Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

The chapter on relinquishment

Monks’ Relinquishment

14. The training rule on six years

Origin story

First sub-story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery. At that time monks were getting blankets made every year. They kept on begging and asking, “Give wool; we need wool.” People grumbled and complained, “How can the Sakyan ascetics get blankets made every year, begging and asking, ‘Give wool; we need wool’? We only make blankets for ourselves every five or six years, even though our children defecate and urinate on them and they are eaten by rats.”

Monks heard the complaints of those people, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized those monks, “How can those monks act in this way?”

After criticizing those monks in many ways, they informed the Master. … “Is it true, monks, that some monks are acting in this way?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha criticized them, “… How can those foolish men get blankets made every year, begging and asking, ‘Give wool; we need wool’? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Preliminary ruling

‘If a monk gets a new blanket made, he should keep it for six years. Whether that blanket has been given away or not, if he gets another new blanket made in less than six years, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

In this way the Master laid down this training rule for the monks.

Second sub-story

At one time a certain monk in Kosambī was ill. His relatives sent him a message: “Come, Venerable, we’ll attend on you.” Other monks urged him to go, but he said, “The Master has laid down a training rule that a monk who gets a new blanket made must keep it for six years. Because I’m sick, I’m not able to take my blanket when I travel. And because I’m not comfortable without it, I cannot go.”

They informed the Master.

Soon afterwards he gave a teaching and addressed the monks: “Monks, I allow you to give a blanket-permission to a sick monk. And it should be given in this way. After approaching the Order, the sick monk should put his upper robe over one shoulder and pay respect at the feet of the senior monks. He should then squat on his heels, put the palms of his hands together, and say, ‘Venerables, I’m sick. I’m not able to take my blanket when I travel. I ask the Order for a blanket-permission.’ And he should ask a second and a third time. A competent and capable monk should then inform the Order:

‘Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk so-and-so is sick. He is not able to take his blanket when he travels. He is asking the Order for a blanket-permission. If it seems appropriate to the Order, the Order should give a blanket-permission to monk so-and-so. This is the motion.

Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk so-and-so is sick. He is not able to take his blanket when he travels. He is asking the Order for a blanket-permission. The Order gives a blanket-permission to monk so-and-so. Any monk who approves of giving a blanket-permission to monk so-and-so should remain silent. Any monk who does not approve should say so.

The Order has given a blanket-permission to monk so-and-so. The Order approves and is therefore silent. I will remember it thus.’

And so, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘If a monk gets a new blanket made, he should keep it for six years. Whether that blanket has been given away or not, if he gets another new blanket made in less than six years, except if the monks have agreed, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

Definitions

New: newly made is what is meant.

A blanket: it is made by spreading out, not by weaving.

Gets made: makes or gets made.

He should keep it for six years: he should keep it for a minimum of six years.

In less than six years: fewer than six years.

That blanket has been given away: it has been given to others.

Not: it has not been given to anyone.

except if the monks have agreed: in the act of making another new blanket, or getting one made, unless he has the permission of the monks, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. When he gets the blanket, it becomes subject to relinquishment.


The blanket should be relinquished to an Order, a group, or an individual. “And, monks, it should be relinquished in this way. … To be expanded as in Relinquishment 1, paragraphs 13–17, with appropriate substitutions. … ‘Venerables, this blanket which I got made after less than six years without the permission of the monks is to be relinquished. I relinquish it to the Order.’ … the Order should give … you should give … ‘I give this blanket back to you.’”

Permutations

If he finishes what he began himself, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets others to finish what he began himself, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he finishes himself what was begun by others, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets others to finish what was begun by others, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if he makes one after six years; if he makes one after more than six years; if he makes one, or gets one made, for the sake of another; if he obtains what was made by another and then uses it; if he makes a canopy, a floor cover, a screen-wall, a mattress, or a pillow; if he has the permission of the monks; if he is insane; if he is the first offender.


The fourth rule, the training rule on six years, is finished.