“As more monks began to reside at the location, it became a place for the monastics to engage in listening, contemplating and meditation and to gather, and perform the main rituals, such as (like ‘poṣadha’, the rains retreat, ‘pravāraṇa’, and ‘kaṭhina’) created a need for permanent, more practical, structures and they began to construct assembly halls (Pāli: ‘upaṭṭhāna-sālā’) for the sangha to gather in. So, there are all these ceremonies that the Sangha had to gather for, and so they began to improve and develop.”
“The sangha was originally an autonomous group who stayed in the presence of the Buddha. As a rule, the monastics were wandering freely and stayed wherever they wanted, or wherever they were. They had a nomadic lifestyle and so that made it difficult to calculate their exact numbers.”
“When we understand discipline, it is not like someone’s commandment, ‘Thou shalt not do that, you are not allowed to do this.’ That is not how we should understand discipline. Instead it should be understood to mean bringing out your own health. It is thinking, ‘I am going to do this, I will see if I can do this.’ Having that hope or expectation in that ability that you are developing within yourself. “
–quotes from 17th Karmapa (Day 3, August 2022)
After speaking about the other main Vinaya rituals for ending the monsoon retreat and ‘spreading the robes’, the main focus of Day Three of the 17th Karmapa’s current online teachings, related to Original Buddhism (at the time of Buddha) and the Sangha was how eventually monasteries were formed, focusing on the different residences of monastics (such as buildings and caves and how monasteries developed from them). This was followed by the terminology used to describe categories of people within the Sangha.
Here is an outline of the topics covered in Day Three:
-ENDING THE MONSOON RETREAT.
-‘SPREADING THE ROBES’ RITUAL (KATHINA).
-THE ORGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF MONASTERIES
-HOW JOYFUL GROVES (ARAMA) DEVELOPED INTO SANGHA GROVES (SANGHARAMA).
-FIVE DIFFERENT TYPES/ PALI TERMS FOR SANGHA DWELLINGS.
-CAVE DWELLINGS AND THEIR LOCATIONS IN INDIA
-SIZE AND NUMBERS IN THE EARLY MONASTIC SANGHA.
-TERMINOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION OF THE SANGHA.
-SIX NON-BUDDHIST LEADERS
-THE SEVEN CATEGORIES/TERMS FOR SANGHA MEMBERS OR VOWHOLDERS.
-LAY PRACTITIONERS AND THOSE WITH FASTING VOWS.
-VENERABLE LAY PRACTITIONERS.
-VISIBLE SANGHA AND THEIR BOUNDARIES.
-THE SANGHA OF THE FOUR DIRECTIONS.
-BHIKSHUNI SANGHA AND THE EIGHT DHARMAS TO BE RESPECTED.
-THE TROUBLEMAKER NUN, STHULANANDA AND MAHAKASHYAPA.
The Karmapa gave a brief explanation of the Bhikshuni female sangha and its creation, and what are called the Eight Dharmas of Respect’. Concluding with some stories about the ‘bad nun’ Sthulananda and her dislike of an important male disciple, Mahakashyapa, for more on that see here. I will write more about that in future post, when writing up Days 7, 8 and 9 when the Karmapa discusses this in a lot more detail, in particular, the life and personality of Ananda and his support for full ordination of nuns.
Vinaya scholar, Professor Peter Skilling mentioned in his 2001 paper Eṣā agrā; Images of Nuns in (Mūla-)Sarvāstivādin Literature, how it would be very useful if someone could describe the different terminology for residence dwellings of the sangha during that time, and in that respect the 17th Karmapa has provided a valuable service to his own followers and community by doing just that.
In addition, the 17th Karmapa’s description of how monasteries developed is again a reminder to us all of the origin and purpose of monasteries, as merely temporary places of shelter and retreat during the monsoon season in the Indian/Pakistan/Himalayan regions. That originally, such residential places were non-existent, and the monastic sangha were deliberately wandering beggars (who had gone forth from home) with no possessions or residences. Far removed from today’s ‘wealthy’ monastic culture, with huge buildings, private sleeping rooms, meditation centres, restaurants, shops, ornately decorated temples and so on. Contemporary monastics often do not seem any different from laypeople (in terms of inner outlook and habits), and sometimes even worse than them in their enjoyment of sensual pleasures and tasty food (including murdered animals)!
Music? Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan and Gimme Shelter by Rolling Stones.
Adele Tomlin, 29th August 2022.
17TH KARMAPA’S TEACHING (AUGUST 2022)
TRANSCRIPT (DAY THREE)
ENDING THE MONSOON RETREAT (GAG-YE)
Now we are talking about the ‘Gag-ye’/pravāraṇa ritual. According to the Japanese scholar Umada Gyokei, at the completion of the rains retreat, and before sangha members set out on their travels, they performed the ritual of ‘pravāraṇa’. As mentioned earlier, the designated confession time was every two weeks during the ‘poṣadha’ (Tib.: ‘sojong’) ritual. So, this is a ritual that the Sangha members would have performed before they went on to the traveling after the rains retreat.
However, according to our Mulavastavarda tradition, it is said that it has to happen over two days and I do not know whether this is something that is said in other Vinaya tradition. The reason is because during the rains retreat, the monastics were not allowed to speak about each other’s offenses. Every two weeks there was the Sojong, where you talk about your offenses and so forth. During the rains retreat, you are not allowed to speak about any offenses. As this is prohibited during the rains retreat, then once the rains retreat is completed, then then the Scriptures, the stunts, the restriction of not speaking about the offenses is then released and you are allowed to speak about the offenses after that.
So, if you are doing the Gag-ye authentically, then you can confess to everything that you have all the offenses you have done without hiding any of it from the Sangha. Then, the Sangha would listen to the offenses and depending upon the severity of the offense would determine a punishment for the offense. That basically covers the Gag-ye section.
‘SPREADING THE ROBES’ RITUAL (KATHINA)
Following that, another important ceremony of the Sangha is the Kathina (sa-khyang) the ceremony of spreading the robes (Kaṭhina). The Indian scholar, named so S. R Goyal said that after the Complete Completion of the Pravāraṇa you have to do the ceremony. The reason is because faithful householders would offer the fabric, and new robes would have to be made and distributed and shared among the Sangha.
However, according to our Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya tradition, what it says in the Vinaya is a little bit different. When talking about the term ‘sa khyang ting’ it is an easy term to understand. Spreading the robes (Kaṭhina) means that when the Sangha members would make the three new Dharma robes they had a stable wooden board, and would lay their three Dharma robes stretched out on top of this.
