Why is service considered sila?

As many of you know, classical theravada lists 10 ways to accrue merit, which can be classified under the three main ones found in the suttas: dana, sila, bhavana.


One thing that’s always confused me is why service/volunteer work is classified under sila rather than dana. It seems like dana would include the giving of physical gifts and your own time and effort, but instead giving your time and effort is considered sila.

Anyone have any thoughts on why this is the case?

It might be referenced for monks.
If a monk does not do his monastery duties, then this is a small offense for him.

Not all works are classified under sīla. Most of them are dāna.

Sīla is considered two-fold as Cāritta sīla and Vāritta sīla.

  • Cāritta sīla are ‘the things to be done’: responsibilities/duties relevant to each level of sīla (lay, sāmanera, upasampadā).

  • Vāritta sīla are ‘the things not to be done’: offences mentioned in precepts

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Where is it mentioned that service in helping others (veyyavaca) is classified under sila?

There are ten ways of making merit named dasa-puñña-kiriya-vatthu. These are:

  1. Giving or generosity (Dāna-mayaŋ puñña-kiriya-vatthu)
  2. Moral conduct or virtue (Sīla-mayaŋ … )
  3. Meditation or mental development (Bhāvana-maya … )
  4. Respect or reverence (Apaciti-sahagataŋ … )
  5. Service in helping others (Veyyāvacca-sahagataŋ … ) ← it is not under sila, it has its own section
  6. Transference of merit (Pattānuppadānaŋ … )
  7. Rejoicing in other’s merit (Abbhanumodanaŋ … )
  8. Expounding or teaching the dhamma (Desana-mayaŋ …)
  9. Listening to the dhamma (Savana-mayaŋ … )
  10. Correcting one’s views (Diññhijjukammaŋ puñña-kiriya-vatthu) 7

Edit: Oh I see now it is in the summary. It would be good to have access to the commentary text that classifies it.

Veyyavaca is literally doing chore. If we translate it like that it is make sense that it is classified under sila. How it got translated into helping others I guess will need to be taken from the context in the commentary. The commentary is sumangalavilasini (D.a. III. 999).

In addition, the Commentary describes the following seven kinds of meritorious deeds which should be performed; (i) showing respect to one senior in age or qualification (apacayana) (ii) attending on one senior in age or qualification (veyyavacca). (iii) sharing the merit gained by own performance of good deeds (pattidana). (iv) receiving the merit shared by others who have performed good deeds by saying, ‘Well done, Well done’ (pattanumodana) (v) teaching what one has learnt of the Dhamma to others for their benefit without hoping of making any gains from it (dhammadesana). (vi) listening to discourse on Dhamma (dhammasavana). (vii) keeping one’s view straight (diuhijukamma).
Of these seven, apacaya and veyyavacca belong to the cayegory of Silamaya Punnakiriyavatthu; pattidana and pattanumodana belong to the Danamaya Punnakiriyavatthu: dhammadesana and dhammasavana belong to the Bhavanamaya Punnakiriyavatthu. Ditthijukamma be¬ longs to all the three categories.

https:// archive .org/details/Digha_Nikaya_eng/DN%20Pathikavagga/page/n273/mode/2up

how interesting, that does make sense i suppose. since these are indeed moral conducts, which i guess is closer in nature to keeping precepts than giving material or spiritual things.

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Good householder, on Veyyāvaca

(here btw. a personly given copy from the authors for the Sangha and it’s faithful followers: sangham*net/en/lib/authors/wijesinghe/punna ).

The different between giving (Dana) and (Sila) in regard of giving bodily strength, effort, material, time, lies within it’s purpose.

While Dana can be seen as a try to trade into, to get in relation, Sila and duties have the use of maintaining a gained near relation. Doing services means fulfilling duties right next in a shared environment.

Within the Buddhaparisa all parts actually have their duties in regard of other kinds of members. Giving alms food while holding Uposatha falls already under duty (Sila) for faithful Upaska, Upasika. Giving a teaching on Uposatha assembly to lay people, for example, is also a pointed out as a duty, service.

Maybe good to imagine it like a family, where doing certain tasks within the household by children isn’t generosity but a dutiful service, although both of course liberal.

Or another example would be the service and duty within a student - teacher relation. It would be improper - although in modern world often perceived as such - to call the duties of service of a disciple or vici versa, as generosity (a trade in, giving in advance).

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Well… hmmm that is a pretty good answer compared to your other posts.
Keep up the good work and please take the time to have someone review the English on your posts before posting them.

Sadhu x 3