Monastic Life – Chapter 26: Making Men into Monks

The procedures for the ordination of monks evolved over time. At the beginning of the process, it was the Buddha’s simple instruction, ‘Come, monk’, that made a man a monk. This developed into a number of more formal procedures (described in the previous chapter), which were abandoned after certain problems arose. At the end of the process, there developed the ordination ceremony set forth here. The various sects of Indian Buddhism differed less on matters of doctrine than on matters of discipline, and a number of ordination ceremonies developed in India, to spread throughout Asia. But they are in the main quite similar, and the ceremony presented here, coming from the Mulasarvastivadin sect, may be regarded as typical. Given the historical centrality of ordination to the vitality of Buddhism, the ceremony is presented in its entirety, rather than in excerpt. It is a rich and fascinating ritual, and only a few of its salient features can be noted here.

The candidate must undergo an elaborate interview, first with an official called the Monk-Who-Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private, who, as his title suggests, asks the candidate a series of questions out of the hearing of the assembly. These questions fall into three general categories. The first focuses especially on issues of gender, seeking to determine, in some detail, whether the candidate is a fully endowed human male. This fixation on masculine identity is notable in a ceremony that will shortly require a vow of lifelong celibacy. The second set of questions focuses on the social standing of the monk, seeking to determine whether he has the permission of his parents, whether he is in debt, whether he is in the army, whether he has been expelled from the sangha in the past, and so on. Following the dictum that the monastic rules were formulated only in response to a specific problem, this list of questions provides some possible insight into the types of candidates who sought to join the sangha. The third set of questions deals with matters of health, with the candidate required to testify that he is free from a list of diseases that constitutes a veritable pathology of ancient India.

After the monk has successfully passed this interview, in public and in private, he is then asked whether he is willing to subsist on the four supports or requisites of the monastic life: rags for robes, alms for food, the root of a tree for a bed, and herbs for medicine. After he has agreed to accept each of these, a long list of exceptions (called ‘supernumeraries’ here) is provided, suggesting that the number of monks who indeed dressed in rags, lived exclusively on alms, slept in the root of a tree and used only herbs for medicine may have been relatively small.

The ceremony turns next to the four deeds that cause ‘downfall’, that is, expulsion from the sangha. The violation of the vow of celibacy is discussed first, followed by the violation of the vow not to steal, then the violation of the vow not to kill humans and ending with the vow not to lie. One should note, however, that the kind of lie that entails expulsion is of a special variety: a monk may not claim to have superhuman qualities (translated here as ‘higher human characteristics’) such as the ability to see supernatural beings or to have attained various stages on the path to enlightenment. These attainments, which the monk must vow not to claim, are described at some length, providing the only sustained discussion in the ceremony of the goals of Buddhist practice. Despite the fact that this particular monastic code includes 253 vows for a fully ordained monk, only these four are listed here; the candidate is instructed that he will learn of the others later.

Special attention is also given to setting the precise date and time of the ordination, for seniority in the sangha was set not by the time from birth, but from the time of ordination. The ceremony concludes with an exhortation to the candidate to study some of the basic categories of Buddhist doctrine, and to behave honourably in the august community of which he has now become a member.

Then if the candidate is a full twenty years old the Preceptor (■upadhyaya) should send for his bowl and religious robes. The Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must be requested. The Monk-Who- Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private must be requested. Those monks who will enter the prepared site for the ritual must also be requested.

When the monks who are to enter the prepared site for the ritual are assembled there, then any offence comminted in the past half month that should be restrained, confessed, and requires the community’s [the sangha’s] intervention should be individually examined and, being once again healed through restraint, confession and the community’s intervention in regard to those offences that are known, they should sit down.

Then when either the entire community is seated and settled, or those in the ritual space – either, in the Middle Country, a group of ten or more monks, or, in border regions when there are no others, a vinaya master and a group of five or more – the candidate will pay reverence to the Teacher [the Buddha]. After that he will do reverence to each of the monks three times. Reverence is twofold: reverencing with the five limbs and embracing around the knee – whichever is done in that place. That is what is to be done first.

Then the Preceptor must be entreated. He must be entreated in this way: having paid reverence to the Preceptor, having squatted in front of him with both heels firmly planted on a tile spread with grass and having cupped his hands, then, if he is a preceptor, he must say ‘O Preceptor’, if he is a teacher he must say ‘O Teacher’, if he is a reverend he must say, as is suitable, ‘O Reverend’. When he has addressed him thus these words must be said: ‘Might the Reverend please take note! Since I named so-and-so am entreating the Reverend as Preceptor, might the Reverend act as my Preceptor? Reverend, by the Preceptor I will be fully ordained.’ Thus for a second and a third time is this said. On the third repetition he must use the word ‘Preceptor’. The Preceptor must say: ‘It is proper.’ The candidate, now a co-residential pupil, must say: ‘It is good.’ That is the entreating of the Preceptor.