The Tibetan word sa means the stable wooden board that you use to spread them on. Khyang means to spread out. So, it means to spread or to lay out the Dharma robes on top of this board. Now this board has a size, which is the size of the large Dharma outer robe, the Saṇghāti. On that size board, you would have to lay out your three Dharma robes.
While spreading out the Dharma robes on this board, then the entire Sangha primarily the Gelongs here, normally have to bless their robes. So, they take all their robes and bless or transfer the blessings of their robes. After they have transferred the blessings to the new robes, then two groups of four bhikshus would stand guard over the robes while others were allowed to go on their travels for five months. The reason for spreading out the new robes is because it is not difficult for an individual to spread out and bless their dharma robes During those five months there were no downfalls regarding food, and no matter how many offerings the sangha received during that time, if they came back before those five months ends, then they would be able to share the offerings to the entire Sangha. That is one benefit of the Kaṭhina ceremony.
Now, if you have not done the rains retreat, then you do not have the right to participate in spreading the robes. If you do not participate in spreading the robes then you do not have an opportunity to receive a share of the offerings to the Sangha. Also, you do not have the five-month period of relaxation, blessing the robes and so forth. So, the spreading of the robes (Sa-kyang) was more or less performed in this way.
However, in Tibet, did this tradition of spreading the robes happen or not? In Tibet, during the later spread of the teachings, there was Damko Khyimpa Yeshe Lama, who was well known in the words and verses of the Lu-mey scriptures who used to do it. However, at that time, there were bad signs and omens and so, from that point, the practice of spreading the Kaṭhina did not continue and the transmission was interrupted. This is how it is recorded in some histories.
So, in Tibet, it seems that this practice of spreading the Kaṭhina in general did not occur or become well-known. However, at the very beginning of the later teachings in Tibet, there was this spreading of the Kaṭhina but since then, there have not been any such ceremonies.
THE ORGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF MONASTERIES
So, to continue now that I will speak about the origin of monasteries.
“Now, I will speak about the origin of monasteries.
1.The development of monasteries was the increasing numbers of sangha members and the residences used for the rainy retreats becoming permanent.
The Indian scholar, S.R. Goyal proposes that monasteries (‘vihāras’) began to take shape because the sangha’s numbers increased and the tradition of the rains retreat developed. Then what the Indian scholar, SR Goyal says, who I mentioned before, says that as the Sangha numbers increased, and as the custom of the rains retreat developed, then the Viharas/monasteries also developed.
2. Vinaya rules being finished and no need for sangha to wander from place to place as reason why they began to stay in one place.
Some Japanese scholars say that originally the monastics never stayed anywhere for a long time, they did not stay in any fixed location, they were always wandering and traveling and going to other places, doing the Jong-gyur (ljong rgyur. So, wandering here does not mean just going without any purpose, but means going to any sort of location. it is not that they stayed in one location, lived and settled there, gradually, this changed. First, there was the tradition of leading a wandering lifestyle that changed to a settled lifestyle. It took some period of time for it to change from the wandering lifestyle, to the settled lifestyle, it is not like the wandering lifestyle changed all at once to the subtle lifestyle.
However, this change must have happened during the time of the original Buddhism. When the Sangha was originally forming that occurred during the lifetime of the Buddha. Now, the fact that they became settled, show us that the Sangha had improved or developed, and had become more powerful. At the very beginning, there were few rules and the Vinaya regulations gradually increased according to different incidents. So, because they evolved due to incidents, then that does not happen all at once. It is not like all the incidents happened on one day. The Vinaya regulations were not formulated in a single day.
One day there was an incident, then another couple of months later, there was another incident and maybe there were two or three years before an incident. So, the rules were made in the order that these incidents happened. In this way, the Vinaya rules developed gradually, and eventually became so the Sangha no longer needed to travel from place to place but could settle in a single place and become a monastic community there.
HOW JOYFUL GROVES (ARAMA) DEVELOPED INTO SANGHA GROVES (SANGHARAMA)
3. The joyful groves were offered by the owners to the sangha and continually re-invited back. They becamse excellent places for the sangha to gather and do listening, contemplations and meditation. Gradually, they were called Sangha groves (Sangharama)
4. These Sangharama then developed into construction of buildings and due to that monasteries arose.
“As I said yesterday, there were two different types of places where the Sangha would stay during the rains retreat, the Avasa, which would be the residences, and the Arama, the joyful groves. Whether it is a residence or the pleasant groves, these were only temporary places to stay during the retreat and not permanent residence.
The owner of the land would take care of the place between the retreats and the Sangha would not remain there; they would only stay there during the rains retreat. They are groves, or parks in the vicinity of cities, or just outside of them. They can also be called Pleasant Groves, or flower gardens and so forth. Basically, they are like parks with nice plants, trees and fruit trees and so forth. Now, the owners of these parks had faith in Buddhism. They always re-invited the Sangha to come back and they basically offered it to them. Then, gradually the place became a gathering place for the Sangha.
So, these are places that became important and good to do listening contemplation and meditation and then became known as ‘saṅghārāma’ (Tib. ‘chelang’) which means “sangha grove”, groves for the Sangha. So, they used to be like pleasant parks or flower gardens. Then gradually they were called the groves for the Sangha, the place for the Sangha to stay. There are places for the Sangha to stay and engage in listening, contemplation and meditation.
In Chinese, these are called chelang. This is a Chinese word and it is used in Chinese Buddhism and also in Japanese Buddhism. The Japanese scholar, Umada Gyokei states that this term has been used from ancient times to this day and should be understood to mean a “monastery”. According to some Japanese scholars, when we talk about these pleasant groves, originally, they were places that the owner had offered to the Sangha. Even when the Sangha was not resident in a country, they continued to maintain the places and so, the responsibility for the place was taken on by the sponsor. Later, this became like a settlement for the wandering Sangha.
As more monks began to reside at the location, it became a place for the monastics to engage in listening, contemplating and meditation and to gather, and perform the main rituals, such as (like ‘poṣadha’, the rains retreat, ‘pravāraṇa’, and ‘kaṭhina’) engendered a need for permanent, more practical, structures and they began to construct assembly halls (Pāli: ‘upaṭṭhāna-sālā’) for the sangha to gather in. So, there are all these ceremonies that the Sangha had to gather for, and so they began to improve, or they began to develop. At the beginning, there was not much to do, there were not any of these and then gradually they developed and became places where sangha members would do more and more rituals where the Sangha had to gather.
