the Wanderling

PATIMOKKHA, also Pratimoksa, is the name given to a set of two hundred and twenty-seven rules to be observed by members of the Buddhist Order. Except for four, the rules are mainly economic, regulating the behavior of the members of the Order towards one another in respect of clothes, dwellings, furniture, etc., held in common.

The rules are arranged in seven sections corresponding very roughly to the degree of weight attached to their observance:


Parajika Defeat
2 Sanghadisesa Entailing Communal Meetings
3 Nissaggiya Pacittiya Entailing Forfeiture and Confession
4 Pacittiya Entailing Confession
5 Patidesaniya Entailing Acknowledgement
6 Sekhiya Trainings
7 Adhikarana Samatha The Settlement of Issues

In four cases out of the two hundred and twenty-seven the punishment for infringement is exclusion from the Order; in all the remaining cases it is merely suspension for a time. If a monk breaks even just one of the four most serious rules --- the Parajikas --- as listed below, he is expelled from the Community for life:

If a monk breaks one of the next most serious classes of the rules --- the Sanghadisesas --- he is put on probation for six days, during which time he is stripped of his seniority, is not trusted to go anywhere unaccompanied by four other monks of regular standing, and daily has to confess his offense to every monk who lives in or happens to visit the monastery. At the end of his probation, twenty monks have to be convened to reinstate him to his original status. See also The Five Precepts

The next three levels of rules --- Nissaggiya Pacittiya, Pacittiya, and Patidesaniya -- entail simple confession to a fellow monk, although the NP rules involved an article that has to be forfeited -- in most cases temporarily, although in a few cases the object has to be forfeited for good, in which case the offender has to confess his offense to the entire Community.

The Patimokkha is NOT included in the extant Buddhist Canon. The rules ARE included, in the Sutta Vibhanga ("sutta" here meaning "rule"), which contains besides the rules themselves, an old Commentary explaining them and a new Commentary containing further supplementary information concerning them. The rules are divided into two parts: one for the monks (Bhikkhu Patimokkha) and the other for the nuns (Bhikkhukni Patimokkha). It is a moot point whether the rules originally appeared with the explanatory notes (as in the Vibhanga), the Patimokkha being subsequently extracted, or whether the Patimokkha alone was the older portion, the additional matter of the Vibhanga being the work of a subsequent revision.

The rules were recited at the gatherings of members of the Order (the Uposatha khandha of the Maha Vagga [Vin.i.101 36] gives details of the procedure at these gatherings) in their respective districts on uposatha days (the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month). Each section of the rules is recited and, at the end of such recital, the reciter asks the members of the Order who are present if any one of them has infringed any of the rules. Silence implies absence of guilt. This practice of interrupting the recital seems to have been changed later even though the old formula, asking the members to speak, continued as a part of the recital.

The word Patimokkha is variously explained, the oldest explanation being that the observance of the rules is the face (mukham), the chief (pamukham) of good qualities. The Sanskrit-ised form of the word being pratimoksa, led to a change in its significance, the completion of the recital being evidence that all those who have taken part are pure in respect of the specified offences. Patimokkha thus meaning acquittal, deliverance or discharge. But in most contexts the word simply means code, that is, a code of verses for the Members of the Order.

For a detailed account see: Introduction to the Patimokkha Rules

Taking all of the above into consideration, the following regarding the repetition of scriptures et al, as viewed from the Buddha and the Sutras should hold some interest as well:

"The Buddha said that neither the repetition of holy scriptures, nor self-torture, nor sleeping on the ground, nor the repetition of prayers, penances, hymns, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations can bring us the real happiness of Nirvana. Instead the Buddha emphasized the importance of making individual effort in order to achieve our spiritual goals. He likened it to a man wanting to cross a river; sitting down and praying will not suffice, but he must make the effort to build a raft or a bridge.

"Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration that 'The monk is your teacher.'"(source)

The Lesser and Minor Training Rules

Before the Buddha passed away, he said to Venerable Ananda, "After my passing, the Sangha may, if it wishes, abolish the lesser and minor training rules" (khuddanukhuddakani sikkhapadani D.ii.154). However, Ananda neglected to ask the Buddha which rules were the lesser and minor precepts. At the First Buddhist Council, soon after the Buddha's demise, the five hundred Arahants were also not unanimous about this matter, and they blamed Ananda for not asking about it. Some Arahants said, "Apart from the four offenses of defeat, the remainder are lesser and minor." Others said, "Apart from the four offenses of defeat and the thirteen offenses requiring formal meeting, the rest are lesser and minor." Others said, "and the two indeterminate offenses, the rest are lesser and minor." Others said, "and the thirty offenses requiring expiation with forfeiture, the rest are lesser and minor offenses." Others said, "and the ninety-two offenses requiring expiation, the rest are lesser and minor." Others said, "and four offenses requiring confession, the rest are lesser and minor."

Since there were different opinions, Venerable Mahakassapa addressed the monks saying: People will say, "While the Buddha was alive the monks followed the training rules, but after his passing away they do not." So we should continue to train ourselves in all of the precepts. Thus the five hundred Arahants agreed not to abolish any training rules. Not one of the later Councils abolished any training rules either.

That was the decision made by the five hundred Arahants, and all later Buddhist Councils, so the monks of the present day must also train themselves in all of the training precepts. There is no legitimate reason to ignore a single one of them. Nevertheless, one should distinguish between serious, medium, and minor offenses.


Forbearance is the best austerity,
"Nibbana is supreme", say the Buddhas.
He is not one gone forth who harms another.
He is not a recluse who molests others.

To abstain from all evil,
To cultivate what is wholesome,
To purify one's mind:
This is the Message of the Buddhas.

To speak no ill, to do no harm,
To keep the rules,
To eat enough but not too much,
To live apart and meditate,
This is the Message of the Buddhas.

the Ovada Patimokkha

CUTTING THE CAT INTO ONE: The Practice of Bodhisattva Precepts







(please click)





The Vinaya Pitaka is considered to be an extensive treatise on the Patimokkha rules, giving the occasion for the formulating of each rule, with some explanation or illustration of various terms employed in the wording of the rule. The rule is sometimes further illustrated by reference to cases which come within it and to others which form exceptions to it.

The collection is also called Sutta Vibhanga and is divided into two parts, the Bhikkhu Vibhanga and the Bhikkhuni-Vibhanga.

The source and origin for the quote this footnote is cited to can be found by clicking HERE. However, it should be noted not all religions, cultures and spiritual beliefs buy into, back, or practice such a concept as found in the quote, in whole or in part --- not even some that fall within the boundries of Buddhism itself. Although the start or end point along the edges of mainstream Buddhism may not be clearly delineated like an escarpment rising up out of a sea of non-believers, adherents that fall under the established spectrum of Buddhism run the gamut from the Parivrajaka to the fully entrenched ritual and robe laden, with monasteries, hierarchy, and little hats. To wit:

"One of the problems faced by organized religions, or cultures that hold deep traditional beliefs that fall into the realm of things spiritual, is that they have to give the people something. People raised in that something or new people transitioning into that something, expect from that something some sort of positive spiritual results. Usually those spiritual results are motivated by some sort of trappings. If they do get positive results, at least as perceived in the mind of the devotee, parishioner, or follower, then, for them it's working. If it doesn't work then the devotee is pointed to others that it did work for. If that doesn't solve the dilemma they are encouraged to work harder."

The above quote from: