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Squatting Abandoned Buildings in the Suttas?


#1

Hello, y’all

In a number of suttas when Buddha talks about places to meditate, he’ll often mention abandoned buildings. Is there more guidance or specificity given in respect to this direction? Suitable or unsuitable buildings?

Thanks


Monastics and the Law
#2

Ummm… maybe “Squatting” isn’t the right word here? It originates from the idea that there can be private land/ property, which is a relatively recent concept. Till the time of the Enclosure movement in the 1700s all unoccupied land and buildings were viewed as common property. The Buddha we know from the Suttas was a highly ethical person who would never dream of encroaching on the rights of others!


#3

Are you talking about suññāgāra (literally an empty place)?


#4

Darn, I was sure there was a sutta on this… something that discussed the details of suitable and unsuitable places such as root of a tree, charnel ground, an abandoned building… :thinking:
But I can’t find it on SuttaCentral.

This is from the Visuddhimagga:-

THE EIGHTEEN FAULTS OF A MONASTERY
Herein, one that is unfavourable has any one of eighteen faults.
These are: largeness, newness, dilapidatedness, a nearby road, a pond,
[edible] leaves, flowers, fruits, famousness, a nearby city, nearby timber
trees, nearby arable fields, presence of incompatible persons, a nearby
port of entry, nearness to the border countries, nearness to the frontier of
a kingdom, unsuitability, lack of good friends. One with any of
these faults is not favourable. He should not live there.

If anyone can find the original sutta, please post it here…


#5

I think so

“It’s when a mendicant—gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut—sits down cross-legged, with their body straight, and focuses their mindfulness right there.

Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu araññagato vā rukkhamūlagato vā suññāgāragato vā nisīdati, pallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā, ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya, parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā.”

I suppose the question might be, what qualifies a building as abandoned/empty?


#6

There was one discourse that seemed to define what “unsuitable” and “suitable” means in relation to an individual being. I think the discourse referred to food, clothing, shelter, etc.

Unsuitable: harmful qualities of the mind increase and beneficial qualities of the mind decrease
Suitable: harmful qualities of the mind decrease and beneficial qualities of the mind increase

I am not sure if I remember any early sources provide any further specifications regarding suitable solitary locations beyond caves, foot of trees, jungles/forest, mountains, etc. (solitude), and these above specifications regarding what is unsuitable or suitable for a specific individual.


#7

Well, we can look at the monk’s rules related to trespassing, and see if these give us any guidance:

  • Pc 16: crowding out another monk from his dorm
  • Pc 23: instructing nuns at their nunnery
  • Pc 43: intruding on a lustful couple
  • Pc 45: sitting privately with a woman
  • Pc 48: visiting an army
  • Pc 83: entering a King’s bedchamber

Now, of these, Pc 83 is the most interesting to me, as it shows that indeed it wasn’t totally unthinkable at the time for a place to be considered “owned” and thus off-limits to the monks. But it’s quite interesting to me how narrowly the Buddha ruled here: it’s only Kings and only their bedroom! All the other rules on trespassing are either about what you’re doing being inappropriate in that setting (e.g. teaching nuns at their own monastery) or about respecting the privacy of people already there (e.g. intruding on a lustful couple). Given Pc 83, the Buddha clearly had the opportunity to rule out trespassing more broadly. That he didn’t and ruled instead so narrowly is, I think, quite significant.

So, if nobody else is in the room (and it isn’t a King’s bedroom): it’s fair game at least as far as the Bhikkhu Pātimokkha is concerned.


#8

This is what I found in the Vimuttimagga:
Though, this is about undertaking austerities and so perhaps not directly pertinent. But combining the Visuddhimagga and the Vimuttimagga, one can get the general idea… A suitable place should be safe, secluded, relatively free from interruption and noise yet near enough to civilization so that one can seek alms/ help.
Definitely, you MUST avoid Donald Trump’s bedroom!!!

