WHILE the Blessed One dwelt at Kosambi, a certain bhikkhu was accused of having committed an offense, and, as he refused to acknowledge it, the brotherhood pronounced against him the sentence of expulsion.
Now, that bhikkhu was erudite. He knew the Dharma, had studied the rules of the order, and was wise, learned, intelligent, modest, conscientious, and ready to submit himself to discipline. And he went to his companions and friends among the bhikkhus, saying: "This is no offense, friends; this is no reason for a sentence of expulsion. I am not guilty. The verdict improper and invalid. Therefore I consider myself still as a member of the order. May the venerable brethren assist me in maintaining my right."
Those who sided with the expelled brother went to the bhikkhus who had pronounced the sentence, saying: "This is no offense"; while the bhikkhus who had pronounced the sentence replied: "This is an offense." Thus altercations and quarrels arose, and the Sangha was divided into two parties, reviling and slandering each other.
All these happenings were reported to the Blessed One. Then the Blessed One went to the place where the bhikkhus were who had pronounced the sentence of expulsion, and said to them: "Do not think, O bhikkhus, that you are to pronounce expulsion against a bhikkhu, whatever be the facts of the case, simply by saying: 'It occurs to us that it is so, and therefore we are pleased to proceed thus against our brother.' Let those bhikkhus who frivolously pronounce a sentence against a brother who knows the Dharma and the rules of the order, who is learned, wise, intelligent, modest, conscientious, and ready to submit himself to discipline, stand in awe of causing divisions. They must not pronounce a sentence of expulsion against a brother merely because he refuses to see his offense."
Then the Blessed One rose and went to the brethren who sided with the expelled brother and said to them: "Do not think, O bhikkhus, that if you have given offense you need not atone for it, thinking: 'We are without offense.' When a bhikkhu has committed an offense, which he considers no offense while the brotherhood consider him guilty, he should think: 'These brethren know the Dharma and the rules of the order; they are learned, wise, intelligent, modest, conscientious, and ready to submit themselves to discipline; it is impossible that they should on my account act with selfishness or in malice or in delusion or in fear.' Let him stand in awe of causing divisions, and rather acknowledge his offense on the authority of his brethren."
Both parties continued to keep Uposatha and perform official acts independently of one another; and when their doings were related to the Blessed One, he ruled that the keeping of Uposatha and the performance of official acts were lawful, unobjectionable, and valid for both parties. For he said: "The bhikkhus who side with the expelled brother form a different communion from those who pronounced the sentence. There are venerable brethren in both parties. As they do not agree, let them keep Uposatha and perform official acts separately."
And the Blessed One reprimanded the quarrelsome bhikkhus, saying to them: "Loud is the voice which worldings make; but how can they be blamed when divisions arise also in the Sangha? Hatred is not appeased in those who think: 'He has reviled me, he has wronged me, he has injured me.' For not by hatred is hatred appeased. Hatred is appeased by not-hatred. This is an eternal law.
"There are some who do not know the need of self-restraint; if they are quarrelsome we may excuse their behavior. But those who know better, should learn to live in concord. If a man finds a wise friend who lives righteously and is constant in his character, he may live with him, overcoming all dangers, happy and mindful.
"But if he finds not a friend who lives righteously and is constant in his character, let him rather walk alone, like a king who leaves his empire and the cares of government behind him to lead a life of retirement like a lonely elephant in the forest. With fools there is no companionship. Rather than to live with men who are selfish, vain, quarrelsome, and obstinate let a man walk alone."
And the Blessed One thought to himself: "It is no easy task to instruct these headstrong and infatuate fools." And he rose from his seat and went away.