Why are the Eight Precepts Not Present in the Bhikkhu-Pāṭimokkha

Continuing the discussion from On having recite line by line:

Continuing over from a valuable Vinaya discussion, and in a related vein of odd things in the Pāṭimokkha to consider.

I’m very interested in hearing people’s opinions about the fact that the Eight Precepts are not all included in the Bhikkhu Pāṭimokkha. Specifically, the rules on entertainment/shows and adornments/make-up are not found in the Pāṭimokkha.

(Naccagītavāditavisūkadassanā; mālāgandhavilepanadhāraṇamaṇdanavibhūsanaṭṭhānā).

Also, the rule on high/luxurious beds is not really included. There are rules on building beds and using certain sizes of beds on upper floors, so it sort of is there, but not really as far as I recall. There are many ways of doing something as a Bhikkhu that is not an offence by the Pāṭimokkha, but that is one for someone on the 8 or 10 precepts. This gets into an awkward situation where sāmaṇeras apparently have precepts that include more fundamental and straightforward things to spiritual practice not found in the rules for upasampannas.

They are found in the Bhikkhunī-Pāṭimokkha, and at least the entertainment rule is a dukkaṭa in the Khandhakas. But supposedly these rules are fundamentals to the holy life and monastic practice, behavior of awakened beings, and very common forms of indulgence—much more so than certain minor rules in the Pāṭimokkha regulating behavior like playing in water, for instance.

Moreover, the increased precepts are commonly talked about as accumulative and building. One starts out with 5 precepts. Then maybe one takes on all 10 wholesome paths of action, with more restrictions on speech. Then maybe one takes on the 8 precepts more permanently to live a renunciant-life. Eventually someone takes the 10 precepts to stop using money and live as a mendicant. Then maybe one follows more detailed restrictions of livelihood and conduct in the gradual training. And finally one takes on all the Bhikkhu/Bhikkhunī precepts of the Pāṭimokkha (+ khandhakas, technically) as the culmination of precepts that build on one another to form an accumulative system of support for spiritual practice and liberation.

So why are they not in the Pāṭimokkha? Note: “It just didn’t come up” does not count as an answer in this thread.

Curious to hear thoughts and reflections on this. It is part of a broader discussion on the nature of the pāṭimokkha itself, as well as certain assumptions built around it.


One might add, why is the eightfold path not mentioned in the Sabbāsavasutta (MN 002).

As for the Silas, I believe that they do not by themselves represent the full teaching, they are more like training wheels to a bicycle. They allow people to advance on the path towards knowledge. As valid rules for practice, they don’t need to be expounded in every text of core teaching.

The Patimokkha is not the same as any random sutta. For lay people gaining practical ethical advice, what you say is very true. But the Patimokkha is a specific code of detailed conduct for monastics which includes procedures for how to deal with breaking precepts in community and whatnot. It is expected to include fundamental precepts, which as I said in the post, are included in the ten precepts of a sāmanera. The full precepts in the Patimokkha are mostly meant to be an expansion on the 10 precepts, and yet 2-3 core precepts are absent.

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