such as the Pāṭimokkha, the major discourses, and other passages chanted on ceremonial occasions. To train a lay person or novice to become skilled in reciting such teachings by rote would entail the full penalty under this rule.

Offenses are counted as follows: If teaching an unordained person to recite line-by-line, one incurs a pācittiya for each line; if teaching syllable-by-syllable, a pācittiya for each syllable.

Intention is not a mitigating factor here. Thus if a bhikkhu is training a mixed group of bhikkhus and novices, he incurs a pācittiya even if his intention is to train only the bhikkhus in the group.

Perception is also not a mitigating factor. If the person being trained is unordained, the bhikkhu incurs a pācittiya if he perceives him as unordained, a pācittiya if he is in doubt about the matter, and a pācittiya if he perceives him as ordained. If the person is ordained, then the bhikkhu incurs a dukkaṭa if he perceives him as unordained and a dukkaṭa if he is in doubt about the matter. Only if the person is ordained and the bhikkhu perceives him as ordained is he not grounds for an offense. This pattern of six possibilities — three pācittiyas, two dukkaṭas, and one non-offense — is standard in many of the pācittiya rules where perception is not a mitigating factor. We will note other rules in this chapter where this pattern also applies, but explain it in detail only here.

Non-offenses. Because this rule is aimed at methods of teaching, the Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense "for one made to recite in unison." This, says the Kommentar, refers to a young bhikkhu who, in the process of learning a text, is told by his teacher to recite together with a novice who is also the teacher's student.

Also, there is no offense if a bhikkhu "rehearses" a passage in unison with unordained people. In the time of the Canon, this meant the practice of reciting a passage one had already memorized. At present, this would include the practice of bhikkhus reciting together with lay people who are reading from a text or reciting from memory — for example, during the evening chanting — and are not learning the text from the bhikkhus. The Kommentar extends this allowance to include cases of bhikkhus learning a text from an unordained person, probably on the model of the Itivuttaka, which — according to its Kommentar — the bhikkhus first learned from a servant woman who had memorized some of the Buddha's teachings that the bhikkhus had overlooked.

Finally, there is no offense if a bhikkhu corrects an unordained person who has memorized most of a passage or who is reciting in a confused manner.

Summary: To train a novice or lay person to recite passages of Dhamma by rote is a pācittiya offense.

5. Should any bhikkhu lie down together (in the same dwelling) with an unordained person for more than two or three consecutive nights, it is to be confessed.

As the Vinaya-mukha comments, "The Buddha originally laid down the rule forbidding the act of sleeping in the same dwelling with an unordained person so that lay people would not see the unsightly attitudes a bhikkhu might assume while asleep. But then when novices came into being they were classed as unordained people and so had no place to stay. The Buddha therefore relaxed the rule, allowing bhikkhus to sleep in the same dwelling with an unordained person no more than three nights running, thus also opening the way for them to sleep in the same dwelling with ordinary lay men."

The occasion for the first formulation of the rule was this:

"Now at that time, lay men came to the monastery to hear the Dhamma. After the Dhamma had been taught, each of the elder bhikkhus went to his own dwelling, while the newer bhikkhus went to sleep right there in the assembly hall with the lay men — with muddled mindfulness, unalert, naked, mumbling, and snoring. The lay men criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can their reverences go to sleep with muddled mindfulness, unalert, naked, mumbling, and snoring?'"

The occasion for the final formulation was this:

"The bhikkhus said to Ven. Rāhula (who was a novice at the time), 'There is a training rule laid down by the Blessed One that (a bhikkhu) should not lie down together with an unordained person. Find yourself a place to sleep.' So Ven. Rāhula, not finding a place to sleep, went to sleep in the restroom. Then the Blessed One, getting up toward the end of the night, went to the restroom and on arriving cleared his throat. Ven. Rāhula cleared his throat.

"'Who's there?'

"'It's me, venerable sir — Rāhula.'

"'Why are you lying there?' (§ — reading nipanno'sīti with the Thai edition)

"So Ven. Rāhula told him what had happened."

There are two factors for the full offense here:

  • 1) Object an unordained person.
  • 2) Effort: (a) lying down, (b) together in the same dwelling with the unordained person, (c) for four nights running.

Object. The Vibhaṅga defines unordained person as anyone other than a bhikkhu. The Sub-commentary, citing the Three Gaṇṭhipadas, notes that this means males but not females, as there is another training rule, following immediately on this one, dealing specifically with females. According to the Kommentar, unordained person includes not only human beings but also any animal large enough to have intercourse with. Again, the Sub-commentary would qualify this as "male animals" for the same reason.

Perception as to whether the other person is ordained is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).

Lying down. To be lying down together with someone else means to be lying down at the same time as the other person is lying down within the area defined as a dwelling (see below). This factor is fulfilled whether the bhikkhu lies down when the other person is already lying there, or vice versa, or both lie down at the same time. Although there are other training rules where lying down is included under the term sitting, sitting is not included under the term lying down here. Whether the bhikkhu or the other person falls asleep is of no account.

If both parties get up and then lie down again, the bhikkhu incurs another pācittiya.

Dwelling. The Vibhaṅga defines the dwelling that can be grounds for a pācittiya here as a place completely roofed and completely walled, or mostly roofed and mostly walled. A place half-roofed and half-walled, it says, is grounds for a dukkaṭa, while a place (a) fully roofed but with no wall (e.g., an open pavilion), (b) fully walled but with no roof (e.g., a corral), or (c) less than half-roofed and less than half-walled, is not grounds for an offense.

