The Buddha the all compassionate one, the blessed one, the perfected one, the supremely enlightened one established the sāsana as an abode for the faithful and intelligent to practice Dhamma in order to release themselves from suffering in sansāra (cycle of births and deaths), as well as a meritorious abode for devās and worldlings. On entering the sāsana (dispensation of the Buddha), one initially receives the Sāmacera (novice) pabbajja (going forth/going into homelessness) in the first instance. Several Mahā Theros who were interested in the proper continuation of the sāsana, being distressed on seeing many who had received sāmacera ordination behaving in an undesirable manner due to the lack of their knowledge regarding the sāmacera precepts and proper practice and due to the absence of a Dhamma book on sāmauera practice, invited us to prepare such a book. Having ourselves felt the shortcomings that existed due to the absence of such a book we accepted the invitation and composed this book named “Shāsanāvatharanaya”. Details of sāmacera morality and many aspects of the Dhamma taught by the Tathāgata especially for the ordained, which should be learned and retained by the junior monks ,middle level monks and theros as well as sāmaceras have been included in this book.
Pabbajja is the entry into the sāsana, involving both mind and body of the person concerned. Shaving of hair of the head and face, discarding lay attire and wearing robes constitute only the ordination of body. Lay mind cannot be discarded as easily as hair, beard and dress. The mind of the person wearing the robes remains the same. Ordination of the body can be performed in a few minutes. Ordination of the mind cannot be done as easily as that. Ordination of the minds of some, whose bodies are ordained, cannot be achieved at all. Some such ordained persons end their lives still having lay minds.
To reap the real benefits of pabbajja in the Buddha sāsana one must ordain both mind and body. Pabbajja is unpleasant for one who has a lay mind but ordained in body only. He has no pleasure/joy in pabbajja. He feels that following the precepts is a nuisance. He will consider as a meaningless nuisance; the work of the sangha such as paying homage to the triple gem two or three times a day, following sangha practices, learning the Dhamma and meditation. Therefore, he will as much as possible try to distance himself from such activities. Even if done, it will only be superficially. He prefers types of work meant for laypeople, which can be performed while being a bhikkhu. Frivolous conversation with lay people lacking in faith and bhikkhūs similar to him will be pleasant. Supply of good food, good material objects and money will be pleasant for him. He engages in such activities very willingly. Those who live with an ordained body but have lay minds will deteriorate in lay pleasures as well, because they do not have the opportunity to enjoy them as desired. They will experience a downfall in this world and the next.
Ordaining the mind, is removal from the mind, of unwholesome dhamma such as craving, conceit , self view, ill will, jealousy and stinginess; and enriching the mind with wholesome dhamma relevant to the sangha such as loving kindness, compassion, faith, wisdom, having simple needs, satisfaction with what is received and meditative practices. Ordained mind is the trained mind. Pabbajja is pleasant and bliss for the one with an ordained mind. It is pleasant for him to follow the precepts, pay homage to the triple gem, engage in sangha practices, meditate and learn the Dhamma. Therefore, he will willingly follow the precepts and willingly engage in other sangha practices. He does not need rules, for him to engage in these activities. No supervisors are required. It is the obstruction of these activities that is troublesome for him.
What is required to be stated now is the method by which minds of those seeking ordination are conditioned to be suitable for members of the sangha community. It should be done by the introduction of the Buddha Dhamma into their minds and by embedding the Dhamma in their minds. There is no other way to condition the minds. It can never be done by the enforcement of rules or other methods of control. There is no other way to produce good bhikkhūs than conditioning their minds. There are many items of Dhamma preached by the Tathagata especially for the sangha, which should essentially be studied and remembered by the sangha. If these Dhamma are systematically taught one by one and their meanings explained, to establish them in the mind; the mind will be trained to become one required by a bhikkhu. Thereby such a person will become a disciplined, moral, pious bhikkhu. Not all the Dhamma required by a bhikkhu are found in a single book. It is difficult for one who has not studied under a teacher to collate all the Dhamma required, which are spread in various books belonging to the Tipiiaka (three baskets of the cannon). A considerable collection of such Dhamma is included in this book named Shāsanāvatharanaya, for easy reference and benefit of the teachers and any other member of the sangha desirous of knowing them and benefiting from the same.
We have not composed this book through collection of data by special research but by commiting to writing, advice and lessons of teachers associated during young days. However, before inclusion in the book, effort was made to ensure the authenticity of the information. Great effort had to be made to establish the origin of some data. Facts contained herein have been extracted from the following books of the Tipiiaka and commentaries, Pārājika pāSi, Pācittiya pāSi, MahāvaggapāSi,CullavaggapāSi,Dīghanikāya,Majjhimani kāya. Auguttaranikāya, Sauyuktanikāya, Dhammapada, Udānaya, Itivuttakaya, Suttanipātaya, Theraghatawa, and JātakapāSiya as well as other books contaning commentaries.