This is how the form of monasteries (in Pāli: ‘leṇa’) developed. Now, if you translate this into Tibetan, this is what we call a tsug-lha-khang, an assembly hall or a temple. So, this is how monasteries began. They would gather again and again, and temples and buildings were built. If you call it monastery, you have to have something you can point your finger at, right? So, if you just have a place, then there is nothing that you can call a monastery. But when you gather the Sangha and then build a temple, then you can say this is a place where the Sangha stays. Then it took the form of monastery is developed. I will just say the monastery to make it easy to understand. The actual Pali word is Lena.”
FIVE DIFFERENT TYPES/ TERMS FOR TEMPLES OR DWELLINGS (LENA)
There were five different types of these Lena/monasteries:
1. Five types of residences
- ‘vihāra’ (Pāli): originally meant a “lodging” but because it was the place where monks stayed, it came to mean “the lodging place of monks” i.e., “temple”, we use the term ‘tsug-lha-khang’ for it).
- ‘aḍḍhayoga’ (Pāli): unclear because there are different explanations,
- ‘pāsāda’ (Pāli): an elaborate building, resembling a royal palace,
- ‘hammiya’ (Pāli): a multi-storied building and
- ‘guhā’ (Pāli): a cave, both natural and excavated (sometimes assembly halls were actually excavated caves).
So, there are these five different types of buildings. The reason these buildings came about was during the rains retreat, the individual monastics needed places to stay, so they built the vihāras. Later the vihāra, or the temple, became like a beacon place where people perform the rituals together and then it no longer refers to the retreat residences, but as the temple of the Sangha gathered and was called the saṃghavihāra. It is generally referring to a temple for the general communal usage (Pāli: ‘saṃghavihāra’). Of course, these days we have quarters for great Lamas on the upper floors, but it is generally a place where the general sangha gather. So, for, example, there are also a few individual places for people similar to the to the Tibetan ones, where we have the quarters for some monks in their groups.
Originally, the vihāra referred to the residential residences and then it began to refer to the general communal temple. Then there were residences for the individual monks around it. So, it was both a place for communal usage and a place with residences for individual monks. Later, as the temples became fancier then there were many different sizes of temples and much larger ones. The temple was not just a single building, but a collection of buildings. An organized set of buildings, or building with a particular architecture were called the Temple/Tsug-lha-khang.
CAVE DWELLINGS AND MONASTERIES – NORTH AND SOUTH INDIA
2. The nature of the monasteries and caves
“Then there are the cave dwellings. The caves, as I said before, do not have to be naturally occurring caves, it can also mean a human-made cave. During the time of the Buddha, the caves were where the monks practiced Jnana meditation. When practicing Jnana meditation, it is best to do it in uninhabited places, in isolated places. So, they often stayed in caves.
There is an Indian tradition which says that the Vindhya Mountain range divides and forms a natural boundary which separates Northern and Southern India. It is in the middle of India. In the northern regions, the caves are made of bricks and rock walls. In the more elevated locations, in the South, most of them were caves carved into cliffs.
Basically, in the northern regions, there were more monasteries. They would build them out of brick walls to make the monasteries. In the south, there were more caves and they would carve out the caves at a cliff. So, whether you are talking about the temples in northern India, or about the caves in Southern India, they all had all the facilities necessary for the entire Sangha. They had all the individual residences and places for people to gather and so forth.
I will show these images to you. So, these are the ruins of some places in India, there is the Shalvan Vihara and the Thotlakanda. They were ancient residences. However, it is difficult to say these were from the time of the Buddha himself. They were probably built in the first or second century C.E. There were several built during the C.E period. In any case, these are ruins of monasteries.
These are famous caves in the south India, the Ajanta and Ellora caves. So, as I said, they would carve out the cave and build the form of room or residence It is not like in Tibet, where you have a natural cave where someone stays but they do not particularly do anything to it. In southern India, caves were carved out of the cliff face by people and built in various different forms of buildings. These are what became very large temples. I have not gone there myself, but I think you probably know about this. In any case, the caves were of this form.
[Here are some photos I added below of the 2,100 years old Karad Buddhist Caves form a group of 66 Buddhist caves located about 5 kilometers south west of Karad, near the village Jakhinwadi overlooking the Koyna River. The caves are located on Agashiv hill and some caves are scattered around Jakhinwadi. The caves facing south are important caves. There are caves in the valley as well. One of the caves is named after Chokhamela who lived there for about 8 years. These caves are carved in first century BC and are very simple.]
SIZE AND CATEGORIES OF THE EARLY BUDDHIST SANGHA
SIZE AND NUMBERS IN THE EARLY MONASTIC SANGHA
According to Japanese scholar, Umada Gyokei, the sangha was originally an autonomous group who stayed in the presence of the Buddha. As a rule, the monastics were wandering freely and stayed wherever they wanted, or wherever they were. They had a nomadic lifestyle and so that made it difficult to calculate their exact numbers.
As if you have three people in this place, and then they go to another place, maybe there are a few people over there. Some others have gone to another place. For example, if we talk about a monastery, if you ask how many sangha members are there, they can give you a pretty definite number. However, in the olden days, during the development of the original sangha, one could not say that because half of them go to one place, the other half would go to another place, so one could never really say for certain how many monastics were in a certain place. Even if you think about the way they live their life and the way they do the practice, it was dependent upon their own individual situation.
At the beginning, there were no Vinaya rituals, they just did what was practical at that time. They would examine their own situation in terms of right and wrong and in terms of practicality. So, they would look at their own situation and decide what they need to do and what is best to do. There was not any particular Vinaya discipline. Later, as the rules of the Vinaya were formulated then the Buddha’s great disciples, Maudgalyayana, Shariputra, Mahakashyapa, were told by the Buddha to gather groups of sangha members themselves and to guide them in their practice. The Buddha instructed them to do this and as they had been instructed, they each ended up having quite a few different students.
Shariputra and Maudgalyayana each had several 100 students and they gave their students each their own instructions, and they were allowed to nurture their own students. The numbers of their disciples gradually increased. Then, for example Shariputra and his students would go to one different place. Some would go to the East, some to the South and so on. That was the situation.
So, at the time of the Buddha all of the Sangha members were not staying at a single place, it was not like that. They were not all able to stay in a single place, because there are so many of them, there are so many students, and they gather and are taken by their teachers to go to various different places. So, as the sangha grew larger, in order to maintain the organization, they had to have rules to do so. If you do not have a rules and regulations that you cannot get together the Sangha and so on. So, they had to have times when the Sangha can gather and discuss things and thus, eventually the Vinaya rules became more and more important. So, the Vinaya rules are, as I said before, like the organizational rules that govern how the Sangha happens, and also the ‘rituals of action’ where the Sangha had to repeatedly gather to perform the rituals.