‘DWELLING IN A PEACEFUL PLACE’
How does one undertake (the austerity of) ‘dwelling in a peaceful place’?
When the village is crowded, one’s mind is touched by the five objects of sense
and saturated with the desire for pleasure. When one dwells in a crowded
place, one is disturbed by people going and coming. One sees these faults
and the merits of the observance of ‘dwelling in a peaceful place’ (and under-
takes thus:) “I abandon dwelling in the village from today and observe (the
austerity of) ‘dwelling in a peaceful place’”.
What are the merits of ‘peaceful place’ ? Even when the village is crowded,
one’s mind is not touched by the five objects of sense and is kept away from
attachment. If one dwells in a crowded place, one is disturbed by the going
and coming of many: One knows the excellence of the ten kinds of words praised by gods and men. One does not wish to become worldly, and wishes
to gain tranquillity. One dwells in solitude, speaks little and meditates,
according to one’s bent of mind. This is an observance of good men. This
observance is doubt-free.
Q. What is the nearest distance of ‘dwelling in a peaceful place’ ?
What is the observance? How does one fail?
A. One dwells outside (the village) keeping some distance from the
walls and avoiding the far end of the suburb. The nearest distance of ‘dwelling
in a peaceful place’ is five-hundred bow-lengths.1
One bow-length is four
cubits of an average man. Avoidance of dwelling in a village is called
‘dwelling in a peaceful place’. If bhikkhu dwells in a village, he fails in the
observance of ‘dwelling in a peaceful place’.
‘DWELLING UNDER A TREE’
How does one undertake to observe (the austerity of) ‘dwelling under a
tree’? One avoids roofed places. One does not keep animals. One does
not build or long for (roofed places). One does not search (for roofed places).
One sees the faults (of dwelling in roofed places) and the merits of the observance
of ‘(dwelling) under a tree’ (and undertakes thus:) "I abandon roofed places
fronr today and observe (the austerity of) ‘dwelling under a tree’. Thus one
undertakes to observe.
What are the benefits of ‘(dwelling) under a tree’? One relies on the
place one likes, one does not hold intercourse with the world, one is pleased
because one is free from all work, one dwells with the gods, cuts down
resentment due to residence, and is free from attachment. This is an obser-
vance of good men. This observance is doubt-free.
Q. Under what trees should a bhikkhu dwell? What trees should he
avoid? What is the observance? How does one fail?
A. The place on which shadows of trees fall during the day and the
place where leaves of trees fall when there is no wind are the places to dwell
in. One avoids dangerous decayed trees, rotten trees with hollows and trees
haunted by evil spirits. One avoids roofed places. This is the observance
of ‘dwelling under a tree’. If a bhikkhu goes to (live in) a roofed place, he
fails in the observance of ‘dwelling under a tree’.
‘DWELLING IN A DEWY PLACE’
How does one undertake to observe (the austerity of) ‘dwelling in a dewy
place’? One does not desire to dwell in roofed places, under trees, and in
places where animals and goods are kept. One sees the faults of these, and the benefits of ‘dwelling in a dewy place’ (and undertakes thus:) "I avoid
unpleasant places from today and observe (the austerity of) ‘dwelling in a
dewy place’.
What are the benefits of ‘dwelling in a dewy place’ ? One does not go
to unpleasant places and abandons negligence and torpor. One goes whither-
soever one wills, like a forest-deer and is not attached to any particular place.1
This is an observance of good men. This observance is doubt-free.
What is the observance? How does one fail? One avoids roofed places
and the shelter of trees. This is the observance of ‘dwelling in a dewy place’.
If one dwells in roofed places and under the shelter of trees, one fails in the
observance of ‘dwelling in a dewy place’.
‘DWELLING AMONG THE GRAVES’
How does one undertake to observe (the austerity of) ‘dwelling among
the graves’ ? One who dwells in other places becomes careless and does not
fear wrongdoing. One sees these faults and the merits of ‘dwelling among
the graves’ (and undertakes thus:) "I avoid other places from today and
observe (the austerity of) ‘dwelling among the graves’ ".- This is the under-
taking to observe.
What are the merits of the observance of ‘(dwelling) among the graves’ ?
One understands the feeling of the time of death. One perceives that all is
impure. One acquires the homage of non-humans. One does not cause
heedlessness to arise, overcomes passion and is much detached, One does
not fear what common folk dread. One contemplates on the emptiness of
the body and is able to reject the thought of permanence. This is an obser-
vance of good men. This observance is doubt-free.
Q. (What are the merits of ‘dwelling among the graves’?). Where
should one dwell? What is the observance? How does one fail?
A. If in a place of graves there is always weeping and wailing and smoke
and fire, one should consider, find out a calm place, and go to dwell there.
If a bhikkhu dwells ‘among the graves’, he should not build a hut or
make a comfortable bed. He should sit with his back to the wind. He should
not sit facing the wind. He should not fall into deep sleep. He should not
eat fish. He should not drink milk or buttermilk or eat sesamum or flesh of
animals [406]. He should not dwell in a house or use a platter. When a
person taking his mat and robes leaves (the monastery) and goes to dwell
‘among the graves’, he, as it were, flings all his belongings afar. At dawn,
he takes mat and robes and returns to the monastery2
and avoids other dwelling-
places. If he dwells in any other place, he breaks or fails in the observance
of ‘dwelling among the graves’. ‘ANY CHANCED UPON PLACE’
How does one undertake to observe (the austerity of) ‘any chanced upon
place’? One does not like the place which men want greedily. One is not
troubled when others wish him to leave any place. One sees these faults
(greed for place etc.) and the merits of the observance of ‘any chanced upon
place’, (and undertakes thus:) "I abandon the greed for residence and observe
(the austerity of) ‘any chanced upon place’ ". This is the undertaking to
observe.
What are the benefits of ‘any chanced upon place’ ? One dwells satisfied
with any place, longs for tranquillity, abandons various comforts, is honoured
by others, dwells with heart of compassion. This is an observance of good
men. This observance is doubt-free.
What is the observance ? How does one fail ?
To abandon the longing which is dependent on dwelling—this is called
dependence on ‘any chanced upon place’. If a bhikkhu goes to dwell in a
pleasant place, it is called failing.


