Pr 2: A Ghost's Cloak and a Monk

Pr 2

This photo is from one of Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s books.

Q1. What does ‘Pr’ stand for?

Q2. When the ghost asked the monk not to take its cloak, the monk ignored the request. Isn’t this ‘stealing’?

Q3. Why did the body fell in the end? Is it because the ghost finally left the body?

Q4. Do you have any idea of what is the message/lesson of this story?

It sounds like you have found the Buddhist Monastic Code. These two volumes are mostly used as a vinaya primer for English speaking monastics, frequently in conjunction with an in-house training program (which the books by themselves can’t really replace).

There are other publications on vinaya which are aimed at laity.

  1. Pr means Paaraajika, i.e. an offence warranting expulsion in the monastic codes.

  2. It might be stealing, but stealing from a ghost is not the sort of stealing with which the parajikas are concerned.

  3. I don’t know why the body fell. Possibly for dramatic effect.

  4. The lesson of this story is that stealing from ghosts is not a parajika offence, as it fails with regard to object. This is the first factor in the Vibhanga’s scheme of five criteria for the offence:

*Value of object

It is a lesson in vinaya casuistry, not in morality per se.

I have never heard of a monastic being concerned about having stolen from a ghost. Maybe it could happen. But in any case at least we know the formal scope of the parajika in respect of object.


  1. Pārajika 2,
  2. Non-offenses

There is no offense: if he perceives it as his own; if he takes it on trust; if he borrows it; if it is the possession of a ghost; if it is the possession of an animal; if he perceives it as discarded; if he is insane; if he is deranged; if he is overwhelmed by pain; if he is the first offender.

  1. Maybe the ghost cannot enter kuṭi? Dunno. The physics of ghosts is not clear.

  2. On one occasion a monk went to a charnel ground and took the rags from a fresh corpse. The ghost was still dwelling in that body, and it said to the monk, “Sir, don’t take my wrap.” The monk took no notice and left. Then the corpse got up and followed behind that monk. The monk entered his dwelling and closed the door, and the corpse collapsed right there. He became anxious thinking, “The Buddha has laid down a training rule. Could it be that we’ve committed an offense entailing expulsion?” They told the Buddha. “There’s no offense entailing expulsion.

But a monk shouldn’t take rags from a fresh corpse. If he does, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.”


I believe once the corpse is cold then it’s fair game.


Wow. I get surprised and impressed again and again about how much thought the Buddha gave to every and each aspect of all the details that could possible occur in life. Thank you very much for all your kind replies. :pray: :hearts:


That’s so true. And there is something about the rule about the corpse gone cold that somehow encapsulates both the practicality and against-the-stream nature of the practice.