Scriptural

Kevatta Sutta – Part 4

Virtues and those worthy of veneration

Continuing from the previous post.

“Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech. What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he does not tell here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord. This, too, is part of his virtue.

In short, a virtuous person promotes peace, not war. They do not gain satisfaction in creating misunderstanding amongst people. They do not spread rumors and abstain from speculative tale-bearing. When we join a dharma group or study under a teacher, this is another virtue that we should look out for. I would walk away from the group if this is missing.

“Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech. He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing and pleasing to people at large. This, too, is part of his virtue.

“Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta” (DN 11), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html .

“Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, and the Vinaya. He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal. This, too, is part of his virtue.

The above stanza deals with abusive speech and excessive chatter. These are tell-tale sign that someone has no control over their anger or ignorance. Idle chatter is a verbal expression of a mind that is afflicted by delusional thoughts. One helplessly engage in discursive thinking and verbalize it to solicit more discursive topic for entertaining discussion. That is chatting. A virtuous monk or nun or teacher won’t be doing that. Therefore, if we need someone to chat with, don’t look for them.

He abstains from damaging seed and plant life.

The Buddha forbade his monastic community from the aforesaid.

He eats only once a day, refraining from the evening meal and from food at the wrong time of day.

I think the intention is to make sure that monks/nuns are not spending too much time on food. And also not to create too much burden on the lay community. Plus, it is a healthy lifestyle for those who engage in meditation/ practice for an entire day.

“He abstains from dancing, singing, instrumental music, and from watching shows.

“He abstains from wearing garlands and from beautifying himself with scents and cosmetics.

So we shouldn’t really offer extravagant prayer beads and such to the monastic community.

“He abstains from high and luxurious beds and seats.

“He abstains from accepting gold and money.

“He abstains from accepting uncooked grain… raw meat… women and girls… male and female slaves… goats and sheep… fowl and pigs… elephants, cattle, steeds, and mares… fields and property.

The above emphasize the fact that the monastic communities are renunciant. Besides money, monks and nuns are not suppose to have any possession. As we can see from here, it is a very different and difficult lifestyle. One cannot really make a comfortable living by becoming a monk or nun. The Buddhist monastic code of conduct prevents a lucrative lifestyle. This is very different from western religion.

Knowledgeable lay people would actually use this as a yardstick to determine if a monk/nun is worthy of their respect and support. I would stay away from those living a luxurious lifestyle. When we adhere to what Buddha taught, the check and balance between the monastic community and the lay people becomes dynamic and healthy.

In short respect needs to be earned and part if that respect is based on a frugal lifestyle.

“He abstains from running messages… from buying and selling… from dealing with false scales, false metals, and false measures… from bribery, deception, and fraud.

Monks used to travel from places to places. They cannot act as courier or post man. Nor can they engage in trade. Naturally any criminal breach of trust is not acceptable. If they lose their worthiness, layman would simply stop their offerings. Thus, an errant monk/nun will lose their livelihood.

“He abstains from mutilating, executing, imprisoning, highway robbery, plunder, and violence.

We may scorn this as simple common sense but it can actually happen. Imagine an abbot or chief monk with the power punish wrongdoings. Can they imprison errant monks or lay people? Sentence people to flogging and other forms of punishment? The answer is here. NO! So if you ever encounter a temple or monastery with a dungeon or detention room, you should stop associating with them.

For those movie buff like me. Have you watched Shaolin kungfu movie that depicted errant monks being flogged or hit by wooden pole? Yah, it is very wrong and inappropriate. Definitely not in line with what Buddha taught.

May all be well and happy.

Categories: Scriptural

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