Then the Preceptor must himself there take formal possession of the three religious robes. If the robes are cut and sewn, that is good, and they must be taken into formal possession in this way: having folded the three robes individually and put them on the co­residential pupil’s left shoulder, both stand, and, having taken the waist-cloth of the robe with his hand, these words must be said: ‘Might the Preceptor please take note! This part of the religious robe which is fully finished, suitable and worthy of use, I named so-and-so take into formal possession as the waist-cloth of a religious robe.’ Thus for a second and third time it is said. The Preceptor must say: ‘It is proper.’ The co-residential pupil must say: ‘It is good.’

Then, having taken the upper garment of the religious robe, he must say these words: ‘Might the Preceptor please take note! This part of the religious robe which is fully finished, suitable and worthy of use, I named so-and-so take into formal possession as the upper garment of a religious robe.’ Thus for a second and a third time it is said. The Preceptor must say: ‘It is proper.’ The co­residential pupil must say: ‘It is good.’

Then, having taken the lower garment of the religious robe, he must say these words: ‘Might the Preceptor please take note! This part of the religious robe which is fully finished, suitable and worthy of use, I named so-and-so take into formal possession as the lower garment of a religious robe.’ Thus for a second and a third time it is said. The Preceptor must say: ‘It is proper.’ The co­residential pupil must say: ‘It is good.’

Then those religious robes must be put on, and he too, when he himself has the waist-cloth on, must do reverence to the community that has assembled for the full ordination.

That is the taking into formal possession of the three religious robes when they are already cut and sewn.

If there are no religious robes cut and sewn, material must be taken into formal possession. It must be taken into formal possession in this way: Having folded individually the material for the three religious robes and put it on the co-residential pupil’s left shoulder, both stand, and, having taken the material for the waist- cloth of the religious robe with his hand, these words must be said: ‘Might the Preceptor please take note! This cloth I named so-and-so take into formal possession for a waist-cloth. Since it is the understanding, I will make it into nine or more small segments. I will make it into two and a half or more strips. If no impediment arises, I will wash it, stretch it, cut it, bond it, join it, sew it, dye it, or put a patch on it – as is needed, so I will do. This cloth is suitable and worthy of use. Thus for a second and a third time it is said. The Preceptor must say: ‘It is proper.’ The co-residential pupil must say: ‘It is good.’

Then, having taken the material for the upper garment of the religious robe he must say these words: ‘Might the Preceptor please take note! This cloth I named so-and-so take into formal possession for an upper garment. Since it is the understanding, I will make it into seven small sections, and I will make it into two and a half strips. If no impediment arises, I will wash it, stretch it, cut it, bond it, join it, sew it, dye it, or put a patch on it – as is needed, so I will do. This cloth is suitable and worthy of use.’ Thus for a second and a third time it is said. The Preceptor must say: ‘It is proper.’ The co-residential pupil must say: ‘It is good.’

Then, having taken the material for the lower garment of the religious robe, he must say these words: ‘Might the Preceptor please take note! This cloth I named so-and-so take into formal possession for a lower garment. Since it is the understanding, I will make it into five small sections, and I will make it into one and a half strips. If no impediment arises…’ [exactly as before, up to]… The co-residential pupil must say: ‘It is good.’ That is the taking into formal possession of uncut and unsewn cloth.

Then his bowl must be shown. It must be shown in this way: When one monk has put the bowl in his left hand and covered it with his right hand, he – starting from the seniors’ end – must stand in front of each monk and must say these words with a bow: ‘Might the Reverend, or the Venerable, please take note!

Venerable, this bowl of the one named so-and-so is not insufficient, nor excessive, nor whitish.’ All the monks, moreover, when the bowl is indeed not of those sorts must each say, ‘the bowl is good’. If those words are said, it is well. If they are not said, that monk comes to be guilty of an offence. That is the showing of the bowl.

Then the Preceptor must himself there take formal possession of the bowl. It must be taken into formal possession in this way: Both stand, and when the candidate has put the bowl in his left hand and covered it with his right hand, he must say these words: ‘Might the Preceptor please take note! I, named so-and-so, take into formal possession this bowl, which is suitable for food and the vessel of a rsi, as a begging bowl.’ Thus for a second and a third time it is said. The Preceptor must say: ‘It is proper.’ The co­residential pupil must say: ‘It is good.’ That is the taking into formal possession of the bowl.

