The Bhikkhus Rules
A Guide for Laypeople
The next point to deal with is that of a bhikkhu traveling with a woman. This is also a very practical question and is often asked about.
In the Buddhas time, a bhikkhu was about to set out on a journey when he met a woman who has just quarreled with her husband. She asked where he was going and if she could accompany him. He agreed. The husband then appeared, searching for his wife. He heard that she had gone off with a monk and assumed that they were lovers, so when he caught up with the pair he thrashed the bhikkhu before explanations could be made. When the husband realized his mistake, he apologized to the bhikkhu. Therefore this rule was set down:
"Traveling by arrangement with a woman from one village to another is [an offence of Confession.]"
(Summarised Paac. 67; BMC p.434)
Modern practice differs according to the Community so lay women should bear this rule in mind when arranging transport for bhikkhus,1 or going to the same place as them. Reluctance by a bhikkhu to arrange such journeys might also be explained by this rule.
"...it seems reasonable, as there is some uncertainty [as to whether it applies to more than just one monk and one woman,] to be more lenient allowing a journey with one or more women as long as there is at least one male accompanying the monk and the journey is not long. For example, a woman driving two monks in her car to an invitation in the next village seems no more reprehensible than two monks sitting down talking Dhamma to the women, but two women driving across Australia with two monks could be a cause for concern."
"The main emphasis in this guideline is upon the formal arranging, thus there is no fault if arrangements are made by someone else and a bhikkhu and a woman come to be traveling together, if the woman makes an arrangement and the bhikkhu, without consenting, goes along, or if there are misfortunes. However, other factors should be considered, i.e., a car is a private place (Paac.45) and intimate conversations may occur (Paac.7)." (HS ch.13)