The Chapter on Going Forth
Degé Kangyur, vol. 1 (’dul ba, ka), folios 1.a–131.a
Translated by Robert Miller and team
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
“The Chapter on Going Forth” is the first of seventeen chapters in The Chapters on Monastic Discipline, a four-volume work that outlines the statutes and procedures that govern life in a Buddhist monastic community. This first chapter traces the development of the rite by which postulants were admitted into the monastic order, from the Buddha Śākyamuni’s informal invitation to “Come, monk,” to the more elaborate “Present Day Rite.” Along the way, the posts of preceptor and instructor are introduced, their responsibilities defined, and a dichotomy between elders and immature novices described. While the heart of the chapter is a transcript of the “Present Day Rite,” the text is interwoven with numerous narrative asides, depicting the spiritual ferment of the north Indian region of Magadha during the Buddha’s lifetime, the follies of untrained and unsupervised apprentices, and the need for a formal system of tutelage.
This translation was carried out from the Tibetan by Robert Miller with the guidance of Geshé Tséwang Nyima. Ven. Lhundup Damchö (Dr. Diana Finnegan) provided her draft translation of the extant Sanskrit portions of this chapter. Dr. Fumi Yao and Maurice Ozaine kindly identified numerous misspellings and mistakes in the glossaries. Both Ven. Damchö and Dr. Yao generously shared their extensive knowledge of the Mūlasarvāstivādin Vinaya and furnished invaluable assistance in researching the translation. Matthew Wuethrich served as style consultant and editor.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of Zhou Tian Yu, Chen Yi Qin, Irene Tillman, Archie Kao, and Zhou Xun, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
[F.72.a] The Blessed Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park near Śrāvastī, when an elder who was immature, dense, dim-witted, and unskilled allowed a follower of another tīrthika tradition to go forth. The elder granted the tīrthika ordination, sparking a number of disputes between monks. After the tīrthika had offered back his training and returned to his community of tīrthikas, the monks asked the Blessed One about it. This is how he responded: “Monks, look at how that benighted man has turned his back on such a fine and well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya and returned to his community of tīrthikas. Monks, it seems to me he is behaving like a dog, wracked by hunger, but refusing fine food and fare and eating excrement instead. Monks, this is how a benighted man acts who turns his back on such a fine and well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya and returns to his former community of tīrthikas.”
Then the Blessed One declared, “Monks, apart from our Śākya kin and dreadlocked fire-worshippers,157 the going forth of tīrthikas who do not have a sense of reverence should not be allowed nor should they be ordained. If perchance a Śākya kin should come under a tīrthika banner, and if perchance he should want monkhood, to go forth and be ordained in the well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya, then, monks, his going forth should be allowed and he should be ordained. Why is that? Because, monks, I give kin exceptions to kin. If perchance a wandering mendicant from another tīrthika order should come, and he should want monkhood, to go forth and be ordained in the well-proclaimed Dharma and Vinaya, then, monks, understand that he should be allowed to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months. [F.72.b] Monks, if, after having submitted to his station, the follower of another tīrthika order has a sense of reverence, his going forth should be allowed and he should be ordained.”
When the Blessed One said that followers of other tīrthika orders should be allowed to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months, the monks were in a quandary, not knowing how such robes should be given. “Monks,” instructed the Blessed One, “if a follower of another tīrthika order wishing to go forth approaches any one of you, you should ascertain through questioning him whether he has any impediments. Once you have ascertained this, have him take the threefold refuge and, after he commits himself to living as a lay devotee, give him the lay devotee vows. Then, as the entire saṅgha sits in concord, have him prostrate to them in order of seniority before sitting in a squatting position. Pressing his palms together, he should say, ‘Reverend saṅgha, please heed me. I, the tīrthika [tīrthika’s name], wish to renounce this identity and go forth. I, the tīrthika [tīrthika’s name], petition the saṅgha to allow me to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months. I, the tīrthika [tīrthika’s name], ask that the reverend and compassionate saṅgha, out of your compassion, might allow me to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months.’
“This should be repeated a second and a third time, after which a monk moves the motion be acted upon. This is how the request is made: while seated, the monk says, ‘Reverend saṅgha, please heed me. This tīrthika [tīrthika’s name] wishes to renounce this identity and go forth. This tīrthika has asked the saṅgha to allow him to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months. If the reverend saṅgha can accept it, I ask the saṅgha to give its consent and [F.73.a] allow this tīrthika to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months.’
“The motion is acted upon thus: ‘Reverend saṅgha, please heed me. This tīrthika [tīrthika’s name] wishes to renounce this identity and go forth. Therefore, I ask the saṅgha that you allow him to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months. If the saṅgha were to permit this action, I would ask the venerables who can accept it to please remain silent. Those who cannot accept it, please speak up.’
“That is the first motion to act. This should be repeated a second and a third time. The saṅgha, by remaining silent, acknowledges its acceptance and gives its consent for the tīrthika [tīrthika’s name] to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months.
“For any tīrthika to whom the saṅgha gives its permission to live in robes provided by a preceptor for four months, his food is the saṅgha’s responsibility. His robes are the preceptor’s responsibility. His duties are akin to those in the novice ranks.”
