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Chapter Four


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This term, according to the Parivara, derives from a verb meaning to lose or be defeated. A bhikkhu who commits any of the four following offenses has surrendered to his own mental defilements to such an extent that he defeats the purpose of his having become a bhikkhu in the first place. The irrevocable nature of this defeat is illustrated in the Vibhanga with a number of similes: "as a man with his head cut a withered leaf freed from its a flat stone that has been broken in half cannot be put together a palm tree cut off at the crown is incapable of further growth." A bhikkhu who commits any of these offenses severs himself irrevocably from the life of the Sangha and is no longer considered a bhikkhu.

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1. Should any bhikkhu -- participating in the training and livelihood of the bhikkhus, without having renounced the training, without having declared his weakness -- engage in the sexual act, even with a female animal, he is defeated and no longer in communion.

Effort. In this rule, the term sexual act refers to all kinds of sexual intercourse. The Vibhanga classifies the various types of intercourse by the organs involved -- the genitals, the mouth, the anus -- and in any of the possible combinations (except for mouth-to-mouth, which is treated separately under Sanghadisesa 2, below), the sexual act has been performed when one organ enters the other even if just to "the extent of a sesame seed." This means that a bhikkhu engaging in genital, oral, or anal intercourse is subject to this rule regardless of which role he plays. The question of whether there is a covering, such as a condom, between the organs is irrelevant, as are the questions of whether the bhikkhu is actively or passively involved, and whether or not any of the parties involved reaches orgasm.

Object. The full penalty under this rule applies to any voluntary sexual intercourse with a human being, a "non-human" being (a yakkha, naga, or peta), or a common animal, whether female, male, neuter, or hermaphrodite.

Performing the sexual act with a dead body -- even a decapitated head -- also entails the full penalty if the remains of the body are intact enough for the act to be accomplished.

The Vinita Vatthu also lists two examples of "self-intercourse": A bhikkhu with a supple back takes his penis into his mouth, and a bhikkhu with an unusually long penis inserts it into his anus. Both cases carry the full penalty, which shows that one's own anal and oral orifices can fulfill the factor of object here.

Knowledge & consent. For the sexual act to count as an offense, the bhikkhu must know that it is happening and give his consent. Thus if he is sexually assaulted while asleep or otherwise unconscious and remains oblivious to what is happening, he incurs no penalty. If, however, he becomes conscious during the assault or was conscious right from the start, then whether he incurs a penalty depends on whether he gives his consent during any part of the act.

Strangely enough, neither the Canon nor the Commentary discusses the factor of consent in any detail, except to mention by way of passing that it can apply to the stage of inserting, being fully inserted, staying in place, or pulling out. From the examples in the Vinita Vatthu, it would appear that consent refers to a mental state of acquiescence, together with its physical or verbal expression. Mere physical compliance does not count, as there are cases where bhikkhus forced into intercourse comply physically but without consenting mentally and so are absolved of any offense; but there is some question as to whether a bhikkhu who consents mentally to letting the sexual act happen would incur the penalty if he simply lies still and lets it happen, or if he would have to indicate his consent with a verbal act or physical motion.

As we mentioned in Chapter 1, the rules contain two patterns concerning what does and does not count as a physical expression of consent when one is forced into a situation that would break a rule. In two of the Vinita Vatthu cases mentioned under this rule, bhikkhus are approached by women who volunteer to fondle them to the point where they emit semen (%). Both bhikkhus let them go ahead, and both incur the full penalty under Sanghadisesa 1. In such cases, simply letting the act happen counts as physical acquiescence. Under Sanghadisesa 2, however, if a bhikkhu is approached by a woman who fondles his body, and he consents mentally to what she is doing, he incurs a penalty if he says something or makes a physical move to indicate that consent, but no penalty if he remains perfectly still.

None of the texts explain why there are these two patterns, but two possibilities suggest themselves: (1) It is physically impossible to emit semen and to enjoy the emission without the body's moving in one way or another. (2) One is not necessarily responsible if a woman simply makes contact with one's body, even if one enjoys the contact; but if one is happy to let her get to the point where she has one ejaculating, one cannot deny responsibility for what is happening. In either case, this rule would seem to follow the pattern for Sanghadisesa 1: If one is sexually assaulted, one is completely absolved from an offense only if (1) one does not give one's mental consent at any time during the act or (2) one does feel mental consent during at least part of the act but puts up a struggle so as not to express that consent physically or verbally in any way. If one puts up no struggle and feels mental consent, even if only fleetingly during the stage of inserting, being fully inserted, staying in place, or pulling out, one incurs the full penalty.

This would seems to be the basis for the Commentary's warning in its discussion of the Vinita Vatthu case in which a bhikkhu wakes up to find himself being sexually assaulted by a woman, gives her a kick, and sends her rolling. The warning: This is how a bhikkhu still subject to sensual lust should act if he wants to protect his state of mind.

Derived offenses. The only thullaccaya directly related to this rule is for the unlikely case of a bhikkhu who attempts intercourse with the decomposed mouth, anus, or genitals of a corpse. (!) To attempt intercourse with any other part of a dead body or with any part of an insentient object, such as an inflatable doll or mannikin, incurs a dukkata.

The Vibhanga states that if a bhikkhu attempts intercourse with any part of a living being's body apart from the three orifices, the case falls under the Sanghadisesa rules -- either Sanghadisesa 1 for intentional ejaculation or Sanghadisesa 2 for lustful bodily contact. As we shall see below, the penalties assigned in the latter case are as follows: if the partner is a woman, a sanghadisesa; if a pandaka (see Sanghadisesa 2), a thullaccaya; if a man or a common animal, a dukkata. We can infer from the Vibhanga's ruling here that if a bhikkhu has an orgasm while attempting intercourse with the decomposed mouth, anus, or genitals of a corpse, with any other part of a dead body, or with any part of an insentient object, the case comes under Sanghadisesa 1.

The Commentary disagrees with the Vibhanga on these points, however, saying that the derived offenses under this rule can include only dukkata and thullaccaya penalties. In its explanation of Sanghadisesa 1, it sets forth a system of eleven types of lust in which the lust for the pleasure of bringing about an ejaculation, lust for the pleasure of bodily contact, and lust for the pleasure of intercourse are treated as completely separate things that must be treated under separate rules. Thus, it says, if a bhikkhu aiming at intercourse takes hold of a woman's body, it is simply a preliminary to intercourse and thus entails only a dukkata, rather than a sanghadisesa for lustful bodily contact. Similarly, if he has a premature ejaculation before beginning intercourse, there is no offense at all.

These are fine academic distinctions and are clearly motivated by a desire to draw neat lines between the rules, but they lead to practical problems. As the Commentary itself points out, if a bhikkhu commits an act that falls near the borderline between these rules, but cannot later report precisely which type of lust he was feeling in the heat of the moment, there is no way his case can be judged and a penalty assigned. At any rate, though, there is no basis in the Canon for the Commentary's system, and in fact it contradicts not only the Vibhanga's ruling mentioned above, but also its definition of "lustful" under Sanghadisesas 2, 3, & 4, which is exactly the same for all three rules and places no limits on the type of lust involved. All of this leads to the conclusion that the Commentary's neat system is invalid, and that the Vibhanga's judgment holds: If a bhikkhu attempts intercourse with any part of a living being's body apart from the three orifices, the case falls under the Sanghadisesa rules -- either Sanghadisesa 1 for intentional ejaculation or Sanghadisesa 2 for lustful bodily contact -- rather than here.

Blanket exemptions. In addition to bhikkhus who do not know they are being assaulted or do not give their consent when they do know, the Vibhanga states that there are four special categories of bhikkhus exempted from a penalty under this rule: any bhikkhu who is insane, possessed by spirits, delirious with pain, or the first offender (in this case, Ven. Sudinna) whose actions prompted the Buddha to formulate the rule in the first place. The Commentary notes that anyone who "goes about in an unseemly way, with deranged perceptions, having cast away all sense of conscience and shame, not knowing whether he has transgressed major or minor training rules," counts as insane here. It recognizes this as a medical condition, which it blames on the bile. As for spirit possession, it says that this can happen either when spirits frighten one or when, by distracting one with sensory images, they insert their hands into one's heart by way of one's mouth. (!) At any rate, it notes, insane and possessed bhikkhus are exempt from penalties they incur only when their perceptions are deranged ("when their mindfulness is entirely forgotten, and they don't know what fire, gold, excrement, and sandalwood are") and not from any they incur during their lucid moments. As for a bhikkhu overcome with pain, he is exempt from penalties he incurs only during periods when the pain is so great that he does not know what he is doing.

These four categories are exempted from penalties under all of the rules, although the first offender for each rule is exempted only for the one time he acted in such a way as to provoke the Buddha into formulating the rule. I will not mention these categories again, but the reader should bear them in mind as being exempt in every case.

Lastly, the Vinita Vatthu to this rule includes an interesting case that formed the basis for an additional rule:

"At that time a certain monk had gone to the Gabled Hall in the Great Wood at Vesali to pass the day and was sleeping, having left the door open. His various limbs were stiff with the 'wind forces' (i.e., he had an erection). Now at that time a large company of women bearing garlands and scents came to the park, headed for the vihara. Seeing the bhikkhu, they sat down on his male organ and, having taken their pleasure and remarking, 'What a bull of a man!' they went on their way, taking up their garlands and scents."