DEMOCRATIC AND RITUALS OF ACTION
In those days, the Sangha communities were very democratic and they would all gather, and everyone had to express their own opinions. These were called their rituals of action (ley gi jawa), and that was the Sangha’s way of doing business. So, the way the Sangha does business is called the rituals of action, right? So, these had to be done in an assembly. So as the Sangha grew larger as they did not stay in a single place, they developed all the rituals of actions and the rules of the Vinaya, which eventually became very important.
Actually, when the Buddha passed and departed Nirvana, one would think that all of the Buddha students should gather that at that time. Yet, many of the Sangha members at other places were unable to come for the cremation of the Buddha. There was that kind of situation.
Likewise, as the Japanese scholar says, there were many Buddhist Sangha but it is difficult to say a definite number of how many. According to him, within a year or two after the Buddha passed into nirvana, there were probably around 1250 to 1500 Bhikshus gathered. However, it is difficult to say any definite numbers but if we make an estimate then, after the time the Buddha passed into Nirvana probably there were around 1500 to 2000 or more members of the Sangha.
Thus, the teachers of each school had their own assemblies of wandering disciples. At the time when Buddhism first began to spread, Buddhist monastics were called “monastics of the son of the Shakyas” (Pāli: ‘sakyaputtiya samaṇa’) in order to differentiate them from other monastics. The Buddha’s teachings were called the “dharma of the son of the Shakyas” (Pāli: ‘sakyaputtiya dhamma’). What does this show? The Buddhists were just one of many wandering groups of various schools of the time.
In any case, when it first appeared, Buddhism was not a separate system in a rigid sense. That happened later. They did not identify themselves as “Buddhists” and they had no “us-and-them” bias in terms of schools.
The Buddha was called “the completely perfect buddha” but his aim was not to start a separate school or religion. Having gone through many hardships in order to attain realization, his primary aim was to share his experience with others as a teacher.
Furthermore, when the Buddha passed into parinirvana, he only said, “You must be your own protector,” and “In the future, when I am no longer present, you should go for refuge to the Dharma.” He did not say: “In the future, you must uphold our so-called Buddhism.” And he passed on without appointing anyone as the leader of teachings.
TERMINOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION OF THE SANGHA
Now, I will speak about the classification of the members of the Sangha. That is much deeper. I spoke only roughly about the development of monasteries.
SIX TEACHERS OF THE NON-BUDDHIST SCHOOLS
In the “Four Agamas” (Lung De Zhi) there is the sutra called the “Sutra on the Results of the Spiritual Way” which mentions the six heads and teachers of the sangha of the six non-Buddhist schools, who were the heads or teachers of the Sangha. So, they were called Samgin (Gedun gi Dagpo) called because they each had their own Sangha. They were like the leaders or heads of those communities. Likewise, all of these six non-Buddhist teachers actually had great knowledge, and good conduct, and were well-known. In particular, it had been a long time since they had all gone forth, and had great experience as monastics. In this way, they were all elders.
Likewise, they were like the founders of specific separate schools. They were leaders of these different religions and so everyone respected them greatly. Who came under their instruction? There were the Sramanas and the monastics who followed them. So, these are probably those who had a monastic lifestyle. The assemblies which came under their spiritual guidance were called a sangha or a ‘gaṇa’. These terms are not only Buddhist, but also include the non-Buddhist Hindu schools. The six non-Buddhist teachers also had their own independent Sanghas, or communities. As I said before, the word sangha, was commonly used in social and political contexts, for political groups and for groups of businesspeople or merchants. It was a very well-known worldly term and not solely a religious term or a Buddhist term.
In brief, when talking about a sangha, at that time, we talk about in terms of the religious tradition, what we mean is the people who followed the six teachers who then followed their teachers wandering from place to place. They were assemblies, or groups of people who practice the Dharma. There were many of these different assemblies at that time. As there were so many of them, when Buddhism first began to spread Buddhist monastics were called “monastics of the son of the Shakyas” (Pāli: ‘sakyaputtiya samaṇa’) in order to differentiate them from other monastics. And the Buddha’s teachings were called the “dharma of the son of the Shakyas” (Pāli: ‘sakyaputtiya dhamma’). The reason for this is that there were so many monastics at that time. Each of the six non-Buddhist teachers had their own monastics but they are different.
BUDDHA WAS NOT A BUDDHIST
When Buddhism originally developed, there really was not much discussion of the term Buddhist (nang pa). No one was saying: ‘I am Buddhist, and you are a non-Buddhist’. Buddhism was not a separate religion or a sub-school. That happened gradually later. At the very beginning, originally, when the Sangha developed, when Buddhism originally developed, their aim was primarily to spread to Dharma, they were not distinguishing or having any bias between ‘our school and other schools’. That is another reason the Buddha was called the completely perfect Buddha because his experience of achieving victory and reaching enlightenment is what he taught to students. This is what the Sangha primarily practiced.
Buddha never said: ‘I am Buddhist, and you’re non-Buddhist’. He did not start a separate school or religion, that was not his main aim that he had undergone a lot of difficulties and hardships for. In the end, he achieved Buddhahood. When you say he achieved Buddhahood he gained realization, when he gained the realization, he had the experience. What was most important was he that he shared that superior experience with others. That spread to other teachers, whose most important activity was to teach the experience to others. It is not like at that point, you should say, ‘I’m Buddhist, and I am part of a separate or a particular school’. It is not about making divisions or making something new. That was not his primary aim.
At the very end, at the moment when the Buddha was passing to Nirvana, he said that: ‘you are your own protector. You should go for refuge to the Dharma. He said in the future when I am no longer present, you must go for refuge to the Dharma. You should take the Pratimoksha as your discipline and go for refuge to the Dharma.’ He did not say that in the future you must uphold our so-called Buddhism. He did not say ‘this person will be the leader of the teachings, who will continue upholding my teachings’, he did not order that.
THE SEVEN CATEGORIES/TERMS FOR SANGHA OR VOW-HOLDERS
1. Five types: Gelong, Gelongma, Getsul, Getsulma and Gelobma. 2. Seven types: the five types + Genyen and Genyenma.3. Nye-ne (Nynen-ne). 4. Goma Genyen.
Now I will talk about what the Sangha consists of, the different forms of the monastic sangha. What do we mean when we say ‘sangha’?
- First, the Tibetan word ‘monastic’ (Gejong) primarily refers to bhikshus and bhikshunis. Then in addition to this, like the support and they are the ones who will in the future become bhikshus and bhikshunis, are the novice monks, novice nuns, as well as nuns-in-training.