Buddhaghosa quotes the Mahā Aṭṭhakathā, the major ancient commentary, as filling in all the other possibilities:

  • Grounds for a pācittiya: a place
  • fully roofed and mostly walled,
  • fully roofed and half-walled,
  • mostly roofed and half-walled,
  • mostly roofed and fully walled,
  • half-roofed and fully walled, or
  • half-roofed and mostly walled.
  • Grounds for a dukkaṭa: a place
  • fully roofed and less than half-walled,
  • mostly roofed and less than half-walled,
  • less than half-roofed and fully walled, or
  • less than half-roofed and mostly walled.
  • Grounds for no offense: a place
  • half-roofed and less than half-walled,
  • less than half-roofed and half-walled, or
  • less than half-roofed and less than half-walled.

The Kommentar notes that tents would fit under the definition of "place" here, and it would seem that vehicles — caravans in the time of the Buddha; automobiles, trains, buses and airplanes in ours — would fit here as well.

The same dwelling. Unfortunately, the Vibhaṅga does not say how far the boundary of a "single dwelling" would extend. For example, would each separate room in a house count as a separate dwelling? Would the entire house? Would an entire apartment building be a single dwelling? The Kommentar tries to remedy this omission by introducing the factor of "having a single common entrance" or "being part of the same enclosure." (The Pali word it uses, ek'ūpacāra, has both meanings, and the Kommentar makes use of both in its discussion.)

What it says is this: Even a seven-story palace or a building with 100 rooms would count as a single dwelling if all the rooms make use of a common entrance. If there are several buildings in a single enclosure, and one can go from one to another without stepping on outside ground, they would count as part of the same dwelling. If there is a building divided into units that are not connected by internal doorways, each unit having a separate entrance, the different units would count as separate dwellings. Locking or closing a door does not close off the doorway. Only if the door opening is bricked up or otherwise permanently sealed off does it no longer count as a doorway.

The Kommentar admits that the "single entrance" factor is not mentioned in the Canon in connection with this rule but is borrowed from the idea of "single enclosure" in the Vibhaṅga to NP 2. It argues, though, that this factor is unavoidably bound up in the concept of "walled and roofed" and illustrates its point as follows: There is a two-room dwelling, composed of an antechamber through which one must pass to get to the inner chamber. A bhikkhu is sleeping in the inner chamber, and an unordained person in the antechamber. Now suppose that a stubborn Vinaya student maintains that if the door between the two rooms is closed, the bhikkhu is sleeping in a separate dwelling from the unordained person, while if the door is open, they are in the same dwelling. His teacher then asks him, "Why are they in the same dwelling if the door is open?"

"Because the two rooms share the same roof and walls."

"And if the door is closed, does that destroy the roof and walls they had in common?"

"No, of course not. But the enclosure in which the bhikkhu is sleeping is marked by the door."

This, the Kommentar says, shows that the notion of enclosure is part and parcel of the concept of dwelling, and that the stubborn student has defeated his own argument. Its reasoning here is probably more convincing in Pali than in English — because as we noted above, Pali uses the same word for enclosure and entrance — but even so the illustration does not carry much force when applied to such places as separate apartments in an apartment building and so leaves the issue unsettled as far as they are concerned.

The Vinaya-mukha notes that the factor introduced by the Kommentar has implications that go far beyond the original purpose of this rule — and of the following rule, in which the concept of "single dwelling" is even more important. It suggests borrowing an additional factor from NP 2: the factor of separate residences or zones of ownership (the Pali word kula carries both meanings). Thus in a large building composed of separate residences — such as an apartment building, a hotel, or a hospital with private rooms — it suggests that each separate residence count as a separate dwelling.

Because the Canon gives no clear guidance on this point, the wise policy for an individual bhikkhu is to follow the views of the Community to which he belongs.

Nights here, as in other training rules, are counted by dawns. Thus if a bhikkhu is sleeping in the same dwelling with an unordained person but one of them gets up before dawnrise, that night does not count. If a bhikkhu has been lying down in the same dwelling with an unordained person for two nights running but then skips a night — for example, getting up before dawnrise at the end of the third night — the consecutive series is broken. If he then lies down in the same dwelling with an unordained person the next night, the counting starts again from one.

However, once he has been lying down in the same dwelling with an unordained person three nights running, then if after sundown on the fourth night he is lying down in the same dwelling in which a lay person is lying down — even if only for a moment — he incurs a pācittiya.

The Kommentar interprets the phrase "after sundown" as meaning any time on the fourth day. In other words, there is no need to wait until the next dawn to count the fourth period of lying down together. As we noted above in the conclusion to the chapter on the saṅghādisesa rules, there was a tendency in the time of the Canon to call a 24-hour period of day and night a "night." For the purpose of this rule and the following one, this period apparently begins at sundown.

The Kommentar also states that the unordained person need not be the same person each of the four nights, and the same principle holds true for the dwelling. In other words, if a bhikkhu lies down in a dwelling with novice X one night and then goes elsewhere and lies down in a dwelling with layman Y the next night and so on for four nights running, he commits an offense all the same.

Perception and intention are not mitigating factors here. Thus a bhikkhu lying down in the same dwelling with a novice whom he thinks to be another bhikkhu commits an offense all the same, as does a bhikkhu who miscounts the nights and lies down in the same room with an unordained person for what he thinks is his third night when it is actually his fourth.

In fact, this is a training rule that one may break without ever realizing it. Suppose a novice comes to lie down in a room where a bhikkhu is sleeping, and then gets up to leave before the bhikkhu awakens. If he does this for four nights running, the bhikkhu incurs a pācittiya even though he may never have been aware of what the novice was doing. Rules like this are the reason why many bhikkhus make a practice of confessing offenses even when they are not consciously aware of having committed them.

Non-offenses. To recapitulate some of the points from the above discussion: To lie down with an unordained person in a dwelling that would qualify as grounds for a pācittiya or a dukkaṭa is no offense as long as one does it no more than three days running. If, after lying down in the same dwelling with an unordained person for two nights running, one gets up before dawnrise at the end of the third night, one may resume lying down in the same dwelling with an unordained person the next night. Also, there is no offense in lying down any number of consecutive nights with an unordained person in a dwelling that would not qualify as grounds for an offense. And, there is no offense if one of the parties is sitting while the other is lying down, or if both parties are sitting (although see Pc 44 & 45).

