SuttaCentral

Learning the Pāṭimokkha


#1

Hi everyone, I’m starting to commit the Pāṭimokkha to memory and would like to ask anyone who know it/can recite it by heart if there is any tips or recommendations for doing so? Any method or idea(s) to facilitate the process? How long does it take on average? How long does it took you?

Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks! :slight_smile:


#2

Usually the local community of monks will have a preferred memorization method.
I am not a monk but I have witnessed a few Thai monks training it and in their case it was all about listening to a tape and repeating as many times as possible in between key temple activities, and sometimes overnight!
There is a lot of repetition so the mind stars finding ways to make things simpler on the memorisation side of things.
The full text of the Theravāda Bhikkhu pātimokkha is found in SuttaCentral at the link below:

In the link below you find it chanted in a slightly Sri Lankan chanting style.

My memory of how it is chanted among Thai Dhammayutika monks is that the chanting is very similar and just a bit faster:

I have fond memories of sitting outside uposatha halls very early in the morning just to listen this beautiful recitation. It is usually cool, no mosquitoes around, the dogs and cats inhabiting the place all asleep or just waiting around, in peace.

It is a very beautiful formality any big enough group of bhikkhus usually go through, you can see it reinforces the unity and friendliness among all those individuals invested in the Path.

:anjal:


#3

Thanks, @gnlaera! As always, you are a tremendous resource for this forum!

Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu!


#4

Well, congratulations, it is a wonderful thing!

I learned the patimokkha in my first vassa, so let me share a few tips.

  • Study and practice Pali pronunciation very carefully first. Make sure you can pronounce every vowel and consonant distinctly, accurately, and consistently. Precision is good for its own sake, but it also greatly aids memory. You should be able to simply write the text without error from memory. Like this!
    • Yo pana bhikkhu pātimokkhe uddissamāne evaṁ vadeyya: "kim pan’imehi khuddānukhuddakehi sikkhāpedehi uddiṭṭhehi, yāvadeva kukkuccāya vihesāya vilekhāya saṁvattantī"ti Sikkhāpadavivaṇṇake pācittiyaṁ
  • Learn the text side by side with a literal translation. Even if you don’t know Pali grammar, you should know the meaning of the sentences.
  • Learn one part at a time very well before going on to the next part. Usually a “part” would be a rule. Go over it again and again and again. And again.
  • When you have mastered one rule, go on to the next, until you have competed a vagga. Then recite the whole vagga again and again until it is fluent.
  • Then go back and recite the whole thing from the beginning until it is fluent, before proceeding to the next vagga.
  • Don’t stop! The number one cause of failure among would-be memorizers is to learn half of it, then get distracted or lose interest, thinking they’ll come back to it. They don’t.
  • Once you have memorized it, keep practising every day for a year. Recite the whole thing, or at least a half, every day.
  • As you gain confidence, recite faster. If you can recite the whole thing comfortably in less than 40 minutes, you’ll be more likely to do it every day.
  • Practice reciting while walking, it’s good for the health and encourages robust memory.

It took me 7 weeks to learn, and I still recite it today. It’s a wonderful service to the Sangha, and will bring you much joy and faith. :pray:


#5

Anumodanā Bhante! That’s very helpful, thanks a lot for sharing :slight_smile:

Wow, 7 weeks sounds pretty much like record time! I would be happy if I can make it in triple that time. I’ll be putting your advice into practice, thanks again :anjal:


#6

Perfect! :pray::pray::pray:!


#7

This word by word analysis of the pātimokkha might be helpful for you in addition to the videos linked above. Best of luck!


#8

Wow that’s a great document! Thanks a lot :pray:


#9

Greetings,
That is quite a big task, but why can you not just read it from a book? Would not the message still get across to all bhikkhus/bhikkhunis?


#10

Sure, I could! I just want to memorize it, so I can carry it with me without having to carry books around :slight_smile:


#11

You could get a e-reader and carry a whole library if you liked. Every monastery which recites the patimokkha usually has a patimokkha book, even during the ceremony there is someone checking the book to watch if the recitor(reciter?) Makes any mistakes, so you would not need to carry it around with you.
I was just wondering why it’s a tradition to memorise it.
In Many suttas it says one should be"restrained by the patimokkha, and see the danger in the slightest fault…etc"
I never read about the benefits/requirment of memorising the patimokkha anywhere?
In terms of " seeing the danger in the slightest fault", I think that knowing the reasons why you are committing so much time to this memorization is important because it might be a “fault” i.e doing it so as to impress other people, get some sort of privileges or just to distract yourself from painful feelings, etc.

It’s a lot to memorise, is it worth it? Apologies if questioning the tradition is somehow offensive.


#12

+1 to the e-reader idea. I put a ton of ebooks on my phone and now I have reference material for everything it’s great :nerd_face: I love living in the future!

FWIW: I used to use a kindle, but found myself using my phone more and more. Since most of my reading now is academic, I have to switch between books quickly / take notes / etc and the Kindle is not a multitasking device. Great for novels, but I don’t really read novels these days…


#13

Sure! Books are a great things, ereaders too. Now I’m going back to memorize the Pāṭimokkha :stuck_out_tongue: