A schism ( sanga-bheda, literally a split in the monks) is a division in the Community in which two groups of bhikkhus of common affiliation, with at least five in one group and four or more in the other, conduct Community business (Uposatha,etc) separately in the same territory.

The Gauthama Buddha condemned schism in strong terms, saying that a person who starts or joins a schism in a Community originally united around the Dhamma and Vinaya, is performing one of the five weighty unwholesome kammas & destined to be boiled for an aeon in hell. The Buddha therefore formulated two sanghādisesa disciplinary rules to intercept attempts at schism.

The Eighteen causes of schism include Explaining

  1. Not-Dhamma as ‘Dhamma’
  2. Dhamma as ‘not-Dhamma’
  3. Not-Vinaya as Vinaya’ (Discipline)
  4. Vinaya as ‘not-Vinaya’ …
  5. What was not spoken, not mentioned by the Tathāgata (The Buddha) as ‘spoken, mentioned by the Tathāgata’ …
  6. What was spoken, mentioned by the Tathāgata as ‘not spoken, not mentioned by the Tathāgata’
  7. What was not regularly practiced by the Tathāgata as ‘regularly practiced by the Tathāgata’
  8. What was regularly practiced by the Tathāgata as ‘not regularly practiced by the Tathāgata’
  9. What was not formulated by the Tathāgata as ‘formulated by the Tathāgata’
  10. What was formulated by the Tathāgata as ‘not formulated by the Tathāgata’
  11. A non-offense as ‘an offense’
  12. An offense as ‘a non-offense’
  13. Light offense as ‘a heavy offense’
  14. A heavy offense as ‘a light offense’
  15. An incurable offense as ‘a curable offense’
  16. A curable offense as ‘an incurable offense’
  17. A serious offense as ‘a not-serious offense’
  18. A not-serious offense as ‘a serious offense.

These are the causes that create division in the Sanga.

May all the beings be well and happy & attain the fruits of Nibbana.

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