Basic Principles of Being a Monk

The Teaching of Dhamma & Buddhism

The teachings, based on the threefold training in Buddhism, include training in higher virtue, higher mind and higher wisdom.
Pursuing this training leads to the abandonment of lust, hatred, and delusion.

Threefold PartitionEightfold PathMethod of Practice
VIRTUERight Speech
Right Action227 Monastic Precepts, Manner & Habit Transformation
Right Livelihood
MINDRight Effort
Right MindfulnessMindfulness & Meditation Practice
Right Concentration
WISDOMRight ViewBuddhist Scripture and Dhamma Study
Right Intention

Understanding Monk Precepts


During the lifetime of the Lord Buddha, bhikkhu Pätimokkha rules were established in the Sangha Community.

These are reflected in the Pali Canons, particularly in the ‘Vinaya-pitaka: the Basket of Discipline’.

The 227 Patimokkha Rules (Overview)

Patimokkha is the basic code of monastic discipline, consisting of 227 rules for fully ordained monks (bhikkhus). 

The Patimokkha is classified into eight major groups:

1. The four Parajika: The Defeaters

Parajika or the Defeaters are the most serious of all offences. Transgressing even one of them causes one to no longer be a bhikkhu. The four defeaters are: sexual intercourse, killing, taking what is not given, and falsely claiming supernormal abilities.

2. The thirteen Sanghadisesas

Each of these 13 transgressions is a grave offence and requires Formal Meetings of the Community. The offender must be rehabilitated through confession and supervised probation. The monk sent back to the beginning needs to be reinstated by a specially convened Sangha Community meeting of at least 20 monks.

3. The two Aniyatas: Indefinite or Undetermined

The Sangha Community convenes to decide which rule has been transgressed by these offences.

4. The thirty Nissaggiya Pacittiyas: Confession with Forfeiture

An offender must make a formal confession. In addition, it must be cleared by forfeiture of the improper item to another bhikkhu(s).

5. The ninety-two Pacittiyas: Expiation through Confession

An offender must confess to another bhikkhu(s).

6. The four Patidesaniyas: To be Acknowledged 

Patidesaniyas are faults to be verbally confessed and acknowledged.

7. The seventy-five Sekhiyas: Training rules

These rules mainly relate to deportment, proper behaviour and etiquette.

8. The seven Adhikaranasamatha: Settlement of Issues

These are procedures for dealing with the settlement of legal processes related to disputes, accusations, offences and duties.

Important Precepts to Keep in Mind (Extended Version)


In essence, ‘to lose or be defeated’ refers to a bhikkhu who commits any of the four offences below. For, by committing them, he has surrendered to his own mental defilements and defeats the purpose of becoming a bhikkhu.

1. Should a bhikkhu engage in sexual intercourse, even with a female animal, he is defeated and no longer in affiliation.

2. Should any bhikkhu, in what is considered theft, take what is not given from an inhabited area or from the wilderness – is defeated and no longer in affiliation.

3. Should any bhikkhu intentionally deprive a human being of life, search for an assassin for him, praise the advantages of death, or incite him to die (saying): “My good man, what use is this evil, miserable life to you? Death would be better for you than life”; he also is defeated and no longer in affiliation.

4. Should any bhikkhu lie and falsely claim to be in a superior human state with noble knowledge and vision, he is also defeated and no longer in affiliation.


This term means “involving the Community in initial and subsequent meetings”.
During the meetings, the Community calls on the bhikkhu, who breaks the rules in this category to undergo the penalty of manatta (penance) and parivasa (probation). These are:

1. Intentional emission of semen, except while dreaming.

2. Should any bhikkhu engage in bodily contact with a woman – holding her hand, a lock of her hair, caressing any of her limbs, etc.

3. Should any bhikkhu address offensive words to a woman alluding to sexual intercourse.

4.Should any bhikkhu speak in the presence of a woman in praise of ministering to his own sensuality or allude to sexual intercourse.

The Basic Principles of Monkhood

The Monk Life Project

The programme has been developed in two phases. The first phase prepares the participant for the second phase: becoming a monk.

Phase one reflects ancient Thai customs – parents sending their sons to a monastery to observe the eight precepts, do morning and evening chanting, and memorise ordination chants and blessing verses. Once they learn the chants, they meet the basic requirements for phase two – ordination.

During the first phase, the participants must observe the eight precepts at the monastery and cultivate mindfulness and good virtue. External preparations require them to keep actions and speech pure, observe the eight precepts, and learn the mannerism of monks – walking, standing, sitting, and lying. The new monks must also learn to chant and give blessings to lay supporters on the first day of becoming a monk. Internal preparation involves practising mindfulness and keeping the mind pure and bright.

In the second phase of the programme, the period after becoming a monk, the new monks must abide by monastic precepts and practice them diligently. This brings immense merit to one’s parents, relatives, and friends.

Goals of ordination

Foreign participants in the short-term ordination programme have different goals. Some want to learn about Buddhism or Thai culture, while others wish to train in meditation. After the programme, participants can apply the practical teachings in their lives, help promote Buddhism, and devote themselves to the peaceful development of their society and country.

The Dhammadayada 

The participants in the Monk Life Project are called Dhammadayadas. A Dhammadayada is a Dhamma heir who studies the noble virtues of the Buddha, promotes the Dharma, and passes on the Dhamma from generation to generation.

The Dhammadayada must study seriously and strictly follow the Buddha’s teachings. He must have good behaviour, be a role model for the public, be able to sacrifice personal desires, be indifferent to fame and fortune, delight in Dhamma, follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, and practice ‘paramita’ diligently. Paramita is ‘purified or elevated good energy’ – good deeds via thought, speech or actions create ‘good energy’. These accumulated ‘good energies’ condense and become Paramita.

Besides practising Paramita, the Dhammadayada must improve himself continuously and be a good role model for others on both the Dhamma and secular path.

During the training period, the “Dhamma heir” must meet the following requirements:

  • Study hard like dhamma scholars and secular sages who are not afraid of difficulties.
  • Keep the body and mind pure. Stay away from harmful behaviour, and be diligent and responsible.
  • Must be tough, tolerant, courteous, and able to suppress desire.
  • Must cultivate love and the sentiment of non-violence and be non-combative.
  • Must demonstrate good behaviour and speak well and abide by the precepts.
  • Must have a frugal and selfless character.
  • Must concentrate on practising meditation.

The purpose of training the Dhammadayadas

1. To provide the Dhammadayadas better guidance to help concentrate on practising meditation.

2. To cultivate a spirit of diligence and courage when facing difficulties.

3. To help Dhammadayadas learn and understand Buddhist customs, reduce and eliminate suspicions and unnecessary arguments about Buddhist practices.

4. To help Dhammadayadas understand how they can benefit their family and society by applying the Dhamma in their daily lives after the programme.

5. Help the Dhammadayadas become wise men with correct views, knowledge, non-attachment, and talents.

The Learning of Meditation

Practising meditation is the heart of Monk Life training. Ordinands do not require any prior knowledge or skills. The teaching monks in four meditation-guided sessions daily will teach authentic meditation methods practised since the Buddha era. Beyond theory, the training will emphasise finding the balance between maintaining both consciousness and comfort. Throughout the programme, ordinands will receive daily meditation coaching and learn the process of finding more profound and more prolonged stillness within. In addition, the ordinands will learn various mindfulness practices, including walking meditation and keeping the awareness in diverse daily activities. Finally, they will learn to master their meditation with their eyes open and closed.