Paccittiya 8 & teaching laity

They’ve had that same discussion over there already!! And the strange thing is that some of the participants in it are still active currently; no one alerted us! Maybe they did not see this here thread!

They have not discussed the ‘logic’ of the rule though, neither did we yet; I mean how the rule was made to prevent mendicants from sharing their experiences in order to get something in return, and how this came to be later a prohibition of sharing one’s experiences altogether. Ven. Brahmali does talk about the problematicity of the expression “super human”.

It appears quite clearly to me also that the interpretation of the rule is not based so much on reflection but has rather become a sectarian matter also, or conditioned by the variables of the social culture of the practitioner. I mean it is just arbitrary that superhuman states are being confined to only jhana and maggaphala; and a matter of social culture, to think that the purpose of the rule has anything to do with quelling the delusion or obsession of the worshipping layperson. Non of this exists in the text, all these are just opinions i suppose. And indeed, I have seen some monastic communities where it’s all about jhana and talking about jhana, with lay people and all; and other communities where monks are being cautioned against having much contact (of any kind) with lay people. Lay people seem to have their own preferences as well; some like reserved and withdrawn mendicants and regard them as the “true ones”, and possibly look down upon more open and easy going mendicants, and there is also the attitude that is the exact opposite of that. It’s all culture, all mundane, all samsaric.

I am also beginning to appreciate the extent by which people have suffered so much from bad experiences with either (1) a show-off monastic, or/and (2) obsessed/worshiping lay people. It seems that I have been largely saved from this, but not incidentally! I have escaped from many a bad environment before! It’s simple, just escape before there is any “bad experience”! A desperate desire to receive teaching or realise some gnosis, could expose some people to bad experiences I suppose.

Anumodami :slight_smile:


This is a great source for me, I mean MN 127, so thank you very much for sharing it. I am very interested in instances like this in the Suttas, to make my case regarding how flexible is the Vinaya. The first time I read most of the Suttapitaka I was a lay person with no concern for vinaya, i didn’t notice things like that. But now I remember that there are probably many such instances where the vinaya was violated in the suttas, without any trouble at all! It could always be argued that rules were made at a later stage and therefore no violation exists in the suttas. But still, these instances can be used to show how “intention” is all that matters.

By the way I have resolved most of these matters in my own mind, I myself am not so troubled about the vinaya and how to make use of it. Nevertheless there is something very uncomfortable surrounding it, the judgemental attitudes of people around us; the continual possible whispering, or screaming: “Look! He’s violated the vinaya!”, and so on! It’s a kind of egotism to want to be right all the time! And it is not so difficult for me to bend the phrases while i’m talking or follow suit in the course of others. But to perpetuate the mystery surrounding a “superhuman” state that we don’t even really understand or know exists, or to act as if I know what i’m talking about when it comes to this and other similar subjects, or to kid myself into becoming “convinced” with this kind of stuff; that I can’t do! And there is someone out there, my friend, who feels just the same way! There may be many of us then! Then we should talk about these things, we should bring it up, so that we end up living at ease and with clarity in our hearts - rather than confusion and anxiety.

A mendicant with good common sense will know how to either establish a healthy contact with lay people, or exploit them. It’s unfortunate, because rules, especially nowadays, will not stop a bad monk; they will only burden a good one who probably never really needed them!

Anumodami :slight_smile:



Yes, there’s heaps. Also concerning other rules, such as the ones about food, for example. Or the ones that regulate interactions between monks and nuns. And especially interesting for nuns: there are suttas that show that nuns were free to move about alone, meditating in the forest, travelling on their own, etc.
This is why I generally don’t put too much weight on the Vibhanga. It seems even further removed from the natural and common sensical way in which practice was done in the suttas.