The bhikkhu incurred no penalty, but the Buddha gave formal permission to close the door when resting during the day.

Summary: Voluntary sexual intercourse -- genital, anal, or oral -- with a human being, non-human being, or common animal is a parajika offense.

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2. Should any bhikkhu, in the manner of stealing, take what is not given from an inhabited area or from the wilderness -- just as when, in the taking of what is not given, kings arresting the criminal would flog, imprison, or banish him, saying, "You are a robber, you are a fool, you are benighted, you are a thief" -- a bhikkhu in the same way taking what is not given is defeated and no longer in communion.

This rule against stealing is, in the working out of its details, the most complex in the Patimokkha and requires the most explanation -- not that stealing is a concept especially hard to understand, simply that it can take so many forms.

The Vibhanga defines the act of stealing in terms of four factors:

1) Object: anything belonging to another person, a group of persons, or a location (such as the offerings made to a sacred place).

2) Perception: One perceives that the object belongs to another person, etc.

3) Intention: One decides to steal it.

4) Effort: One takes possession of it.

Stealing under any circumstances is always an offense. However, the severity of the offense depends on another factor, which is --

5) The value of the object.

Object. For an object to qualify as what is not given -- the rule's term for anything that may be the object of a theft -- it must belong to another person or be guarded as common property of a group or of a location, such as the offerings to a Buddha image, chedi, or other sacred place, as mentioned above. A further stipulation is that the owner or person responsible for guarding the object has neither given nor thrown it away. Thus there is no offense for a bhikkhu who takes a discarded object, such as rags from a pile of refuse; unclaimed things from a wilderness; or things unclaimed by any human being but in the possession of an animal or ghost. The Vinita Vatthu mentions an interesting case in which the groundskeeper in an orchard permits bhikkhus to take fruit from the orchard, even though he was not authorized to do so. The bhikkhus committed no offense.

The question of property belonging to the Sangha logically fits here, but since the topic is fairly complex, I will treat it as a special case below

Perception. For the act of taking "what is not given" to count as theft, one must also perceive the object as being something not given. Thus there is no offense if one takes an object, even if it is "not given," if one sincerely believes that it is ownerless or thrown away. Similarly, if a bhikkhu takes an object mistaking it for his own or as belonging to a friend who has given him permission to take his things on trust, there is no offense. Or again, a bhikkhu who takes things from the Community's common stores, on the assumption that he has the right to help himself, commits no offense even if the assumption proves false.

Intention. The act of taking "what is not given," even when one perceives it as "not given," counts as theft only if one's intention is to steal it. Thus if a bhikkhu takes an object on loan or on trust, he commits no offense. According to the Commentary, to take something on loan means that one has the intention that, "I'll return it," or "I'll make compensation."

As for taking an object on trust, Mv.VIII.19.1 lists five conditions that must be met if a bhikkhu is rightly to take an object on trust:

a. The owner is a friend.

b. He/she is an intimate.

c. He/she has given one permission to take from his/her things.

d. He/she is still alive.

e. One is confident that he/she will not mind.

If any of these factors is lacking -- for example, the owner is a good friend but has never given explicit permission to take from his/her things -- one has no right to take the things on trust. However, the Vinita Vatthu gives the case of a bhikkhu who takes an item mistakenly thinking that he had the right to take it on trust; the Buddha termed this a "misconception as to trust" and did not impose a penalty.

The most common problem that arises in this area is when one sincerely assumes that the owner will not mind, but it turns out that he/she does. In cases of this sort there is no offense, and the matter is left to the bhikkhu and the owner to settle on their own as amicably as possible.

A bhikkhu who, seeing an article left in a place where it might be damaged, puts it in safe keeping for the owner, commits no offense.

Effort. Assuming that all of the above conditions are met -- the object belongs to someone else, one perceives it as belonging to someone else, and one intends to steal it -- if one then takes it, that constitutes stealing. The question then arises as to precisely what acts constitute taking. To summarize the Vibhanga's treatment of this question, we can classify objects into two broad types: moveable and immovable.

Moveable items are said to be taken when they are moved entirely from their "base(s)," i.e., the spot(s) on which they rest. An object such as a box or a trunk lying flat along the ground or touching its support at a single area has a single base and counts as "taken" if it has been moved entirely from its base. An object such as a table or chair touching its support at a number of separate places has that number of bases. For instance, a stool with three legs touches the floor at three points and so has three bases. An object with more than one base is "taken" when it has been moved from all of its bases. Thus a television set standing on four legs is taken when all four of its legs have been lifted or slid away from the four spots on which they were standing.

If a moveable object is placed on another moveable object, such as a television set placed on a cart, there are two ways to count it as taken -- either when it is removed from its base on the cart or when the wheels of the cart have been moved from all of their bases on the floor -- whichever occurs first.

If person A is carrying an object, and person B tries to take it from him, it is counted as taken even if B succeeds only in moving it from one spot on A's body to another.

According to the Vibhanga, if a person holding an object with the owner's permission then decides to abscond with it, it counts as taken when he shifts it to another part of his person (e.g., into his pocket) or places it elsewhere. The Vinaya Mukha, however, takes issue with this point, saying that cases of this sort should be treated under the terms of a breach of trust, which is discussed below.

Animals are reckoned to have one base (e.g., snakes, any reclining animal) or more (e.g., chickens or dogs on their feet) in the same way as inanimate objects, and are said to be taken when they are pulled, chased, etc., completely from their base(s).

When a bhikkhu takes a moveable object in theft, the question of whether he makes off with it is irrelevant as far as the offense is concerned. For example, if he tries to steal a radio and succeeds in moving it completely from its base, but then hears the owner coming and so returns it to its original place, the owner would not even know that the object was in danger of being taken, and the civil law would regard the act at most as an attempted theft. As far as the Vinaya is concerned, though, the theft occurred when the bhikkhu first moved the object, and the fact that he returned it would not erase the theft. He would still be guilty of an offense.

As for immovable objects -- land or things such as buildings or trees affixed to the land -- these are taken when the rightful owner unwillingly abandons his claim to them of his own accord (through fear of intimidation or reluctance to incur the expense and bother of a court battle) or when he is forced to do so by a court of law and cannot, or does not, make a further appeal. In the Buddha's time, a court dispute involving land was considered fully settled when the winner of the case staked out his claim with the permission of the court. Thus the Vibhanga states that a bhikkhu who unfairly wins a court case of this sort has "taken" the land when he formally stakes out his claim after winning the case. At present we would say that he has taken the land when he receives the deed.

Immovable objects in the secondary sense -- trees, buildings, etc. -- are treated in the same light as ordinary moveable objects if a bhikkhu cuts them down or dismantles them: They count as taken when removed from their bases.

These are the general considerations for determining when an object is taken. The Vibhanga, though, cites a number of additional cases involving special contingencies, as follows:

a. Fraudulence: Objects are being distributed by lot to the Community. A bhikkhu desiring the portion rightfully going to another bhikkhu exchanges his ticket for the other bhikkhu's ticket. The "taking" is accomplished when the tickets have been exchanged.

b. Breach of trust: A person places goods in trust with a bhikkhu. When the owner comes to ask for their return, the bhikkhu claims that he does not have them. The taking is accomplished when the owner stops pressing his claim. If the case goes to court, the taking is accomplished when the owner loses the case in the final court to which he appeals.

c. Embezzlement: A bhikkhu responsible for items kept in a storeroom removes one of the items from the storeroom. The taking is accomplished when the item leaves the storeroom's boundary.

d. Smuggling: A bhikkhu carrying items subject to an import duty hides them as he goes through customs. The taking is accomplished when the item leaves the customs area. If, however, the bhikkhu informs the customs official that he has an item subject to customs duty, and yet the official decides not to collect the duty, the bhikkhu incurs no penalty. And there is no penalty if the bhikkhu goes through customs not knowing that he has an item subject to import duties among his effects.

Special cases cited in the Commentary include the following:

a. False dealing: A bhikkhu makes counterfeit money or uses counterfeit weights. The taking is accomplished when the counterfeit is accepted.

b. Extortion: Using threats, a bhikkhu compels the owner of an object to give it to him. The taking is accomplished when the owner complies.

The value of the object. As stated above, any case of stealing counts as an offense, but the gravity of the offense is determined by the value of the object. This is the point of the phrase in the rule reading, "just as when there is the taking of what is not given, kings...would banish him, saying... 'You are a thief.'" In other words, for theft to entail a parajika, it must be a case of grand larceny, which in the time of the Buddha meant that the goods involved were worth at least five masakas, a unit of money used at the time. Goods valued collectively at more than one masaka but less than five are grounds for a thullaccaya; goods valued collectively at one masaka or less are grounds for a dukkata, the worth of the articles being determined by the price they would have fetched at the time of the theft.

This leaves us with the question of how a masaka would translate into current monetary rates. No one can answer this question with any certainty, for the oldest attempt to peg the masaka to the gold standard dates from the V/Subcommentary, which sets one masaka as equal to 4 rice grains' weight of gold. At this rate, the theft of an item worth 20 rice grains' (1/24 troy ounce) weight of gold or more would be a parajika offense.

One objection to this method of calculation is that some of the items mentioned in the Vinita Vatthu as being grounds for a parajika when stolen -- e.g., a pillow, a bundle of laundry, a robe, a handful of rice during a famine -- would seem to be worth much less than 1/24 troy ounce of gold, but we must remember that many items regarded as commonplace now might have been viewed as expensive luxuries at the time.