The Vinaya-mukha comments that although this rule as it presently stands no longer fulfills its original purpose, bhikkhus should keep the original purpose in mind and avoid sleeping in the same place with an unordained person whenever possible. It would also be a wise policy to avoid sleeping out in a public park, on a public beach, in an unwalled pavilion, etc., in full view of the public, even though no offense would be involved.

It is also worth noting that this rule encourages bhikkhus to get up and meditate before dawn every day so that they can know for sure they haven't committed the offense here.

Summary: Lying down at the same time, in the same dwelling, with a novice or layman for more than three nights running is a pācittiya offense.

6. Should any bhikkhu lie down together (in the same dwelling) with a woman, it is to be confessed.

There are only two differences between this rule and the preceding one:

  • 1) The factor of "object" here is fulfilled only by a female human being, "even one born that day, all the more an older one," regardless of whether she is related to the bhikkhu.
  • 2) The four-night clause under "effort" is dropped, which means that the bhikkhu incurs a pācittiya the instant he lies down in the same dwelling with her.

Object. The Vibhaṅga states that female yakkhas, petas, nāgas, devas, and animals — as well as paṇḍakas (people born neuter or castrated men) — are grounds for a dukkaṭa here. The Kommentar qualifies this by saying that female animal means one with which it is possible to have intercourse, and the phrase, female yakkhas, petas, nāgas, and devas, includes only those who make themselves visible.

Even if another man is present in the dwelling, it does not negate the offense.

Perception as to whether the other person is a woman is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).

Intention is also not a mitigating factor. Thus a bhikkhu lying down in the same dwelling with a woman commits an offense regardless of whether he realizes that she is there.

The same principles regarding perception and intention also apply to paṇḍakas: A bhikkhu who lies down in the same room with a paṇḍaka whom he thinks to be an ordinary man commits a dukkaṭa; and the same is true for a bhikkhu lying down in a dwelling not knowing that a paṇḍaka is also lying down there.

Effort. A single dwelling is defined as in the preceding rule. Thus a bhikkhu sleeping in the same house as his mother, even if they are in separate rooms and another man is present, commits an offense all the same.

The primary point where this rule differs from the preceding one under the factor of effort is that a bhikkhu incurs a pācittiya the moment he is lying down in a dwelling at the same time a woman is lying there, with no need to count nights or dawns. This is expressed in the Vibhaṅga by saying, "If after sundown a bhikkhu is lying down when a woman is lying down, it is to be confessed."

The Sub-commentary interprets this as meaning that this rule applies only at night, but the non-offense clauses in the Vibhaṅga give no exemptions for daytime or "before sundown," which suggests that the Sub-commentary's interpretation is invalid. What the Vibhaṅga's statement means is that there is no need to wait until dawnrise to count the period of lying down together. As we noted under the preceding rule, there was a tendency in the time of the Canon to call a 24-hour period of day and night a "night," and for the purpose of these two rules, this period apparently begins at sundown. The Kommentar, switching to our current practice of calling a 24-hour period a day, says, "In the preceding rule, the offense is on the fourth day. Here it is right from the first day."

Thus, no matter what time of day or night a bhikkhu lies down in the same dwelling with a woman, he immediately incurs a pācittiya.

The purposes of this rule. Another difference between this rule and the preceding one is the obvious point that they have different purposes. As the origin story shows, this rule is to prevent situations that might tempt a bhikkhu to commit a serious offense, such as a Pr 1 or Sg 2.

"Then the woman, having herself prepared a bed inside (her house) for Ven. Anuruddha, having put on her jewelry and scented herself with perfumes, went to him... and said, 'Master, you are beautiful, good-looking, and appealing. I, too, am beautiful, good-looking, and appealing. It would be good if I were to be your wife.'

"When she said this, Ven. Anuruddha remained silent. So a second time... A third time she said to him, 'Master, you are beautiful, good-looking, and appealing. I, too, am beautiful, good-looking, and appealing. It would be good if you would take me together with all my wealth.'

"A third time, Ven. Anuruddha remained silent. So the woman, having slipped off her clothing, paraded up and down in front of him, stood, sat down, and then lay down in front of him. But Ven. Anuruddha, keeping control of his faculties, didn't as much as glance at her or say even a word.

"Then the thought occurred to her: 'Isn't it amazing! Isn't it astounding! Many men send for me at a price of 100 or even 1,000 (a night), but this monk, even when I myself beg him, doesn't want to take me together with all my wealth!' So, putting her clothing back on and bowing her head at his feet, she said to him: 'Venerable sir, a transgression has overcome me in that I was so foolish, so muddle-headed, so unskillful as to act in such a way. Please accept this confession of my transgression as such, for the sake of (my) restraint in the future.'"

Ven. Anuruddha was very advanced in the practice and so was able to get through the situation with his mindfulness and precepts intact. Many a lesser bhikkhu, though, would have succumbed right from the woman's first request, and so the Buddha formulated this rule for his protection.

This rule is also meant to prevent situations where suspicious people might think a bhikkhu has committed a serious offense even when he hasn't. Like Caesar's wife, a bhikkhu must not only be pure, he must look pure if he is to maintain his reputation. If a bhikkhu and a woman are seen going into a house together in the evening and leaving together the following morning, then even if they slept in separate rooms, suspicious neighbors — and very few neighbors aren't suspicious of bhikkhus — would be quick to jump to conclusions. This is why no exemption is made for a bhikkhu who commits this offense unknowingly. Other people may know what is happening, and this is the sort of case where their opinion matters a great deal. For the same reason, the wise policy mentioned in the preceding rule applies even more forcefully here: A bhikkhu would be well-advised not to lie down with a woman in such places as parks, beaches, or unwalled pavilions even though in terms of the rules no offense would be involved.

