Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

The chapter on relinquishment

Monks’ Relinquishment

22. The training rule on less than five mends

Origin story

At one time the Buddha was staying in the Sakyan country at Kapilavatthu in the Banyan Tree Monastery. At that time a potter had invited the monks: “If any one of you needs a bowl, I’ll provide it.” But the monks lacked a sense of moderation, and they asked for many bowls. Those who had small bowls asked for large ones, and those who had large bowls asked for small ones. The potter was so busy making bowls for the monks that he was unable to make other goods for sale. He could not make a living for himself, and his wife and children suffered. People grumbled and complained, “How can the Sakyan ascetics not have any sense of moderation and ask for many bowls? This potter is so busy making bowls for them that he is unable to make other goods for sale. He is unable to make a living for himself, and his wife and children are suffering.”

Monks heard the complaints of those people, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized those monks, “How can those monks not have a sense of moderation and ask for many bowls?”

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 not have a sense of moderation and ask for many bowls? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … After criticizing them, he gave a teaching and addressed the monks: “Monks, a monk should not ask for a bowl. If he does, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.”

Soon afterwards the bowl of a certain monk broke. Knowing that the Buddha had prohibited asking for a bowl and being afraid of wrongdoing, he did not ask for a new one. As a consequence he collected almsfood with his hands. People grumbled and complained, “How can the Sakyan ascetics collect almsfood with their hands, just like ascetics of other sects?”

Monks heard the complaints of those people and they informed the Master. Soon afterwards the Master gave a teaching and addressed the monks: “Monks, I allow you to ask for a new bowl if your bowl has been lost or is broken.”

When they knew about the Master’s allowance, monks from the group of six asked for many bowls even when their existing bowls only had a minor chip or scratch. Then that potter was once again so busy making bowls for the monks that he was unable to make other goods for sale. He could not make a living for himself, and his wife and children suffered. And people grumbled and complained as before.

Monks heard the complaints of those people, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized those monks, “How can those monks from the group of six ask for many bowls even if their existing bowls only have a minor chip or scratch?”

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

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked them: “… Foolish men, how can you ask for many bowls even if your existing bowls only have a minor chip or scratch? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘If a monk gets a new bowl in exchange for a bowl with less than five mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. That monk should relinquish that bowl to an assembly of monks. He should then be given the last bowl belonging to that assembly: ‘Monk, this bowl is yours; keep it until it breaks.’ This is the proper procedure.’”

Definitions

A: whoever … Monk: … The monk who has been given the full ordination by a complete Order through a formal procedure consisting of one motion and three announcements that is unchallengeable and fit to stand— this sort of monk is meant in this case.

A bowl with less than five mends: it has no mends, one mend, two mends, three mends, or four mends. A bowl with a mend that does not count: one that does not have a 4 cm long fracture. A bowl with a mend that counts: one that has a 4 cm long fracture.

New bowl: newly asked for is what is meant.

Gets […] in exchange: in the act of asking, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. When he gets the bowl, it becomes subject to relinquishment.


It should be relinquished in the midst of the Order. All determined bowls should be brought together. You should not determine an inferior bowl, thinking, “I’ll get a valuable bowl.” If you determine an inferior bowl, thinking, “I’ll get a valuable bowl”, you commits an offense of wrong conduct.

“And, monks, it should be relinquished in this way. After approaching the Order, that 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, this bowl that I got in exchange for a bowl that had less than five mends is to be relinquished. I relinquish it to the Order.’ ” After relinquishing it, he should acknowledge the offense. The acknowledgment should be received by a competent and capable monk.

A monk who has five qualities should be appointed as the bowl-distributor: one who is not swayed by desire, ill will, confusion, or fear, and who knows the meaning of distributed and not distributed. “And, monks, this is how he should be appointed. First the monk should be asked and then a competent and capable monk should inform the Order:

‘Venerables, let the Order listen to me. If it seems appropriate to the Order, it should appoint monk so-and-so as the bowl-distributor. This is the motion.

