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Fine Manners Offenses

Seventy Fine Manners Offenses (Shaiksha)

1. A bhikshu should not talk, laugh, joke, whistle,
sing, shout to someone far off, chew his food, use a
toothpick, or talk on the telephone while walking.

2. A bhikshu, while walking, should not join his
palms in greeting, snap his fingers, swing his arms,
sway his body, move his arms and legs as if he
were dancing, skip, turn his face up to the sky, or
walk in haste.

3. A bhikshu, while walking, should not be putting
on clothes or adjusting his robe.

4. A bhikshu, while walking, should not drag or
stamp his feet, nor take very long strides.

5. A bhikshu should not speak in such a way to
probe into someone’s personal life to discover his
faults. He should not speak with a sharp, sarcastic,
or rough voice, nor should he interrupt someone
who is speaking.

6. A bhikshu should practice to speak softly and
slowly, not talking too fast and swallowing his
words. He should not speak so loudly that his
voice drowns the voices of others.

7. A bhikshu should not tell ghost or horror stories
which water the seeds of fear in another person.

8. A bhikshu should not imitate someone else’s
way of speaking or manner in order to make fun of
that person.

9. A bhikshu should not laugh too loudly, open his
mouth too wide, nor yawn or pick his teeth
without covering his mouth.

10. A bhikshu should not squat. He should sit
solidly and at ease with his back upright, without
shaking his legs or swinging or tapping his feet.

11. A bhikshu should not sit in a place where
people are drinking alcohol, eating meat, gambling,
using abusive language, disrespectfully teasing each
other, or speaking badly about others.

12. A bhikshu should practice lying on his right
side to go to sleep as this is the most peaceful and
healthy position.

13. A bhikshu should not lie down in a place where
people pass by, nor should he read or chant the
sutras when lying down, except in special cases.

14. A bhikshu should not stand with his hands on
his hips, nor should he hold his hands behind his

15. A bhikshu should not choose only the best
tasting food for himself.

16. A bhikshu, while eating, should not talk and
should not chew and swallow his food in a rush.
He should chew each mouthful slowly about thirty
times before swallowing.

17. A bhikshu should not chew and slurp loudly,
lick the food from his bowl or plate with his
tongue, nor should he open his mouth too wide
when putting food into it.

18. A bhikshu should not put down his empty
bowl when those who have been ordained longer
than him are still eating in a formal meal. He should
not stand up in the middle of the meal, nor stand
up as soon as he has finished eating, before the
sound of the bell.

19. A bhikshu should not leave leftover food when
he is finished eating.

20. A bhikshu should eat lightly in the evening so
that he feels light in body and avoids wasting time

21. A bhikshu should not buy luxurious and
expensive food items, such as tea, sweets and so
on, except in special cases.

22. A bhikshu should care for his alms bowl with
respect and should not use more than one alms

23. A bhikshu should not make noise with his
spoon or chopsticks against his alms bowl.

24. A bhikshu should always be neatly dressed
wearing his long robe when he goes outside the

25. A bhikshu should dry his undergarments in the
designated place.

26. A bhikshu should not dress untidily or wear
dirty robes and should bathe regularly enough so
that his body does not have odors.

27. A bhikshu should exercise regularly so that he
remains strong and healthy and should learn the
way to conserve the three energies (sexual, breath,
and spirit.)

28. A bhikshu should clean his teeth after every
meal and while cleaning his teeth should not walk
back and forth, talk, laugh, or joke.

29. A bhikshu should not sleep on the same bed as
a layman, except in special circumstances for
which he has informed the other bhikshus.

30. A bhikshu should not sleep on the same bed
with another monk. In the case in which there are
not enough beds, it is possible to share a bed
temporarily, but they should not use the same
blanket. In the case in which there is no other
option and they have to share a blanket, they
should be fully clothed.

31. A bhikshu should not sleep without wearing a
shirt and should not sleep wearing only shorts.

32. A bhikshu who has a nightmare should not
allow himself to go back to sleep immediately, but
should sit up and massage so that the blood
circulates evenly, or practice walking meditation
outside for ten minutes before going back to sleep.
If he has a seminal emission while sleeping, he
should rise early to take a shower and change his
clothes so that he is on time for the early morning
sitting and chanting.

33. A bhikshu should not join his palms to bow in
a mechanical way, without mindfulness. When
receiving an offering, he should bow, joining his
palms like a lotus bud.

34. A bhikshu should practice looking deeply
while touching the earth, not just prostrating
mechanically, and while in this position his four
limbs and forehead should touch the ground.

35. A bhikshu should not urinate or defecate near a
stupa or shrine, in a place which is not shielded
from view, in a vegetable plot, or in a flowing body
of water.

36. A bhikshu should knock slowly three times
before entering someone else’s room.

37. A bhikshu should not leave his shoes or
slippers untidily, but should leave them neatly in a
straight line.

38. A bhikshu should neatly arrange and tidy
everything when he is finished using it.

39. A bhikshu should not leave his clothes soaking
for a long period of time without washing and
drying them so that they do not disintegrate in a
short time.

40. A bhikshu, before inviting the sound of any
bell, should breathe in and out mindfully three
times and recite the gatha for inviting the bell.
When he hears the sound of the bell, he should
stop all thinking, speech, and movement, and
practice mindful breathing.

41. A bhikshu should respect the schedule of the
Sangha by being present and arriving on time for all
activities so that he may be a model for his fellow

42. A bhikshu should not arrive in the Dharma Hall
after the teacher has arrived and should not leave in
the middle of the Dharma talk. While listening to a
recording of a Dharma talk he should sit upright,
listening with all his attention and respect as he
would in the Dharma Hall.