There is some overlap between this rule and Pc 44 & 45, which deal with a bhikkhu sitting or lying down together in private with a woman (or women). Special cases covered by this rule not covered by those would include, for example, a bhikkhu and a woman lying down in separate rooms of the same dwelling; and a bhikkhu and a woman lying down in the same dwelling with another man present. Also, under those rules the questions of the bhikkhu's state of mind and his awareness of the situation are important factors. Here they are of no consequence: Even a bhikkhu with the purest state of mind — or completely unknowingly — incurs a pācittiya when lying down together with a woman in the same dwelling.

Non-offenses. There is no offense in lying down with a woman in a dwelling that under the preceding rule would not be grounds for an offense, i.e.,

  • fully roofed but with no walls (e.g., an open pavilion),
  • fully walled but with no roof (e.g., a corral),
  • half-roofed and less than half-walled,
  • less than half-roofed and half-walled,
  • less than half-roofed and less than half-walled.

Still, as noted above, a bhikkhu would be well-advised to avoid such situations whenever possible, and to have another man present when not.

Summary: Lying down at the same time in the same dwelling with a woman is a pācittiya offense.

7. Should any bhikkhu teach more than five or six sentences of Dhamma to a woman, unless a knowledgeable man is present, it is to be confessed.

"Then Ven. Udāyin, dressing early in the morning and taking his bowl and (outer) robe, went to visit a certain family. At that time the lady of the house was sitting in the main entrance, while the daughter-in-law was sitting in the door to the inner chamber. So Ven. Udāyin went to the lady of the house... and whispered Dhamma into her ear. The daughter-in-law thought, 'Is this monk my mother-in-law's lover, or is he being fresh with her?' Then, having whispered Dhamma into the ear of the lady of the house, Ven. Udāyin went to the daughter-in-law... and whispered Dhamma into her ear. The lady of the house thought, 'Is this monk my daughter-in-law's lover, or is he being fresh with her?' After whispering Dhamma into the daughter-in-law's ear, Ven. Udāyin left. So the lady of the house said to the daughter-in-law, 'Hey. What did that monk say to you?'

"'He taught me Dhamma, ma'am. And what did he say to you?'

"'He taught me Dhamma, too.'

"So they criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can Ven. Udāyin whisper Dhamma into women's ears? Shouldn't the Dhamma be taught openly and out loud?'"

The two factors for the full offense here are:

  • 1) Object a female human being who knows what is and is not lewd, what is well-spoken and ill-spoken, and who has not asked one a question about the Dhamma.
  • 2) Effort: One teaches her more than six sentences of Dhamma without a knowledgeable man present — i.e., a male human being who also knows what is and is not lewd, what is well-spoken and ill-spoken.

Object. The word woman covers women as well: If a bhikkhu is with two or more women but without a knowledgeable man present, he may teach them no more than five or six sentences of Dhamma. Perception as to whether the person being taught is a woman or a man is not a mitigating factor here (see Pc 4).

According to the Vibhaṅga, a female peta, deva, or animal (probably a nāga) in the form of a human woman are each grounds for a dukkaṭa here.

Effort. This factor contains two sub-factors requiring explanation: "Dhamma" and "six sentences."

Dhamma the Vibhaṅga defines in the same terms as under Pc 4: "a saying made by the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or heavenly beings, connected with the teaching, connected with the goal (attha)."

Precisely what this means is a point of controversy. The Kommentar identifies "sayings made by the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or heavenly beings" with different parts of the Pali Canon — in Pali — and then treats "connected with the teaching, connected with the goal" as nouns, the first referring to the Canon, and the second to the ancient commentary named the Mahā Aṭṭhakathā. This last point is highly unlikely, as the Mahā Aṭṭhakathā did not yet exist when the Canon was being composed.

There are two alternatives to the Kommentar's interpretation: One follows the Kommentar in treating "connected with the teaching, connected with the goal" as nouns, but interprets them as meaning any statement dealing with the Dhamma, no matter what language it is in, and regardless of whether it is quoted from a text. Thus, according to this interpretation, anything a bhikkhu would say about the Dhamma — quoted from the Canon, from a later text, or of his own invention — would count as Dhamma here.

The second interpretation regards "connected with the teaching, connected with the goal" as adjectives modifying "sayings made by the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or heavenly beings." This makes more sense in terms of Pali syntax — the terms are in the masculine case, agreeing with the word dhammo, whereas they probably would have been in the neuter case had they been intended as nouns. This limits the meaning of Dhamma in this rule to passages from the Canon, but not necessarily in the Pali language. Translations from the Canon would also come under the rule, as there is a passage in the Cullavagga (V.33.1) where the Buddha allows bhikkhus to learn Dhamma each in his own language, thus showing, contrary to the Kommentar, that Dhamma does not have to be in Pali to be Dhamma.

However, both interpretations have their adherents at present, and the question comes down to what one perceives to be the purpose of the rule. Adherents of the first interpretation say that the rule is designed to prevent the sort of suspicions that arise when a bhikkhu is talking at length alone with a woman, but this argument does not fit with the Buddha's allowance for a bhikkhu to give a talk when a woman asks him for instruction.

It is more likely that the rule is aimed at preventing a bhikkhu from using his knowledge of Dhamma as a come-on, a way of making himself attractive to a woman. As any man who teaches Dhamma soon learns, there are women who find such knowledge irresistible. To view the rule in this light makes either of the two interpretations tenable, so the wise policy is to adhere to the interpretation of the Community to which one belongs.

This rule applies to telephone conversations as well as to conversations in person, but because the Pv.I.5.7 notes that it deals only with the spoken word, it does not cover letters or other written communications.

