Chapter XII - ATTA VAGGA - The Self



Attanam ce tatha kayira yathannamanusasati
Sudanto vata dammetha atta hi kira duddamo.

As he instructs others so should he himself act. Himself fully controlled, he should control (others); for oneself, indeed, is difficult to control. [159]

XII:03 The monk who preached without practising (Padhanika Tissa)

Venerable Padhanika Tissa, after taking a subject of meditation from the Buddha, left for the forest with a large group of bhikkhus. There, he advised the bhikkhus to be ever mindful and diligent in their meditation practice. After thus exhorting others he himself would lie down and go to sleep. The young bhikkhus did as they were told. They practised meditation during the first watch of the night and when they were about to go to bed, Padhanika Tissa would get up and tell them to go back to their practice. When they returned after meditation practice during the second and third watches he would say the same thing to them.

As he was always acting in this way, the young bhikkhus never had peace of mind, and so they could not concentrate on meditation practice or even on recitation of the suttas. One day, they decided to investigate if their teacher was truly as zealous and vigilant as he said he was. When they found out that their teacher only exhorted others but was himself sleeping most of the time, they remarked, 'Our teacher knows only how to advise us, but he himself is just wasting his time, doing nothing.' By this time, as the bhikkhus were not getting enough rest, they were tired. As a result, none of the bhikkhus made any progress in their meditation practice.

At the end of the vassa, they returned to the Jetavana monastery and reported the matter to the Buddha who said, 'Bhikkhus! One who wants to teach others should first teach himself and conduct himself properly.'