Taking away saffron robes.
This can be incurred only by those in positions of power in monastic communities. If such a person, with a bad motivation, expels monks or nuns from the monastery by taking back their robes they incur a root downfall, even if those whom they have expelled have broken their ordination vows.
Fortunately, in modern times, instances of this happening are quite rare and extreme. The reality is we don’t need somebody else to expel us, we implode upon ourselves just fine!
In reality, though, there are subtle forms of this that happen in centers all of the time. It doesn’t take the form of expelling ordained people or taking away their robes, but it can take more subtle forms of making certain sangha members feel like they are not welcome, or not part of the “in crowd” at the center. If we look at the life of Jesus, we see one constant pattern: whatever situation he was in, he would find the person who was the most excluded and disdained and he would go straight to them and cherish them with particular attention. He wouldn’t hang out with his most loyal and devoted students, but he would actively show the example of active inclusiveness by seeking out the most despised (tax collectors, prostitutes, gentiles, etc.). We should be just like that.
It is very easy and very natural for us to spend most of our time hanging out with the people we like, talking behind the backs of the people we don’t like, and generally ignoring everybody else. But is that consistent with what we are being taught? Is that the best way to use the very limited time we have to be with Sangha? Now of course we shouldn’t go to the other extreme of ambushing en masse every new person who walks through the door or every wall flower who is quietly observing from the corner. We, of course, need to be skillful. But the point is in every moment of every day, whether we are in a center, at work or amongst friends, we should have a special radar on the lookout for anybody who might be feeling excluded, and we should make a special effort to be kind to them and make them feel included. They just want to be happy too.
This vow also advises us to cut others some slack. Dharma is a mirror with which we can identify our own faults not a magnifying glass for judging other people for their faults. If we don’t understand how the Dharma is supposed to be used as a mirror, there is a real danger that the more Dharma we learn the more we become judgmental of others. People often feel guilty about their mistakes and their delusions, and if we judge them for their shortcomings they will most likely just go away so they don’t have to confront our judgment. This is another subtle form of exclusion.