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dhutaṅga abbhokāsika


Meaning of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

The Pali term "abbhokāsika" means "the one who has the habit to dwell on a bare and unsheltered spot".

"abbhokāsa" = "the fact to dwell on a bare and unsheltered spot"

When this practice is conveniently done, with constancy and diligence, with the determination of not breaking it, we say that there is "abbhokāsikaṅga" (state of mind of the dwelling on a spot bare of everything).

Adoption of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

For adopting this dhutaṅga, it is convenient to pronounce the following phrase whether in Pali, whether in the language of one's choice...

In Pali:

«chandañca rukkhamūlañca paṭikkhipāmi, abbhokāsikaṅgaṃ samādhiyāmi.»

In English:

«I renounce to roofs and trees, I will train into dwelling on spots situated outdoor and devoid of any shelter.»

The three kinds of practitioners of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

According to restrictions, there do exist three kinds of practitioners of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga:

  1. ukkaṭṭha abbhokāsika, the noble practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga
  2. majjhima abbhokāsika, the intermediate practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga
  3. mudu abbhokāsika, the ordinary practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

1. the noble practitioner

The bhikkhu who is a noble practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga never take shelter under the shadow of anything (tree, wall, etc.) Provided he remains on a spot devoid of any shelter, he can however spread out one his robes like a tent, and put himself under.

2. the intermediate practitioner

The bhikkhu who is an intermediate practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga can stay under the shadow of a tree, but not at the foot of a tree. He can also stay under the shadow of a mountain or a house.

3. the ordinary practitioner

The bhikkhu who is ordinary practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga can build up for himself a little shelter by means of large leaves (just for enjoying a bit a shadow), instal himself under an overhanging cliff (so as to provide himself with some shadow and a shelter against the rain), under a coated clothe making it waterproof, or in a little shelter left behind by some peasants.

By doing so, the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga is not broken.

The advantages of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

By practising the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga, we can benefit with the following advantages...

  1. We get rid of idleness and torpor.
  2. We get rid of attachment towards one's dwelling spot.
  3. We get rid of attachment towards our life, we can die without fears.
  4. Like a stag, no need for an abode, free from all feelings of attachment to a spot, we are free and serene to live anywhere, and worthy of consideration.
  5. We are free from feelings of attachment to a sheltered spot.
  6. We can freely proceed by the four directions and settle down wherever we wish, with no need for an invitation.
  7. We enjoy a convenient means to provide for what we need, while being able to be satisfied with little.

Remark: the practice of a dhutaṅga alone enables one to understand its advantages.

The way to break the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

From the moment a practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga settle down (with the intention remain on that spot) on a sheltered spot, like a building having a roof, at the foot of a tree, etc., he breaks his dhutaṅga.

In the texts of the "aṅguttaranikaya", it is told: «The abbhokāsika dhutaṅga cannot be broken owing to the fact of staying under a roof. It is convenient (to the practitioner of this dhutaṅga) to proceed under a roof in order to listen to the dhamma or to satisfy various needs. However, by staying under a roof at the time of dawn, the dhutaṅga is broken.»

The way to practise the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

It is quite proper that a bhikkhu who practises the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga enters under a shelter or even a building having a roof and walls, if his intention is to listen to a teaching, or for satisfying various needs related to monastic life (uposatha, pavāraṇā, etc.) In such case, the dhutaṅga is not broken.

After having entered in a sīmā so as to perform the uposatha (for example), if it rains when the uposatha is completed, it is convenient that the bhikkhu who practises the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga remains in the sīmā. He can wait inside until the rain ceases or calms down.

If we invite such a bhikkhu to come to give a teaching under a roof, he can very well do it without breaking his dhutaṅga. Once his teaching is over, he must only return to a spot situated outdoor. He is also authorised to enter a dining room, a kitchen, or a house into which a donor wishes to offer him something to eat (on a seating spot or in his bowl).

It is convenient that a bhikkhu who practises the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga enters under a shelter for giving or receiving a dhamma teaching only at the allotted time for that. As soon as these duties are achieved, he must proceed back outside.

Such a bhikkhu can also enter under a roof when it is to the sake of carrying over a furniture or something else situated outside or inside of a monastery, when he travels along with a bhikkhu having more seniority than himself and he carries his belongings (bowl, double robe...), or when it starts raining. If the bhikkhu with whom he travels doesn't have any belongings, he can however enter under a shelter while it rains. When he has the intention to enter under a shelter, he can proceed to it, but without making haste; he must proceed to it by walking as usual. He will be able to stay there until the rain calms down, then, he must proceed outside (if only "a few drops falls", and he won't have to stay under a shelter). As soon as it stops to rain, the bhikkhu must remain outdoor.

Thus, to the bhikkhu who practises the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga, have just been mentioned the only exceptions for which he is authorised to stay under a roof.

These above mentioned points also concern bhikkhus who practise the rukkhamūla dhutaṅga. For that reason, bhikkhus who practise the rukkhamūla dhutaṅga, when it rains, when there is something to do (to give one's seat, etc.), they do practise in the same way as the practitioner of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga does.

Encouragement to the practise of the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga

The bhikkhu who practises the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga is totally spared of countless domestic, economic and human duties, to which are constrained people living inside of their house, along with children, etc.

The abbhokāsika dhutaṅga ideally corresponds with the life of a bhikkhu.

A bhikkhu who practises this dhutaṅga doesn't even have to worry to find and keep up a place for his lodging. Having the stary sky as sole roof, he easily gets rid of idleness and torpor. Free like a stag, his mind enables him to speed up and ease the realisation of the dhamma. By remaining outside, he always stays on a serene and silent spot. Pursuant to that, he can easily and without delay realise some jhānas or magga phalas.

For these reasons, bhikkhus endowed with wisdom do practise the outdoor dwelling, on spots devoid of anything, that is to say the abbhokāsika dhutaṅga.

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Origin: Book in Burmese language

Author: Monk Devinda

Date: 2001

Translator: Monk Dhamma Sāmi

Date of translation: 2004, January

Update: 2005, June the 18th