1 Like

I’m working on it, but it is exhaustive as you know! I’d appreciate it if you share those suttas that you have already identified (contradicting vinaya) from the heap! Or those new ones that you find out about as you go. Just the sutta numbers if you’re busy, I will do the digging! :slight_smile:

I am happy to learn that there is support in the suttas against Sanghadisesa 3 - I was rather worried about this one because it is a bit more tricky than garudhammas and ordination trouble, all of which is more easily manageable. But Sd 3 is just completely there in the bhikkhuni patimokkha, right there, number three!!

I like the vinaya and hope to make something out of it that will keep it relevant and applicable in our present time! :slight_smile:



Sounds like fun. I have a few suttas in mind but we should probably start a new thread for that. If I have the time I’ll do it later today. Sometimes it’s not so much actually breaking the rule, just giving it another angle from which to interpret it. Please also post stuff that you find.

A while ago I have done a survey of the Sutta-EBTs collecting all instances where bhikkhunis, nuns, women, or any other kind of “female words” (mothers, sisters, wives, females, devis, goddesses, brahminis, female wanderers …) are mentioned. Quite interesting what came up. There are many independent and empowered women there. If you are interested, I could start a thread to share references for that, too.
By the way, concerning Sanghadisesa 3, it’s interesting to compare it with Chinese Bhiksuni Pratimoksas. Unlike the bhikkhu Patimokkha, the bhikkhunis’ is much less consistent across schools. And especially this rule apparently was confusing to people quite early on. In several Pratimoksas, this rule is broken up into several pieces, or covers situations different from the Pali. So the scope of this rule is not as clear-cut as one might think. After the vassa, I’m starting a project to translate the Chinese bhiksuni Pratimoksas into English for Suttacentral. Hopefully that will make them more accessible to people.

I like the Vinaya, too. I just wish that there wouldn’t be these situations where it clashes with common sense. Somehow the early Sangha seems to have gone more with wholesome intentions than with the letter of the rules.


Just to add, anyone who has ever read the Therigatha would get the impression that the rule was observed mainly in the breaking… :grin:
Or might have meant something else entirely at that time.


No need to hurry I can wait! :lying_face:

Anyone who has ever read the Therigatha would get the impression that the rule was observed mainly in the breaking… :grin:

The first thing I did after I realised Saddha, was to visit Bodhgaya! What a wonderful place! But there, I saw Theravadin bhikkhunis and I was under the impression that, just like Mahayana, Theravada was fully charged with women renunciates! When I was reading the therigatha I knew nothing about Vinaya, Sanghadisesa 3, and about the troubles of women in getting ordained. :frowning:

So the scope of this rule is not as clear-cut as one might think. After the vassa, I’m starting a project to translate the Chinese bhiksuni Pratimoksas into English for Suttacentral. Hopefully that will make them more accessible to people.

Wow! That’s a wonderful news! And a great project. Please let us know if we can support in any way! Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!
And how very curious! Very recently I just came across the research and translations of Ann Heirman and I even posted about them.

You know for me I don’t care about the historicity of rules; I just judge whether they make sense or not - I mean even with regard to the text in relation with its own self!! But we might have to toil with research still to convince other people with what is otherwise already self-evident and commonsensical!

A while ago I have done a survey of the Sutta-EBTs collecting all instances where bhikkhunis, nuns, women, or any other kind of “female words” (mothers, sisters, wives, females, devis, goddesses, brahminis, female wanderers …) are mentioned. Quite interesting what came up. There are many independent and empowered women there.

It was only a short period of time for me, between reading about the Four Sublime Truths for the first time, and realising saddha in the Buddha’s enlightenment. During this short time of uncertainty about the Buddha’s enlightenment, I decided that I will look in his speech for faults, or for any such thing that I deem cannot possibly be uttered by a fully enlightened being. And I had two particular criteria: (1) superstition, (2) problematic views or statements about women.

Guess what! Both do exist in the suttas; but luckily they did not appear so immediately, and by the time I found them, I had already been completely owned by all the other beautiful things that the Buddha had said! So when I found them later, my reaction was like: “nooo way! This ain’t Buddha saying this! Get outta here!”