In spite of this objection, there is one very good reason for adopting the standard set by the V/Subcommentary: It sets a high value for the least article whose theft would result in a parajika. Thus when a bhikkhu steals an item worth 1/24 troy ounce of gold or more, there can be no doubt that he has committed the full offense. When the item is of lesser value, there will be inescapable doubt -- and when there is any doubt concerning a parajika, the tradition of the Vinaya consistently gives the bhikkhu the benefit of the doubt: He is not compelled to disrobe. A basic principle operating throughout the texts is that it is better to risk letting an offender go unpunished than to risk punishing an innocent bhikkhu.

There is a second advantage to the V/Subcommentary's method of calculation: its precision and clarity. Some people have recommended adopting the standard expressed in the rule itself -- that if the theft would result in flogging, imprisonment or banishment by the authorities in that time and at that place, then the theft would constitute a parajika -- but this standard creates more problems than it would solve. In most countries the sentence is largely at the discretion of the judge or magistrate, and the factor of value is only one among many taken into account when determining the penalty. This opens a whole Pandora's box of issues, many of which have nothing to do with the bhikkhu or the object he has taken -- the judge's mood, his social philosophy, his religious background, and so forth -- issues that the Buddha never allowed to enter into the consideration of how to determine the penalty for a theft.

Thus the V/Subcommentary's method of calculation has the benefits that it is a quick and easy method for determining the boundaries between the different levels of offense in any modern currency; it involves no factors extraneous to the tradition of the Vinaya, and -- as noted above -- it draws the line at a value above which there can be no doubt that the penalty is a parajika.

If a bhikkhu steals several items on different occasions, the values of the different items are added together to determine the severity of the offense only if they were stolen as part of a single plan or intention. If they are stolen as a result of separate intentions, each act of stealing is treated as a separate offense whose severity depends on the value of the individual item(s) stolen in that act. This point is best explained with examples:

In a case given in the Vinita Vatthu, a bhikkhu decides to steal a spoonful of ghee from a jar. After swallowing the spoonful, he decides to steal one more. After that he decides to steal another, and so on until he has finished the jar. Because each spoonful was stolen as a consequence of a separate plan or intention, he incurs several dukkatas, each for the theft of one spoonful of ghee.

If, however, he decides at one point to steal enough lumber to build himself a hut and then steals a plank from here and a rafter from there, taking lumber over many days at different places from various owners, he commits one offense in accordance with the total value of all the lumber stolen, since he took all the pieces of wood as a consequence of one prior plan.

Derived offenses. If a bhikkhu tries to steal an article that would be grounds for a parajika but does not succeed -- e.g., he is going to steal a book from a shelf, but before he can remove it from its place on the shelf he hears someone approaching and so walks off without taking it -- he commits a lighter offense in accordance with the effort made. Offenses of this sort are called offenses committed in the pubbayoga or preliminary steps. In the case of stealing, they are determined as follows:

Inanimate moveable objects: If the article is made to budge slightly, but is not moved completely from its base, or from some but not all of its bases -- thullaccaya. All actions prior to this, beginning with the act of walking toward the object with intent to steal it -- dukkata.

Animals: If in driving the animal along the bhikkhu gets it to move its front feet -- thullaccaya. All actions prior to this -- dukkata.

Immovable objects and articles placed in trust: If the bhikkhu creates doubt in the mind of the owner as to whether he will deprive him/her of the property in question -- thullaccaya. All actions prior to this -- dukkata.

Immovable objects in the secondary sense (e.g., a tree): If with one more blow of the ax the tree will fall -- thullaccaya. All actions prior to this -- dukkata, unless (according to the Vinaya Mukha) there is a training rule imposing a higher penalty, such as the pacittiya rule concerning injury to plant life.

For ease of remembrance, if the bhikkhu is one step away from taking the object, he incurs a thullaccaya; if he does not go that far, he incurs one or more dukkatas.

In offenses of this sort, when a heavier penalty is incurred, only that penalty is counted, and the preceding lighter ones are nullified. For example, in the case mentioned above, if the bhikkhu trying to steal the book simply touches it, he incurs a string of dukkatas for each step in walking up to the book and taking hold of it. If he budges the book slightly but not so much as to move it completely from its spot, the dukkatas are nullified and replaced with a thullaccaya. If he actually takes the book, that nullifies the thullaccaya and replaces it with a parajika.

Shared responsibility. A bhikkhu can commit an offense not only if he himself steals an object, but also if he incites another to steal. The offenses involved in the acts leading up to the crime are as follows:

If a bhikkhu tells an accomplice to steal an object that would be grounds for a parajika, he incurs a dukkata. If the accomplice agrees, the instigator incurs a thullaccaya. Once the accomplice succeeds in taking the object as instructed -- whether or not he gets away with it, and whether or not he shares it with the instigator -- the instigator incurs a parajika. If the accomplice is a bhikkhu, he too incurs a parajika. If the object would be grounds for a thullaccaya or a dukkata, the only penalties incurred prior to the actual theft would be dukkatas.

If there is any confusion in carrying out the instructions -- e.g., if the accomplice, instead of taking the book specified by the instigator, takes something else instead; or if he is told to take it in the afternoon but instead takes it in the morning -- the instigator incurs only the penalties for proposing the theft and persuading the accomplice, and not the penalty for the theft itself. The same holds true if the instigator rescinds his order before the theft takes place, but the accomplice goes ahead and takes the object anyway.

According to the Commentary, an instigator who wishes to call off the theft before it is carried out, but who for one reason or another cannot get his message to the accomplice in time, incurs the full penalty for the completed theft.

If there is a chain of command -- Bhikkhu A telling Bhikkhu B to tell Bhikkhu C to tell Bhikkhu D to commit the theft -- then once D takes the object as instructed, all four incur the penalty coming from the theft. If there is any confusion in the chain of command -- e.g., Bhikkhu B instead of telling C tells D directly -- neither A nor C incurs the penalty for the theft itself.

If bhikkhus go in a group to commit a theft, but only one of them does the actual taking, all still incur the penalty coming from the theft. Similarly, if they steal valuables worth collectively more than five masakas but which when divided among them yield shares worth less than five masakas each, all incur a parajika.

Special cases. As mentioned above, the notion of stealing covers a wide variety of actions. The texts mention a variety of actions that border on stealing, some of them coming under this rule, some of them not.

Belongings of the Sangha. According to the Commentary to Nissaggiya Pacittiya 30, an item belongs to the Sangha when donors, intending for it to be Sangha property, offer it to one or more bhikkhus representing the Sangha, and those bhikkhus receive it, although not necessarily into their hands. Sangha property thus counts as "what is not given" as far as individual bhikkhus are concerned, for it has an owner -- the Sangha of all times and places -- and is guarded by the individual Community of bhikkhus.

Sangha property is divided into two sorts: light (lahu-bhanda) and heavy (garu-bhanda). Light property includes such things as robes, bowls, medicine, and food. Heavy property includes such things as monastery land, buildings, and furnishings. The Buddha gave permission for individual Communities to appoint certain of their members to be officials responsible for the proper use of Sangha property. The officials responsible for light property are to distribute it among the members of the Community, following set procedures to ensure that the distribution is fair. Once an individual member has received such property, he may regard it as his own and use it as he sees fit.

In the case of heavy property, though, the officials are responsible for seeing that it is allotted for proper use in the Community, but the individual bhikkhus who are allowed to use it may not regard it as their own personal property. This is an important point. At most, such items may be taken on loan or exchanged -- with the approval of the Community -- for other heavy property of equal value. A bhikkhu who gives such items away to anyone -- ordained or not -- perceiving it as his to give, incurs a thullaccaya, no matter what the value of the object. Of course, if he knows that it is not his to give or take, then in appropriating it as his own he incurs the penalty for stealing.

The Buddha was highly critical of any bhikkhu who gives away heavy property of the Sangha. In the origin story to Parajika 4, he cites the case of a bhikkhu who, hoping to find favor with a lay person, gives that person some of the Sangha's heavy property. Such a bhikkhu, he says, is one of the five great thieves of the world.

A bhikkhu who takes heavy property of the Sangha donated for use in a particular monastery and uses it elsewhere incurs a dukkata. If he takes it on loan, he commits no offense.

Receiving stolen goods. Accepting a gift of goods, or purchasing them very cheaply knowing that they were stolen, would in Western criminal law result in a penalty similar to stealing itself. However, neither the Canon nor the commentaries mention this case. The closest they come is in the Vinita Vatthu, where a groundskeeper gives bhikkhus fruit from the orchard under his care, even though it was not his to give, and there was no offense for the bhikkhus. Thus the implication is that there is no offense for receiving stolen goods, even knowingly, although a bhikkhu who does so would not be exempt from the civil law and the consequent proceedings, in the course of which the Community would probably urge him to disrobe. (In Thailand, the civil law empowers the police to force a bhikkhu to disrobe if he is charged with a criminal case.)

Compensation owed. The Commentary introduces the concept of bhandadeyya, or compensation owed, to cover cases where a bhikkhu is responsible for the loss or destruction of another person's property. It defines this concept by saying that the bhikkhu must pay the price of the object to the owner or give the owner another object of equal value to the one lost or destroyed; if he abandons his responsibility to the owner, he incurs a parajika. The Commentary applies this concept not only to cases where the bhikkhu knowingly and intentionally destroys the object, but also to cases where he borrows or agrees to look after something that then gets lost, stolen, or destroyed through his negligence; or where he takes an item mistakenly thinking that it was discarded or that he was in a position to take it on trust.