Then he who is to be fully ordained, having gone out of the range of hearing, but within the range of sight, having cupped his hands, must stand facing the group.

Then the Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must ask the Monk- Who-Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private: ‘Who is the one who was requested to be the One-Who-Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private for so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor?’

He who is the One-Who-Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private must say: ‘I named so-and-so am.’

Then the Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must say to the MonkWho-Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private: ‘Are you able to instruct in private the candidate so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor?’

He then must say: ‘I am able.’

That is the determination that the One-Who-Instructs-the- Candidate-in-Private must be able.

Then the Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must institute an action that requires only a motion so that the One-Who-Instructs- the-Candidate-in-Private can ask about obstacles to ordination. It must be done in this way: To those who are seated these words must be said: ‘May the community, the reverends, please hear! Since this monk named so-and-so is able to instruct in private the candidate so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, if for the community the proper time has come and they would allow it, the community must authorize it! And this monk named so-and-so is going to instruct in private the candidate so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor. This is the motion.’ That is the action for the motion for instructing the candidate in private.

Then the Monk-Who-Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private goes outside the ritual space and, having himself paid reverence, having squatted in front of him and cupped his hands, he must say these words to the one who is to be fully ordained: ‘You, Venerable, must hear this! This for you is a time for truth, this is a time for what is so. I am going to ask you some things. You must not be ashamed!

In regard to what is, you must say “It is so.” In regard to what is not so, you must deny it saying “It is not so.”

‘Are you a man?’ – He must say ‘I am a man.’

‘Do you have a male organ?’ – He must say ‘I have.’

‘Have you passed twenty years?’ – He must say ‘I have passed.’

‘Are your three robes and bowl complete?’ – He must say ‘They are complete.’

‘Are your father and mother living?’ If he says ‘They are living’, he must be asked: ‘Are you authorized by your father and mother?’ – He must say ‘I am authorized.’

If he says ‘They are dead’, he must be asked: ‘Are you not a slave by birth? Not one acquired by raid? Not one given as a surety? Not one acquired by sale? Are you not a royal officer? Not one who has committed an offence in regard to the king? Nor one who does injury to the king? Are you not one who has done injury to the king or instigated others to do so? Nor a famous thief? Not a eunuch? Not a hermaphrodite? Not a despoiler of nuns? Not one who resides with a community for the sake of material benefits? Not one who resides with a community who has been forced to live apart? Not one who has been denied the right of living with a community? Not a member of another religious group? Not one who has gone over to another religious group? Not one who has murdered his father? Not one who has murdered his mother? Not one who has murdered an arhat? Not one who has caused a split in the community? Not one who with an evil intent in regard to the

Tathagata has caused his blood to flow? Not a magically created phantom? Not an animal?’

The candidate must in each case say: ‘I am not.’

‘Do you not have some debt, however large or small, a bond to someone?’ If he says ‘I am bound by debt’, he must be asked: ‘Are you able to repay it after you have been fully ordained?’ If he says ‘I am unable’, it must be said: ‘Then you must leave!’ If he says ‘I am able to repay it after I am fully ordained’, he must be asked: ‘Have you not previously entered into the religious life?’ If he says ‘I have’, he must be asked: ‘Have you not committed one or another of the four offences which require expulsion? In falling had you given up the training?’ If he says ‘such an offence was committed’, it must be said: ‘Then you must leave!’ If he says ‘No such offence was committed’, he must be asked: ‘As of now are you not one who has entered into the religious life?’ If he says ‘I am one who has entered into the religious life’, he must be asked:

‘Have you fully practised the practice of chastity?’ The candidate must say ‘I have fully practised it.’

‘What is your name, what is your Preceptor’s name?’ He must say: ‘My name is so-and-so and, although I say his name only for this purpose, my Preceptor is named so-and-so.’

‘Venerable, you must hear! These various sorts of bodily illness arise in the body of men, namely leprosy, goitre, boils, exanthema, blotch, scabs, itch, carbuncle, psoriasis, consumption, pulmonary consumption, epilepsy, prader-willy syndrome, jaundice, elephantiasis, scrotal hernia, fever, virulent fever, one-day fever, two-, three- and four-day fevers, multiple disorder, daily fever, chronic fever, lethargy arising from fever, cutaneous eruption, spasmodic cholera, wheezing, cough, asthma, bloody abscess, rheumatism, swelling of the glands, blood disease, liver disease, haemorrhoids, vomiting, retention of the urine, fatigue, elevated body heat, burning in the chest and bone disease – do you not have some of these sorts of illness or others like them?’ He must say: ‘I do not.’

