Could someone please explain this rule?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Re: Could someone please explain this rule?

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Dec 17, 2011 6:37 am

Here is the long answer which directly addresses the OP: (source ... h08-1.html)
4. Should any bhikkhu have an unordained person recite Dhamma line by line (with him), it is to be confessed.

This is an offense with two factors:

1) Effort: One gets a student to recite Dhamma line-by-line with oneself (which, as we shall see below, means to train the student to be a skilled reciter of a Pali Dhamma text).
2) Object: The student is neither a bhikkhu nor a bhikkhunī.
Only the first factor needs explanation, and is best treated under two headings: Dhamma and reciting line-by-line.

Dhamma the Vibhaṅga defines as "a saying made by the Buddha, his disciples, seers, or heavenly beings, connected with the teaching or connected with the goal." The Commentary devotes a long discussion to these terms, coming to the conclusion that connected with the Dhamma refers to the Pali Canon — in Pali, not in translation — as agreed on in the first three councils, while connected with the goal (attha) refers to the Mahā Aṭṭhakathā, the most revered ancient commentary (only in its original Pali version, the Sub-commentary says).

The ancient commentaries disagreed as to what other works would fit under this category, but Buddhaghosa's conclusion seems to be that — in the Milinda Pañhā, for example — Ven. Nāgasena's quotes of the Buddha's words would count, but not his own formulations of the teaching, and the same principle holds for other texts quoting the Buddha's words as well. The ancient commentaries are unanimous, though, in saying that Dhamma does not cover the Mahāyāna sūtras or any compositions (this would include translations) dealing with the Dhamma in languages other than Pali.

This interpretation, identifying Dhamma with particular Pali texts, has caused no controversy in the context of this rule — although it seems unlikely that the compilers of the Vibhaṅga would have had the commentaries in mind when they said, "connected with the goal" — but it has met with disagreement in the context of Pc 7, and so we will discuss it in more detail there.

Reciting line-by-line. To make someone recite line by line means to train him/her by rote to be a skilled reciter of a text.

Bhikkhus in the days of the Buddha committed the teachings in the Canon to memory to preserve them from generation to generation. Although writing was in use at the time — mainly for keeping accounts — no one used it to record teachings either of the Buddha or of any other religious teacher. The Pali Canon was not written down until approximately 500 years after the Buddha's passing away, after an invasion of Sri Lanka had threatened its survival.

The Vibhaṅga lists four ways in which a person might be trained to be a reciter of a text:

1) The teacher and student recite in unison, i.e., beginning together and ending together.
2) The teacher begins a line, the student joins in, and they end together.
3) The teacher recites the beginning syllable of a line together with the student, who then completes it alone.
4) The teacher recites one line, and the student recites the next line alone.
At present, reciters of the Vedas still use these methods when practicing their texts.

The origin story states that the Buddha forbade these methods of training unordained people because they caused the lay students to feel disrespect for the bhikkhus. The Vinaya-mukha explains this by noting that if a teacher made a slip of the tongue while teaching in this way, his students would look down on him for it. If this were the right explanation, though, the non-offense clauses would have listed "proper" ways of training novices and lay people to recite the Dhamma, but they don't.

A more likely explanation is that at the time of the Buddha the duty of memorizing and reciting the texts was considered the province of the bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs. Although some lay people memorized discourses (Mv.III.5.9), and bhikkhus of course taught the Dhamma to lay people, there was apparently the feeling that to teach non-ordainees to become skilled reciters of the texts was not good for the relationship between bhikkhus and the unordained. There are three possible reasons for this:

1) People may have felt that the bhikkhus were shirking their responsibilities by trying to pass their duty off onto others.
2) Brahmans at the time were very strict in not allowing anyone outside their caste to memorize the Vedas, and their example may have led lay people to feel disrespect for bhikkhus who were not equally protective of their own tradition.
3) A bhikkhu acting as a tutor for a lay person wishing to memorize the Dhamma might, over time, come to be seen as the lay person's hireling.
At present, the entire Canon is available in print, and even bhikkhus rarely commit it to memory, although they do frequently memorize parts of it, such as the Pāṭimokkha, the major discourses, and other passages chanted on ceremonial occasions. To train a lay person or novice to become skilled in reciting such teachings by rote would entail the full penalty under this rule.

Offenses are counted as follows: If teaching an unordained person to recite line-by-line, one incurs a pācittiya for each line; if teaching syllable-by-syllable, a pācittiya for each syllable.

Intention is not a mitigating factor here. Thus if a bhikkhu is training a mixed group of bhikkhus and novices, he incurs a pācittiya even if his intention is to train only the bhikkhus in the group.

Perception is also not a mitigating factor. If the person being trained is unordained, the bhikkhu incurs a pācittiya if he perceives him as unordained, a pācittiya if he is in doubt about the matter, and a pācittiya if he perceives him as ordained. If the person is ordained, then the bhikkhu incurs a dukkaṭa if he perceives him as unordained and a dukkaṭa if he is in doubt about the matter. Only if the person is ordained and the bhikkhu perceives him as ordained is he not grounds for an offense. This pattern of six possibilities — three pācittiyas, two dukkaṭas, and one non-offense — is standard in many of the pācittiya rules where perception is not a mitigating factor. We will note other rules in this chapter where this pattern also applies, but explain it in detail only here.

Non-offenses. Because this rule is aimed at methods of teaching, the Vibhaṅga states that there is no offense "for one made to recite in unison." This, says the Commentary, refers to a young bhikkhu who, in the process of learning a text, is told by his teacher to recite together with a novice who is also the teacher's student.

Also, there is no offense if a bhikkhu "rehearses" a passage in unison with unordained people. In the time of the Canon, this meant the practice of reciting a passage one had already memorized. At present, this would include the practice of bhikkhus reciting together with lay people who are reading from a text or reciting from memory — for example, during the evening chanting — and are not learning the text from the bhikkhus. The Commentary extends this allowance to include cases of bhikkhus learning a text from an unordained person, probably on the model of the Itivuttaka, which — according to its Commentary — the bhikkhus first learned from a servant woman who had memorized some of the Buddha's teachings that the bhikkhus had overlooked.

Finally, there is no offense if a bhikkhu corrects an unordained person who has memorized most of a passage or who is reciting in a confused manner.

Summary: To train a novice or lay person to recite passages of Dhamma by rote is a pācittiya offense.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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