To cite a few examples: A bhikkhu breaks another person's jar of oil or places excrement in the oil to spoil it. A bhikkhu who is charged with guarding the Community storeroom lets a group of other bhikkhus into the storeroom to fetch belongings they have left there; they forget to close the door and, before he remembers to check it, thieves slip in to steal things. A group of thieves steal a bundle of mangoes but, being chased by the owners, drop it and run; a bhikkhu sees the mangoes, thinks that they have been thrown away, and so eats them after getting someone to present them to him. A bhikkhu sees a wild boar caught in a trap and, out of compassion, sets it free but cannot reconcile the owner of the trap to what he has done. In each of these cases, the Commentary says, the bhikkhu in question owes compensation to the owner of the goods. (In the case of the mangoes, he must compensate not only the owners but also the thieves if it turns out that they had planned to come back and fetch the fruit.) If he abandons his responsibility to the owner(s), he incurs a parajika.

In making these judgments, the Commentary is probably following the civil law of its day, for the Canon contains no reference at all to the concept of bhandadeyya, and some of its judgments would seem to contradict the Commentary's. For instance, the Vinita Vatthu mentions a case in which a bhikkhu knowingly sets fire to a field of grass (which in those days would have been worth more than five masakas), and yet it assigns only a dukkata to the action. When it discusses cases where a bhikkhu takes an item on mistaken assumptions, or where he feels compassion for an animal caught in a trap and so sets it free, it says that there is no offense at all. Thus it seems strange for an action that, according to the Canon, carries a dukkata or no penalty whatsoever to become grounds for a parajika. Of course, in all cases of this sort it would be a wise policy to offer the owner reasonable compensation, but it is by no means certain that a bhikkhu would have the wherewithal to do so. The Canon places only one responsibility on him: to apologize to the owner (see Cv.I.18-20). If he doesn't apologize, the Community, if it sees fit, can force him to. Beyond that, though, the Canon does not require that he make any material compensation at all. Thus, as the Commentary's concept of bhandadeyya is clearly foreign to the Canon, there seems no reason to adopt it.

Court actions. As stated above, if a bhikkhu knowingly starts an unfair court case against someone else and then wins it in the final court to which the accused makes appeal, he incurs a parajika. The Commentary to the Bhikkhuni's Sanghadisesa 1, however, states that even if a bhikkhu is actually mistreated by someone -- defamed, physically injured, robbed, etc. -- and then tries to take a just court action against the guilty party, he incurs a parajika if he wins. Again, this is an instance where the Commentary has no support from the Canon and, as the Vinaya Mukha points out, its assertion cannot stand. However, the training of a bhikkhu requires that he view all losses in the light of kamma and focus on looking after the state of his mind rather than on seeking compensation in social or material things.

There is no question in any of the texts that if a bhikkhu is asked to give evidence in a courtroom and does so, speaking in accordance with the facts, he commits no offense no matter what the outcome for the others involved.

Deceit. If a bhikkhu uses a deliberate lie to deceive another person into giving an item to him, the transgression is treated not as a case of stealing -- since, after all, the item is given to him -- but rather as a case of lying. If the lie involves making false claims to superior meditative attainments, it is treated under Parajika 4. If not, it is treated under Pacittiya 1. The Vinita Vatthu gives two examples:

During a distribution of requisites in the Community, a bhikkhu asks for and is given an extra portion for a non-existent bhikkhu.

A bhikkhu approaches his teacher's lay supporter and asks for medicines, saying that they will be for his teacher, although he actually plans to use them himself instead.

In both of these cases, the penalty is a pacittiya for lying.

Compassion. The Vinita Vatthu contains a case in which a bhikkhu, out of compassion, releases an animal caught in a hunter's snare. He incurs no penalty.

In another case, a bhikkhu with psychic powers uses them to retrieve a pair of kidnapped children. The Buddha states that this entails no penalty because such a thing lies in the province of those with psychic power. The Vinaya Mukha, in discussing this case, takes it as a precedent for saying that if a bhikkhu returns a stolen article to its legal owner, there is no offense. The Buddha's statement, though, was probably meant to discourage bhikkhus without psychic powers from getting directly involved in righting wrongs of this sort. If a bhikkhu happens to learn of the whereabouts of stolen goods, kidnapped children, etc., he may inform the authorities, if he sees fit, and let them handle the situation themselves.

Taking articles from undecomposed corpses. In the early days of the Sangha, bhikkhus were expected to make their robes from discarded cloth, one source being the cloths used to wrap corpses laid in charnel grounds. (The bhikkhus would wash and boil the cloth before using it themselves.) However, they were not to take cloth from undecomposed bodies, and this was for a reason.

"At one time a certain bhikkhu went to the charnel ground and took hold of discarded cloth on a body not yet decomposed. The spirit of the dead one was dwelling in the body. It said to the bhikkhu, 'Honored sir, don't take hold of my cloak.' The bhikkhu, ignoring it, went off (with the cloak). The body, arising, followed closely on the heels of the bhikkhu until the bhikkhu, entering the vihara, closed the door, and the body fell down right there."

The story gives no further details, and we are left to imagine for ourselves both the bhikkhu's state of mind while being chased by the body and his friends' reaction to the event. As is usual with the stories in the Vibhanga, the more outrageous the event, the more matter-of-fact is its telling, and the more its humor lies in the understatement.

At any rate, as a result of this incident the Buddha laid down a dukkata penalty for taking cloth from an undecomposed body -- which, according to the Commentary, means one that is still warm.

Modern cases. The modern world contains many forms of ownership and monetary exchange that did not exist in the time of the Buddha, and so contains many forms of stealing that did not exist then either. Here are a handful of cases that come to mind as examples of ways in which the standards of this rule might be applied to modern situations.

Breach of copyright. The international standards for copyright advocated by UNESCO state that breach of copyright is tantamount to theft. They go on to state, however, that if one duplicates articles, books, cassette tapes, or video tapes for private use, for study, or for non-profit distribution, one may copy as much as one likes. In some countries, though, one is allowed to copy only small portions of copyrighted material for such purposes, although exactly how small is only vaguely defined. Thus, as local copyright laws do not always adopt the UNESCO standard, a bhikkhu should check with the law before copying anything. In particular, the agreements covering the copying of commercial computer software usually do not permit the owner to give copies of the software to anyone for any reason, and limit the number of copies one may make for one's own use. One should follow such agreements to the letter.

Credit cards. The theft of a credit card would of course be an offense. The seriousness of the offense would be determined by how much the owner would have to pay to replace the stolen card. Nissaggiya Pacittiya 20 would forbid a bhikkhu from using a credit card to buy anything even if the card were his to use, although a bhikkhu who had gone to the extent of stealing a card would probably not be dissuaded by that rule from using it or having someone else use it. At any rate, each use of a stolen card would also count as a theft, the seriousness of which would be calculated in line with the principle of the "prior plan" mentioned above.

Long distance telephone calls. Unauthorized use of a telephone to place long distance calls would also count as a theft, and again the seriousness of the offense would be calculated in light of the principle of the prior plan.

Tax evasion. If a bhikkhu intentionally does not pay a tax to which he is subject -- say, on an inheritance he receives -- he is guilty of a theft, which would occur on the deadline for payment of the tax. Of course, a bhikkhu who fails to pay a tax out of ignorance would not be guilty of an offense.

Exchanging currency on the black market is also a form of tax evasion in countries where there is a tax on currency exchange, so a bhikkhu in such a country who directs his steward to change money on the black market would be guilty of a theft. If, however, the steward on his own initiative exchanges money on the black market for use in the bhikkhu's account, the bhikkhu commits no offense.

Summary: The theft of anything worth 1/24 ounce troy of gold or more is a parajika offense.

* * *

3. Should any bhikkhu intentionally deprive a human being of life, or search for an assassin for him, or praise the advantages of death, or incite him to die (thus): "My good man, what use is this wretched, miserable life to you? Death would be better for you than life," or with such an idea in mind, such a purpose in mind, should in various ways praise the advantages of death or incite him to die, he also is defeated and no longer in communion.

This rule against intentionally causing the death of a human being is best understood in terms of five factors, all of which must be present for there to be a parajika offense.

1) Object: a human being, which according to the Vibhanga includes human fetuses as well, counting from the time consciousness first arises in the womb immediately after conception up to the time of death.

2) Intention: knowingly, consciously, deliberately, and purposefully wanting to cause that person's death. "Knowingly" also includes the factor of --

3) Perception: perceiving the person as a living being.

4) Effort: whatever one does with the purpose of causing that person to die.

5) Result: The person dies as the result of one's act.

Object. The Vibhanga defines a human being as a person "from the time consciousness first becomes manifest in a mother's womb, up to its death-time." (The concept of death-time, since it relates most directly to questions that arise in treating the terminally ill, will be discussed in the section dealing with that topic, below.) It follows from this that a bhikkhu who intentionally causes an abortion -- by arranging for the operation, supplying the medicines, or giving advice that results in an abortion -- incurs a parajika. A bhikkhu who encourages a woman to use a means of contraception that works after the point of conception would be guilty of a parajika if she were to follow his advice.