‘Venerable, you must hear! That which I have now asked you, that very same thing learned co-religionists will also ask you in the midst of the community. There too you must not be ashamed! In regard to what is, you must say “It is so.” In regard to what is not, you must deny it saying “It is not so.”

‘Until you are called you must not come, but stay here!’ That is the instruction in private.

Then the Monk-Who-Instructs-the-Candidate-in-Private must stand at the seniors’ end of the assembly and with a bow say these words: ‘May the community, the reverends, please hear! Since I have instructed in private the one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, in regard to those things which are obstacles, and since he has declared himself to be completely pure of the things that are obstacles, should he come?’ All, if he is completely pure must say ‘Yes.’

If the monk says these words, it is good. If he does not say them, he comes to be guilty of an offence. That is the request for the candidate to come.

Then, when the one who is to be fully ordained has been summoned into the ritual space, he does reverence at the seniors’ end of the assembly, and the Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must have him beg for full ordination. The begging must be done in this way: First, reverence must be done to the Teacher [the Buddha].

Then, having paid reverence at the seniors’ end of the assembly, having squatted with both heels firmly planted on a tile spread with grass and cupped his hands, the candidate must say these words: ‘May the community, the reverends, please hear! I named so-and-so, with – although I say his name only for this purpose – so-and-so as Preceptor, look for full ordination from the community. Since I named so-and-so, with – although I say his name only for this purpose – so-and-so as Preceptor, beg for full ordination from the community, may the community, the reverends, raise me up! May the community, the reverends, receive me! May the community, the reverends, instruct me! May the compassionate community, the reverends, for the sake of compassion, show compassion to me!’ Thus for a second and a third time is this said. That is the begging for full ordination.

Then the Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must, for the purpose of asking about the obstacles in the midst of the community, institute an action that requires only a motion. It must be done in this way: To those who are seated these words must be said: ‘May the community, the reverends, please hear! This one named so- and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, looks for full ordination from the community. Since this one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, begs for full ordination from the community, if for the community the proper time has come and they would allow it, the community must authorize it! And I will ask this one named so- and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, about the obstacles in the midst of the community.’ This is the motion. That is the action for the motion to ask about the obstacles in the midst.

Then the Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must ask about the obstacles in the midst of the community. He must ask about them in this way: When the candidate has done reverence to the Monk- Who-Performs-the-Ritual, has squatted facing him with both heels firmly planted on a tile spread with grass and cupped his hands, these words must be said: ‘You, Venerable, must hear this! This for you is a time for truth, this is a time for what is so. I am going to ask you some things. You must not be ashamed! And in regard to what is, you must say “It is so.” In regard to what is not so, you must deny it saying “It is not so.”

‘Are you a man?’ – He must say ‘I am a man.’

‘Do you have a male organ?’ -… [exactly as before, up to]…

‘Are you not a magically created phantom? Not an animal?’

The candidate must in each case say ‘I am not.’

‘Do you not have some debt, however large or small, a bond to someone?’ If he says ‘I am bound by debt’, he must be asked: ‘Are you able to repay it, after you have been fully ordained?’…

[exactly as before, up to].

‘Venerable, you must hear! These sorts of bodily illness arise in the body of men,… [exactly as before, up to]. do you not have some of these sorts of illness or others like them?’ He must say: ‘I do not.’ That is the asking about the obstacles in the midst.

Then the Monk-Who-Performs-the-Ritual must make a motion and institute an action. It must be done in this way: To those who are seated these words must be said: ‘May the community, the reverends, please hear! This one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, having looked for full ordination from the community, this one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, begs full ordination from the community and he is also a man, has a male organ, has passed twenty years, his three robes and bowl are complete, and he has declared himself completely pure of the things that are obstacles. Since this one named so-and-so, with so- and-so as Preceptor, has begged for full ordination from the community, if for the community the proper time has come and they would allow it, the community must authorize it! The community must fully ordain this one named so-and-so, with so- and-so as Preceptor.’ This is the motion.

In regard to the action it must be done in this way: ‘May the community, the reverends, please hear! This one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, having looked for full ordination from the community, this one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, begs for full ordination from the community, and is also a man, has a male organ, has passed twenty years, his three bowls and robe are complete, and he has declared himself completely pure of the things that are obstacles. Since this one named so-and- so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, begs full ordination from the community, therefore, if the community fully ordains this one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, those venerables that allow that this one named so-and-so, with so-and-so as Preceptor, be fully ordained, they must say nothing! Those that do not allow it, they must speak!’ This is the first declaration of the action, and thus for a second and a third time is this said.

