Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

Monks’ Suspension

12. The training rule on being difficult to correct

Origin story

At one time the Buddha was staying at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Monastery. At that time Venerable Channa was behaving improperly. The monks would tell him, “Don’t do that; it’s not allowable,” and he would reply, “Who are you to correct me? I should correct you! The Buddha is mine; the Teaching is mine. The Truth was realized by the young Master because of me. Just as a great wind lifts up grass, sticks, and fallen leaves all at once, just as a mountain stream lifts up the leaves of various water plants all at once, so too you–having various names, various families, various castes, various clans–having gone forth, have been lifted up together. So, who are you to correct me? I should correct you! The Buddha is mine; the Teaching is mine. The Truth was realized by the young Master because of me.”

The monks of few desires … complained and criticized him, “How can Venerable Channa make himself incorrigible when he’s legitimately corrected by the monks?”

They rebuked Venerable Channa in many ways and then informed the Master. … He said, “Is it true, Channa, that you make yourself incorrigible when you’re legitimately corrected by the monks?

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him: “… Foolish man, how can you act in this way? 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 is difficult to correct, and he makes himself incorrigible when he is legitimately corrected by the monks concerning the training rules that are recited, saying, “Venerables, don’t say anything to me, either positive or negative, and I won’t say anything to you, either positive or negative; please refrain from correcting me,” then the monks should correct him in this way: “Venerable, be easy to correct, not incorrigible. And please give legitimate correction to the monks, and the monks will do the same to you. For it’s in this way that the Master’s community has grown, that is, through mutual correction and mutual rehabilitation.” 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

If a monk is difficult to correct: if he is difficult to correct, endowed with qualities that make him hard to correct, resistant, not receiving instructions respectfully.

Concerning the training rules that are recited: concerning the training rules of the monastic code.

The monks: other monks.

Legitimately:

about whatever training rule has been laid down by the Master— this is called “legitimately.”

When he is corrected concerning that, he makes himself incorrigible, saying, “Venerables, don’t say anything to me, either positive or negative, and I won’t say anything to you, either positive or negative; please refrain from correcting me.”

Him: the monk who is difficult to correct.

The monks:

Other monks, those who see it or hear about it. They should say, “Venerable, be easy to correct, not incorrigible. And please give legitimate correction to the monks, and the monks will do the same to you. For it’s in this way that the Master’s community has grown, that is, through mutual correction and mutual rehabilitation.” 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 hear 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 of monks, should be spoken to thus: “Venerable, be easy to correct, not incorrigible. And please give legitimate correction to the monks, and the monks will do the same to you. For it’s in this way that the Master’s community has grown, that is, through mutual correction and mutual rehabilitation.” 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 makes himself incorrigible when he’s legitimately corrected by the monks. He keeps on doing it. 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 makes himself incorrigible when he’s legitimately corrected by the monks. He keeps on doing it. 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 makes himself incorrigible when he’s legitimately corrected by the monks. He keeps on doing it. 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. 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 the first offender.

The twelfth rule, training rule on being difficult to correct, is finished.