- These five are the five groups of ‘going forth (Rabjung De Nga). ‘Nuns-in-training’ are nuns who, after becoming novices, spend two years on probation while they check them to see if they are suitable to be ordained as bhikshunis and only then may they take the ordination. These are called the Pāli: ‘śikṣamāṇā’).
So, the sangha primarily refers to fully ordained monastics. The novice monks and the novice nuns are not the full Sangha, they, so they are not the primary members of the sangha, who are the fully ordained monastics. So, for the male Sangha, it is the fully ordained monks and for the females, they are the fully ordained nuns.
In the Tibetan language, we say Rabjung De Nga (the five types of have ‘gone forth’) however win Pali, they call them the five inner internal communities. If we speak about the word sangha strictly it is referring to monastics.
LAY PRACTITIONERS AND THOSE WITH FASTING VOWS (NYE-NE)
2. Seven types: the five types + Genyen and Genyenma
3. Nye-ne (Nynen-ne)
In a looser and broader way, then we can divide it into seven groups (Gedun De Dun). It is the five groups as mentioned before but also includes the lay students, the male lay practitioners (‘upāsakas’: genyen) and female lay practitioners (‘upāsikās: genyenma) who hold the five precepts. Those have gone for refuge to the three jewels and taken the five precepts/vows. It primarily means the laypeople with the five vows, such as giving up killing and so on, the householders who hold those vows.
Additionally, there are those who take the one-day fasting vows (‘aṣṭāṅga-śīla’: Nyung-ne). Those who hold the eight vows of fasting for a single day. Householders with the five precepts who also took the additional precepts to permanently give up wearing scent, garlands, not sit on high seats and to give up eating food at inappropriate times and so forth, are called ‘upavasta’ (Nye-ne) those dwelling nearby.
VENERABLE YET LAY PRACTITIONERS (GOMEY GENYEN)
4. Goma Genyen.
To digress from here a little bit, In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, we follow the Mulavastarvada Vinaya tradition, within which there is a term translated into Tibetan for the venerable lay practitioner or a Gomey Genynen.
In the Indian scholar, Abhayakāra’s “Ornament of the Sage’s Thought”, it says: “The venerable lay vows are to taking only the Sojong vows for the rest of one’s life, and this is an oral instruction.” So, it is like a particular pith instruction, he says, because the Sojong vows are the eight vows of the fast, and they are taken for an entire life. When the vows are taken for that time, they are called the vows of a ‘Venerable Lay practitioner’.
In Lama Dorje Denpa’s “Commentary on the Eight Lay (Genyen) Vows”, he writes that taking the eight vows of the fast for the rest of one’s life is taking the vows of a venerable lay practitioner. Acharya Daṃṣṭrasena’s explanation corresponds with Lama Dorje Denpa’s
Dīpaṃkāra Śrī Jñāna (Atisha) said that in the Sarvāstivāda school, there are no venerable lay practitioners, or presentation about them. However, in the Mahāsāṃghika school, there is the ‘puṇya śrī’, which probably means this Lama Dorje Denpa. The word Gomey is a Sanskrit word “Venerable” (Tib.: ‘gomey’) means “monastic” (Genyen).
So basically, they are the vows for householders and not monastic vows yet because they are taking them permanently, they also wear monastic style robes for keeping the vows stable. That is why they are called Gomey or Venerable, but they are not actual vow-holders. They are nominally venerable and they wear monastic clothes and they stay wearing that. For that reason, they are called venerable ones.
Likewise, there was an Indian master Candragomin, Candrakīrti’s contemporary (according to Tibetan tradition), and he was known to be a venerable lay practitioner – someone who wears the monastic robes and keeps the precepts but is, in actuality, a householder. This type of practitioner was probably what Atisha was referring to when he said that there is no venerable lay practitioner in Sarvāstivāda but there is Mahāsāṃghika school. This is a slight digression.
Returning to the main topic of the seven groups of the Sangha, these are the monastics and the lay practitioners. Likewise, the Sangha can also be divided in terms of the gender: the male monastic sangha (pha’i gendun) and the female monastic sangha (ma’i gendun). One can also classify it in this way.
There is also a division based on individuals who have achieved liberation who are called the respectable or the venerable, or honourable Sangha and those who have not are called these conventional sangha.
VISIBLE SANGHA (NGON DU GYURWAI GENDUN) THEIR BOUNDARIES and RITUALS
There is another way to speak about the categories of sangha. Before, the categories I spoke about are all based upon the stages of person’s practice and in terms of the vows they are holding. Such as the novice or the fully ordained vows. Or they are based on the gender, male or female. However, there is another way of dividing the sangha into two groups: the “local/visible sangha” (Ngon-du-gyurwai Gendun) and the “sangha of the four directions” (chog zhi). These categories are within the Kangyur canon but it is not something that we normally speak about, so I thought I would.
- Meaning of ”visible’ sangha
The Japanese scholar named Hirakata Kira who has passed away, was a great scholar who did a lot of research into Buddhism. He knew Sanskrit and Pali and was very skilled in both of these languages. He took some interest in Tibetan as well. In particular, he wrote a history of Indian Buddhism and this is considered to be a very high level, among the contemporary researchers of Buddhism. So, Akira, who primarily speaks Chinese and Sanskrit, is taking primarily Pali as his basis of what is the local Sangha. He says the local (or visible) sangha are the people who are visiting and are visibly present.
If four or more bhikshus gather in a single location, they may be called “a local or visible sangha”. Thus, the number of sangha members clearly must be no less than four bhikshus or four bhikshunis in order to be called a “sangha”. The bounds of the place where the sangha resides is a ‘sīmā’ or boundary.
As I said before, a Sangha means like a group, it does not mean an individual person it means the name of a group, of an assembly. If you translate Sangha into Tibetan, you should translate it as meaning gathering or group. So, when you are talking about a group, you call several people gathering together as a group. How many people need to gather before you can call it a sangha? If there is one, two or three people they are not considered to be a group, it has to be four people gathered. So, it is best if you have five, six, or more than you have a sangha. there has to be at least four monastics. That is the meaning of a group here, four fully ordained monastics gathered, monks or nuns.