Venerables, let the Order listen to me. The Order appoints monk so-and-so as the bowl-distributor. Any monk who agrees to appointing monk so-and-so as the bowl-distributor should remain silent. Any monk who does not agree should say so.

The Order has appointed monk so-and-so as the bowl-distributor. The Order approves and is therefore silent. I will remember it thus.’”

The appointed monk should give away that bowl. He should tell the most senior monk, “Venerable, would you like this bowl?” If the most senior monk takes it, his bowl should be offered to the next monk. He should not not take that bowl out of sympathy. If he does, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. It is not to be offered to anyone who does not have bowl. In this manner it should be offered all the way to the most junior monk in the Order.


He is then to be given the last bowl belonging to that assembly of monks: ‘Monk, this bowl is yours; keep it until it breaks’:

That monk is not to store that bowl in an unsuitable place, to use it in an unsuitable way, or to give it away, thinking, “How may this bowl be lost, destroyed, or broken?” If he stores it in an unsuitable place, uses it in an unsuitable way, or gives it away, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.”

This is the proper procedure: this is in right method.

Permutations

If he gets a bowl without mends in exchange for a bowl without mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with one mend in exchange for a bowl without mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with two mends in exchange for a bowl without mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with three mends in exchange for a bowl without mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with four mends in exchange for a bowl without mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends in exchange for a bowl with one mend, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with one mend in exchange for a bowl with one mend, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with two mends in exchange for a bowl with one mend, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with three mends in exchange for a bowl with one mend, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with four mends in exchange for a bowl with one mend, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends in exchange for a bowl with two mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with one mend in exchange for a bowl with two mends … a bowl with two mends … a bowl with three mends … If he gets a bowl with four mends in exchange for a bowl with two mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends in exchange for a bowl with three mends … a bowl with one mend … a bowl with two mends … a bowl with three mends … If he gets a bowl with four mends in exchange for a bowl with three mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends in exchange for a bowl with four mends … a bowl with one mend … a bowl with two mends … a bowl with three mends … If he gets a bowl with four mends in exchange for a bowl with four mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.


If he gets a bowl without mends that count in exchange for a bowl without mend, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with one mend that counts in exchange for a bowl without mends … a bowl with two mends that count … a bowl with three mends that count … If he gets a bowl with four mends that count in exchange for a bowl without mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends that count in exchange for a bowl with one mend … a bowl with one mend that counts … a bowl with two mends that count … a bowl with three mends that count … If he gets a bowl with four mends that count in exchange for a bowl with one mend, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends that count in exchange for a bowl with two mends … If he gets a bowl with four mends that count in exchange for a bowl with two mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends that count in exchange for a bowl with three mends … If he gets a bowl with four mends that count in exchange for a bowl with three mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends that count in exchange for a bowl with four mends … a bowl with one mend that counts … a bowl with two mends that count … a bowl with three mends that count … If he gets a bowl with four mends that count in exchange for a bowl with four mends, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.


If he gets a bowl without mends in exchange for a bowl without mends that count, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession. If he gets a bowl with one mend in exchange for a bowl without mends that count … a bowl with two mends … a bowl with three mends … If he gets a bowl with four mends in exchange for a bowl with three mends that count, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends in exchange for a bowl with four mends that count … a bowl with one mend … a bowl with two mends … a bowl with three mends … If he gets a bowl with four mends in exchange for a bowl with four mends that count, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.


If he gets a bowl without mends that count in exchange for a bowl without mends that count … a bowl with one mend that counts … a bowl with two mends that count … a bowl with three mends that count … If he gets a bowl with four mends that count in exchange for a bowl with three mends that count, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

If he gets a bowl without mends that count in exchange for a bowl with four mends that count … a bowl with one mend that counts … a bowl with two mends that count … a bowl with three mends that count … If he gets a bowl with four mends that count in exchange for a bowl with four mends that count, he commits an offense entailing relinquishment and confession.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if his bowl is lost; if his bowl is broken; if it is from relatives; if it is from those who have given an invitation; if it is for the benefit of someone else; if it is by means of his own property; if he is insane; if he is the first offender.


The second rule, the training rule on less than five mends, is finished.