Here is a comparison of 5, 8 and 10 precepts. The Buddhist who follows five precepts is known as a regular lay Buddhist. The person who follows 8 precepts is known as a serious Buddhist yogi. The person who follows the 10 precepts is known as a novice monk. A bhikkhu follows 227 rules.
It is important to know these classes to know which rules are more important to follow. It also can explain, what class of rules a monk is following. It is a unique way of looking at Monastic Morality. It is also important for lay people who take 8 precepts to really take real 8 precepts. If a lay person takes 8 precepts but knows they will not follow them, they are lying and not only breaking one of the first precepts and generating bad kamma, but they are practicing rights and rituals, something that is in the opposite direction as Enlightenment and what The Buddha preached.
The conversation I had with another monk who approached me with a question a few months ago is below:
Question: “Bhante, what is worse, to eat after NOON or to use money? I think that using money is worse because money is a “forfeiture” classed rule (Nissaggiyā Pācittiyā) and eating is only a confession classed rule (pācittiya).”
Answer: (modified slightly)
“Let us look at the 3 levels of precepts. Regular lay people follow 5 precepts, serious lay yogis follow 8 precepts and novice monks follow 10 precepts*.
3. Sexual Misconduct
Serious Lay People
6. Eating after NOON
7b. Beautification & Adornments
8. High & large beds
6. Eating after NOON
8. Beautification & Adornments
9. High & large beds
10. Using Money
We could say that one can be defined by the rules they follow. So it is important to not use money. If a monk uses money, he is only following the rules of a serious Buddhist lay person and not even a novice monk. There is only one rule that separates the serious lay practitioner and the novice monk and that is using money. However, if one eats after NOON, he is no longer even following the rules of a Serious Buddhist Lay Person. He is just following the rules of a regular “run of the mill” Buddhist Lay person. About the classes of offenses. Lying is simply “only a confession classed rule (Pācittiyā).” Do you agree that a monk who lies is below the morality of a monk who eats after NOON and below a monk who uses money? Of course, because he is no longer classed as following the rules of even a simple Buddhist lay person. He is sub-humane. The Buddha said, “In the same way, Rahula, when anyone feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie, there is no evil, I tell you, he will not do.” (MN 61). Therefore, although breaking both eating and money rules are bad, we can say that eating after NOON is worse because the monk is not even following the morality of a serious Lay Buddhist practitioner. He is only following the precepts of a “run of the mill” lay Buddhist person.
*Rules 7a and 7b and are abbreviated into general terms. Although the rules are all negative rules, I left “celibacy” as a non-negation. It really should read non-celibacy, but I think it is clear and understood this way since we know them as rules.