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Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:47 am
by manas
Hi everyone,

I decided today to have a read of the Vinaya, and so far it has been an illuminating window into the monastic way of life. I came across a rule that I cannot as yet see the value of, and I was wondering if comeone could please explain to me why it is an offense entailing confession:
Bhikkhu Pāṭimokkha wrote:Pācittiya: Rules entailing confession
Part One: The Lie Chapter ...

...4. Should any bhikkhu have an unordained person recite Dhamma line by line (with him), it is to be confessed.
What exactly is meant by 'reciting Dhamma line by line', and if I may ask, why is it considered an offense? If such recitation was for the purpose of instructing the unordained person in dhamma, would that still be considered an offense, or would it be ok?

Thanks in advance

:anjali:

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:53 am
by alan
Just one of many pointless rules.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:58 am
by theravada_guy
I have Thanissaro Bhikkhu's "Buddhist Monastic Code" in hard copy. I haven't started reading it yet. The smaller volume I have on the same subject didn't mention anything about this. But, Ajahn Thanissaro's book (it's actuallly two volumes) is online in PDF format. You might be able to find it in there. But, other than that, I can't help you. I know, this post doesn't really help you all that much, I just thought I would throw that book out there as a possible source for an answer.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:01 am
by Goofaholix
manasikara wrote: What exactly is meant by 'reciting Dhamma line by line', and if I may ask, why is it considered an offense? If such recitation was for the purpose of instructing the unordained person in dhamma, would that still be considered an offense, or would it be ok?
This URL goes into it in detail http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-1.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:09 am
by manas
alan wrote:Just one of many pointless rules.
Actually I'm seeing the value of the vast majority of the rules, even for this modern age many are still highly relevant. Going rule by rule through them, this is the first one I've not been able to see the importance of, however I expect that this is due to my misunderstanding of exactly what 'recitation' means in this particular context, so I await clarification from someone who knows.

metta

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:55 am
by manas
Goofaholix wrote:
This URL goes into it in detail http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-1.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks Goofaholix, I will check it out.

metta

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:06 am
by alan
Rules, rules, rules. Rules are boring.
If you cannot live a decent life without obsessing about pointless, ridiculous rules, then what is your problem?
I have to seriously question people who need to submit themselves to a legion of rules.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:26 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Alan,
alan wrote:I have to seriously question people who need to submit themselves to a legion of rules.
I'm sure there are a few bhikkhus here who might regard your concern as somewhat misplaced.

The undertaking of additional rules is a voluntary procedure... ranging from the standard five, to the full patimokkha, with some gradients inbetween. If the individual did not see the benefit in it for their practice, they would not do it.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:17 am
by Buckwheat
alan wrote:Rules, rules, rules. Rules are boring.
If you cannot live a decent life without obsessing about pointless, ridiculous rules, then what is your problem?
I have to seriously question people who need to submit themselves to a legion of rules.
It seems taking on the rules is an act of humility and devotion. Also an act of generosity that develops a strong sense of self worth.

Charlie Parker was a jazz musician who said, "Learn the changes.... then forget them." You must learn the song really well and practice it until it becomes internalized. Then just play with it. I think it is similar with the rules for Buddhists. I think the rules are supposed to be learned, respected, taken seriously, and practiced until they come naturally. Only then can one practice deep virtue without any concern for rules.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:27 am
by manas
Whether this rule was instituted by the Buddha or not (and there might well have been a valid reason for it back in ancient India of 2600 years ago that we in the modern world cannot now comprehend), I'm not going to concern myself any longer that I cannot see it's necessity. The entire pali canon is available online for us laypersons to read, anyway. And if we study some basic pali, we can train ourselves to recite the entire tipitaka - in pali - without having to ask a monk to first recite it for us. And so to worry any further about this little rule, for me, would be like seeing a large and beautiful elephant walking by, and noticing that a bit of vine or creeper was caught in one of it's toenails. So I'm just letting it go now. But I thank everyone who commented.

:anjali:

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:21 am
by Jhana4
alan wrote:Rules, rules, rules. Rules are boring.
If you cannot live a decent life without obsessing about pointless, ridiculous rules, then what is your problem?
I have to seriously question people who need to submit themselves to a legion of rules.
This is where I see the value in a new and emerging Western Buddhism. Yes, some value will be lost in the birth of a new tradition, but it is a great opportunity to leave behind things which long ago stopped being of value beyond the satisfaction of the mindless keeping of tradition for traditions sake.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:35 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Jhana4,

Well the tradition itself says that "minor rules" can be abolished.

If any group decided to boldly make a determination (hopefully a well educated one) on precisely which were the "minor rules", then that is possible.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:42 am
by Jhana4
That sort of comes full circle back to the point Alan and I made. A lot of useless things ( and possibly regressive ) for the sake of tradition. That is where starting a new "tradition" provides an opportunity. To easily leave things behind that people in long established institutions do not have the political power or courage to leave behind.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:50 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Jhana4,

In the absence of a Theravada figure-head (i.e. equivalent to HHDL) means that different communities will do and interpret things differently. The issue of bhikkhuni ordination serves as a case-in-point.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:25 am
by alan
A perfect example of idiotic rules determining modern behavior!

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:33 am
by alan
Buckwheat,
Holy Sh*t! Are you seriously comparing Charlie Parker with a rule book?

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:34 am
by Anagarika
And, of course, great caution should be exercised before any rules, whether minor or major, be discarded. While there is no "Supreme Court" of Theravada to interpret Vinaya or apply these laws to modern society, it is also appropriate that before the Theravada rejects any minor/major rule, there should be serious analysis of these rules and a consensus developed as to their interpretation and application. We're fortunate that we have scholars such as Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Bhikkhu Bodhi who are willing and able to comment on issues that arise.

My own sense is that rules matter. What is the Vinaya of the Tiptaka if they are not, in part, rules? If rules do not matter, then the Tipitaka begins to not matter And without the foundation of the Tipitaka, we may as well let the monks make up the rules as they go. As Western Buddhism morphs into Dharma Burgers and Zen Hotels, I'd just as soon retain as many of these dusty old rules as possible; Buddhism without rules will cease to be Buddhism at all.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:09 am
by alan
That is an odd understanding of the Dhamma, which is about understanding, and not about rules, or who is best at following rules.
Rules are for people who are too dumb to figure out how to live for themselves.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:25 am
by Monkey Mind
Nay, most people are too dumb to figure out, themselves, how to live in cooperation with other humans. Pick any page from any newspaper for amble evidence of this.

I used to think that laws against jay-walking were completely stupid. I can, on my own accord, look both ways and judge for myself if it was safe to cross the street. The first time I jay-walked, and a group of kids mimicked my behavior, I thought twice about my logic. The kids had no reference for how fast cars are driving, or the ability/ inability of drivers to see pedestrians and respond appropriately. I don't jay-walk any more.

Many of the rules of the vinaya, though specific to monastics, provide a good template for human cooperative behavior.

Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:38 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Alan,
alan wrote:Rules are for people who are too dumb to figure out how to live for themselves.
I think your statement is insulting to the Vinaya, to the Sangha who follow it, and to the Buddha who laid it down.

I think it would be wise to reflect on your comments in light of this to avoid slander of the Triple Gem.

Metta,
Retro. :)