But I was taking notes! So I too noted all those sutta instances I came across, where utterances about women were made! But not as extensively as you did. I remember noting feeling uneasy at various instances in SN 1, then feeling relieved at SN 5 (bhikkhunisamyutta) for example. Later on I also came to realise that the Buddha’s repeated warnings to the monks against women, were for the mere reason that he was talking to male renunciates! Had he been talking to female renunciates, it would have been exactly the other way round! It wasn’t about something inherent in this or that gender! It was about something inherent in leading a renunciate life.

There is a big delusion that we’ve made great progress in the world comparing to ancient times. Materially yeah, surely, but I don’t see the slightest evidence of progress socially or spiritually. Rather the opposite sometimes. And I have absolutely no difficulty believing that women in ancient India and elsewhere in those times, were far more empowered and respected than is the case today! But this is another big issue and we’ve gone completely off topic now!

But you and Ayya @Vimala are heroines! Struggling in not one, but ‘two’ of the most male-dominated fields there are in this fierce world! You are both monastics and geeks!!


If you are interested, I could start a thread to share references for that, too.

Absolutely! We should pool our resources together!

“What does womanhood matter at all
When the mind is concentrated well,
When knowledge flows on steadily
As one sees correctly into Dhamma.

“One to whom it might occur,
‘I’m a woman’ or ‘I’m a man’
Or ‘I’m anything at all’—
Is fit for Mara to address.”
_ Bhikkhuni Soma (SN 5.2).


Thanks! At some point we’ll probably need a native English speaker for proof-reading. :wink:


@vimalanyani … a point of interest, in case you haven’t already noticed it, I just noticed that “psychic powers” (levitation, telepathy, etc.) are not classified under “uttarimanussa-dhamma”! And so they don’t come under parajika4 or paccetiyya8! Instead, the Cullavagga (5.1.7) assigns a mere dukkata for displaying them in front of laypeople (not including non-ordained monastics)!

This means that, taking it literally, according to vinaya there is an offence of confession (pc8) for describing ones delight in staying in an empty hut to a samanera, but there’s no offence in levitating or passing through a wall or conjuring fire in front of him! :thinking:


Hmm, judging merely from the wording of the rule, displaying any kind of superhuman state is never a problem. Just the talking about it.
So you can also show your delight in an empty hut to a samanera, as long as you don’t tell him directly. :smile::rofl:


So wait, monks can talk about it amongst themselves as much as they want right? I think exceptions could totally be made for really close friendships between individual monks and lay followers. At least, I certainly don’t think it would necessarily have any negative effect on either their practice or their lives. These rules are in place to avoid problems that are most likely to arise, not necessarily arise. There are definitely exceptional circumstances to some of these that would result in nothing bad happening even though a “rule” was broken.


A dukkata under vibhanga!

In fact Cullavagga rule does not assign any offence at all for telling laypeople of one’s psychic powers, but only a dukkata for displaying them [but let’s keep including cases like that in the wiki!]. The idea is that, adding to the confusion of what is uttarimanussa-dhamma, psychic powers are not classified under this term and do not appear in the vibhangic description of the patimokkha rules.

Sorry for being pedantic and boring! It’s all not important really. :blush:


Isn’t this vinaya rule about obtaining requisites i.e. the importance is in the intension rather than the mode of communicating the psychic ability? Displayed, or discussed seems of secondary importance.

With metta

I wonder if a monk could make an anonymous blog just saying they were a monk but not their name or where, and then could write all they wanted about their experiences and attainments.


I don’t think many people would take an anonymous monastic seriously, especially as they make claims of such nature. Even a well known and rooted monk like ven. Maha Bua was embroiled in controversy following his claim of arahantship.

As for the vinaya rules, of course nothing is mentioned about blogs! And in no rule is the situation of talking without making oneself known is mentioned. This means that the rules apply still even if the monastic is anonymous, so long he or she do that act intentionally.