‘The community, having allowed and authorized it, the community has fully ordained this one named so-and-so, with so- and-so as Preceptor – just so, through their silence, do I hold it to be so.’ That is the putting into effect of full ordination.

Then the sundial must be measured [to determine the exact moment of the ordination and therefore the new monk’s seniority].

When the Blessed One had said ‘the sundial must be measured’, and when the monks measured the sundial with long sticks, the Blessed One said: ‘The sundial must not be measured with long sticks!’ But when, in making the measurement with their feet, the monks fixed it at too much, the Blessed One said: ‘The measurement must not be made by feet, but it thus must be measured with pegs!’ But when, in making the measurement, the monks used long pegs and so again fixed it at too much, the Blessed One said: ‘It must be measured with a peg measuring four fingers and as many pegs as there are, that number should be called his “stature”.’ That is the measuring of the sundial.

Then the portion of the day must be declared [also for the purpose of exactly establishing his seniority]: Morning, midday, afternoon, the first watch of the night, mid-point of the first watch, the middle watch, mid-point of the middle watch, the last watch, mid-point of the last watch, before the appearance of dawn, at the appearance of dawn, before sunrise, at sunrise, when an eighth of the sun has arisen, when a fourth of the sun has arisen, when meal time has passed, when a fourth of the sun remains, when an eighth of the sun remains, when the sun has not yet set, when the sun has set, when the constellations have not yet arisen, and when the constellations have arisen. That is the declaration of the part of the day.

Then the season must be declared [for the same purpose]. There are five seasons: Winter, summer, the rains, the short rains and the long rains. There winter is four months. Summer is four months. The rains are one month. The short rains are a day and a night.

The long rains are three months minus a day and a night. That is the declaration of the season.

Then the four supports must be declared: ‘Venerable so-and-so you must hear! By the knowing and seeing Blessed One, the

Tathagata, the Arhat, the completely and perfectly Awakened One, these four have been proclaimed thus as the supports for a monk who has entered the religious life and is fully ordained and, by relying on these, a monk has the true rank of one who has entered the religious life and is a fully ordained monk in this well-spoken teaching (dharma) and discipline (vinaya). What are the four?

‘In regard to cloth, refuse rag is suitable and easy to get, and, by relying on that, a monk has the true rank of one who has entered the religious life and is a fully ordained monk in this well- spoken teaching and discipline.

‘Are you named so-and-so able to subsist, for as long as you live, with the cloth of refuse rag?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am able.’

‘When the supernumerary is acquired – woven silk or a bolt of cotton or napped cotton or muslin or frost cloth of fine silk fabric or Himalayan silk or deep napped cotton or red napped cotton or fine napped cotton or red wool or fine Banares cloth or evenly dyed three-coloured cloth or one-coloured cloth or fine spun hemp or linen or plain cotton or fine Dukula fabric or fine cloth from Kotumbara or cloth imported from the western border or any other suitable cloth that is acquired from the community or an individual – there again, in regard to your acceptance, due measure should be practised.

‘Will you be fully and completely cognizant of such a condition?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I will be fully and completely cognizant.’

‘You named so-and-so must hear! In regard to food, alms is suitable and easy to get, and, by relying on that, a monk has the true rank of one who has entered the religious life and is a fully ordained monk in this well-spoken teaching and discipline.

‘Are you named so-and-so able to subsist, for as long as you live, with alms food?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am able.’

‘When the supernumerary is acquired – boiled rice or porridge made from flour, water, melted butter and Nepalese pomegranate, etc., or made from milk, or soup made from milk, etc., or food given on the fifth-day festival or the eighth- or the fourteenth- or the fifteenth-day festivals or food regularly and permanently provided by donors or a meal by special invitation or food from an unexpected invitation or food that is left or any other suitable food that is acquired from the community or an individual – there again, in regard to your acceptance, due measure should be practised.

‘Will you be fully and completely cognizant of such a condition?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I will be fully and completely cognizant.’

‘You named so-and-so must hear! In regard to places for one’s bedding and seat, the root of a tree is suitable and easy to get, and, by relying on that, a monk has the true rank of one who has entered the religious life and is a fully ordained monk in this well- spoken teaching and discipline.

‘Are you named so-and-so able to subsist, for as long as you live, with your bedding and seat at the root of a tree?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am able.’

‘When the supernumerary is acquired – a cell or hall or upper room or cabana or enclosed arbour or a parapet or palatial residence or a cabana over a gate-house or a latticed arbour on a roof-top or a latticed arbour or a wooden house or an underground cave or a rock-shelter or a mountain cave or a thatch hut or a leaf hut or a constructed ambulatory or a natural ambulatory or a constructed over-hang or a natural over-hang or any other suitable place for one’s bedding and seat that is acquired from the community or an individual – there again, in regard to your acceptance, due measure should be practised.

