Dear Ayya @Charlotteannun
Thank you as always for your feedback and encouragement!
With regards to Sekhiyas 29 and 34 about receiving / eating rice and (bean) curries in the right proportion, I respectfully disagree with Ajahn Thanissaro’s interpretation.
There is nothing in the rule or the vibhaṅga that suggests that monastics serve themselves from a serving dish. On the contrary, the rule explicitely states that the monastics “receive” the food, in parallel to the other rules in this group of sekhiyas.
I believe it is not true that it was the custom in the Buddha’s time that monastics served themselves when invited to lay houses. The suttas constantly mention that laypeople served monastics “with their own hands”, and also other pātimokkha rules point to that, for example bhikkhu pāṭidesanīya 2: "When monks eat at invitations to families, if a nun is there giving directions, saying, ‘Give bean curry here; give rice here,’"…
And it certainly is not the custom now in Sri Lanka. Laypeople will always serve monastics themselves; there is (almost?) never a buffet-style arrangement.
I believe that the confusion arose in contexts, such as Thailand or Western countries, where people use cutlery and don’t eat with their hands. (In Sri Lanka, most people still eat with their hands.) If you eat with your hands, you have to have a certain curry-to-rice ratio to be able to eat comfortably. If you have too much curry, which is usually more liquid, you may end up dripping all over your arms and clothes, and you cannot form a “sticky” ball of food.
Anyway, I am open to other opinions, but for the time being I don’t follow Ajahn Thanissaro here. Unless someone comes up with a good argument to convince me