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Vinaya Pitaka

20/03/201413:09(Xem: 2256)
Vinaya Pitaka
Vinaya Pitaka
The Basket of Discipline

Introduction to the Patimokkha Rules
  • The Bhikkhu Patimokkha.The Bhikkhus' Code of Discipline
  • The Bhikkhuni Patimokkha.The Bhikkhunis' Code of Discipline
  • The Buddhist Monastic Code.The Patimokkha Training Rules
  • The Bhikkhus' Rules. A Guide for Laypeople
  • Vatta Khandhaka. Collection of Duties

The Vinaya Pitaka, the first division of the Tipitaka, is the textual framework upon which the monastic community (Sangha) is built, and includes the code of rules that defines the way of life of Theravada bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns). It also details the many rules, procedures, and forms of etiquette that are necessary to support harmonious relations, both among the monastics themselves, and between the monastics and their lay supporters, upon whom they depend.
  • For a time after the Buddha first established the Sangha, the community lived in harmony without any codified rules of conduct. Over time, however, as the Sangha grew in number and evolved into a more complex society, occasions inevitably arose when some members would act in unskillful ways. Whenever one of these cases was brought to the Buddha's attention, he would lay down a rule establishing a suitable punishment for the offense, as a deterrent to future misconduct. The Buddha's usual reprimand was itself a powerful corrective:
  • It is not fit, foolish man, it is not becoming, it is not proper, it is unworthy of a recluse, it is not lawful, it ought not to be done. How could you, foolish man, having gone forth under this Dhamma and Discipline which are well-taught, [commit such and such offense]?... It is not, foolish man, for the benefit of un-believers, nor for the increase in the number of believers, but, foolish man, it is to the detriment of both unbelievers and believers, and it causes wavering in some. (The Book of the Discipline, Part I, by I.B. Horner (London: Pali Text Society, 1982), pp. 36-7.)
  • The monastic tradition and the rules upon which it is built are sometimes naïvely criticized -- particularly here in the West -- as irrelevant to the "modern" practice of Buddhism. Some see the Vinaya as a throwback to an archaic patriarchy, based on a hodge-podge of ancient rules and customs that only obscure the essence of "true" Buddhist practice. This unfortunate view misses one crucial fact: it is thanks to the unbroken lineage of monastics who have consistently upheld and protected the rules of the Vinaya for almost 2,600 years that we find ourselves today with the luxury of receiving the priceless teachings of Dhamma. Were it not for the Vinaya, and for those who continue to keep it alive to this day, there would be no Buddhism.
  • It helps to keep in mind that the name the Buddha gave to the spiritual path he taught was "Dhamma-vinaya" -- the Doctrine (Dhamma) and Discipline (Vinaya) -- suggesting an integrated body of wisdom and ethical training. The Vinaya is thus an indispensable facet and foundation of all the Buddha's teachings, inseparable from the Dhamma, and worthy of study by all followers -- lay and ordained, alike.
  • Lay practitioners will find the Vinaya Pitaka filled with valuable practical lessons concerning human nature, guidance on how to establish and maintain a harmonious community or organization, as well as profound teachings of the Dhamma itself. But its greatest value, perhaps, lies in its power to inspire the layperson to consider the extraordinary possibilities offered by a life of true renunciation, lived in harmony with the Dhamma.

The Three Divisions of the
Vinaya Pitaka
I. Suttavibhanga
  • This section includes the basic training rules for bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, along with the "origin story" for each one. These rules are summarized in the Patimokkha, and amount to 227 rules for the bhikkhus, 311 for the bhikkhunis. The Patimokkkha rules are grouped as follows:
  • Parajika: rules entailing expulsion from the Sangha (Defeat) (4 for bhikkhus, 8 for bhikkhunis)
  • Sanghadisesa: rules entailing an initial and subsequent meeting of the Sangha (13, 17)
  • Aniyata (indefinite) rules (2, 0)
  • Nissaggiya pacittiya: rules entailing forfeiture and confession (30, 30)
  • Pacittiya: rules entailing confession (92, 166)
  • Patidesaniya: rules entailing acknowledgement (4, 8)
  • Sekhiya: rules of training (75, 75)
  • Adhikarana samatha: rules for settling disputes (7, 7)

Selections from the Suttavibhanga:
  • The Patimokkha: The Bhikkhus' Code of Discipline, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. A concise summary of the bhikkhu Patimokkha rules.
  • The Bhikkhuni Patimokkha: The Bhikkhunis' Code of Discipline, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. A concise summary of the bhikkhuni Patimokkha rules.
  • The Buddhist Monastic Code, Volume I: The Patimokkha Training Rules Translated and Explained, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. This book provides an in-depth examination of each of the rules.
  • For an introductory background to the Patimokkha rules, see:
  • Introduction to the Patimokkha Training Rules, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
  • The Bhikkhus' Rules -- A Guide for Laypeople: The Theravadin Buddhist Monk's Rules Compiled and Explained, by Bhikkhu Ariyesako.


