Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

The chapter on relinquishment

Monks’ Relinquishment

15. The training rule on sitting-blankets

Origin story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery. There the Master addressed the monks: “Monks, I wish to go into solitary retreat for three months. No one is to approach me except the one who brings me almsfood.”

“Yes, Master,” they replied, and no one approached him except the one who brought him almsfood.

At that time the Order at Sāvatthī made the following agreement: “The Master wishes to be on solitary retreat for three months. No one is to approach him except the one who brings him almsfood. Anyone who approaches him should be made to acknowledge an offense entailing confession.”

Just then Venerable Upasena Vaṅgantaputta and his followers approached the Master, bowed down to him, and sat down to one side. It is the custom for Buddhas to greet visiting monks, and so the Master said this to Upasena, “I hope you’re keeping well, Upasena, I hope you’re comfortable; I hope you’re not tired from traveling.”

“We’re keeping well, Master, we’re comfortable; we’re not tired from traveling.”

One of Upasena’s students was seated not far from the Master, and the Master said to him, “Do you like rag-robes, monk?”

“I don’t like rag-robes, Venerable Sir.”

“Why then do you wear them?”

“My preceptor wears them, and so I do it too.”

And the Master said to Upasena, “Upasena, your followers are inspiring. How do you train them?”

“When anyone asks me for the full ordination, Venerable Sir, I tell them this: ‘I dwell in the forest, I eat almsfood, and I wear rag-robes. If you, too, will dwell in the forest, eat almsfood, and wear rag-robes, I will give you the full ordination.’ If they agree, I ordain them; otherwise I don’t. And I do the same when anyone asks me for support. It’s in this way that I train my followers.”

“Good, Upasena, you train your followers well. But do you know the agreement made by the Order at Sāvatthī?”

“No.”

“The Order at Sāvatthī has made the following agreement: ‘The Master wishes to be on solitary retreat for three months. No one is to approach him except the one who brings him almsfood. Anyone who approaches him should be made to acknowledge an offense entailing confession.’”

“Venerable Sir, the Order at Sāvatthī will become known for this agreement. We, however, don’t lay down new rules, nor do we abolish the old ones. We practice and undertake the training rules as they are.”

“Good, Upasena. One should not lay down new rules, nor should one abolish the old ones. One should practice and undertake the training rules as they are. And, Upasena, I allow those monks who dwell in the forest, who eat almsfood, and who wear rag-robes to come and see me whenever they please.”

Just then many monks were standing outside the entrance, thinking, “We’ll make Venerable Upasena acknowledge an offense entailing confession.” Upasena and his followers rose from their seats, bowed down to the Master, circumambulated him with their right side towards him, and departed. And those monks said to Upasena, “Upasena, do you know the agreement of the Order at Sāvatthī?”

“The Master asked me the same question, and I replied that I didn’t. He then told me what it was, and I said, ‘Venerable Sir, the Order at Sāvatthī will become known for this agreement. We, however, don’t lay down new rules, nor do we abolish the old ones. We practice and undertake the training rules as they are.’ And the Master has allowed those monks who dwell in the forest, who eat almsfood, and who wear rag-robes to go and see him whenever they please.”

Those monks thought, “It’s true what Venerable Upasena says.”

The monks heard that the Master had allowed those monks who dwell in the forest, who eat almsfood, and who wear rag-robes to go and see him whenever they please. Longing to see the Master, they discarded their blankets and undertook the practice of dwelling in the forest, of eating almsfood, and of wearing rag-robes.

Soon afterwards the Master and a number of monks were inspecting the dwellings, and he saw discarded blankets here and there. He asked the monks, “Whose are these discarded blankets?”

The monks informed the Master. Soon afterwards he gave a teaching and addressed the monks: “Well then, monks, I will lay down a training rule for the monks for the following ten reasons: for the well-being of the Order, for the comfort of the Order … To be expanded as in Expulsion 1, paragraph 71. … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘If a monk is getting a sitting-blanket made, he must incorporate a 25 centimeter piece from the border of an old blanket in order to make it ugly. If he gets a new sitting-blanket made without incorporating a 25 centimeter piece from the border of an old blanket, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.’”

Definitions

Sitting(-mat): one with a border is what is meant.

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

Getting made: making or getting made.

An old blanket: even worn once.

He must incorporate a 25 centimeter piece from the border […] in order to make it ugly: to make it strong, he cuts out a circle or a four-sided piece, and he then incorporates it in one place or he spreads it out after pulling it apart.

Without using a 25 centimeter piece from the border of an old blanket: in the act of making a new sitting-blanket, or having one made, without incorporating a 25 centimeter piece from the border of an old blanket, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. When he gets the sitting-blanket, it becomes subject to relinquishment.


The sitting-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 sitting-blanket which I got made without incorporating a 25 centimeter piece from the border of an old blanket is to be relinquished. I relinquish it to the Order.’ … the Order should give … you should give … ‘I give this sitting-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.

If he makes one, or gets one made, for the sake of another, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if he makes one incorporating a 25 centimeter piece from the border of an old blanket; if he is not able to obtain such a piece and he makes one incorporating a smaller piece; if he is not able to obtain such a smaller piece and he makes one without; 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 is insane; if he is the first offender.


The fifth rule, the training rule on sitting-blankets, is finished.