43. A bhikshu, when hearing the telephone ring,
should give rise to mindfulness, returning to his
breathing for at least three breaths before picking
up the telephone. He should use the telephone
only for necessary conversations, sitting in an
upright posture, using loving speech, and without
speaking too loudly, teasing, or joking.

44. A bhikshu, upon hearing the person on the
other end of the line making unnecessary
conversation, should find a way to politely excuse
himself before hanging up the telephone.

45. A bhikshu should not use a portable telephone
during sitting or walking meditation, sutra chanting,
Sangha meetings, or study classes.

46. A bhikshu, while bathing, should not sing,
recite the sutras, talk loudly, tease, or joke.

47. A bhikshu, while cooking or working, should
practice mindfulness just as he does during sitting
meditation or other Dharma practices and should
move around in a calm manner, without rushing.

48. A bhikshu who is given a special task by the
Sangha should not use it in such a way to give him
authority or consider that his work is more
important than others’ work. He should be aware
that all kinds of work done to serve the Sangha are
equally important.

49. A bhikshu, when receiving a task from the
Sangha, no matter how important it is, should
always do it with ease and freedom, not taking
advantage of it to unnecessarily excuse himself
from activities of the Sangha.

50. A bhikshu should not take on more work
beyond his capability or state of health. He should
not be afraid of inconveniencing others and accept
more work, which will then make him anxious,
tired, and dispirited.

51. A bhikshu who is studying teachings of a
profound, metaphysical, and mystical nature,
should constantly ask himself how he may apply
these teachings in his daily life to transform his
suffering and realize liberation.

52. A bhikshu should not read books and sutras
without applying the basic and essential practices
of Buddhism in order to transform his afflictions
and habit energies.

53. A bhikshu, in addition to reading books on
Buddhism, should also read books on the history
of civilizations of the world, general history and
teachings of other religious faiths, applied
psychology, and the most recent scientific
discoveries. These areas of knowledge can help him
to understand and share the teachings with people
in a way that is appropriate to their situation.

54. A bhikshu should only ask to leave his Sangha
and practice elsewhere when he sees that there are
not enough conditions for his progress in his
present situation. He should choose to go to a
monastery where there is harmony and happiness
in the Sangha.

55. A bhikshu, when he sees anger arising in
himself, should not say or do anything, but
practice mindful breathing, not continuing to listen
and give attention to the person whom he thinks is
the cause of his anger. If necessary he may go
outside to practice walking meditation to look
deeply, recognizing that the main cause of his anger
is the seed of anger within himself.

56. A bhikshu should have another monk as a
second body to look after and support, just as he
himself is the second body of another monk who
supports and looks after him.

57. A bhikshu should not go outside the monastery
at night, except in an emergency. If he does have to
go outside, he should let the Sangha know and
another monk should accompany him.

58. A bhikshu should bring one formal robe with
him if he has to be away from his monastery

59. A bhikshu, while driving, should not make
unnecessary conversation, tease, joke, talk on the
telephone, or read the map. He should not drive his
vehicle alongside another vehicle to hold a
conversation with the driver of the other vehicle
nor honk the horn of his car in irritation at another
vehicle. He should not drive faster than the official
speed limit.

60. A bhikshu, while driving, should wear his seat
belt, should have his driver’s license and the
official papers of the car he is driving with him.
When getting into a car or onto a motorbike he
should arrange his robes so that they do not hang
outside the car or get stuck in the wheel of the

61. A bhikshu who is driving on a long trip and
begins to feel sleepy or tired, should ask someone
else to drive. If there is no one to replace him, he
should stop the car and rest until he feels refreshed
and awake, aware that the lives of the passengers
in the car he is driving depend on his careful

62. A bhikshu should not go into a shop or area
where toxic books, magazines, and posters are
displayed or sold.

63. A bhikshu should not tease and joke with a

64. A bhikshu who, going outside of the
monastery, meets a high monk or nun of his own
tradition should stop, join his palms, and exchange
greetings with him or her. If he meets a monk or
nun of a different tradition, he should do the same.

65. A bhikshu should not visit his family more
frequently than the Sangha’s guidelines allow. He
may regularly write home to his family, sharing his
happiness and spiritual practice so that his
family’s happiness and faith in the practice will
increase. He should not tell his family about the
difficulties he encounters in his life as a monk in
such a way that they become concerned and
anxious about him.

66. A bhikshu, when helping to resolve difficult
situations in his family, should use his energy of
mindfulness and share the practices of deep
listening and loving speech.

67. A bhikshu, when visiting his family, should not
keep asking for one thing after another, and when
his family gives him something, he should share it
with the Sangha.

68. A bhikshu, when receiving and talking with
visiting laypeople in the monastery, should refrain
from taking part in conversations about worldly
matters containing blame, criticism, or
discrimination. Rather he should listen deeply to
the lay practitioner’s suffering, and using his own
experience in the practice, should offer concrete
practices which will help the lay practitioner
transform himself as well as the situation in his
family and society.

69. A bhikshu, when receiving and talking with
visiting laypeople in the monastery, should not
listen to tales about the shortcomings of other
practice centers or monks or nuns from other

70. A bhikshu should not try to find ways to be in
close contact only with people who are powerful,
wealthy, or famous.

From Freedom Wherever We Go by Thich Nhat Hanh