There is a series of cases in the Vinita Vatthu in which bhikkhus provide medicines for women seeking an abortion, followed by two cases in which a bhikkhu provides medicines to a barren woman who wants to become fertile and to a fertile woman who wants to become barren. In neither of these two latter cases does anyone die, but in both cases the bhikkhu incurs a dukkata. From this, the Commentary infers that bhikkhus are not to act as doctors to lay people, an inference supported by the Vibhanga to Sanghadisesa 13. (The Commentary, though, gives a number of exceptions to this principle. See the discussion under that rule.)

The parajika offense is for killing a human being aside from oneself. A bhikkhu who attempts suicide incurs a dukkata.

A bhikkhu who kills a "non-human being" -- a yakkha, naga, or peta -- or a devata (this is in the Commentary) incurs a thullaccaya. According to the Commentary, when a spirit possesses a human being or an animal, it can be exorcised in either of two ways. The first is to command it to leave: This causes no injury to the spirit and results in no offense. The second is to make a doll out of flour paste or clay and then cut off various of its parts. If one cuts off the hands and feet, the spirit loses its hands and feet. If one cuts off the head, the spirit dies, and this is grounds for a thullaccaya.

A bhikkhu who intentionally kills a common animal is treated under Pacittiya 61.

Intention & perception. The Vibhanga defines intentionally as "having made the decision knowingly, consciously, and purposefully." According to the Commentary, having made the decision refers to the moment when one "crushes" one's indecisiveness by taking an act. Knowingly means being aware that, "This is a living being." Consciously means being aware that one's action is depriving the living being of life. Purposefully means that one's purpose is murderous. Whether one is motivated by compassion, hatred, or indifference is irrelevant as far as the offense is concerned.

All of the above sub-factors must be present for the factors of intention and perception to be fulfilled here. Thus there is no offense for a bhikkhu who causes a death --

accidentally -- e.g., accidentally dropping a rock that kills a person standing below; or toying with a gun, trying to decide whether or not to kill the person, and the gun accidentally goes off before he can make up his mind;

not knowing that a living being was there -- e.g., placing a heavy load on a pile of cloth without realizing that a person was lying underneath it;

not conscious that his action is causing death -- e.g., by unwittingly giving poisoned food to another bhikkhu who eats it and dies;

or when his actions are motivated by a purpose other than that of causing death -- e.g., giving medicine to a fellow bhikkhu, sincerely trying to help cure him, but the sick bhikkhu chokes on the medicine and dies.

One aspect of the Commentary's definition of knowingly is worth noting here: One does not need to know for sure that the living being is a human being for the factor of perception to be fulfilled. Thus if a bhikkhu hears the threatening noise of a living being in the dark and, not knowing whether it is man or beast, stabs it with intent to kill, he incurs a parajika if the being turns out to be human and dies from the wound.

Although this judgment may seem strange, it is supported by a passage in the Canon: A bhikkhu digs a pitfall with the thought that whatever living beings fall into it will perish. The penalty, if an animal dies as a result, is a pacittiya; if a human being, a parajika. This shows that the intention/perception of "living being" -- broad enough to cover human beings, even if not limited to them -- fills the relevant factors here.

The Vinita Vatthu contains an unusual case of a bhikkhu who uses a friend as a guinea pig for testing poison. The friend dies, and the bhikkhu incurs only a thullaccaya. The Commentary explains this by distinguishing two types of test: one to see if a particular poison is strong enough to kill a person; the other, to see if a particular person is strong enough to survive the poison. In either of these cases, the bhikkhu incurs a thullaccaya whether or not the victim dies. If, though, the bhikkhu gives poison to a person with the desire that it cause that person's death, he incurs a parajika if the victim dies, and a thullaccaya if not.

Effort. This factor covers four types of action: taking life, assisting a murderer or suicide, describing the advantages of dying, and inciting a person to die.

a) Taking life. The Vibhanga defines taking life as "cutting off the life faculty," and the Commentary's discussion of this point shows clearly that this means interrupting the continuity of life before it would reach its "timely" end through the exhaustion of the victim's merit or life potential The Commentary lists six means by which one might make such an effort:

-- One's own person. This includes using not only one's hands or feet, but also such weapons as knives, sticks, clubs, etc.

-- Throwing: hurling a stone, shooting an arrow or a gun, etc.

-- Stationary devices: setting a trap, poisoning food, etc.

-- Magical formulae: calling on malevolent spirits to bring about a person's death, using voodoo, etc.

-- Psychic powers. using the "evil eye" or other similar powers.

-- Commanding: inciting another person to commit a murder. This category includes recommendations as well as express commands. A few examples:

Telling A to kill B. The way in which a bhikkhu is penalized for getting another person to commit a murder can be inferred from the discussion of shared responsibility under the preceding rule. The Commentary to this rule goes into great detail concerning the six ways the command to kill can be specified: the object [the person to be killed], the time, the place, the weapon to use, the action by which the weapon is to be used [e.g. "Stab him in the neck"], and the position the victim should be in [sitting, standing, lying down] when the act is to be done. If the instigator specifies any of these things, and yet the person following his orders does not carry them out to the letter, the instigator does not incur the penalty for the actual murder. For instance, Bhikkhu A tells his student to kill B while B is sitting in meditation at midnight. The student gets into B's room at midnight, only to find B asleep in bed, which is where he kills him. Bhikkhu A thus incurs only the thullaccaya for convincing his student to accept the command.

Inciting A to kill B. The Commentary includes a case of a socially active bhikkhu who tells people, "In such-and-such a place a bandit is staying. Whoever cuts off his head will receive great honor from the King." If any of the bhikkhu's listeners kills the bandit as a result of his instigation, the bhikkhu incurs a parajika.

Recommending means of euthanasia. The Vinita Vatthu includes a case of a criminal who has just been punished by having his hands and feet cut off. A bhikkhu asks the man's relatives, "Do you want him to die? Then make him drink buttermilk." The relatives follow the bhikkhu's recommendation, the man dies, and the bhikkhu incurs a parajika.

Recommending means of capital punishment. Again from the Vinita Vatthu: A bhikkhu advises an executioner to kill his victims mercifully with a single blow, rather than torturing them. The executioner follows his advice, and the bhikkhu incurs a parajika. This judgment indicates that a bhikkhu should not involve himself in matters of this sort, no matter how humane his intentions. According to the Vinita Vatthu, if the executioner says that he will not follow the bhikkhu's advice and then kills his victims as he pleases, the bhikkhu incurs no penalty. The Commentary adds that if the executioner tries to follow the bhikkhu's advice and yet needs more than one blow to do the job, the bhikkhu incurs a thullaccaya. As we have mentioned, though, the best course is to leave matters of this sort to the laity.

b) Assisting a murderer or suicide. A bhikkhu may commit an offense not only by using any of the six above-mentioned means of taking life, but also by intentionally assisting a person who uses any of them to commit a murder or a suicide. This is how the Vibhanga explains the phrase, "search for an assassin" in the rule. The act of assisting includes not only finding an assassin, but also procuring weapons for the would-be murderer or suicide.

c) Describing the advantages of dying. This, the third type of act covered by this rule, can include berating a sick person ("Why do you keep hanging on to life like this? Don't you realize what a burden you are to others?") or simply telling a person of the miseries of life or the bliss of dying and going to heaven in such a way that he/she might feel inspired to commit suicide or simply pine away to death. The Vibhanga notes that these statements fulfill this factor whether delivered by gesture, by voice, by writing, or by means of a messenger

d) Inciting a person to die, the fourth type of act, covers:

-- Recommending suicide. This includes not only telling a person to commit suicide, but also giving advice -- whether requested or not -- to a would-be suicide on the best ways to commit the act.

-- Telling a person to go to a dangerous place where he/she might die of the dangers.

-- Arranging a terrible sight, sound, etc. to frighten a person to death, or a beautiful, "heart-stirring" one to attract a person who will then pine away to death when it fades.

Command. Giving a command or recommendation to get another person to perform any of these last three types of action -- assisting a murder or suicide, describing the advantages of dying, or inciting another person to die -- would also fulfill the factor of effort under this rule.

Expressing a wish. According to the Vibhanga, a bhikkhu who expresses an idle wish that so-and-so be murdered would incur a dukkata, whether or not he was overheard. If, however, the bhikkhu's purpose in expressing the wish is that his listener take him up on it and commit the murder, his action would come under the category of "command," mentioned above.

Inaction does not fulfill the factor of effort here. Thus if a bhikkhu sits idle when seeing a flood sweep a person down-stream, he commits no offense -- regardless of his feelings about the person's death -- even if the person then drowns. Recommending that another person sit idle as well would also not fulfill this factor, because the category of "command" here covers only the act of inciting the listener to do any of the four actions that would fulfill the factor of effort under this rule.

Result. If a bhikkhu fulfills the factor of effort with the intention of causing a person's death, and the person dies as a result, he incurs a parajika. This holds even if the person does not die immediately, but succumbs later, say, to complications arising from a wound caused by the bhikkhu. If the person does not die, but experiences pain or injury as a result of the bhikkhu's efforts, the penalty is a thullaccaya. If the bhikkhu's efforts result in neither pain nor death, the penalty is a dukkata for each separate action leading up to them.

If a bhikkhu intends simply to injure the victim or cause him/her pain, and yet the victim dies as a result of the bhikkhu's actions, the case is treated under Pacittiya 74.