Six sentences. As for the amount of Dhamma a bhikkhu may say to a woman or women without a knowledgeable man present, the Pali word for "sentence," (vācā), can also mean "word," but the Kommentar states specifically that one vācā is approximately equal to a line of verse. The Sub-commentary goes on to say that the Kommentar's definition here applies to poetry, while one vācā of prose is equal to the conjugation of a verb, i.e., six words. In either case, six vācās would amount to six sentences.

Offenses are counted as follows: If one is teaching the Dhamma line-by-line, one incurs a pācittiya for each line; if syllable-by-syllable, a pācittiya for each syllable.

Conversations on other topics. Strangely enough, neither the Vibhaṅga nor the Kommentar makes mention of conversations with women that do not touch on the Dhamma. The Sub-commentary notes this, and in one of its rare stabs at humor concludes, "It is perfectly all right to talk as much as you like about Tamils and that sort of thing."

Conversation that does not deal with the Dhamma, though, is termed "animal talk" (tiracchāna-kathā) in the Canon, and there are several passages (e.g., the Vibhaṅgas to Pc 21 & 85; Mv.V.6.3-4) that criticize group-of-six bhikkhus for engaging in animal talk: worldly talk about "kings, robbers, and ministers of state (politics); armies, alarms, and battles; food and drink; clothing, furniture, garlands, and scents; relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, cities, the countryside; women and heroes; the gossip of the street and the well; tales of the dead; also philosophical discussions of the past and future (this is how the Sub-commentary to Pc 85 explains 'tales of diversity'), the creation of the world and of the sea, and talk of whether things exist or not." The Sub-commentary notes, though, that to discuss any of these topics in a way to foster an understanding of the Dhamma — e.g., discussing the impermanence of worldly power — is not considered improper.

Although there is no specific penalty for indulging in such worldly talk, a bhikkhu who indulges in it with lay people, bhikkhus, or novices to the point where he becomes offensive to the Community may be subject to an act of censure, banishment, or suspension on the grounds of "unbecoming association with householders" or "verbal frivolity." Furthermore, a bhikkhu sitting alone with a woman (or women) engaging in such talk would be subject to the conditions of Pc 44 or 45 and Ay 1 or 2.

It is also worth noting in this regard that, unlike Pc 44 & 45 and Ay 1 & 2, this rule covers situations where either the bhikkhu or the woman, or both, are standing. In other words, if a bhikkhu and a woman are conversing while standing, he may teach her at most six sentences of Dhamma unless any of the non-offense clauses apply.

Non-offenses. There is no offense if, after the bhikkhu teaches the woman six sentences of Dhamma, either he or she changes position — stands up, sits down, etc. — and he continues with six more sentences. This point was most likely included to indicate separate conversations. Once a bhikkhu has taught five or six sentences to a woman, he may teach her again when they meet again and is not condemned to silence for the rest of his life.

Another exemption is that a bhikkhu, after teaching six sentences of Dhamma to one woman, may turn and teach six more sentences to another without incurring a penalty. Thus the Kommentar notes that a bhikkhu addressing an assembly of 100 women may teach them a total of 600 sentences of Dhamma if he aims each set of six at a different woman.

A third exemption is that there is no penalty for a bhikkhu who is teaching Dhamma to someone else, and a woman happens to be listening in.

Finally, as noted above, if a woman asks a bhikkhu a question, he may give her a talk even if no other man is present. This exemption is common to all the rules that deal with instructing women (see Pc 21 & 22), but precisely what it means is somewhat uncertain, as none of the texts define how teaching Dhamma (dhammaṃ deseti) differs from giving a talk (katheti), if they differ at all. The Kommentar notes simply that in giving a talk one is not limited to six sentences; its example of a 'talk' is a recitation of the complete Dīgha Nikāya (!), which shows that, as far as the commentators are concerned, teaching Dhamma and giving a talk are essentially the same. Thus a bhikkhu may answer a woman's question about Dhamma with a talk including as many sentences of Dhamma as he needs to make his point clear.

This allowance is important in that it honors a woman's desire to understand the Dhamma. A wise policy, though, would be to show restraint in such situations. The relationship of male teacher to female student has a long, well-known history of getting out of hand. Even if a bhikkhu is in control of himself in such conversations, passers-by — and the woman herself — can easily misconstrue his words and actions. So, wherever possible, he should go out of his way to guard himself against suspicion and misunderstandings in such cases by having a man present when talking alone with a woman, even though the special exemption is made.

Summary: Teaching more than six sentences of Dhamma to a woman, except in response to a question, is a pācittiya offense unless a knowledgeable man is present.

8. Should any bhikkhu report (his own) superior human state, when it is factual, to an unordained person, it is to be confessed.

The factors for the full offense here are two:

  • 1) Effort: One reports one's actual attainment of a superior human state
  • 2) Object: to an unordained person, i.e., any human being who is not a bhikkhu or bhikkhunī.

The commentaries add an extra factor here — result — but this is based on the same misunderstanding that led them to add the same factor to Pr 4. See the explanation under "Understanding," below.

Effort is the only factor requiring explanation here.

The meaning of superior human state is discussed at length under Pr 4. In brief, it covers (a) jhāna, (b) the cognitive powers that can arise as its result, and (c) the transcendent attainments.

Factual is not explained in the texts, but probably means factual from the bhikkhu's own point of view. In other words, regardless of whether he has actually attained a superior human state, if he thinks he has and reports it to an unordained person, he commits an offense all the same. If he actually has attained such a state, e.g., jhāna, but thinks he hasn't, and yet claims that he has — in other words, he is telling what he thinks to be a lie — he incurs a pārājika.