Upāli asked the Blessed Buddha, “Reverend, the Blessed One has said, ‘If, after having submitted to his station, the follower of another tīrthika order has a sense of reverence, his going forth should be allowed and he should be ordained.’ If so, then reverend, by what measure may we say that a follower of another tīrthika order has a sense of reverence?”
“Upāli, in the presence of the follower of another tīrthika order, speak the Buddha’s praises perfectly. Speak too the praises of the Dharma and the Saṅgha, and speak them perfectly. [F.73.b] Speak perfectly of the tīrthikas’ unworthiness. Upāli, when you speak of these things perfectly, if the follower of this other order becomes upset, disturbed, or angry, or if he sits withdrawn or seethes with anger, it can be said that the follower does not have a sense of reverence.
“But, Upāli, when you speak perfectly the praises of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha, and also speak perfectly of the tīrthikas’ unworthiness, if the follower of this other tīrthika order does not become upset, disturbed, or angry, if he does not sit withdrawn or seethe with anger, then, Upāli, by that measure we may say the tīrthika has a sense of reverence.
“Monks, the going forth of dreadlocked fire-worshippers should be allowed and they should be ordained. Why? It is because, monks, they argue for karma, they argue for action, they argue for causes, and they argue for diligence. Therefore, monks, you too should train so that you come to argue for karma, for actions, for causes, and for diligence. Monks, that is how you should train.”
The Blessed Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park near Śrāvastī, when Mahāmaudgalyāyana allowed the going forth of Upāli and a band of seventeen healthy new youths, and ordained them. Come twilight, reduced and wracked by hunger as they were, they would cry out and the Blessed One would hear these great many cries from within the monastery’s grounds. [F.74.a]
Though they hear, blessed buddhas may inquire about what they already know. Though they already know, they may inquire—or, even though they know, they may not inquire. They inquire when the time is right, not when the time has passed. Their inquiries are meaningful, not meaningless. In this way blessed buddhas dam the flow of meaningless inquiries.
“Reverend, they do.”
“Ānanda, ones so young should not be ordained. Persons who are not yet twenty years of age cannot accept all they may be subjected to—the cold, the heat, the hunger, the thirst, the blowflies, the gadflies, the gnats, the wind, the sun, the snakes, the abuse hurled at them, the bad that befalls them, or the physical pains that are intolerable, oppressive, intense, dreadful, and life-threatening. Their nature is such that they cannot abide or withstand their longing for defilements.
“Persons who have reached twenty years of age, on the other hand, can accept all they may be subjected to—the cold, the heat, the hunger, the thirst, the blowflies, the gadflies, the gnats, the wind, the sun, the snakes, the abuse hurled at them, [F.74.b] the bad that befalls them, or the physical pains that are intolerable, oppressive, intense, dreadful, and life-threatening. Their nature is such that they can abide and withstand their longing for defilements.”
The Blessed One thought, “All those shortcomings ensue from monks granting ordination into the monkhood to persons who have not yet reached twenty years.”
Then he decreed, “In light of this, monks should not grant ordination into the monkhood to persons who have not yet reached twenty years. If someone wishing to be ordained approaches any of you, ask him if he has reached twenty years. If you grant ordination without asking this, a breach occurs.”
The Blessed Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park near Śrāvastī, when a householder living in Śrāvastī took a wife of equal caste and together they played with, took pleasure in, and amused one other. The wife with whom he had played, taken pleasure, and amused himself gave birth to a son who was nurtured and grew until he was big.
At a certain point, the householder’s kin had dwindled, his riches had dwindled, and his possessions had dwindled, prompting the thought, “As I am grown old and cannot gain more riches, I shall go forth.”
“Son, let us do just that!” said the householder.
The monk replied, “Who is this lad with you?”
“He is my son.”
“Is he to go forth as well?”
“Yes, noble one, he is.” [F.75.a]
As the monk had taken a liking to them, he allowed their going forth. For the next two or three days he trained them in their regular duties, and then said, “Gentlemen, game does not eat other game. The whole of Śrāvastī is your field and fatherland, so seek out alms and live on them.”
Early the next morning, the father put on his under robe, picked up his begging bowl and robes, and went to beg alms in Śrāvastī with his novice son. Seeing a burnt piece of bread in the market, the novice said, “Father, ask the shopkeeper to give me the bread.”
The shopkeeper replied, “Noble one, no one eats for free. So I would ask a few coins in return.”
“Then give him what you earned while a householder.”
Saying this, the father grabbed out for his son’s hand, but his son jumped back, fell down and began to cry.
“He is my son,” his father said.
“Why did you make the fruit of your loins go forth?” they asked.
Since the bystanders denounced, disparaged, and insulted him, the monks asked the Blessed One about it, and the Blessed One thought, “All those shortcomings ensue from monks allowing persons who have not yet reached fifteen years to go forth.”
This was translated by the Kashmiri preceptor Sarvajñādeva, the Indian preceptor Vidyākaraprabha, the Kashmiri preceptor Dharmākara, and the translator Bandé Palgyi Lhünpo. It was then revised and finalized by the Indian preceptor Vidyākaraprabha and the managing editor-translator, Bandé Paltsek.202
|S||Stok Palace Manuscript|
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