The boundary of a place where the Sangha resides is a ‘sīmā’ or boundary. There is a lot of talk about boundaries in the Vinaya for example. These days, we discussed we talk about the difference between monasteries, you ask ‘what monastery are you from?’ but in the original days, there were not that many monasteries. So, one would not say what monastery they are from when talking about a sangha community
For example, in Bodh Gaya, if there were four or five or six fully ordained monks around the area of the Mahabodhi temple and five around the area of Tergar monastery, the ones at Mahabodhi temple would make a boundary around their own area. Then, the five or six monastics at Tergar monastery would make a boundary around their place and so, this is what we mean by boundary.. If a fully ordained monk comes inside that boundary, then they need to participate in the Sangha meetings of that gathering. For example, if there is a monk who comes within the boundary at the Mahabodhi Temple Sangha. Then, they have a meeting or do the ‘ritual of actions’ at the at the Mahabodhi temple.
Those gathered then perform some actions that are called a ‘rituals of action’. So, for example, when meeting, there has to be someone who is chairing or administering the meeting, because if you do not have someone chairing the meeting, it is uncontrolled and difficult to manage.
There has to be someone who is appointed to lead the meeting, that person is called the ‘master of the action’. This is primarily the person who is administering or organizing the action. So, as a basic principle, all members of the Sangha must gather for the meetings, all the members of the Sangha within the boundary have to gather for this.
When the fully ordained monastics gathered for a meeting at the Mahabodhi temple, then all of the monastics within the boundaries for that temple had to gather there. In particular, this is definitely required for important gatherings, such as Sojong rituals, the monsoon retreat, and the appointment of stewards and other monastery workers and so forth. For those important meetings, then all of the fully ordained monastics who were present within the boundaries of that temple needed to gather.
When performing ordinary rituals of action, it is permissible for four Bhikshus to gather, and not everyone has to meet. For certain particular rituals, there are rules about the minimum number of Gelong monks. For example, for the Pravāraṇa ritual (Gag-ye) ceremony at the end of the rains retreat, if there are not more than five fully ordained monks within the boundary, they may not do it.
Likewise, for full ordination, there must be ten Bhikshus. These ten must consist of three masters—a Khenpo, master of the action, private questioner and seven witnesses. An exception was made, in remote places, where five bhikshus (three masters and two witnesses) may perform full ordination. This has to include the master of the action, the private questioner and two witnesses.
If a bhikshu committed a downfall, then twenty bhikshus were required to gather to perform the ritual of confession and purification. However, for all the other rituals of actions, if every time there was a meeting, or every time there was ritual action, if everyone had to gather for all of these occasions it would be very difficult, and would create obstacles for their practice. So, when there were ordinations, or the confessions of downfalls of the remainders, it was sufficient to have twenty or ten gathered, and not everyone needed to gather.
At those times, when they are having the meeting or performing the action or ritual, during the ceremony, they would make a small boundary. At that point, all of the participants would gather within a small boundary and within that area. They would have all the Bhikshus within that boundary to participate in the action. All the other members of the Sangha did not have to gather within that group, they all could do their own jobs as they needed.
6. The visible sangha is like an autonomous unit of the Sangha.
For example, the Sangha community at the Mahabodhi temple and at Tergar Monastery are autonomous and independent. The one at the Mahabodhi temple had all the rights and privileges to do what they needed to do in their own boundary and the Tergar group also could do what it needed to perform the actions that it needed and had all the rights and the autonomy to do so. They will perform the regular rituals according to the Vinaya.
If there was a particular incident or difficulty, they had the ability to make internal rules of conduct that accorded with the Vinaya. For example, with the Sojong and the rains retreat and so forth, the members of the Sangha at the Mahabodhi temple did not have to go to the Sangha at the Tergar monastery, and say ‘please give us permission to conduct the Sojong and other rituals’. They did this autonomously.
Further, communal property such as the sangha’s residences, the temple, and so forth could be used in an equitable fashion; food and clothing offered to the sangha were split equitably among the bhikshus and they lived a lifestyle in harmony with dharma. There was also the communal property of the Sangha such as the residences and the temples, as well as all the offerings of the Sangha, the food and clothing that were offered were shared equitably among the members of the Sangha. That is how they lived to support themselves. So, in brief. the local Sangha is like all the monastics in one location who are visible at that place. Normally, we refer to the Sangha now as a monastery’s monastics.
7. The Vinaya Rules are superior to the visible sangha
The visible Sangha had the Vinaya rituals and discipline that was the taught by the Buddha, and the local Sanghas were not allowed to change this at all. For example, the Bhikshus at Tergar monastery, the Sangha members could not gather there and say: ‘we’re going to change this Vinaya Rule’, they were not allowed to do that.
Likewise, if the Sangha at the Mahabodhi temple were to gather together and say, ‘Oh, this week, we’re unable to practice this precept, we need to change it.’ they were not allowed to do that. Nor could they both gather together and decide to change the Vinaya. They were not allowed to do that either. So, the Vinaya discipline was superior to, or more important than the local Sanghas.
Likewise, the local sangha was permitted to use the communal property of the sangha such as temples and so forth, but they were not allowed to do business and sell them. They could not sell the communal property. So, for these two reasons, the local Sangha does not have all the authority or all the abilities.
THE SANGHA OF THE FOUR DIRECTIONS (CHOG ZHI GENDUN)
So, is there a sangha that is superior to the local sangha or not? One that is able to change the monastic discipline or not? Is there a Sangha allowed to sell the communal property and resources? The answer to this is yes, the Sangha of the four directions.
The Sangha of the four directions should be understood as not an actual gathering of a sangha. It means the sangha itself, not a particular sangha, like the abstract sangha. The sangha of the four directions is like the overall idea of the Sangha. So, the general Sangha is the Sangha of the four directions. Therefore, it is not distinguished by time or place, because it is the general, or universal Sangha. No matter what place you are in, no matter what time you are at, whether it is the past, future, or present, it refers to all of the sangha of the three times. There is no limit to it in terms of location either. For example, it is not just India and Nepal and not just this world. There also may be Bhikshus in other worlds and they are also included in this group. All the members of the Sangha, the past, present, and future are all included.
So, when you think about this, the sangha of the four directions is the universal Sangha is and thus is superior to the Vinaya rules. Those rules were made for the sake of the sangha, in order to administer the Sangha community, to create a regulated organization. For the Sangha to do that well, regulations were made. They were made for the sake of people. It is not like the people were made for the sake of the regulations. So, if you think about the universal Sangha, it is superior to the Vinaya rules. For this reason, the Sangha of the four directions, probably can change the Vinaya rules. However, as they are a universal sangha that would be difficult. If one cannot gather all the sangha in the world, other universes and so on, then it does not work, it is not possible.