According to the present customs in the country (Sri Lanka), it has become necessary to educate, a child ordained today, at a college or pirivena (Buddhist school of religious education). These institutions do not provide a complete education regarding sāmacera precepts and other sāmacera practices. They do not provide an education, which will train the mind of a novice monk or develop good qualities. Very often they receive an education that develop conceit and greed, reduce faith, bring about eightfold skeptical doubt and confuse the mind of the bhikkhu as shown by the following stanza.“Buddhe kaukhati, Dhamme kaukhati, Saughe kaukhati, sikkhāyakaukhati, pubbantekaukhati, aparantekaukhati, pubbāparantē kaukhati, idappaccayatā paticcasamuppannesu Dhammesu kaukhati vicikicchati.”
If the teachers of novice bhikkhūs desire the development of obedient, disciplined pupils, it is hoped that they be not satisfied with, only educating the novices at the said institutions but also at least establish in their minds the few items of Dhamma contained in this book named “Shasanāvatharanaya”.
Many who enter the Buddha sāsana these days by ordaining in body, due to sudden disappointment with sansāra, sudden development of faith or direction by others; do with time find pabbajja unpleasant, feel they have committed a foolish act and greedily look at the comforts enjoyed by the lay people and disrobe. Some receive an education under cover of the robe and disrobe when able to find employment. Some who lack faith do not engage in sangha practices, just spend their lives and pass away. Some Buddhists who are disillusioned by this situation suggest various means of controlling the sāsana. Some suggest that not everyone should be ordained but select only the good persons. These are not practical suggestions. A person who is serene today may not be so tomorrow. Today’s immoral person may give up immorality and become a moral person tomorrow and vice- versa. This is the nature of the world of the puttujjana (worldling). Selection is not possible in such a world. Suggestions to select good persons and ordain is due to the ignorance about the nature of the sāsana.
Sāsana was not established as a haven for the serene only, but also as a place, where the non-serene are turned into the serene. Even if a person enters the sāsana without a specific aim, when Buddha Dhamma is entered into his mind, he will progressively become a serene person. Not all those who entered the sāsana and became Arahants were people who were disillusioned with sansāra. Brahamin Radha ordained in consideration of the easy means of living. Brahamin Vangeesa ordained in order to learn a mantra. So did Brahamin Candābha. Prince Rahula and prince Nanda did not ordain of their own free will, they were forced to do so. Citizens of the two cities, who were joyed by the peaceful settlement of the war between the Sākyas and Koliyas by the Tathāgata, presented him with five hundred young persons for ordination. There was not a single person among them who did so due to his own faith. However, by establishing Dhamma in their minds all of them became Arahants. There are several other instances recorded in Buddhist literature, where people ordained without faith or disillusionment in sansāra did attain Arahantship. Many among those who ordained due to disillusionment in sansāra and having great faith in the beginning have gone on the wrong path. It should be stated that good bhikkhūs could be produced only by filling their minds with the Dhamma and not by a process of selection prior to ordination.
It is not possible to embed Dhamma into the minds of all the people. As water will not wet a lotus leaf, Dhamma will not touch the minds of some people inspite of extensive advice and teaching. They are the abhavya (unable to understand Dhamma) people in the sāsana.There is nothing that can be done about them. Evan ovadiyamānā evan anusāsiyamānā appekacce accanta niIIhan nibbānan ārādhenti. Ekacce nārādhenti, ettha kyāhan brahmaua karomi. The Tathagata has said that nothing can be done about those who cannot be tamed with advice and teachings. While the Tathagata has said so, some Buddhists are talking about making the bhikkhūs follow precepts by enforcing rules and regulations in an effort to purify the sāsana. Therefore, it is not possible for those who lack faith and are unwilling, to be made to follow the precepts. Not doing something for fear of the law is not morality. The only way to make others follow precepts and good practices is by conditioning their minds. We have prepared this book in order to assist those who desire to condition their minds.
The world is always changing. Where is the possibility for only the Buddha sāsana to remain unchanged in a changing world? It is natural for the Buddha sāsana also to keep changing according to the changes in the world and ultimately come to an end. No one or no force can prevent that. It is more than two thousand five hundred years after the parinibbāna of the Buddha. During this long period, bhikkhūs have changed very much from the bhikkhūs who lived with the Buddha. No force is capable of changing the present day bhikkhūs to be like those who lived two thousand years ago. Therefore, we cannot expect the bhikkhūs of today to be like those of that era. We can only expect bhikkhūs with good qualities in keeping with the present world conditions.
There is no doubt that, if the present day bhikkhūs follow the “Shāsanāvatranaya” there will emerge many who can be considered good bhikkhūs, in the context of today’s world. We have not written this book with the idea that “all bhikkhūs will accept this” but with the thought that, if at least a few do accept, it is sufficient reward for our effort. We have fulfilled our obligation by committing to written word the Dhamma known to us so that others too can learn the same. It is up to you to accept or not.
Cirau TiIIhatu Saddhammo.
Rerukāne Candavimala 2504/1960 oct. 21