I Finally Did It!
This Rainy Season (Vassa) I was able to learn the Pātimokkha (227 Rules) by heart. It is the first round and it takes me a long time to do it, and there are mistakes. Never the less, it is considered “learned” and “memorized” at this stage. I will hopefully recite the Pātimokkha for the full moon November 3rd if all goes well. I need to get my 2+ hours of recitation down to at least 1:15 minutes. Most people do the recitation in 45 minutes or less. Some can do it in 25 minutes! It is also very common for experienced chanters to make mistakes and or need prompting for certain rules but not as much as I need right now. It is a mother-load of text. I will recite the whole text daily and rework the sections I am slow and rusty on until it gets smoother and faster.
I have formatted the text into an A5 book and it is 55 pages long* and it is also in the Theravāda Buddhist language called Pāḷi. I surely had to do some cramming of Pāḷi to be able to remember all of this. Otherwise it would be impossible. I have Venerable Nyanatusita’s book The Bhikkhu Patimokkha
A Word by Word Translation (pictured up top) to thank for this achievement. Sadhu for his work! The book is here: https://bps.lk/cover.php?id=bp627s
Normally, one is supposed to finish memorizing the Pātimokkha before one reaches his 5th year. Not only am I on my official 11th year, but I have lost 6 years when I changed to a Sri Lankan Nikaya. (that equals 17 rainy seasons). Previously, I thought I was too old or dumb to do it and I had tried several times but just could not get it to stick in my mind. In 2011, I made it goal to simply read the text with fluency. I failed at that too. I felt really stupid because the monk who was helping me merely read the text had memorized the most of the text in 3 days! (he is special though) Before that, and early on in my monk life, I found that I could memorize one rule, but after I tried to do the 2nd rule, the first rule would be lost. This problem is common though. The trick is to do a factorial approach. 1, 1 + 2, 1 + 2 + 3, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4, etc. It takes a long time as you learn more and more, but it does work.
This rainy season, I spent roughly 6 hours per day in meditation and then about 2 hours per day learning the Pātimokkha. This excludes the extra time that I would recite certain sections to my patient friend named, U Revata (not the famous one from Mawlamyine). In the beginning, he was listening to my progress everyday by his suggestion, but later on, we started to remove sections and met on every other day due to his own schedule. It was getting to be quite a long time investment and I am very grateful for his help and encouragement. I don’t think I could have done it without his help, even though all he did was listen to me and show me the words I missed. He gave me motivation an confidence which is a true teaching quality.
“I think I can!”
“I know I can!”
This pdf -> PatimokkhaRomanOnly has the text.
*The margins seem to be big from the way I imported the text though. The rule names are also not memorized.