#9

I’m not sure that we can infer such a liberal view merely by dint of evidence or say that a narrow ruling prevents conventional undersanding at the time of the Buddha of what was permissable. Such things must have been commonly understood in the prevailing culture and obvious enough that they might not need stating. What we are left with in the rules are specific examples of occasions that might have been less clear or which were especially unsuitable for monks. Venerable @Khemarato.bhikkhu, the examples you give don’t all relate to the idea of trespassing per se or squatting as we know it today, but as you say, they do show that there is an idea of ownership and that certain places are more suitable than others.

Another example of is the Buddha’s visit to Bhaggava the potter’s shed, where the Buddha doesnt just stroll in to the building, but firstly asks permission to stay from the owner, and on learning a monk is already staying there, subsequently asks permission from him to stay:

“Bhaggava, if it is no trouble, I’d like to spend a single night in your workshop.”

“It’s no trouble, sir.“ But there’s a renunciate already staying there. If he allows it, sir, you may stay as long as you like.”
…Then the Buddha approached Venerable Pukkusāti and said,“Mendicant, if it is no trouble, I’d like to spend a single night in the workshop.”

Note that this is not the same context of encroachment as in Pc16 mentioned above, as the dwelling is not owned by the Sangha, which is a particular feature defined in that rule. One wonders if the idea of encroachment applies equally in other places, incuding empty dwellings or in the wilderness? Or, if those places an be claimed and owned? Or are they just borrowed? Could any place be used or would people have understood that certain dwellings were abandoned and available?

Another good source for helping us understand the idea of personal ownership of real estate is found in the Sanghadisesa rules 6 and 7. In both these rules The Sangha is required to approve the site of a new hut and make sure both the site and the dwelling are suitable, the owner bhikkhu firstly declaring that “no harm shall be done” and that there is “space on all sides”

The definitions given for these are:

Where harm will be done:
it is the abode of ants, termites, rats, snakes, scorpions, centipedes, elephants, horses, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, or hyenas, or any other animals;or it is bordering on a field of grain, a field of vegetables, a slaughtering-place, a place of execution, a charnel ground, a park, a king’s property, an elephant-stable, a horse-stable, a prison, a bar, a slaughterhouse, a vehicle road, a crossroads, a public meeting hall, or a cul-de-sac.

Which lacks a space on all sides:
it is not possible to go around it with a yoked cart, or to go all the way around it with a ladder, this is called “which lacks a space on all sides.”

It is clear from these examples that not every space is “fair game” for a bhikkhu looking for a dwelling place. The definitions above seem to refer to both inhabited and wilderness areas. The ‘space on all sides’ rule probably was to prevent some sort of shanty town springing up in inhabited areas. The “do no harm” definition seems to apply to both the monk becoming victim of wilderness creatures, and also being a cause of irritation to stalled animals or a bother in public places.

These rules shows the important role of the Sangha in firstly approving the site. They seem to indicate that—just like today—there was quite a bit of bureaucracy involved in setting up a dwelling and it wasn’t just a free-for-all. This must have reflected concern in the Sangha and broader community about the suitable use of shared spaces, as well as private and common property. The need for such regulations must have increased over time as the Sangha grew larger and impinged more on urban spaces as well as wilderness dwellings. The consequences for breaking this rule are severe; not only is a meeting of the Sangha required to discuss it, but the harshest penalty is “suspension and two offences of wrong conduct”. Further details in Sanghadisesa 7 show that the Bhikkhu is equally responsible for any shortcomings made by builders appointed to complete the dwelling.