‘Will you be fully and completely cognizant of such a condition?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I will be fully and completely cognizant.’

‘You named so-and-so must hear! In regard to medicines, a herbal decoction is suitable and easy to get, and, by relying on that, a monk has the true rank of one who has entered the religious life and is a fully ordained monk in this well-spoken teaching and discipline.

‘Are you named so-and-so able to subsist, for as long as you live, with medicine from herbal decoction?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am able.’

‘When the supernumerary is acquired – clarified butter or sesamum oil or honey or treacle or seasonable medicine or limited medicine or medicine to be taken for a week or medicine to be used for life or medicine made from roots or stalks or leaves or flowers or fruits or any other suitable medicine that is acquired from the community or an individual – there again, in regard to your acceptance, due measure should be practised.

‘Will you be fully and completely cognizant of such a condition?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I will be fully and completely cognizant.’

Then the things which lead to falling must be declared: ‘You named so-and-so must hear! By the knowing and seeing Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the completely and perfectly Awakened One, these four have been proclaimed thus as those things which lead to a fall for one who has entered the religious life and is a fully ordained monk. And if a monk has done these, immediately upon doing so he comes to be one who is not a monk, not an ascetic, not a son of the Buddha, and has perished from the state of a monk. For him the character of an ascetic is destroyed, perished, disrupted, fallen, defeated, and for him the character of an ascetic cannot be restored – like a palmyra tree with its top lopped off is incapable of becoming green again, incapable of again sprouting growth or gaining fullness.

‘What are the four?

‘The Blessed One has in many ways condemned sexual pleasure and attachment to sexual pleasure and longing for sexual pleasure and obsession with sexual pleasure. He has praised giving up sexual pleasure, has commended, revered, praised and extolled its abandonment, removal, dissipation, the separation from passion, its uprooting, abatement and decline. Since, Venerable, from this day forward, you must avert your eyes in regard to a woman with lascivious thoughts and not even look at her, how much more must you not couple and engage in unchaste intercourse! Venerable, the knowing and seeing Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the completely and perfectly Awakened One has said: “If a monk who is in conformity with the rules of training together with the other monks engages in unchastity and intercourse without having given back the rules of training, removed the rules of training – even if it is with an animal – that monk, because he is defeated, is one denied the right of living with a community.” If a monk has done

such a thing, immediately upon doing so he is not a monk, not an ascetic, not a son of the Buddha, and has perished from the state of a monk. For him the character of an ascetic is destroyed, perished, disrupted, fallen, defeated, and for him the character of an ascetic cannot be restored – like a palmyra tree with its top lopped off is incapable of becoming green again, incapable of again sprouting growth or gaining fullness. You, from this day forward must make effort to carefully guard your thought by remembering and attending to what is not to be practised, and not to be done, and to the abstention from what is not to be practised.

‘Are you not going to practise such a thing?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am not going to practise it.’

‘Venerable, you must hear! The Blessed One has in many ways condemned taking what has not been given. He has commended giving up taking what has not been given, has revered, praised and extolled that. Since, venerable, from this day forward, you must not take, with the intention to steal, even a bit of sesamum chaff that belongs to another, how much more must you not take what is worth five grains (masaka) or more than five. Venerable, the knowing and seeing Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the completely and perfectly awakened One has said: “If a monk who is in a village or in a forest were to take from another what was not given, and were to do what would be counted as theft, by that definition of theft on account of which a king or high officer, having seized the perpetrator, would say to him: ‘You, man, are indeed a thief! You are a fool! You are an idiot! You are a robber!’, and would execute, fetter or banish him, when a monk has taken in that way what has not been given, since that monk is defeated he is one denied the right of living with a community.” If a monk has done such a thing, immediately upon doing so he is not a monk, not an ascetic, not a son of the Buddha, and has perished from the state of a monk. For him the character of an ascetic is destroyed, perished, disrupted, fallen, defeated, and for him the character of an ascetic cannot be restored – like a palmyra tree with its top lopped off is incapable of becoming green again, incapable of again sprouting growth or gaining fullness. You, from this day forward, must make effort to carefully guard your thought by remembering and attending to what is not to be practised, and not to be done, and to the abstention from what is not to be practised.

‘Are you not going to practise such a thing?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am not going to practise it.’