There is an apparent contradiction in the Vinita Vatthu concerning the penalty for a bhikkhu who tries to kill one person but ends up killing another instead. In one passage, it says that a bhikkhu who means to kill X but kills Y instead incurs a parajika. In another passage, it tells of a bhikkhu who gives medicine to a woman who wants to commit an abortion near the end of a full-term pregnancy. The woman takes the medicine but, instead of the fetus' aborting, the woman dies and the infant survives. In this case, the bhikkhu incurs a thullaccaya, presumably for the pain he caused the infant.

The Commentary tries to resolve this contradiction with an illustration: A bhikkhu with a grudge against A decides to ambush him. He sees B coming down the road and, mistaking him for A, shoots him dead on the spot. Since his intention was to kill the person he was aiming at, he incurs a parajika. We can call this a case of mistaken identity. In cases of this sort, whether the "right" or the "wrong" person dies is of no consequence to the offense.

If, however, the bhikkhu is a poor shot, takes aim at B but misses him, and inadvertently kills C instead, he does not incur a parajika, for he did not intend to kill C during any part of his action. His only penalties are the dukkatas he incurs while preparing for B's murder.

If a bhikkhu means to cause the death of any member of a group, then when any member of the group dies as a result of his efforts, he incurs a parajika.

Caring for the terminally ill. Some of the most highly charged issues involving this training rule concern the duties of a bhikkhu acting as nurse, and his accountability in the event that his patient dies. Not a few controversies have arisen in the past when highly respected teachers have died after an illness, for there is a tendency to blame the nurse either for the teacher's death or for being so intrusive in his care that he does not let the teacher die in peace. Recent developments in modern medicine -- such as professionally mandated care, life-support machines, and organ transplants -- have further complicated the issue of exactly how far the nurse's accountability goes. Fortunately, the texts are quite clear on these issues -- applying rules where rules are called for, and guidelines where rules would be inappropriate -- but to understand their rationale it is necessary to have some historical perspective on the subject.

Medical care in the time of the Buddha was primarily the responsibility of the ill person's family. Subsidized health care did not exist, and so families had a very real sense of the exigencies -- their time, their resources, the wishes of the patient, and the likelihood of his recovery -- that might force them to provide less than state-of-the-art care, even for a loved one. At the same time, the current Western system whereby one style of medical care can establish itself as "standard" -- and can enlist the help of the law to discredit alternative styles of treatment as bogus -- also did not exist. Patients and their families had a wide assortment of treatments to choose from and, given the means to make a choice, might select a particular style for any number of reasons: belief in the theory that lay behind it, trust in a particular doctor, rapport with the means of treatment, etc.

As a result, there was none of the belief, current in some circles, that outside professionals have the right to monopolize medical care or to impose their standards of treatment on an unwilling patient or his family. The choice of treatment was an in-family matter. If a patient balked at a particular doctor's treatment, the family was free to decide whether to honor his wishes and forego the treatment, or to force the treatment on him for his own good. On the other hand, if the patient's condition reached the point where the family felt that the doctor's treatment was futile, unaffordable, or otherwise no longer appropriate, it could dismiss the doctor and attempt treatment on its own, doing whatever was within its ability to offer moral support to the patient and alleviate his pain and discomfort while waiting for factors beyond its control -- such as the patient's present and past kamma -- to decide the outcome of the disease.

The principal ethical constraints on this arrangement, ancient medical textbooks show, were that doctors should not use their knowledge to aggravate or prolong illness -- to do so would count as malpractice -- and that no one should subject a patient to treatment designed to bring on death faster than it would if the disease were simply allowed to run its course: To defy this principle would count as murder.

This, in brief, was the accepted pattern for medical care in the Buddha's time. The only change the Buddha introduced to the pattern was to point out to the bhikkhus that, as they had no family to care for them, they were to take on the role of family for one another. If a bhikkhu falls ill, it is automatically the duty of his mentor, his students (if he has any), or fellow students of his mentor to care for him. These people are to stay with the patient until he either recovers or dies -- although the Commentary to Mv.I.25.24 points out that they may leave him if they put him into the care of another. If a bhikkhu happens to fall ill in a place where none of these people are available, it is the duty of the Community in that location to care for him. If it doesn't care for him, all the members of that Community incur a dukkata (MV.VIII.26.3-4).

The Mahavagga contains guidelines for the ill bhikkhu and his nurses to follow, so that the ill bhikkhu will be easy to care for, and the nurses will be chosen from among those best suited to the task. The ill bhikkhu ideally avoids any food, medicine, or activity that would aggravate his disease; he knows moderation in the things that will be conducive to his recovery; he takes his medicine; he reports to the nurse his condition as it actually is; and does his best to endure his pain (Mv.VIII.26.5).

The nurse ideally is one who knows how to prepare the proper medicines; knows what is conducive and unconducive to the patient's recovery; provides the patient with what is conducive and removes what is not; tends the patient out of kindness, and not from hope of gain; is not squeamish about cleaning up urine, excrement, saliva, or vomit; and is competent at encouraging the patient at the appropriate times with a talk on Dhamma (Mv.VIII.26.5).

There is no offense for a patient who does not live up to the ideal guidelines for his behavior; and none for a bhikkhu who, though lacking any of the ideal qualities of nurse, is pressed into a position where he must care for the sick. The only penalties mentioned in the Khandhakas are the dukkatas for those who neglect to care for the ill when they are duty-bound to do so or who abandon an ill person they are caring for before he recovers or dies.

The Vinita Vatthu to this rule contains only two basic cases in which a bhikkhu acting as a nurse for an ill friend incurs a parajika: one in which the friend dies after the bhikkhu gives him a specific treatment with the purpose of killing him off; and one in which the bhikkhu, feeling pity for a friend in severe pain, praises the pleasures that await him after death so that he will give up the will to live and speed up his death: The friend does so and dies as a result of the nurse's instigation.

Aside from the parajikas for such cases of out-and-out murderous action and intent, and the dukkatas for leaving the patient helpless, the Canon imposes no penalties on a bhikkhu acting as nurse who provides his patient with less than ideal care. Instead, within the parameters of those penalties, it offers guidelines for ideal behavior, together with the encouragement of the Buddha's remark that, "He who would tend to me should tend to the sick." (Mv.VIII.26.3) From there it leaves it up to the bhikkhu to exercise his best judgment, in light of the Dhamma, as to what is most fitting in his individual case.

A moment's reflection will suggest some obvious reasons for this. If a particular standard of care were mandated, it would give rise to countless questions stemming from the many uncontrollable variables that can surround an illness, questions that rules are ill-suited to answer: How much must one's resources be depleted before one can say that a particular type of care is unaffordable? How should limited resources be allocated when several bhikkhus fall sick at the same time? What should one do if the patient says that he does not want to undergo a treatment that a doctor is trying to press on him? If one follows the patient's request is he assisting a suicide? Should one follow the doctor's orders and thus risk damaging the patient's psychological state? The list of questions could go on, but it is obvious from even these examples that this is an area less suited for rules than for guidelines that can be adapted to suit particular circumstances. Decisions here should be based on a reasoned and compassionate assessment of the particular situation, rather than on fear of hard and fast penalties and rules.

The commentaries' treatment of the issue of a nurse's accountability follows the same general pattern as the Canon's, but we find Buddhaghosa's works -- probably following the ancient commentaries -- bringing a little more precision to the discussion by introducing a distinction between timely and untimely death that the Commentary applies to the Vinita Vatthu cases. The distinction comes from Ayurveda -- ancient Indian medical science -- although Buddhaghosa expresses it in purely Buddhist terms, most fully in the Visuddhi Magga:

"Timely death comes about with the exhaustion of merit, with the exhaustion of life potential (ayu), or with both. Untimely death comes about through kamma that interrupts [other, life-producing,] kamma.

"Death through exhaustion of merit, here, refers to the death that comes about entirely through the finished ripening of [former] rebirth-producing kamma even when favorable conditions for prolonging the continuity of the life potential may still be present. Death through exhaustion of life potential refers to the death that comes about through the exhaustion of the natural life potential of human beings, which amounts to only 100 years....

"Untimely death refers to the death of those whose continuity is interrupted by kamma capable of causing them to fall from their place [on a particular level of being] at that very moment...or for the death of those whose continuity is interrupted by attacks with weapons, etc., due to previous kamma. All these are included under the [term] interruption of the life faculty...." (VIII.2-3)

As we saw above, the Commentary's discussion of cutting off the life faculty refers specifically to instances where one is bringing about an untimely death. When it applies this point to the case of the bhikkhu inciting his patient to give up the will to live, it notes that the bhikkhu incurs a parajika if his act causes the patient to cut short his/her life even by a moment through such things as refusing to eat, etc. However, if the patient, not acting on the bhikkhu's comments, simply dies in line with his/her natural life potential and continuity, there is no offense.

It is important to note that the Commentary does not at any point use the distinction of timely and untimely death to make a case that mere negligence could be the cause of an untimely demise. Instead, it restricts its use of "untimely death" to cases where the nurse's care causes the patient to die earlier than he would have in the absence of care.

From this point of view it is easy to see that the decision not to have the patient undergo a particular death-delaying treatment would not count as an offense, for such a decision would do nothing to speed up the approach of a timely death. In terms of the factor of effort under this rule, it would count as inaction and thus not fulfill the factor. Thus if a bhikkhu sees that his patient is dying and -- for reasons of the expense, the trauma, or the patient's own wishes -- opts against having him undergo an operation that would merely delay death, there is no grounds for offense.