So I’ve digessed a bit in my response to discuss the concept of ownership raised in the thead, and the above rules refer to the construction of new buildings, not the abandoned builings asked about by @Potato, sorry, long answer to your very short question!

It’s interesting that there are non-offenses in these rules for temporary shelters, caves and grass huts. These might be a type of “day dwelling” used purely for meditation, or for extended retreat, with monks returning ‘home’ to a vihara in the evening. Could this type of dwelling be the “empty hut” referred to in the Buddha’s instructions?

Rather oddly, there is also no offense if the dwelling is built for someone else! A loophle!! So, these rules show that there certainly was a sense of ownership in broader society and that a monk can be regarded as the individual owner the property, but how he obtained that property is less clear, was it obtained through ‘squatting’? Was it just a bit of spare space? Was it given? Would there be a very difference sense of ‘ownership’ in inhabited areas as opposed to the wilderness? Can wilderness be owned?

The origin stories in Sanghadisesa 6 are interesting because they include two stories of monks who lived in wilderness areas who were troubled by other inhabitants encroaching on “their” space and disturbing their meditation.

The first story is a monk troubled by a naga who is terrifying him by wrapping himself around the monk. He is advised by his elder brother to ask for the naga’s jewels in order to make it so uncomfortable that it doesn’t return to bother him.

Another monk living in a wilderness grove was troubled by a flock of birds disturbing his meditation, so he goes to see the Buddha himself who asks: “Would you like that flock of birds not to return?” And then the Buddha recommends asking each bird who roosts in the grove for a feather, as some sort of rental payment:

“Listen to me, good birds. From whoever roosts in this forest grove, I want a feather.Each one of you must give me a feather." And in the second and third part of the night do the same thing."

It seems even wilderness places could be ‘owned’ and even its natural inhabitants evicted! If it’s like this with forest animals, one can only imagine that there would be an even greater sense of ownship when it comes to humans, and that squatting or encroachment would not be accepted.

Another type of ownership is shown in Sanghadisesa 7 where we learn firstly that there are such people as sponsoring owners (they can be laypeople or monastics) who can build on land found by a bhikkhu. As in the rule above, the site needs to be inspected firstly by the Sangha. It seems the bhikkhu retains the title of owner, but, again, how the land is found, its legality or prior ownership is not described.

However, in terms of ownership and the bhikkhus right to utlise any space, the origin story of Sanghadisesa 7 also shows that even a single tree should not be felled, and the land it is on regarded as belonging to a community:

At that time a lay person who was a supporter of Venerable Channa said to him, “Venerable, please find a site for a dwelling, and I’ll have one built for you.”

While Venerable Channa was clearing a site for that dwelling, he had a tree felled that had served as a shrine and that was revered by village, town, district, and kingdom. People grumbled and complained… The Buddha rebuked him, “Foolish man, how can you do such a thing? People perceive trees as living beings. This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … "

Although the origin story is more about the act of felling a tree, it seems that the site itself, with its existing role as a shrine, was probably considered owned by several communities, which would surely have contribted to being seen as a problematic usurpation.

Given the restrictions and beaucracy around building dwellings, and the monk’s rules against digging and removing trees, it seems that the Buddha was encouraging monastics to get out of inhabited areas for meditation and use simple dwelling places for meditation in the wilderness. Whether this would be seen as borrowing, squatting or owning isnt clear, but it seems there would have been social and legal conventions known to poeple of the day about what is suitable.

Probably we should abide by the social and legal conventions of today? For example, if there is an abandoned building with a sign that says, “NO TRESSPASSING” we probably shouldn’t use it for meditation or a dwelling place. In a national park there may also be rules about staying there (I have stayed in caves in national parks, which is apparently a bit naughty) but using public hiking huts available to anyone seems fine. It seems somewhat different to stay in a building which has a clear sense of legal ownership as opposed to a national park, which is owed by us all, despite having regulations. for actually staying in it. In many countries there are established legal procedures for squatting abandoned buildings, so that would be ok.

EDIT:

Not sure that this is the case. Certainly we know that Rulers owned properties, and that individuals like Anathapindaka purchased property for the sangha, and Ambapali gave property to the sangha, for example. Whether any of these locations could be used prior by the sangha to meditate or dwell in is unlikey?