II. Khandhaka
A. Mahavagga
  • This includes several sutta-like texts, including an account of the period immediately following the Buddha's Awakening, his first sermons to the group of five monks, and stories of how some of his great disciples joined the Sangha and themselves attained Awakening. Also included are the rules for ordination, for reciting the Patimokkha during uposatha days, and various procedures that monks are to perform during formal gatherings of the community.

Selections from the Mahavagga:
Note: The following passages follow the numbering convention used by I.B. Horner in the PTS English translations.
  • Upatissa-pasine (Mv I.23.5) -- Upatissa's (Sariputta's) Question [Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans.]. The young Ven. Sariputta asks Ven. Assaji, "What is your teacher's teaching?" Upon hearing the reply, Ven. Sariputta attains the fruit of stream-entry. (This is one of the suttas selected by King Asoka (r. 270-232 BCE) to be studied and reflected upon frequently by all practicing Buddhists. See That the True Dhamma Might Last a Long Time: Readings Selected by King Asoka, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.)
  • Vinaya-samukkamsa (Mv VI.40.1) -- The Innate Principles of the Vinaya [Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans.]. The Four Great Standards by which a monk can determine whether an action would or would not be considered allowable by the Buddha. (This is one of the suttas selected by King Asoka (r. 270-232 BCE) to be studied and reflected upon frequently by all practicing Buddhists. See That the True Dhamma Might Last a Long Time: Readings Selected by King Asoka, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.)
  • Kucchivikara-vatthu (Mv VIII.26.1-8) -- The Monk with Dysentery [Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans.]. In this touching story the Buddha comes across a desperately ill monk who had been utterly neglected by his companions. The Buddha leaps to his aid, and offers a teaching on those qualities that make patients easy (or difficult) to tend to and those that make caregivers fit (or unfit) to tend to their patients.
  • Dighavu-kumara Vatthu (Mv X.2.3-20) -- The Story of Prince Dighavu [Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans.]. This is surely one of the most dramatic stories in the Pali Canon -- a tale of murder, intrigue, and revenge -- which teaches the wisest way to "settle an old score."
  • The Buddhist Monastic Code, Volume II: The Khandhaka Training Rules Translated and Explained, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Valley Center, CA: Metta Forest Monastery, 2002).

B. Cullavagga
  • This section includes an elaboration of the bhikkhus' etiquette and duties, as well as the rules and procedures for addressing offences that may be committed within the Sangha. Also included is the story of the establishment of the bhikkhuni Sangha, plus detailed accounts of the First and Second Councils.

Selections from the Cullavagga:
  • Vatta Khandaka (Cv VIII) -- Collection of Duties [Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans.]. This chapter concerns the duties that govern the day-to-day life of the bhikkhus. Many of the duties outlined here are more subtle than the strict rules laid out in the Suttavibhanga, and call on the bhikkhus to cultivate a respectful and well-mannered sensitivity to others in the community. Although this text is principally intended for monks, laypeople will find in it many useful hints for the mindful cultivation of good habits and manners, even in the midst of a busy lay life.
  • The Buddhist Monastic Code, Volume II: The Khandhaka Training Rules Translated and Explained, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Valley Center, CA: Metta Forest Monastery, 2002).

III. Parivara
  • A recapitulation of the previous sections, with summaries of the rules classified and re-classified in various ways for instructional purposes.

See also:
  • The Buddhist Monastic Code, Volume I: The Patimokkha Training Rules Translated and Explained, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Valley Center, CA: Metta Forest Monastery, 1996). A comprehensive modern commentary to the 227 Patimokkha rules for Theravada monks.
  • The Buddhist Monastic Code, Volume II: The Khandhaka Training Rules Translated and Explained, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Valley Center, CA: Metta Forest Monastery, 2002). A detailed explanation of the Khandhaka training rules.
  • Sisters in Solitude, by Karma Lekshe Tsomo (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1996). A translation of the Mulasarvastivadin and Dharmaguptaka bhikkhuni Patimokkhas.
  • The Bhikkhuni Patimokkha of the Six Schools, by Chatsumarn Kabilsingh (Bangkok: Thammasat University, 1991). Comparative look at the nuns' Patimokkha rules in six Buddhist schools.
  • Book of the Discipline, Vols I-VI, by I.B. Horner (London: Pali Text Society, 1982). An almost complete (though somewhat archaic) English translation of the Vinaya Pitaka.
  • With Robes and Bowl, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1986). A first-hand glimpse of the way of life for a meditating forest monk in Thailand.
  • Going Forth: A Call to Buddhist Monkhood, by Sumana Samanera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1983).
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