In situations where the choice is not between action and inaction, but between different courses of action, the Commentary's distinction is helpful in gauging one's perceptions and intentions when choosing among treatments. If a bhikkhu caring for a terminally ill patient opts for an alternative, such as a strong pain-killer, in hopes that it will weaken the patient's system and make him die faster than he would otherwise, his aim would fulfill the factor of intention under this rule. But if he is presented with a number of alternatives and believes that none of them would make the patient die before he would without any treatment, he may choose any of them because neither the perception nor the intention of bringing on an untimely death would enter into his decision. Even if it turns out later that the treatment was instrumental in bringing on the patient's death, the nurse would still be without blame.

It may seem that the Vinaya is leaving the patient in an unprotected position here, but we must remember that this is an area where the Dhamma takes precedence over the Vinaya in providing the nurse with guidance. Even a nodding acquaintance with the principle of kamma should be enough to prevent the nurse from being callous in his decisions. Even a modicum of maturity will make him realize that the role of nurse provides an excellent opportunity to gain insight into illness as a natural part of life, as well as training in such valuable qualities as compassion, patience, mindfulness, strength, sacrifice, and sensitivity to the needs of others.

As we noted in the Introduction, rules and standards serve different purposes and are suited to different situations. The authors of the texts, after using rules against murderous malpractice and abandonment to delimit this area, were wise to sketch in the remaining territory with standards aimed at inspiring the best behavior in the nurse and his patient by appealing to their higher side.

Special cases. The Vinita Vatthu includes three special cases that touch on this rule but inspired the Buddha to formulate separate rules to deal specifically with them:

A bhikkhu, for the fun of it, throws a stone from a precipice and accidentally kills a person standing below -- no penalty for the death, but a dukkata for throwing a stone from a precipice in fun.

A bhikkhu, hoping to commit suicide, throws himself over a cliff. Instead of dying, he lands on and kills a hapless basket-maker standing at the foot of the cliff -- again, no offense for the death, but a dukkata for throwing oneself from a high place.

A bhikkhu, sitting down hard on a chair without first checking it carefully, kills a child lying in the chair and covered with a blanket -- again, no penalty for the death, but a dukkata for sitting down without first checking carefully.

Summary: Intentionally bringing about the untimely death of a human being, even if it is still a fetus, is a parajika offense.

* * *

4. Should any bhikkhu, without direct knowledge, boast of a superior human state, a truly noble knowledge and vision as present in himself, saying, "Thus do I know; thus do I see," such that regardless of whether or not he is cross-examined on a later occasion, he -- being remorseful and desirous of purification -- might say, "Friends, not knowing, I said I know; not seeing, I said I see -- vainly, falsely, idly," unless it was from over-estimation, he also is defeated and no longer in communion.

All conscious lies are forbidden by the first pacittiya rule, but knowingly to make a false claim to a superior human state is the most heinous lie a bhikkhu can tell, and so here it receives its own rule and the heaviest possible penalty.

The seriousness with which the Buddha regarded a breach of this training rule is indicated by his statements to the original instigators:

"You misguided men, how can you for the sake of your stomachs speak praise of one another's superior human states to householders? It would be better for you that your bellies be slashed open with a sharp butcher's knife than that you should for the sake of your stomachs speak praise of one another's superior human states to householders. Why is that? For that reason you would undergo death or death-like suffering, but you would not on that account, at the break-up of the body, after death, fall into deprivation, the bad bourn, the abyss, purgatory. But for this reason you would, at the break-up of the body, after death, fall into deprivation, the bad bourn, the abyss, purgatory....Bhikkhus, in this world with its gods, maras, and brahmas, its generations with priests and contemplatives, princes and men, this is the ultimate great thief: he who claims an unfactual, non-existent superior human state. Why is that? You have consumed the nation's almsfood through theft."

Superior human states. The Vibhanga lists a large number of superior human states that the Commentary classifies into two broad categories: mahaggata dhamma, those related to the practice of meditative absorption; and lokuttara dhamma, those related to the absolute eradication of the mental fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth.

a. Meditative absorption -- the Pali term is jhana -- is of two major sorts: absorption in a physical object or sensation (rupa jhana) and absorption in a non-physical object or sensation (arupa jhana). Both contain four levels and are described in the discourses as follows:

"The bhikkhu -- quite withdrawn from sensual pleasure, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities -- enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal....

"And furthermore, with the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of composure, unity of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation -- internal assurance. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born of composure....

"And furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains in equanimity, mindful and fully aware, and physically sensitive of pleasure. He enters and remains in the third jhana, and of him the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasurable abiding.' He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture....

"And furthermore, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain -- as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress -- he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. He sits permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness, so that nothing of his entire body is unpervaded by pure, bright awareness." (D.2; M.119)

The four levels of arupa jhana are based on the fourth level of rupa jhana.

"With the complete transcending of perceptions of (physical) form, and the passing away of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, thinking, 'Infinite space,' one enters and remains in the sphere of the infinitude of space....

"With the complete transcending of the sphere of the infinitude of space, thinking, 'Infinite consciousness,' one enters and remains in the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness....

"With the complete transcending of the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness, thinking, 'There is nothing,' one enters and remains in the sphere of nothingness....

"With the complete transcending of the sphere of nothingness, one enters and remains in the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception." (D.15)

The Vibhanga mentions only the four rupa jhanas in its list of superior human states, but as the four arupa jhanas are based on the fourth rupa jhana, the Commentary includes them in the list as well.

In addition to these states of absorption themselves, the category of mahaggata dhamma also includes the intuitive powers (abhiñña) that can arise from them:

iddhividhi -- the ability to manifest one or more images of oneself, to appear in a different bodily form, to create a "mind-made" (astral) body, to pass through solid matter, walk on water, levitate, etc.

dibba-sota -- clairaudience, enabling one to hear sounds both celestial and human, far and near.

cetopariya-ñana -- the ability to read the minds of other living beings.

dibba-cakkhu -- clairvoyance, the ability to see beings in other realms of existence, and in particular to see them pass from death in one level to rebirth in another.

pubbe-nivasanussati-ñana -- the ability to remember previous lives.

There are other occult abilities that are not based on jhana and for this reason do not count as mahaggata dhamma: such things as divination, giving protective charms, casting malevolent spells, psychic healing, practicing as a medium, etc. The discourses list these and other similar activities as tiracchana-vijja, bestial knowledge, which -- as the name implies -- is far removed from superior human states.

b. Lokuttara dhamma, in its fullest sense, refers to the series of mental states, called paths and fruitions, in which the fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth are eradicated; and to the ultimate state of nibbana, or liberation.

The paths and fruitions occur in four pairs. In the first pair, the path to and fruition of stream-entry, three fetters are abandoned: self-identity views (sakkaya-ditthi), uncertainty (vicikiccha), and attachment to precepts and practices (silabbata-paramasa). In the second pair, the path to and fruition of once-returning, two additional fetters -- sensual passion (kama-raga) and irritation (patigha) are weakened, only to be abandoned fully in the third pair, the path to and fruition of non-returning. In the fourth pair, the path to and fruition of arahantship, a final set of five additional fetters is abandoned: rupa-raga -- passion for physical phenomena (e.g., the objects of rupa jhana); arupa-raga -- passion for non-physical phenomena (e.g., the objects of arupa jhana); mana -- conceit; uddhacca -- restlessness; and avijja -- unawareness. With the cutting of this last set of fetters, all bonds with the cycle of rebirth are cut for good, and the mind attains nibbana.

The term nibbana literally means extinguishing, like a fire. The commentarial literature (Vism.VIII,247), derives the word etymologically from nir, a negative prefix, and vana, binding. Thus it means unbinding or liberation. In the physics of the Buddha's time, fire as it burned was said to be in a state of agitation, dependence, attachment, and entrapment -- both clinging to and being trapped by its sustenance. Extinguished, it was said to become calm, independent, and unattached. It let go of its sustenance and was released. In the mind's extinguishing, or unbinding, a parallel change occurs.

Nibbana is one; the paths and their fruitions, eight. Thus there are nine lokuttara dhammas.

Aside from jhana, the other states mentioned in the Vibhanga -- such as the destruction of the mental effluents (asava), the signless emancipation, the desireless emancipation, the emptiness emancipation, and so forth -- are either synonymous with these transcendent states or -- as in the case of the "wings" to Awakening (bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma) -- conjoined with them.

The full offense under this rule has five factors:

1) Effort: One makes a direct claim

2) Object: to a superior human state

3) Perception: that one perceives as not present in oneself.

4) Intention: One's intention is to misrepresent the truth.

5) Result: One's listener understands what one is saying.

Effort. To make a direct claim means to say outright that one has attained a superior human state, saying such things as, "I have attained the first jhana," "I have seen the heavenly realms," "I know my previous lifetimes," etc. Outright claims, here, include not only spoken statements, but also written statements and physical gestures. An example of a claim by gesture occurs in the Vibhanga: A group of bhikkhus make an agreement that the first to set out from their dwelling would, by that very gesture, be known to the rest as an arahant. One of the group, who was not an arahant but wanted to be regarded as one, set out first from the dwelling and was soon known to the rest as an ex-bhikkhu from having committed a parajika.