#10

Here the question is about buildings one of the places to meditate. Discussing about vinaya rules is not much necessary.
What is a suññāgāra?
It is not actually a abandoned building.

Disturbances should be avoided for meditation. Disturbances are stated in Kaṇṭaka sutta AN10.72.
An empty place is somewhere one can avoid external disturbances to the meditation. A place with people would also be okay when they keep silence.

Purpose of going to a place which is empty is to understand impermanence of aggregates. Those who practice meditation should frequent empty places.

Live enjoying seclusion, bhikkhus; live delighting in seclusion, engage in practising inner mental tranquillity, not neglecting meditation, possessing insight, and frequenting empty places. If you live enjoying seclusion, bhikkhus, … and frequenting empty places, one of two fruits is to be expected: final knowledge here and now or, there being some residual defilement, the state of non-returning (iti 45).

Suitable or unsuitable buildings?
Suitable place should have no disturbances. Should be silent and suitable for seclusion. Any other place with crowd, noice, discussions, etc would not be suitble.


#11

But back then very few people had their own bedroom. Even in my own experience during the second half of the 20th C in village India this wasn’t possible for ordinary people. Rooms held whole familiies, or more than one family.


#12

It may be quite misleading to come to conclusions by only looking at the bhikkhu pātimokkha. The bhikkhunīs actually do have rules about staying in someone’s house without permission.

Probably the reason that the bhikkhus don’t have such rules is their pācittiya 85:

Should any bhikkhu, without taking leave of an available bhikkhu, enter a village at the wrong time — unless there is a suitable emergency — it is to be confessed.

So bhikkhus are not supposed to be in inhabited areas at all outside of pindapata time.

Bhikkhunīs however are not allowed to live in the wilderness and therefore need rules on how to behave around other people’s houses:

Pācittiya 17:

Should any bhikkhuni, having gone to family residences in the wrong time (between sunset and dawn), having spread out bedding or having had it spread out, sit or lie down (there) without asking the owner’s permission, it is to be confessed.

Pācittiya 16:

Should any bhikkhuni, having gone to family residences after the meal (between noon and sunset), sit or lie down on a seat without asking the owners permission, it is to be confessed.

And also pācittya 15:

Should any bhikkhuni, having gone to family residences before the meal (before noon), having sat down on a seat, depart without taking the owner’s leave, it is to be confessed.

So I think it’s quite clear that the Buddha thought it was unsuitable to stay on other people’s property without their permission, at least for monastics.


#13

Ah! I stand corrected! Thank you :heart:


#14

Hi,
Sharing my impressions:

  1. The Sutta passage on empty homes/dwelling places/huts (agāra) seem to refer to temporary places for meditation and not for taking up residence. In that sense, they would not really be referring to squatting as in occupying an empty house.
  2. I think it probable, there might have been empty (as in empty of people residing there) huts at the outskirts of a town/village and in nearby forests - abandoned with no sign of current occupation; I think such places are referred to in the sutta passage.
  3. Suitability, as has been pointed out above, is just whether it is helping in your meditation/progress or not; Whether wholesome mental states increase or decrease when meditating there.

#16

@vimalanyani

So I think it’s quite clear that the Buddha thought it was unsuitable to stay on other people’s property without their permission, at least for monastics.

Definitely it seems that any usage of housing or land actively used/possessed by someone is off limits, although that’s not really what I mean by squatting (The action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building). However, the operative word in the Pacittiyas is “family residences” (Horner translates this as “house” I think), I’m no scholar of Pali so I’m unsure what’s being translated to indicate possession (or how this was understood at the time of it being written in Pali).

My main questions are: What is indicating a state of being abandoned? How is property/possession defined? Above we’ve seen plots of the woods claimed as one’s own. How does this apply in the context of monarchs/the state who lay claim to large swathes of land with little/no plans to utilize the land other than for the sake of ownership itself?

For example, as far as I know, there’s almost no land in the USA that isn’t technically owned by someone. Whether that’s a real estate company, various state agencies, companies or individuals. Making the direction to meditate in an abandoned house essentially impossible if we are taking any land/building which is legally someone or something’s property to not be abandoned. In cases like the Bureau of Land Management (which basically allows anyone to use the land for camping) that seems more a case of “home owner granting permission to use”.

