Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.4.11
Pavāraṇābhedā – Invitation to openness!

Whenever people associate under the same perspective with a shared purpose, pursuing a common aim, especially if spiritually aspiring to the same goal, honest openness, candid unanimity and reciprocal empathy form the ideal foundation for their striving. With the introduction of the Pavāraṇā at the termination of the vassa-rains-retreat the Buddha instructed his monks to reinforce, foster and boost their solid common base. Amongst Bhikkhus, especially at the time of the Buddha with their high achievements such an invitation and request to others to open disapproval of whatever might have been performed or expressed wrongly, intentionally or unintentionally, even if only suspected, is an inspiring model to gain support through sympathetic admonishment. The volition of such criticism, based on insight, goodwill, compassion, right intention and unblemished efforts to help will strengthen and consolidate brothers and sisters walking on the path and can only be a true benefit.1

When Ānanda once asked the Buddha about having virtuous friends, kalyāṇamittā2, the Buddha gave the following reply: “Sakalamevidaṃ, ānanda, brahmacariyaṃ, yadidaṃ– kalyāṇamittatā kalyāṇasahāyatā kalyāṇasampavaṅkatā. Kalyāṇamittassetaṃ, ānanda, bhikkhuno pāṭikaṅkhaṃ kalyāṇasahāyassa kalyāṇasampavaṅkassa– ariyaṃ aṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ bhāvessati, ariyaṃ aṭṭhaṅgikaṃ maggaṃ bahulīkarissati.” – “Ānanda, having virtuous people as friends, companions and colleagues is actually the whole of the holy life. When a Bhikkhu has virtuous people as friends, companions and colleagues, it can be expected that he will pursue the Eightfold Noble Path, that he will develop the Eightfold Noble Path.”

On another occasion he explained3 that out of the ten factors the Bhikkus should establish within themselves for the Dhamma to remain unblemished and foster faith, amiability and confidence and to ascertain non-dispute, harmony, concord and unity - one factor was to cultivate the qualities of a kalyāṇamitto: …… dasa dhammā sāraṇīyā piyakaraṇā garukaraṇā saṅgahāya avivādāya sāmaggiyā ekībhāvāya saṃvattanti …… bhikkhu kalyāṇamitto hoti kalyāṇasahāyo kalyāṇasampavaṅko......-...... ...... dasa dhammā sāraṇīyā piyakaraṇā garukaraṇā saṅgahāya avivādāya sāmaggiyā ekībhāvāya saṃvattantī’’ti.4

Censure by such beneficial friends based on wholesome and compassionate volition truly verifies the words of the Dhammapada:

Nidhīnaṃ5 va pavattāraṃ6, yaṃ passe vajjadassinaṃ7;
Niggayhavādiṃ8 medhāviṃ, tādisaṃ paṇḍitaṃ bhaje9;
Tādisaṃ bhajamānassa, seyyo hoti na pāpiyo.

Someone who encounters a wise man, who like revealing a rare treasure,
Points out and openly corrects one’s faults,
Such acquaintance should be embraced,
Because for someone who associates with such a person it will be for the better, not the worse.10

The ceremony of invitation to open criticism was initiated by the Buddha after a certain number of his Bhikkhus had assembled and withdrawn for the rains retreat with the decision to maintain silence instead of meeting together cordially and regularly. When, after the end of their meditation the Buddha heard their report about this decision to dwell and support each other during the full retreat in silence he expressed his wish, that such an incident shouldn’t happen again and qualified it as a dukkata offence.11

[1]The Buddha advised the Bhikkhus to invite others to open criticism with the words: – diṭṭhena vā sutena vā parisaṅkāya vā. This also forms the base of a further healthy principle of self-reflection assuring the purity of one’s actions which was called: ‘tikoṭiparisuddhaṃ’. Please see introduction to 3.6.3-Parābhavasuttaṃ.

[2] See 3.1.8

[3] Bhaṇḍanasuttaṃ, Akkosavaggo, Dasakanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo

[4] All these ten important qualities are: sīlavā, bahussuto, kalyāṇamitto, suvaco, dakkho hoti analaso, dhammakāmo, āraddhavīriyo, santuṭṭho, satimā, paññavā – virtuous and restrained, of perfect learning, a being a virtuous, beneficial friend, accepting advice easily, skillful and diligent, delighted in the Dhamma, zealous in arousing energy, content, fully aware and wise. For details of āraddhavīriyo, satimā and paññavā compare: introduction 3.4.8

[5] nidhī: treasure

[6] pavattā: one who points out

[7] vajjadassinaṃ: vajja + dassinaṃ: fault + seeing, finding, realizing

[8] niggayhavādiṃ: niggaṇhāti (pp.) + vādiṃ someone who criticises, censures one’s faults

[9] bhajati: (pot.) honour; cultivate the acquaintance of; embrace

[10] Paṇḍitavaggo, Khuddakanikāye, Dhammapadapāḷi

[11] Amongst the list of offences detailed in the Vinaya a dukkaṭa-offence is a minor offence and can be rectified by admitting it, taking full responsibility for it along with expressing the determination of not repeating it in future. It is derived from: du +k + kaṭa - bad, evil + done, action: a fault resulting from a bad action.
Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.4.11

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Last modified: Thursday, 28 December 2023, 10:42 AM