To report, says the Vibhaṅga, means to speak directly of one's own attainments, as explained under Pr 4 — i.e., to claim that the state is present in oneself or that one is present in the state. To speak indirectly of one's own attainments — e.g., "The bhikkhu who lives in this dwelling enters jhāna at will" — entails a dukkaṭa. According to the Kommentar, gestures fall under this rule as well. Thus, if a bhikkhu who has attained stream-entry nods when asked by a lay person if he has any noble attainments, his nod would fulfill the factor of effort here. As under Pr 4, the use of idioms to express a superior human attainment would fulfill the factor of effort as well.

The origin story to this rule deals with bhikkhus who, as a tactic for getting almsfood in a time of scarcity, had agreed to speak of one another's superior human states to householders. This would seem to suggest that to speak of another bhikkhu's actual attainment of superior human states with such motives in mind — e.g., hoping to get a share of the increased gains he might receive — should entail a penalty too, but none of the texts mention this point, so it is not an offense. Still, any bhikkhu who plans to act in such a way, on the grounds that whatever is not an offense is perfectly all right, should remember that the Buddha criticized the bhikkhus in the origin story in very strong terms.

Understanding. The Vibhaṅga contains a series of situations in which understanding is a factor, paralleling a similar series given under Pr 4. In each of the situations, a bhikkhu means to claim one superior human state but ends up claiming another. None of the texts mention this point, but apparently both the state intended and the state mentioned are actually present within him. At any rate, if he realizes his slip of the tongue, he incurs a pācittiya; if not, a dukkaṭa.

Unlike Pr 4, the bhikkhu's understanding when he makes an indirect claim to a superior human state here is not an issue. He incurs a dukkaṭa whether he understands the implications of his statement or not.

Intention is not a factor under this rule. Thus, whether one has a skillful or an unskillful motive for mentioning one's factual superior human attainments to an unordained person is irrelevant to the offense.

Non-offenses. The Vibhaṅga lists only two non-offense clauses: There is no offense in reporting one's own superior human attainments to another bhikkhu or to a bhikkhunī, and there is no offense for the original instigators of the rule. The Kommentar, noting the absence of the usual exemption for one who is insane, explains it as follows: A person who has attained any of the noble attainments can never become insane; a person who has attained jhāna can become insane only after his/her ability to attain jhāna has been lost. A bhikkhu in the latter category has no right to claim jhāna as a state "present in himself" and therefore does not deserve an exemption under this rule. This last point, however, conflicts with the Vibhaṅga, which includes claims stated in the past tense — for example, "I have attained the first jhāna" — as examples of legitimate claims. A more likely explanation for the lack of the blanket exemptions under this rule is that they are already exempted under Pr 4.

As for the first exemption, allowing a bhikkhus to claim his factual attainments to another bhikkhu or bhikkhunī, a series of stories in the Vinita-vatthu to Pr 4 raises some points to bear in mind in such situations. A typical example — the stories differ only in minor details — is this:

"Then Ven. Mahā Moggallāna, as he was descending Vulture Peak Mountain, smiled at a certain place. Ven. Lakkhaṇa said to him, 'Friend Moggallāna, what is the reason, what is the cause for your smile?'

"'This is not the time, friend Lakkhaṇa, to answer this question. Ask me in the presence of the Blessed One.'

"So Ven. Lakkhaṇa and Ven. Mahā Moggallāna... went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, Ven. Lakkhaṇa said to Ven. Mahā Moggallāna, 'Just now, friend Moggallāna... you smiled. What was the reason, what was the cause for your smile?'

"'Just now, my friend... I saw a man immersed head and all in a pit of excrement, feeding on excrement with both hands. The thought occurred to me, "Isn't it amazing, isn't it astounding, that there is a being even like this..."'

"Bhikkhus criticized and complained and spread it about, 'Ven. Moggallāna is boasting of a superior human state!'

"Then the Blessed One said to the bhikkhus, 'Actually, bhikkhus, there are disciples of vision and knowledge who will know or see or bear witness like this. Once I myself saw that being but I didn't disclose it. Had I disclosed it, others would not have believed me... and that would have been to their long-term pain and detriment. That being, bhikkhus, was once a corrupted brahman right in this very same Rājagaha. He, in the time of the Buddha Kassapa, having invited a Community of bhikkhus to a meal, having filled a trough with excrement and announcing the time, said, "Venerable sirs, eat from this and take with you as much as you like." Having been boiled in hell as a result of that action for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, many hundreds of thousands of years, he is now — through the remainder of the result of that very same action — experiencing existence as an individual like this. Moggallāna spoke truly, bhikkhus. There is no offense for him.'"

Ven. Moggallāna's conduct here — waiting until he is in the presence of his teacher before relating his vision — has become a model for conduct among meditators, for as the bhikkhus' reaction and the Buddha's comments make clear, there are situations where the act of relating one's visions, etc., even when allowed, will serve no positive purpose.

Displaying psychic powers. A related rule at Cv.V.8.2 states that to display psychic powers to lay people is a dukkaṭa. In the origin story leading up to that rule, the Buddha levels strong criticism at such an act: "Just as a woman might expose her vagina for a miserable wooden māsaka 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."

To display psychic powers to anyone who is not a lay person, though, is no offense. Thus, given the way these two rules are framed, one may not tell a novice of one's powers but may levitate before his very eyes.

Summary: To tell an unordained person of one's actual superior human attainments is a pācittiya offense.

9. Should any bhikkhu report (another) bhikkhu's serious offense to an unordained person — unless authorized by the bhikkhus — it is to be confessed.

"At that time Ven. Upananda the Sakyan had gotten into a quarrel with some group-of-six bhikkhus. Having committed an offense of intentional emission of semen, he asked the Community to grant him probation... Now at that time a certain guild in Sāvatthī was presenting a meal to the Community. Ven. Upananda, being on probation, sat in the last seat in the meal hall. The group-of-six bhikkhus said to the lay people, 'Friends, this Ven. Upananda the Sakyan, your esteemed dependent, emitted semen having attacked (himself) with the very same hand with which he is eating your gift of faith... (This is why), being on probation, he is sitting in the last seat.'"