BHIKSHUNI SANGHA AND THE EIGHT DHARMAS TO BE RESPECTED
Now I will speak about the Bhikshuni sangha. When we speak about the sangha there is the Bhikshu male group and the female Bhikshuni Sangha. At first the Buddha did not really have much of a wish to allow women to go forth and enter the Sangha. He didn’t want to do that. However, his aunt, Prajapati who had raised him since he was very young, who was the second wife of King Shuddhodhana, the Kings has primarily two main wives and the first was was the Buddha’s mother, Maha Devi. The second was Prajapati . So the Buddha’s mother passed away about a week after the Buddha was born, she died very quickly. After she had passed away, the one who took care of him, the one who raised him was Prajapati, who asked BUddha many times repeatedly. Please allow us to go forth and become nuns and Ananda supported her and only then did the Buddha consent to women going forth.
Now there’s a lot of historical background to this but I will not explain it all. Now in order for women to enter the sangha they had to adopt eight rules and the rules are called the eight heavy dharmas. These are called the “eight heavy dharmas” (Skt: ‘aṣṭha gurudharma’, Pāli: ‘aṭṭha garudhamma’).
These are called the “eight heavy dharmas” (Skt: ‘aṣṭha gurudharma’, Pāli: ‘aṭṭha garudhamma’), namely:
- Even if she has been ordained for a hundred years, a bhikshuni must pay homage to new bhikshus. No matter what a bhikshu’s seniority is, bhikshunis must pay homage to all of them regardless.
- Bhikshunis may not conduct the rains retreat in a place where there are no bhikshus nearby.
- During the ‘poṣadha’ (Sojong) ceremonies every fifteen days, the bhikshunis must invite a bhikshu from the bhikshu sangha to read the “Pratimoksha Sutra” and give instructions
- ‘Pravāraṇa’ (Gag-ye) must be performed with a dual sangha (i.e., both bhikshu and bhikshuni sanghas)
- Bhikshunis are not allowed to criticise, mock or denigrate bhikshus.
- Full bhikshuni ordination must be bestowed by both bhikshu and bhikshuni sanghas. Bhikshus take their ordination from other bhikshus, but the nuns must first request ordination from Bhikshus and then be given ordination by the dual sangha. So the primary sangha is the Bhikshu sangha.
- Admonishing bhikshus for downfalls is not allowed.
- If a bhikshuni commits a downfall with remainder, she must undergo confession and so on before both sanghas.
In brief, these are the eight heavy dharmas. Some people call them the eight heavy dharmas or some people call them the eight dharmas of respect. Generally, in the Vibhajyavāda and Sarvāstivāda traditions, the eight heavy dharmas are asserted to have been made by the Buddha, and they are also said to be the fundamental rules of the Bhikshunis. However, in the Mahāsāṃghika vinaya, it is said that the eight dharmas were taught to the Bhikshunis– but they are not precepts or fundamental rules for them. So there is a difference.
Later, there was a great Chinese master, Yin Shun. Do you remember him? Many Chinese Buddhist schools studied the texts that Yi Shun wrote. His texts are the primary curriculum in the schools of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism. He doubts the eight dharmas were made by the Buddha. The reason for that doubt is because generally, the Buddha made rules based on some sort of incident. There was an event hat happened and because of the incident, Buddha would create a new rule or a new regulation. That is how almost all of the Buddha’s Vinaya rules were made. However, for these eight dharmas, there is no particular incident about them. However, the rules within the eight dharmas probably did occur around the time of the Buddha. The reason for their creation was because of women going forth and the time of the Buddha, and the dispute between Maha Akasha and Ananda, there was such an incident between the two. So when you look at these then possibly then the the eight ‘heavy’ dharmas were made. And when some traditionalist rigid, Bhikshus would express their opinion and this is how the dharmas were created.
THE ‘BAD NUN’ STHULANANDA AND MAHAKASHYAPA
So I thought I would tell a story, otherwise it gets a little bit boring sometimes. Once, while the Buddha was staying in Shravasti in a monastery donated by Anathapindada, Mahākāśyapa, who was one of the great disciples of the Buddha, right? He was staying at the older monastery of Deer Call in Shravasti. One morning, he put on his robes, took his alms bowl, and went to beg for alms in Shravasti. The bhikshuni Sthūlanandā (quite possibly the most ‘worst-behaved’ character in bhikshuni sangha) also got up in the morning, put on her robes, took her alms bowl, and went to beg for alms. She didn’t like Mahākāśyapa at all, I do not know why. When she saw Mahākāśyapa, she thought: “I’ll do something to make this idiot upset and unhappy.” She walked quickly and, arriving first at the house where Mahākāśyapa was going to beg for alms, she sneaked inside and hid behind the doorway. When he rang the bells on his staff to announce his presence, she said: “Noble one, there’s no food now. Go away.”
So, Mahākāśyapa left and went to another house. Sthūlanandā continued to go ahead of him, hid inside and told him the same. She kept repeatedly doing this and telling him there was no food. After this had happened several times, Mahākāśyapa began to be suspicious. He was an arhat so he had clairvoyance. That means you have to do some samadhi meditation, and so he entered samadhi. and saw that this was Sthūlanandā’s doing. After seeing this, he said to her:
“Sister (the proper form of address to a bhikshuni by a bhikshu), it is not your fault. It is all venerable Ananda’s fault. He asked Buddha to ordain women. It is his fault that they became bhikshunis.”
This situation led the Buddha to make a rule that bhikshunis may not beg for alms at a home where bhikshus are going for alms. So basically, Mahākāśyapa was saying that this is not your fault, it is because Ananda allowed the nuns to take full ordination. He did not blame Sthūlanandā but blamed Ananda.
Another time, Sthūlanandā was teaching her followers dharma, she also had some students. When she saw Mahākāśyapa coming down the road, everyone else immediately got up out of respect, but Sthūlanandā did not lift her behind even a little bit. She just continued to sit there. Seeing this, her followers said to her: “Mahakashyapa is worthy of veneration by gods and humans. He’s such a great being. We all got up, but you did not budge from your seat. That is not good.” She said: “He’s not really a good Buddhist. He was a non-Buddhist who went forth and is the most idiotic of all the idiots. I went forth from the Shakya clan, I have memorised the Three Baskets of teaching, so why should I get up when I see him?” Buddha is said to have also heard about this event, and thus made the rule that bhikshunis must get up and stand, as soon as they see a bhikshu. If they do not get up, that is not alright.
There are many stories, these are just a few. So the final story I will mention is this one. Once, in Shravasti, Mahākāśyapa put on his robes and went begging for alms. It must have been summer as the rivers were full of water and Mahākāśyapa was unable to wade across the river by foot and had to cross by a bridge.