‘Venerable, you must hear! The Blessed One has in many ways condemned taking life. He has commended giving up the taking of life, has revered, praised and extolled it. Since, Venerable, from this day forward, you must not intentionally kill even a small red ant, how much more must you not kill a man or one having human form. Venerable, the knowing and seeing Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the completely and perfectly Awakened One has said: “That monk who would intentionally himself, and using his own hand, kill a man or one having human form, or would give him a knife, or procure for him a hit man, or encourage him to die, or if while praising death to him and saying ‘Hey, fellow, are you undone by this evil, impure, unfortunate life? Hey, fellow, dying is surely better than this kind of life!’, and by encouraging him to die in many ways – with what pleases his mind and persuades it – if, while that monk is praising death, that man dies on account of that enterprise, then since that monk is defeated he is one denied the right of living with a community.” If a monk has done such a thing, immediately upon doing so he is not a monk, not an ascetic… [exactly as before, up to]… like a palmyra tree with its top lopped off.’ [exactly as before, up to]. ‘I am not going to practise it.’

‘Venerable, you must hear! The Blessed One has in many ways condemned speaking falsely. He has commended giving up speaking falsely, has revered, praised and extolled it. Since, venerable, from this day forward, you must not, even with the intention of making someone laugh, speak a conscious lie, how much more must you not purposely speak about the higher human characteristics. Venerable, the knowing and seeing Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the completely and perfectly Awakened One has said: “That monk who, without knowing, without ascertaining, when even the higher human characteristics do not exist and are not found, nor the noble, nor the achievement of the distinction, nor knowledge, nor vision, nor the state of ease, still says ‘This I know. This I see’, and then later when he wants purification of the offence that has arisen from the false assertion says – whether he is asked or not – ‘Venerables, in saying I know what I do not know, in saying I see what I do not see, I spoke an empty lie’, since that monk – unless it was said from pride – is defeated he is one denied the right of living with a community.”

‘Such a monk asserts in regard to himself: “What do I know? I know suffering. I know its arising, its stopping and the path. What do I see? I see the gods. I see the divine snakes and forest divinities and heavenly birds and celestial musicians and centaurs and demonic serpents and hungry ghosts and flesh eaters and evil spirits and female demons and demons inhabiting corpses and flesh eaters of the thick obscurity.

‘“The gods also see me. The divine snakes and forest divinities… [as before]… also see me.

‘“I hear the words of the gods. I hear the words of the divine snakes and forest divinities.

‘“The gods also hear my words. The divine snakes and forest divinities. also hear my words.

‘“I go to have sight of the gods. I go to have sight of the divine snakes and forest divinities.

‘“The gods come to have sight of me. The divine snakes and forest divinities. come to have sight of me.

‘“I converse with the gods, chat, exchange pleasantries and continually stay with them. I converse with the divine snakes and forest divinities… chat, exchange pleasantries and continually stay with them.

‘“The gods converse with me, chat. the divine snakes and forest divinities converse with me, chat, exchange pleasantries, and continually stay with me.”

‘Although he is not one who has achieved this, he says “I have obtained the perception of impermanence, in impermanence the perception of suffering, in suffering the perception of no-self, in food the perception of the disagreeable, in all the world the perception of disgust, the perception of danger, the perception of abandonment, the perception of dispassion, the perceptions of stopping, death, impurity, of a blackened corpse, a putrefied corpse, a swollen corpse, a worm-eaten corpse, a gnawed corpse, a bloody corpse, a scattered corpse, a heap of bones and the perception of discerning emptiness.”

‘Although he is not one who has achieved this, he says “I have obtained the first meditation and the second and the third and the fourth, friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity, the sphere of endless space, of endless awareness, of nothing what-so- ever, and of neither perception nor non-perception, the fruit of one who has entered the stream, of one who will return only once, of one who will not return, and of the state of an arhat, the range of supernormal powers, the divine ear, the ability to read thoughts, know past lives, the places of death and rebirth, and the exhaustion of the afflictions. I am an arhat, one who meditates in the eight forms of release, and who is freed from both physical and mental constraints.”

‘If a monk has done such a thing, immediately upon doing so he is not a monk, not an ascetic, not a son of the Buddha, and has perished from the state of a monk. For him the character of an ascetic is destroyed, perished, disrupted, fallen, defeated, and for him the character of an ascetic cannot be restored – like a palmyra tree with its top lopped off is incapable of becoming green again, incapable of again sprouting growth or gaining fullness. You, from this day forward must make effort to carefully guard your thought by remembering and attending to what is not to be practised, and not to be done, and to the abstention from what is not to be practised.

‘Are you not going to practise such a thing?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am not going to practise it.’ That is the declaration of the things that lead to falling.