There are two factors for the full offense here:

  • 1) Object a serious offense committed by another bhikkhu.
  • 2) Effort: One reports it to an unordained person without having been authorized to do so by the Community.

Object. The Vibhaṅga states that serious offense means any of the four pārājika or thirteen saṅghādisesa offenses, while Buddhaghosa reports the ancient commentaries as saying that it covers only the saṅghādisesas. His discussion of this point is interesting for the light it throws on the history of the texts: He presents two arguments for the commentaries' position, effectively demolishes them, but then backs down and ends up siding with them. Why he does this is hard to say, although it may be that he himself disagreed with the ancient commentaries on this point but was forced to side with them by the elders of the Mahāvihāra who were responsible for putting the seal of approval on his work.

At any rate, the details of the argument lie outside the scope of this guide. The Vinaya-mukha has already adopted Buddhaghosa's arguments against the ancient commentaries here, and we will simply follow our usual policy of siding with the Vibhaṅga wherever the other texts depart from it. Serious offense means both the four pārājikas and the thirteen saṅghādisesas.

A bhikkhu's non-serious offenses are grounds for a dukkaṭa.

Perception as to whether the bhikkhu's offense is serious is not a mitigating factor. If it actually is serious, then whether one perceives it as serious, not serious, or doubtful, it is grounds for a pācittiya. If it actually is not serious, then regardless of how one perceives it, it is grounds for a dukkaṭa. In other words, the pattern set out under Pc 4 does not hold here.

An unordained person's misbehavior — serious or not — is also grounds for a dukkaṭa. (§ — BD translates the passage on which this last point is based as, "tells one who is not ordained of a transgression" when it should read, "tells of an unordained person's transgression.") According to the Kommentar, serious misbehavior on the part of an unordained person means breaking any of the five precepts. Anything else would count as not serious.

This dukkaṭa penalty for informing an unordained person about another unordained person's transgressions of the precepts, though frequently overlooked in discussions of this rule, is important. It seems aimed at keeping bhikkhus from being gossips, so that novices and lay people may seek advice from a bhikkhu concerning the difficulties they have in observing the precepts without fear that he will spread the news to other unordained people as well.

This also helps preserve the good faith of donors: They can give their support to the bhikkhus without fear that the recipients of their support might be gossiping about their lapses in the practice behind their backs. If donors were to learn that a bhikkhu had been gossiping about them, they might become so disgusted as to withdraw their support from the religion as a whole.

Effort. Unordained person here means anyone who is not a bhikkhu or a bhikkhunī.

To report an offense to an unordained person means to tell him/her both the action and the class of the offense. Thus, to say, "Ven. Upananda committed a saṅghādisesa by masturbating," would fulfill the fact of effort here; while to say simply, "Ven. Upananda committed a saṅghādisesa," or "Ven. Upananda masturbated," would not, and would not even be grounds for a lesser offense. None of the texts discuss the question of whether the same principle would apply to the offenses of an unordained person.

This allowance, which looks strange on the surface, was made apparently for such cases as when a lay person, seeing a senior bhikkhu sitting at the end of the line, might ask one of the other bhikkhus why. A bhikkhu would be well-advised, though, to examine his motives before making use of this allowance, for to take advantage of it to discredit a fellow bhikkhu would be to incur a dukkaṭa under Pc 13. Though the penalty is minor, little acts and minor offenses of this sort are often the ones most destructive to the harmony of the Community.

The authorization. The Vibhaṅga does not give any indication of when the Community should authorize a bhikkhu to tell unordained people about another bhikkhu's serious offense. As the Vinaya-mukha sees it, the purpose of the training rule is to prevent bhikkhus from advertising one another's faults among people outside the Community. However, there are cases, it says, where a bhikkhu may commit a serious offense and refuse to acknowledge it, as when committing a pārājika and yet continuing to assume the status of a bhikkhu, or committing a saṅghādisesa and refusing to go through the procedures for rehabilitation. Thus the Community in such cases is allowed to authorize one of its members to inform lay people, such as the bhikkhu's supporters, as a way of exerting pressure on him to submit to his penalty.

According to the Kommentar, though, the authorization is to be used in cases where the Community feels that the act of informing the laity would help to convince a well-intentioned but weak-willed bhikkhu who repeatedly commits saṅghādisesa offenses — even if he willingly undergoes the period of penance — to mend his ways.

Both interpretations fit with the Canon, although it should be borne in mind that using the authorization in line with the Vinaya-mukha's rationale — to exert pressure on a bhikkhu who refuses to undergo a penalty — can often backfire, for the laity may simply think that the Community is jealous of the support they are giving to the bhikkhu they assume to be innocent of any wrong-doing.

The Vibhaṅga also does not tell how to issue the authorization. The Kommentar recommends using the form of a declaration (apalokana) stated three times and unanimously agreed to by the Community meeting within a single territory (see BMC2, Kapitel 12).

The Vibhaṅga does state, though, that when giving the authorization, the Community may limit it to families, to offenses, to both, or to neither. Limited to families means that the bhikkhu receiving the authorization may inform only certain specified families. Limited to offenses means that he may report only certain of the guilty bhikkhu's offenses. A bhikkhu who oversteps the limits of his authorization incurs a pācittiya.

Non-offenses. We have already covered the cases that the Vibhaṅga includes in the non-offense clauses. To recapitulate: There is no penalty —

  • 1) in telling an unordained person about another bhikkhu's serious offense if one states the action but not the class of offense, or the class but not the action; or
  • 2) in reporting another bhikkhu's serious offense — action and class of offense — to an unordained person when one has been properly authorized to do so, as long as one does not overstep the bounds of one's authorization.