Finally I’d say anonymity in all its forms is not befitting or a honourable thing for a monastic, since it suggests that one has something to hide or is ashamed of something. This goes in opposition to the development of sīla. At DN 2 Buddha describes a virtuous monastic “just as a warrior king who has subjugated his enemies and is no where apprehensive of further antagonism.” The only situation where anonymity seems fine to me is when it’s done by a monastic who seeks to fight off māna or pride, self-advertising, and so forth. Doing benevolent things silently and in the background, for the growth of humility and self-abnegation rather than the opposite.


Yeah! Really! That’s it!

So cool, right?!

Just as “sit still and don’t think” sounds easy, so too are “controlled mental faculties” and continuous sati much more difficult than they sound!

Like many of the Buddha’s teachings, there are depths here that appear gradually as we train in them. In fact, that feeling you got of “pff! I could do that!” is exactly the point! The Buddha is tantalizing us! He is making the impossible possible, pointing out the way from where we are to something higher. That is, after all, the whole point of the Dhamma: to bridge the gap.

So, please, don’t say that such things as honesty are trivial! Even moderation in eating can be a struggle for so many people: with anorexia or BED, for example. People die every day from unhealthy habits.

So, personally, I hold this rule as an injunction to always encourage others. Let’s hold up “moderation in eating” as something worthy of respect! Something worth being shy and furtive about. Something worth being proud of.

Wherever we are on the path, there is something we’ve accomplished. And some way to improve. The Vinaya encourages me to talk (and think!) in these, more pragmatic terms: here’s where I’ve come from and here’s where I’m going. No need to talk about where I am.


Nibbana is often defined as the end of suffering by the way of eliminating the three poisons: craving, aversion, delusion.

In the end what interest me from anybody talking about the dhamma is how he/she practically use the tools provided by the Buddha to achieve this task of elimination.

Guess what? No teachers lay or monastic address this issue at all. Please send me a link to any dhamma talk that address this issue.
So called dhamma teachers are happy to talk about meditation and that’s it. Meditation is not even a dhamma word. The corresponding aspect in the dhamma is the eighth component of the 8FP, the jhanas, and it is not component number one. jhanas is not something you “work on”; it’s something that happen to you when you have progressed enough the other seven components.

If monastics (and lay teachers) were talking about the practical use of the 8FP to eliminate the three poisons they will have no issues with Paccittiya 8 and Parajikas no. 4 instead they will really provide the true dhamma useful to everyone.

If there were such teacher in the world my question to him/her would be, how did you use the 8FP to practically eliminate say: anger? and how did you achieve “drying up the remain of your past” Snp 5.11.4? etc. None of these questions will bring them to talk about jhana, the 4 fruits, etc. as listed in the OP.


As a lay person asking questions, I would just point out that providing sutra references does not violate anything. Indeed I would prefer sutta references to reading any book.

The suttas offer many subtle instructions on jhana beyond the standard and oft-repeated definitions. For example, a monastic could clearly direct laity to sn48.40 which explains that pain is transcended in first jhana. A simple thought exercise about self-immolation would provide the inquiring lay person a fruitful understanding of the silliness of claiming jhana prematurely.

Additionally, what I seek is simply a definitional understanding of the practice. For example, when I read Sn48.40 recently, I was quite startled to see that sadness is transcended in second jhana. This type of information is critically helpful in guiding practice. I have often felt deep sadness but did not understand its relationship to immersion before I read the sutta.

To summarize, I think that open discussion about the suttas is possible and valuable without requiring claiming any attainments.


To me this is putting the cart before the horse, i.e. jhana before the 1st six components of the 8FP. This is a fallacy to believe that meditation is the tool for removing cravings, aversions, delusions. Jhana becomes useful for finishing the job i.e. becoming an arahat. The bulk of the job, the 1st three stages are achieved by removing the 5 fetters and the tool for that are the 1st six components of the 8FP used in a very methodical and practical way (not a “religious” way).