Then the characteristics which make an ascetic must be declared.

‘Venerable, you must hear! By the knowing and seeing Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the completely and perfectly Awakened One these four have been proclaimed thus as the characteristics which make an ascetic of one who has entered the religious life and is a fully ordained monk. Which are the four? You, Venerable, from this day forward, even when reviled must not revile in return. Even when offended must not offend in return. Even when chastised must not chastise in return. Even when derided you must not deride in return.

‘Are you going to practise such conditions?’

The newly ordained must say: ‘I am going to practise.’ That is the declaration of the characteristics which make an ascetic.

Then the fulfilment through the completion of what is most highly desired must be declared.

‘Venerable, you must hear! As was your former heartfelt wish – Might I enter into the religious life and obtain the state of a fully ordained monk in this well spoken teaching and discipline – so today you are entered into the religious life and fully ordained through a proper Preceptor, two proper Teachers, the concord of the community and a formal action with three motions that is inviolable and not deserving to be set aside.’ That is the declaration of the fulfilment through the completion of what is most highly desired.

Then there must be the engagement in regard to the achievement of uniformity in good conduct.

‘Venerable, you must hear! That training in which a monk who has been fully ordained for a hundred years must train, in that one
who has been fully ordained only one day must also train. That training in which a monk who has been fully ordained for only one day trains, in that one who has been fully ordained for a hundred years must also train. Thus, you, from this day forward, must achieve and not turn away from that uniformity in good conduct, uniformity of training and uniformity in the exposition of the text of the monastic rules.’ That is the engagement in regard to the achievement of uniformity in good conduct.

Then there must be the engagement in regard to the reflection of what is connected with customary behaviour.

‘From this day forward you must come to perceive the Preceptor as your father. The Preceptor too must come to perceive you as his son. You must, from this day forward and for as long as he lives, attend to the Preceptor. The Preceptor too must attend to your illness until you are dead or cured.’ That is the engagement in regard to the reflection of what is connected with customary behaviour.

Then there must be the engagement in regard to the state of restraint.

‘From this day forward you must dwell, in reference to your co­religionists – seniors, those in mid-career and juniors – with respect, with regard for and with your apprehensions under control.’ That is the engagement in regard to the state of restraint.

Then there must be the engagement in regard to accomplishing the required.

‘From this day forward you must explain, must read, must recite, must develop skill in the constituents of what is taken as a person (skandha), skill in the elements (dhdtu), skill in the organs and objects of sense (dyatana), skill in the origination of things by dependence (pratityasamutpdda), and skill in possibilities and impossibilities. You must not lay aside the obligation to obtain what has not been obtained, to realize what has not been realized, to directly experience what has not been directly experienced.’ That is the engagement in regard to accomplishing the required.

Then the acquirement of an understanding of fully taking on what has not been declared must be declared.

‘I have only declared to you those which are the very most important rules of training. Others you will hear every half-month when the exposition of the text of the monastic rules is being expounded. Still others will be taught in detail by your Preceptor, your Teacher, those having the same preceptor, those having the same teacher, those with whom you are familiar, those with whom you speak, friends and close friends.’ That is the declaration of the acquirement of an understanding of fully taking on what has not been declared.

Then there must be the engagement in regard to reverence.

‘You are fully ordained in the order of he with the most excellent wisdom [the Buddha] – as favourable conditions and prosperity are difficult to obtain, so too is this achieved.

‘The lovely entrance into the religious life and completely pure ordination were declared by the fully awakened and knowing one whose name is truth.’ That is the engagement in regard to reverence.

Then there must be the engagement in regard to that connected with the declaration of the means that must be accomplished.

‘Venerable, since you are finally fully ordained, you must achieve attentiveness.’ That is the engagement in regard to that connected with the declaration of the means that must be accomplished.

The Ritual for the Full Ordination of a Monk is completed.

Translated by Gregory Schopen from H. Eimer, Rab Tu’ Byun Ba’i Gzi Die tibetische Ubersetzung des Pravrajydvastu im Vinaya der Mulasarvdstivddins. Asiatische Forschungen, Bd. 82 (Wiesbaden, 1983), pp. 135.15-165.5; with reference to Kalyanamitra, Vinayavastutikd, Derge bstan ’gyur, ’Dul ba, vol. tsu 243b4-268a2; B. Jinananda, Upasampaddjnaptih, Tibetan Sanskrit works VI, (Patna, 1961); A.C. Banerjee, Two Buddhist Vinaya Texts in Sanskrit, (Calcutta, 1977).

Source: Lopez Donald S. (2004), Buddhist Scriptures, Penguin Classics; First Edition.

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