Theravāda Collection on Monastic Law

Monks’ rules and their analysis

Monks’ Suspension

4. The training rule on fulfilling one’s own desires

Origin story

At one time, the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Monastery. At that time, Venerable Udāyī was associating with and visiting a number of families in Sāvatthī. Then, after dressing one morning, Udāyī took his bowl and robe and went to the house of a beautiful widow, where he sat down on the prepared seat. That woman approached Udāyī, bowed down to him, and sat down to one side. Udāyī then instructed, inspired, and gladdened her with a teaching. And she said, “Venerable, please say what you need. I’m able to give robes, almsfood, dwelling equipment, and medicines.”

“It’s not hard for us, Sister, to get those requisites. Give instead what’s hard for us to get.”

“What’s that, Venerable?”

“Sexual intercourse.”

“Is it wanted now, Venerable?”

“It is, Sister.”

“Come, Venerable,” and she entered her bedroom, took off her clothes, and lay back on the bed. Udāyī approached her and spat out, “Who would touch this foul-smelling wretch!” and he departed.

That woman then complained and criticized him, “These Sakyan recluses are shameless and immoral liars. They claim to live according to the Truth, to be celibate and of good conduct, to be truthful, moral, and of good character. But they don’t have the qualities of an ascetic or a brahmin; they’ve lost the plot. How can the ascetic Udāyī request sexual intercourse from me, but then spit out, ‘Who would touch this foul-smelling wretch!’ and depart? What’s bad about me? How am I foul-smelling? In what way am I inferior to whom?”

Other women, too, criticized him in the same way,

and the monks heard them. The monks of few desires … complained and criticized him, “How can Venerable Udāyī commend the fulfilling of his own desires in the presence of a woman?”

Those monks rebuked Udāyī in many ways and then informed the Master. The Master had the Order of monks assembled and questioned Udāyī, “Is it true, Udāyī, that you commended the fulfilling of your own desires in the presence of a woman?”

“It’s true, Master.”

The Buddha rebuked him, “It’s not suitable, foolish man, it’s not proper, it’s not worthy of a recluse, it’s not allowable, it’s not to be done. How can you commend the fulfilling of your own desires in the presence of a woman? Haven’t I given many teachings for the sake of dispassion, not for the sake of passion … for the stilling of the fevers of sense desire? This will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

Final ruling

‘If a lustful monk encourages a woman to satisfy his own needs: “Sister, she provides the highest service who in this way satisfies one like me, who is virtuous, celibate, and of good character,” and if it is a reference to sexual intercourse, 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.

Lustful: having lust, longing for, in love with.

A woman: a human female, not a female spirit, not a female ghost, not a female animal. She understands and is capable of discerning bad speech and good speech, what is lewd and what is not lewd.

His own needs: his own sense desires, for the sake of himself, aiming at himself, satisfying himself.

The highest: this is the highest, this is the best, this is the foremost, this is the utmost, this is the most excellent.

She: a female aristocrat, a female brahmin, a female merchant, or a female worker.

One like me: a male aristocrat, a male brahmin, a male merchant, or a male worker.

Who is virtuous: one who refrains from killing living beings, who refrains from stealing, who refrains from lying.

Celibate: one who refrains from sexual intercourse.

Of good character: he is one of good character because of that virtue and because of being celibate.

In this way: with sexual intercourse.

Satisfies: gives pleasure to.

If it is a reference to sexual intercourse: if it is a reference to the sexual act.

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

Permutations

It is a woman, he perceives her as a woman, and he has lust. If the monk encourages the woman to satisfy his own needs, he commits an offense entailing suspension.

It is a woman, but he is unsure of it … It is a woman, but he perceives her as a sexual non-conformist … It is a woman, but he perceives her as a man … It is a woman, but he perceives her as an animal, and he has lust. If the monk encourages the woman to satisfy his own needs, he commits a serious offense.


It is a sexual non-conformist, he perceives him as a sexual non-conformist, and he has lust. If the monk encourages the sexual non-conformist to satisfy his own needs, he commits a serious offense.

It is a sexual non-conformist, but he is unsure of it … It is a sexual non-conformist, but he perceives him as a man … It is a sexual non-conformist, but he perceives him as an animal … It is a sexual non-conformist, but he perceives him as a woman, and he has lust. If the monk encourages the sexual non-conformist to satisfy his own needs, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.


It is a man … This section on “It is a man” is to be expanded as in Saṅghādisesa 2, paragraphs 40–41. … It is an animal, he perceives it as an animal … It is an animal, but he is unsure of it … It is an animal, but he perceives it as a woman … It is an animal, but he perceives it as a sexual non-conformist … It is an animal, but he perceives it as a man, and he has lust. If the monk encourages the animal to satisfy his own needs, he commits an offense of wrong conduct.


It is two women, he perceives them both as women, and he has lust. If the monk encourages both women to satisfy his own needs, he commits two offenses entailing suspension. … To be expanded as in Saṅghādisesa 2, paragraphs 45–53. …

It is a woman and a sexual non-conformist, he perceives both as women, and he has lust. If the monk encourages both of them to satisfy his own needs, he commits one offense entailing suspension and one offense of wrong conduct. … To be expanded as in Saṅghādisesa 2, paragraphs 54–69. …

Non-offenses

There is no offense: if he says, “Attend on us with robes, almsfood, dwelling equipment, and medicines;” if he is insane; if he is the first offender.

Case rulings

Mnemonic list

How may a barren woman, can she get a son,
And dear to, may I be fortunate;
What may I give, with what may I be of service,
How may I get a good rebirth.

Case details

On one occasion a barren woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, how can I become pregnant?”

“What’s the highest gift?”

“Sexual intercourse.” He became remorseful … “You’ve committed an offense entailing suspension.”


On one occasion a fertile woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, how can I get a son?”

“Well, Sister, give the highest gift.”

“What’s the highest gift?”

“Sexual intercourse.” He became remorseful … “You’ve committed an offense entailing suspension.”


On one occasion a woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, how can I become dear to my husband?”

“Well, Sister, give the highest gift.”

“What’s the highest gift?”

“Sexual intercourse.” He became remorseful … “You’ve committed an offense entailing suspension.”


On one occasion a woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, how can I become fortunate?”

“Well, Sister, give the highest gift.”

“What’s the highest gift?”

“Sexual intercourse.” He became remorseful … “You’ve committed an offense entailing suspension.”


On one occasion a woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, what can I give you?”

“The highest gift, Sister.”

“What’s the highest gift?”

“Sexual intercourse.” He became remorseful … “You’ve committed an offense entailing suspension.”


On one occasion a woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, how can I be of service?”

“With the highest gift, Sister.”

“What’s the highest gift?”

“Sexual intercourse.” He became remorseful … “You’ve committed an offense entailing suspension.”


On one occasion a woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, how can I get a good rebirth?”

“Well, Sister, give the highest gift.”

“What’s the highest gift?”

“Sexual intercourse.” He became remorseful … “You’ve committed an offense entailing suspension.”

The fourth rule, the training rule on fulfilling one’s own desires, is finished.