Was there considered a distinction between possession and property? Possession being that which has immanent use (will be used/is planned to be actively used) such as one’s toothbrush, summer home, barn, grain store, etc. Property being something which is claimed as one’s own yet is not currently in use and is not planned to be used personally (real estate planning to be sold, undeveloped land with no plans, even a million cases of surplus toothbrushes).

To make this a bit more grounded, suppose one is wandering through the woods of the USA, traveling through a forest and finds a nice little area to make camp. They do so. However, legally that 30 acres of forest is owned by “Natural Homesteads Inc” yet has no pending buyers and no pending development plans. Is this example in violation of the Vinaya?

Edit: Figure I’ll just add my further responses in here
@Akaliko

It seems even wilderness places could be ‘owned’ and even its natural inhabitants evicted! If it’s like this with forest animals, one can only imagine that there would be an even greater sense of ownship when it comes to humans, and that squatting or encroachment would not be accepted.

I think it’s important here that the sense of ownership in these examples comes from, at least in part, the active usage of the land for practice by the monks in question. I think it remains open whether the land would therefore become abandoned/opened if the monks left.

It’s interesting that there are non-offenses in these rules for temporary shelters, caves and grass huts. These might be a type of “day dwelling” used purely for meditation, or for extended retreat, with monks returning ‘home’ to a vihara in the evening. Could this type of dwelling be the “empty hut” referred to in the Buddha’s instructions?

I think given that there is a non-offense for day dwellings, it lends support for the idea that abandonment comes with the vacation of the space and/or that legal trespassing (as it is defined today) can be permissible when done in certain time frames.

Another type of ownership is shown in Sanghadisesa 7 where we learn firstly that there are such people as sponsoring owners (they can be laypeople or monastics) who can build on land found by a bhikkhu. As in the rule above, the site needs to be inspected firstly by the Sangha. It seems the bhikkhu retains the title of owner, but, again, how the land is found, its legality or prior ownership is not described.

Wouldn’t this indicate either that 1) there wasn’t a broad system of legal property as we understand it today or 2) any claim of that sort is invalid?

Probably we should abide by the social and legal conventions of today?

Definitely seems the best way to prevent negative views of the sangha! Even if it makes me sad for the romantic idea of a wandering monastic.

Apologies if this is a lot I find this super interesting :pray:


#17

I agree that there is a significant cultural difference between us and the Buddha’s time, in that “unowned land” was common in ancient times and is simply unthinkable today.

What to make of this difference though is another matter, to which I defer to our “resident” vinaya scholars :nerd_face: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#18

I think these, as well as trespass, may often have definitions under local secular law… Did the Buddha say anything about respecting or abiding by those? (Honest question; tired and can’t recall or research at the moment).

In your public lands under Bureau of Land Management example: there are often regulations on how they can be used. These might include registering as on the land or going into some National forest areas; fire starting or waste management; not taking away any plants, animals alive or dead, or rocks or natural debris…


#19

I think the vinaya rules I quoted are mainly concerned with buildings, not with unused land in remote locations. Usually, the advice is to follow the local laws. (The vinaya says you should “obey kings”, which in modern times, we interpret to mean the local authorities.) In many European countries for example, wild camping in tents is not allowed, but you can sleep under a tarp. In the US, I have been strongly advised not to walk on other people’s property, as you may get shot without warning.

You may want to also tag Ajahn Brahmali for the vinaya questions.


#20

In the following, the Buddha simply and directly acknowledges ownership and current non-use:

MN121:4.1: Consider this stilt longhouse of Migāra’s mother. It’s empty of elephants, cows, horses, and mares; of gold and money; and of gatherings of men and women.

In contrast, the contemporary concept of property abandonment is itself an ill-defined moving target subject to many idiosyncratic views.

On a related note, in MN81, Kassapa Buddha actively tells monastics to take “property”:

MN81:21.6: “Sir, there’s no grass there, but his workshop has a grass roof.”
MN81:21.7: “Then go to the workshop and strip the grass.”

MN81 is a very interesting sutta to study since what Kassapa Buddha commanded might be construed as theft in modern society. In this particular case, the owner of the workshop was Kassapa Buddha’s chief attendant, whose family did not construe it as theft. But they did ask the monks why they dismantled the roof and gave their consent after the disassembly was already in progress.

MN81:21.10: “Who’s stripping the grass from the workshop?”

As it turned out, the workshop didn’t need the grass for three months. Perhaps the monks restored the roof afterwards but that is not explicitly stated in the sutta.

A very interesting sutta…


split this topic #21

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