Indirect claims. An indirect claim to a superior human state is not grounds for a parajika. If it is a deliberate lie, it is at most grounds for a thullaccaya. Such claims, which contain an uncertainty in their wording even though the listener may feel no uncertainty in understanding their import, may be uncertain in one of two ways: uncertain as to the person and uncertain as to the attainment.

The Vinita Vatthu contains several examples of the first sort: a bhikkhu states that whoever lives in a particular dwelling is an arahant, the dwelling being the one where he lives; a bhikkhu saying that all the disciples of his teacher are arahants, and so forth.

There is only one example in the Vinita Vatthu of a bhikkhu who makes a claim "uncertain as to the attainment": a sick bhikkhu, meaning to deceive the fellow bhikkhus nursing him, says to them, "There is no way that this sickness could be endured by an ordinary person (puthujjana)."

According to the Commentary, if the person to whom such indirect remarks are directed understands them, the penalty for the speaker is a thullaccaya. If he/she does not understand them, the penalty is a dukkata. The factor of understanding is covered in the section on "Result," below.

Claims about other people. The original instigators of this rule, instead of each making claims about his own attainments, made false claims about one another's attainments. This case is not mentioned in the Vibhanga or the commentaries and so is not an offense under this rule, but it would come under Pacittiya 1.

Perception. Claiming a superior human state that one mistakenly thinks one has achieved is no offense under this rule, although if addressed to a lay person the claim would come under Pacittiya 8. The same holds for a claim that is actually true.

If, however, a bhikkhu has attained a superior human state without realizing it and then claims to have attained the state, thinking his statement to be a lie, he commits the full offense under this rule.

Intention. To fall under this rule, a claim to have attained any of these superior human states must be a deliberate lie. "Deliberate lying," according to the Commentary, requires the arising of the intention to misrepresent the truth just prior to, and motivating, the actual statement. When the intention to misrepresent the truth is absent, the statement does not come under this rule. Examples would include --

meaning to say one thing, but accidentally saying another that comes out as a claim to a superior human state; and

innocently making a statement that someone else misconstrues to be a claim to a superior human state.

Neither of these cases would involve an offense.

Equivocation. It is not uncommon for a bhikkhu to be put on the spot by lay people asking him point-blank about his attainments, and for him to respond by equivocating. The Vinita Vatthu contains a number of examples of this sort. In one of them, the bhikkhu responds by saying, "I have attained a state attainable through the exertion of effort," which of course could mean almost anything. Because his purpose was simply to avoid the question, he incurred no penalty. Had he meant the statement as an indirect claim, he would have incurred a thullaccaya.

Result. The Vibhanga, in discussing an obscure case, states that when the listener understands a deliberate lie directly claiming a superior human state, the bhikkhu making the claim incurs a parajika. If the listener does not understand, the bhikkhu incurs a thullaccaya. The Vibhanga mentions this condition only in the context of a peculiar lie -- one in which the speaker intends to lie saying one thing but actually states another lie -- but the Commentary generalizes from this case to say that this condition applies to all cases covered by this rule. Its explanations run as follows:

Understanding, here, means simply that the listener hears the statement clearly enough to know that it is a claim. Whether he/she understands the names for the states claimed -- jhana, clairvoyance, clairaudience, or whatever -- is not an issue here. The same is true of whether he/she believes the statement to be true or false. If the listener to whom the remarks are directed does not understand them, but a passer-by does, the penalty is still a parajika.

If the listener does not hear the bhikkhu clearly enough to catch all he says, the penalty is a thullaccaya. If the listener at first has some doubt as to what the bhikkhu said, but later realizes that it was a claim to a superior human state, the offense is still a thullaccaya. If the listener does not hear the bhikkhu at all, the offense is a dukkata.

As stated above, if a bhikkhu states a deliberate lie in the form of an indirect claim to a superior human state, he incurs a thullaccaya if his listener understands that it is a claim, and a dukkata if not.

According to the Vibhanga, there is a dukkata for a bhikkhu sitting in solitude who states a deliberate lie directly claiming a superior human state, and another dukkata if he is overheard by a devata. The Commentary adds that the same penalty applies if he is overheard by a non-human being or a common animal.

Thus, to entail a parajika, the claim to a superior human state must be a direct claim, a deliberate lie, and must be heard and quickly understood by another human being.

Special cases in the Vibhanga:

A bhikkhu, intending to make a false claim for one superior human state, muddles his words and claims another: a parajika. The Commentary explains this by noting that all the factors necessary for a parajika offense are present: The bhikkhu makes a claim based on the intention to tell a deliberate lie, and the listener understands the claim. The fact that the intended claim and actual claim are both superior human states is crucial; the fact that they are different states is not.

In a series of cases, a person speaking with exaggerated faith or politeness addresses bhikkhus of no particular attainments as if they were arahants ("May the arahants come....May the arahants be seated"). This puts them in a quandary, and so they ask the Buddha how to behave in such a situation. His response: There is no offense in accepting invitations such as these from a "speaker with faith" -- the point being that there is no offense in coming, sitting, etc., as long as the intention is just to accept the invitation and not to imply a claim.

A bhikkhu, hoping that people will esteem him, engages in special practices -- the example given in the Vinita Vatthu is living in the jungle, but from it we can extrapolate to other practices such as long periods of sitting, any of the ascetic (dhutanga) practices, vegetarianism, etc., followed so as to impress other people. The penalty: a dukkata.

Summary: Deliberately lying to another person that one has attained a superior human state is a parajika offense.

* * *

A bhikkhu who violates any of these four parajika rules is automatically no longer a bhikkhu. There is no need for him to go through a formal ceremony of disrobing, for the act of violating the rule is an act of disrobing in and of itself. Even if he continues to pretend to be a bhikkhu, he does not really count as one; as soon as the facts are known he must be expelled from the Sangha. He can never again properly ordain as a bhikkhu in this life. If he tries to ordain in a Community that does not know of his offense, his ordination does not count, and he must be expelled as soon as the truth is found out.

The Commentary, however, states that such an offender may "go forth" as a novice if he wants to, although it is up to the individual Community to consider the circumstances of his offense to decide whether or not it wants to accept him.

Ignorance of these rules does not exempt an offender from the penalty, which is why the Buddha ordered that they be taught to each new bhikkhu as soon as possible after ordination (Mv.I.77). Because the rules cover a number of cases that are legal in presentday society (e.g., recommending abortion, proving to oneself how supple one has become through yoga by inserting one's penis in one's mouth) or that are common practice among people who see nothing wrong with flirting with the edges of the law (e.g., copying computer software for a friend, hiding an article subject to customs duties when entering a country), it is especially important to inform each new bhikkhu of the rules' full implications right from the very start.

If a bhikkhu suspects that he has committed a parajika, he should immediately inform a senior bhikkhu well-versed in the rules. The way the senior bhikkhu should handle the case is well-illustrated by a incident reported in the Commentary to Parajika 2: Once a king together with an enormous crowd came to worship the Great Stupa at a certain monastery. One of the crowd was a visiting bhikkhu from the South who was carrying an expensive roll of cloth. The commotion of the event was so great that the bhikkhu dropped the cloth, was unable to retrieve it and soon gave it up for lost. One of the resident bhikkhus happened to come across it and, desiring to steal it, quickly put it away before the owner might see it. Eventually, of course, he became tormented by guilt and went to the resident Vinaya expert to admit a parajika and disrobe.

The Vinaya expert, though, wouldn't let him disrobe until he had found the owner of the cloth and inquired about it more fully. Eventually, after a long search, he was able to track down the original owner at a monastery in the distant South, who told him that at the time of the theft he had given the cloth up for lost and had abandoned all mental attachment for it. Thus, as the cloth was ownerless, the resident bhikkhu had incurred not a parajika, but simply some dukkatas for the preliminary efforts with intention to steal.

This example shows several things: the great thoroughness with which a senior bhikkhu should investigate a possible parajika, the compassion he should show to the offender, and the fact that the offender should be given the benefit of the doubt wherever possible: He is innocent until the facts prove him guilty.

Finally, the Commentary concludes its discussion of the parajikas by noticing that there are altogether 24, actual and virtual, in the Vinaya. They are:

The four for bhikkhus.

The four additional parajikas for bhikkhunis.

The eleven disqualified types who should not be ordained in the first place. If they happen to be ordained, their ordination does not count, and once they are found out they must be expelled for life (Mv.I.61-68). Thus they are virtual parajikas. They are --

a pandaka (essentially, a eunuch or a person born neuter -- see Sanghadisesa 2),

a "non-human" being, such as a naga or yakkha, that can assume human form,

a hermaphrodite,

a person who poses as a bhikkhu without having been ordained,

a bhikkhu who has ordained in another sect or religion without first giving up his status as a bhikkhu;

a person who has murdered his father,

a person who has murdered his mother,

a person who has murdered an arahant,

a person who has sexually violated a bhikkhuni,

a person who has injured a Buddha to the point of causing him to bleed,

a person who has caused a schism in the Sangha.

In addition to the above actual and virtual parajikas, the Commentary gives separate listing to the four anulomika (derived) parajikas, which refer to four cases included under Parajika 1: the bhikkhu with a supple back who sticks his penis in his mouth, the bhikkhu with a long penis who inserts it into his anus, the bhikkhu who performs oral intercourse with someone else, and the bhikkhu who receives anal intercourse.

The 24th Parajika refers to the case of a bhikkhuni who, taking up the role of a housewife, goes to live in a lay person's household.

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Revised: Sun 3 October 1999