When he was crossing the bridge, Sthūlanandā saw him, again she thought ‘I will do something to make this fool upset and unhappy’ and rushed to the bridge and began swinging it (it would have been a rope bridge not like a solid bridge), causing Mahākāśyapa to fall into the water. Although he got entirely wet, his alms bowl sank and his staff was carried away by the river, he did not get angry but said:
“Oh Sister! All of this, the person who has made all these problems is Ananda! Ananda allowed women to go forth, take vows and be fully ordained and become foolish. This is why this incident happened. If Ananda had not let women go forth, this incident would never have happened. ”
When the Buddha heard about this incident, is is said he made a new rule again. That Bhikshunis are not allowed to cross a bridge at the same time as Bhikshus.
There are even worse stories than that one, such as when Sthūlanandā got Mahākāśyapa to fall in a cesspool full of excrement. I do not understand why Sthūlanandā did not like him, but bhikshunis at the time must have looked down on Mahākāśyapa.
Following Buddha’s passing, during the First Council, Mahākāśyapa threw Ananda out of the assembly because he accused Ananda of making seven problems, one of which was advocating the ordination of bhikshunis which he alleged would decrease the continuance of the Buddha Dharma by 500 years.
This is why the Chinese master Yin Shun said that there are various debates and situations that arose between those two men. He thinks that the eight heavy dharmas were made at the request of the rigid, conservative traditionalist bhikshus.”
THE WAY THE VINAYA DISCIPLINE DEVELOPED
Now I will speak about the development of the Vinaya rules. Some Japanese scholars say that, according to the “Sutra of Brahma’s Net” [Brahmajāla Sūtra (梵網經, Fànwǎng jīng)] which is probably a section in the “Four Agamas”, some sections have been translated into Tibetan but not all. It is in Chinese, Sanskrit and also in Pali but not in Tibetan. In the Chinese translation it talks about the discipline of monastics and divides them into three : greater, middling, and lesser disciplines. The “Sutra of the Results of the Spiritual Way” (another section of the “Four Agamas”) is similar in content but it combines all the disciplines into one it is called the “aggregate of noble discipline” this is the name that it is given in that Sutra.
The Sanskrit word for discipline, ‘śīla’, can mean nature, character, habituation and practice. It contains the meaning of “developing good habits, developing the practice of virtue, changing bad habits into good habits, changing from the practice of non-virtue to the practice of virtue”.
So, perfect discipline means that you have given up all the behaviors that violate that discipline, you give up everything that is contrary to discipline, and you’re able to bend to them. If you’re able to do that, that is perfect discipline. For that reason, when we understand discipline, it is not like someone’s commandment, ‘Thou shalt not do that, you are not allowed to do this.’ That is not how we understand discipline, instead it should be understood to mean bringing out your own health. It is thinking, ‘ I am going to do this, I will see if I can do this.’ Having that hope or expectation or that ability that you are developing within yourself.
The “lesser discipline” is the discipline of initially giving up killing, taking that which is not given, unchaste conduct and lying. the reason it is called “lesser discipline” is because it also accords with non-Buddhist discipline as well. The “four defeats” taught in the Vinaya are, in terms of their meaning, exactly the same as the forementioned four disciplines. What this shows is that the Vinaya was determined in a manner that fit with the general traditions of wandering mendicants.
In brief, ‘śīla’ or discipline must be maintained through your own enthusiasm and it goes along with a clear resolve to practice dharma, empowering it. There is the discipline of practicing householders and of those who went forth. In particular, monastics must uphold and administer the sangha community which is necessary for the communal life.
2. Vinaya Rules
The set of rules they must keep is called the vinaya of the sangha. Among the 250 or so rules, the most important are the four defeats. If you break them, you are expelled from the sangha. The next worst are the thirteen remainders.
These disciplines are and the four defeats (Phampa Zhi)[i] taught in the Vinaya, are exactly the same. This shows us that the Vinaya was created in harmony with the practices and discipline of the wandering sadhus at the time of the Buddha. It was not just something that the Buddha made up because it is also for the non-Buddhists. So the four defeats of taking life and so forth were general Indian religious practices of people who were practicing meditation and so forth.
Basically, if we talk about the words śīla or discipline, it is something that you have to develop on your own, rouse your own enthusiasm for. It is not something that someone else is commanding you to do. If you really want to change yourself, you have to gather up your mental strength and enthusiasm yourself and practice it. Likewise, you have to really have made a clear decision to practice the Dharma. If you’re unable to really have a clear, decisive mood of wanting to do this, then you are able to keep your discipline. So you have to have that clear decision in order to practice the Dharma otherwise you can’t do it. Now, there is the discipline that is that of the householder and that is practiced after going forth. The vows that you keep are different.
There is the discipline of practicing householders and of those who went forth. In particular, monastics must uphold and administer the sangha community which is necessary for the communal life. The set of rules they must keep is called the vinaya of the sangha.
So, discipline is basically administering the Sangha community, or the livelihood of the of the Sangha. If you consider the way some Sangha communities run, these are all considered part of discipline. That’s basically how it is. Then in addition, the Vinaya is how the monastics administer the Sangha, how they run the Sangha and how they continue the lifestyle, they can maintain the Sangha and maintain the rules of the community. So, there are many different contexts and codes of conduct and regulations. So, that is what we mean by Vinaya. It is primarily for the monastics to keep, they are the rules and the procedures of monastics, this is what we mean by the Vinaya now. In the Mulavastarvada tradition there are around 250 or so rules, and the most important are the four defeats. If you break them, you are expelled from the sangha. The next worst are the thirteen remainders.
[The Karmapa continues talking about the precepts in the Pratimoksha and the Four Defeats and so on in Day Four of the teaching].
[i] The four parajikas (defeats) entailing expulsion from the sangha for life. If a monk or nun breaks any one of the rules he/she is automatically ‘defeated’ and falls from monkhood immediately. He is not allowed to become a monk again in his/her lifetime. Intention is necessary in all these four cases to constitute an offence. The four parajikas for bhikkus are:
- Sexual intercourse, that is, any voluntary sexual interaction between a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni and a living being.
- Stealing, that is, the robbery of anything worth more than 1/24 troy ounce of gold (as determined by local law).
- Intentionally bringing about the death of a human being, even if it is still an embryo — whether by killing the person, arranging for an assassin to kill the person, inciting the person to die, or describing the advantages of death.
- Deliberately lying to another person that one has attained a superior spiritual state, such as claiming to be an Arahant when one knows one is not, or claiming to have attained one of the jhanas when one knows one hasn’t.
For more detail, see: The Buddhist Monastic Code: Chapter 4 (nku.edu)