Summary: Telling an unordained person of another bhikkhu's serious offense — unless one is authorized by the Community to do so — is a pācittiya offense.

10. Should any bhikkhu dig soil or have it dug, it is to be confessed.

This is an offense with four factors: object, effort, perception, and intention.

Object. The Pali word for soil, paṭhavī, also means ground or earth. Thus the Vibhaṅga distinguishes which forms of earth are and are not classed as genuine soil:

Pure loam, pure clay, whatever is mostly loam or clay with a lesser portion of rock, stones, potsherds, gravel, or sand mixed in, is classed as "genuine" (or "natural") soil (jātā paṭhavī).

Whatever is pure rock, stones, potsherds, gravel, or sand, or any of these with a lesser portion of loam or clay mixed in, is earth classed as "ungenuine" (or "denatured") soil (ajātā paṭhavī). Also, burnt clay or loam — according to the Kommentar, this means soil that has been burnt in the course of firing a bowl, a pot, etc. — is not classed as genuine soil. As for heaps of loam or clay that have been dug up: If they have been rained on for less than four months, they are not classed as genuine soil; but if rained on for four months or more, they are. Also, the layer of fine dust that forms on the surface of dry soil as the result of wind erosion is not classed as genuine soil.

The words for "genuine" and "not genuine" — jāta and ajāta — also mean "born" and "not born." These terms are apparently related to the ancient Indian belief that soil is a form of one-facultied life (see below). The distinction between them seems based on an intuited idea that rock, sand, etc., were not alive, whereas clay and loam were naturally alive, although they would lose life when dug up and regain life when rained on for four months or more.

As the Kommentar makes clear in discussing the Vibhaṅga's non-offense clauses, there is no penalty in digging earth not classed as genuine soil. Thus, for example, digging into a pile of newly dug-up loam or drawing diagrams in the dust on top of dry soil would not be an offense.

Effort. The Vibhaṅga says that the term digging also covers burning, i.e., firing pottery; and breaking, i.e., making a furrow with a rake or a stick. Thus, using a stick to draw in the soil or driving in a stake or pulling one out in such a way as to disturb the surrounding soil would fulfill the factor of effort here.

The Vibhaṅga adds that if one gives a single command to dig, then no matter how much the person digs, the offense is a single pācittiya.

Perception. If one perceives a patch of genuine soil not to be genuine soil, it is not grounds for an offense. If one is in doubt as to whether a patch of earth is classed as genuine soil, it is grounds for a dukkaṭa regardless of whether it is actually classed as genuine soil or not.

Non-offenses. Because perception and intention are mitigating factors here, there is no offense for the bhikkhu who digs soil —

  • unknowingly — e.g., digging into a pile of soil perceiving it to be sand;
  • unthinkingly — e.g., absent-mindedly drawing in the dirt while talking with someone else; or
  • unintentionally — e.g., raking leaves, pulling a wheelbarrow through the mud, or digging in a pile of sand and accidentally digging into the soil underneath.

Also, there is no offense in asking for clay or soil, or in indicating a need for a hole in the ground, without expressly giving the command to dig. Examples in the Vibhaṅga: "Know this. Give this. Bring this. This is wanted. Make this allowable." Present examples would include such statements as, "Please get me some clay to make a pot." "We're going to need a hole right here." According to the Kommentar, an explicit request that a reservoir or pit, etc., be dug also entails no penalty as long as one does not say precisely where to dig it. ("We're going to have to drain the water from A to B, so dig the trench wherever you think it would do the job best.") This sort of request or hint is termed kappiya-vohāra — "allowable expression," or in plain English, "wording it right" — and often finds use in the context of rules where an express command would be an offense, but an indication of a desire or intent would not.

The Kommentar quotes the ancient commentaries as saying that if another person or animal has fallen into a pit, there is no penalty for digging the victim out. The same holds true if another person or animal is trapped by a fallen but still-living tree: The bhikkhu may cut the tree to free the victim without incurring a penalty under the following rule.

Although the Kommentar cannot find any justification in the Canon for these opinions, it states that they should be accepted because they are the unanimous judgment of the ancient commentaries. As we have noted before, Buddhaghosa does not always accept even the unanimous judgment of the ancient commentaries, but perhaps he felt that these were cases in which it would be better to err on the side of compassion rather than strictness.

However, the Kommentar goes on to say that if a bhikkhu falls into a pit himself, he should not dig any earth that would be classed as genuine soil, even for the sake of his life. The same holds true if he is trapped by a fallen but still-living tree: He may not cut the tree even though his life is in danger.

In line with Cv.V.32.1, which allows a bhikkhu to light a counter-fire to ward off an approaching wildfire, the Kommentar to Pr 3 states that one may also dig a moat to ward off such a fire without incurring a penalty under this rule.

The reason for this rule, as indicated by the origin story, is that people in general at the time of the Buddha viewed soil as having a form of one-facultied life. The Jains, who were contemporaries of the Buddha, classed life into five categories according to the number of senses or faculties the living thing possessed. In the one-facultied category, where there is only the sense of touch, they included soil and vegetation. One scholar has suggested that the Jains here were simply systematizing an animist belief, predating their theories, that soil and plants had souls. At any rate, this sort of view was so widespread at the time that any potters who were meticulous in their precepts would take their clay only from termite nests and other piles of dug-up earth. The Ghaṭīkāra Sutta (MN 81) describes a potter — a non-returner in the dispensation of the Buddha Kassapa — who, even though he was a lay man, would take the earth for his pots only from collapsed embankments and the piles of dirt around rat holes so as to avoid injuring the soil.

Another consideration, carrying more weight at present, is that the act of digging soil risks killing or injuring whatever animals might be living there.

This rule, together with the following one, also effectively prevents bhikkhus from engaging in agriculture.

Summary: Digging soil or commanding that it be dug is a pācittiya offense.