Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

Monks’ Suspension

10. The training rule on schism in the monastic Order

Origin story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the squirrel sanctuary. Just then Devadatta went to see Kokālika, Kaṭamodakatissaka, Khaṇḍadeviyā-putta, and Samuddadatta, and he said to them, “Come, let’s create a schism in the monastic Order of the ascetic Gotama, a break in transmission.”

Kokālika said to Devadatta, “The ascetic Gotama has great supernormal powers. How can we do this?”

“Well, let’s go to the ascetic Gotama and request five things: ‘Venerable Sir, in many ways the Master praises fewness of wishes, contentment, erasing of defilements, ascetic practices, being inspiring, reduction of things, and being energetic. And there are five things that lead to just that. It would be good, Venerable Sir:

  • If the monks were forest-dwellers for life, and whoever enters a village would commit an offense
  • If they were alms-collectors for life, and whoever accepts an invitation would commit an offense
  • If they were rag-robe wearers for life, and whoever accepts a robe from a lay person would commit an offense
  • If they dwelt at the foot of a tree for life, and whoever takes shelter would commit an offense
  • If they did not eat fish and meat for life, and whoever does would commit an offense.’

The ascetic Gotama won’t allow this. We’ll then be able to win people over with these five points.”

Kokālika said, “It might be possible to create a schism in the monastic Order with these five points, for people have confidence in austerity.”

Devadatta and his followers then went to the Master, bowed down to him, and sat down to one side. And Devadatta made his request. The Master replied, “No, Devadatta. Those who wish may be forest-dwellers, and those who wish may live near a village. Those who wish may be alms-collectors, and those who wish may accept invitations. Those who wish may be rag-robe wearers, and those who wish may accept robes from lay people. I have allowed dwelling at the foot of a tree for eight months of the year, as well as fish and meat which are pure in three respects: one has not seen, heard, or suspected that the animal was specifically killed to feed a monastic.”

Devadatta thought, “The Master doesn’t allow the five points,” and he was glad and elated. He rose from his seat, bowed down to the Master, circumambulated him with his right side towards him, and departed with his followers.

Devadatta then entered Rājagaha and won people over with the five points, saying, ” “The ascetic Gotama doesn’t agree to them, but we practice in accordance with them.

The foolish people with little faith and confidence said, “These Sakyan ascetics are practicing asceticism and they live for the sake of erasing defilements. But the acetic Gotama lives in luxury and has chosen to live in abundance.” But the wise people who had faith and confidence complained and criticized Devadatta, “How can Devadatta act to create a schism in the monastic Order of the Master?”

The monks heard the criticism of those people, and the monks of few desires … complained and criticized him in the same way.

After rebuking Devadatta in many ways, they informed the Master. … He said, “Is it true, Devadatta, that you are acting to create a schism in the Order, a break in transmission?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him: “… Foolish man, how can you act to create a schism in the Order? 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 pursues schism in a united monastic Order or persists in taking up a legal issue conducive to schism, the monks should say to him, “Venerable, don’t pursue schism in the united monastic Order or persist in taking up a legal issue conducive to schism. Stay with the Order, for a united Order—in concord, in harmony, having a joint recitation—lives in comfort.” If that monk still continues as before, the monks should admonish him up to three times to make him stop. If he then stops, that is good. If not, he commits an offense entailing suspension.’”

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 united monastic Order: having the same communion, staying within the same boundary.

Pursues schism:thinking, “What can be done so that these become various, separated, divided,” he searches for a faction and puts together a group.

A legal issue conducive to schism: the eighteen grounds for creating a schism.

Taking up: having adopted it, he proclaims it.

If […] persists in: if he does not stop.

Him: the monk who is pursuing schism in the monastic Order.

The monks:

Other monks, those who see it or hear about it. They should say, “Venerable, don’t pursue schism in the united monastic Order or persist in taking up a legal issue conducive to schism. Stay with the Order, for a united Order—in concord, in harmony, having a joint recitation—lives in comfort.” And they should say this a second and a third time. If he stops, that is good. If he does not stop, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. If those who heard about it do not say anything, they commit an offense of wrong conduct.

That monk, even if he has to be dragged into the middle of the Order, should be spoken to thus, “Venerable, don’t pursue schism in the united monastic Order or persist in taking up a legal issue conducive to schism. Stay with the Order, for a united Order—in concord, in harmony, having a joint recitation—lives in comfort.” They should say this a second and a third time. If he stops, that is good. If he does not stop, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

Should admonish him:

“And, monks, he should be admonished in this way. A competent and capable monk should inform the Order:

‘Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk so-and-so is pursuing schism in the united monastic Order. He is not stopping that activity. If it seems appropriate to the Order, the Order should admonish him to make him stop. This is the motion.

Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk so-and-so is pursuing schism in the united monastic Order. He is not stopping that activity. The Order admonishes him to make him stop. Any monk who approves of admonishing him to make him stop should remain silent. Any monk who does not approve should say so.

A second time … A third time I speak on this matter: Venerables, let the Order listen to me. This monk so-and-so is pursuing schism in the united monastic Order. He is not stopping that activity. The Order admonishes him to make him stop. Any monk who approves of admonishing him to make him stop should remain silent. Any monk who does not approve should say so.

This monk so-and-so has been admonished by the Order to make him stop that activity. The Order approves and is therefore silent. I will remember it thus.’”


After the motion, he commits an offense of wrong conduct. After each of the first two announcements, he commits a serious offense. When the last announcement is finished, he commits an offense entailing suspension. For one who commits the offense entailing suspension, the offense of wrong conduct and the serious offenses are annulled.


He commits an offense entailing suspension: … Therefore, too, it is called “an offense entailing suspension.”

Permutations

If it is a legitimate procedure, and he perceives it as legitimate, but he does not stop, he commits an offense entailing suspension.

If it is a legitimate procedure, but he is unsure if it is, and he does not stop, he commits an offense entailing suspension.

If it is a legitimate procedure, but he perceives it as illegitimate, and he does not stop, he commits an offense entailing suspension.

If it is an illegitimate procedure, but he perceives it as legitimate, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

If it is an illegitimate procedure, but he is unsure if it is, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

If it is an illegitimate procedure, and he perceives it as illegitimate, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if he has not been admonished; if he stops; if he is insane; if he is deranged; if he is overwhelmed by pain; if he is the first offender.

The tenth rule, the training rule on schism in the monastic Order, is finished.