Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

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Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:46 am

I've been following the 6th precept, and I'm not having any big difficulties except for one. My parents make my sister and I dinner, and when I go to my friend's house, his parents also make us dinner. When I don't eat it, my parents ask me why I'm not eating, and my friend's parents do the same but sometimes pressure me into eating even though I've told them that it's a religious thing. Because of this, I feel guilty not eating. I feel like I should eat because the food was made for me to eat, and not eating such food would be ill-mannered.

Would anyone agree that it's wrong for me to reject the food? If I was a guest at your house and I didn't eat, how would you feel? I don't want to start a conflict just because somebody doesn't understand the reasoning behind eating after noon. After all, the precepts were meant to reduce conflict, weren't they?
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:24 am

How old are you?
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:11 am

m0rl0ck wrote:How old are you?

18
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:26 am

Why would you be concerned with not eating after noon? Your body is still growing and developing, if you have any thing like a normally active young adult life you probably need the nutrition. You are not a monk.
Get a healthy diet, dont worry about it.
If you want to do something buddhist, practice more, or maybe do some metta for yourself.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:32 am

m0rl0ck wrote:Why would you be concerned with not eating after noon? Your body is still growing and developing, if you have any thing like a normally active young adult life you probably need the nutrition. You are not a monk.
Get a healthy diet, dont worry about it.


No, I'm not very active anymore (except some days when I have to be). I make sure that I eat plenty before noon and I limit my food choices to healthier food. I have not seen any bad effects, unless weight loss is considered a bad effect. I've been doing this for about 2 months. And this is not about imitating monks...
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby chownah » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:58 am

Isn't following the sixth precept sort of like imitating a monk?.........just so you understand me, I have no problems with you following the sixth precept but it does seem rather monkish in that the Buddha seems to have recommended five precepts for lay people.
chownah
P.S. Maybe you should get more exercise.........this goes for anyone who says they are not so active anymore.
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:14 am

chownah wrote:Isn't following the sixth precept sort of like imitating a monk?.........just so you understand me, I have no problems with you following the sixth precept but it does seem rather monkish in that the Buddha seems to have recommended five precepts for lay people.
chownah
P.S. Maybe you should get more exercise.........this goes for anyone who says they are not so active anymore.
chownah


It's not imitating a monk if imitation is not the intent :) Ever since taking on the 8 precepts, I feel like I have made good progress.

I practice martial arts and of course I'm in a gym class at school, I'm just not a serious athlete. Tai Chi is good exercise even when practiced slowly.
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby James the Giant » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:32 am

If you go to somebody's house at dinnertime, and if you have not told them in advance that you have chosen not to eat after noon, then yes, it's rude. An insult to your hosts.
Social rules and gestures such as eating together in community with a group, that's deeply wired into instinct. You exclude yourself from eating, you are symbolically separating yourself from their social group. You become an interloper, an unknown threat in a tribe.
Keep your precepts if you wish, but do not be surprised if others see you as rude, or even see you as attacking their way of life.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:33 am

I would just eat the food so as to not cause any hurt feelings/problems. I find that it's more important to eat in moderation as opposed to necessarily before noon, and only follow the 6th precept while I'm at college where my schedule is my own. When I eat less I'm more focused and awake. So if your goal is to eat moderately so as to aid your practice, what I've found works is if you know that you'll be eating dinner with people who will expect you to be eating then skip lunch, or eat very lightly prior. That way you can avoid hurt feelings and still be moderate in your eating.




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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:12 am

Would you feel guilty about not drinking alcohol if offered some? Why should you?

It is your choice to observe the precept of not eating after midday. It's not an extreme practice for a lay person to observe eight precepts if they wish to, and not harmful to your health unless you're doing heavy manual labour.

Stick to your decision, but take the time to explain your reasons. Parents and others may not understand at first.
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby robertk » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:43 am

i saw one of my teachers not eating food at several dinners, just sort of picking over it. so i asked if she kept the 8 precepts. She then put a morsel in her mouth.
later i asked her again and she just said "dont copy".
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Aloka » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:03 pm

EmptyCittas1by1 wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:How old are you?


18


EmptyCittas1by1 wrote:I've told them that it's a religious thing

Hi EC,
As you're still a teenager, I think its only natural that your parents and friend's parents would be concerned if you're not eating the main meal of the day. I think if I was your mother I'd be concerned too.

Can I ask how long you've been practising the Dhamma and if you attend a local meditation group or a monastery?

Did you take the 8 precepts formally with a monk or teacher, or just decide to observe them independently ?

With kind regards,

Aloka
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:01 pm

Mothers fuss too much.

At 18 a young man is old enough to vote, join the army, or get married. I am sure he is also old enough to decide whether he needs to eat or not, unless he's suffering from an eating disorder like anorexia.
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:03 pm

Thanks for all of your answers :)

Aloka wrote:Can I ask how long you've been practising the Dhamma and if you attend a local meditation group or a monastery?


I've been practicing for a almost a year, and no I do not attend a meditation group or monastery. I'm planning on visiting a monastery soon though.

Aloka wrote:Did you take the 8 precepts formally with a monk or teacher, or just decide to observe them independently ?

I just decided to observe them.
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Feathers » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:22 pm

I know 18 is young, but it's not child-young - people move out, vote, etc. at that age. As long as you're healthy I see nothing wrong with it, and hopefully calm and understanding explanations can reassure your parents. Just be a bit understanding, especially as making alternative religious choices to them (I assume anyway) may freak them out more than the not-eating :tongue:

Only thing I would say is, let people know in advance you won't be eating - if they've gone out of their way to cook for you/cooked extra for you, then I can understand them being a bit put out if you don't eat.
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Aloka » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:05 pm

Yes, you definately need to avoid falling out with your parents. When I first became a Buddhist and told my parents in a not very subtle way, they really freaked out and were convinced it was something like the Moonies !

I've noticed in an earlier post on the website that you mentioned needing medication, so perhaps that could be a reason why your parents worry about you missing meals.
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Anagarika » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:38 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Would you feel guilty about not drinking alcohol if offered some? Why should you?

It is your choice to observe the precept of not eating after midday. It's not an extreme practice for a lay person to observe eight precepts if they wish to, and not harmful to your health unless you're doing heavy manual labour.

Stick to your decision, but take the time to explain your reasons. Parents and others may not understand at first.


:goodpost: There are other lay practitioners that post questions about the height and type of bed to use while practicing under the 8 precepts. Why then is it so extreme that someone would wish to practice bramacariya and/or a renunciate lifestyle so as to encourage the depth of their practice? I don't sense that the OP is "pretending to be a monk" though it seems to me that the more that one can embrace the renunciate life, the better the foundation for the practice.

Even under modern interpretations of the Vinaya, some nonfoods are allowed after midday, in the event that one is weakened or hurting from hunger.

It's not easy in this practice, and of course family members don't "get it" all the time. But the fact that others don't "get it" shouldn't dissuade one from the practice, just as an observant Jew would refuse politely to eat pork, I feel one can with advance notice allow accommodation with hosts that one cannot eat a meal after midday. The balance is between maintaining the 8 precepts and not actively offending others, and it is a balance that can be established. It's not easy, but not much in life worth having comes easily, right?
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:06 pm

Thanks again for the answers :D

But what if I've already told them and they keep trying to give me food?
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Babadhari » Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:09 pm

EmptyCittas1by1 wrote:Thanks again for the answers :D

But what if I've already told them and they keep trying to give me food?


ask yourself if it is time to compromise a little

which means more to you, your decision not to eat after the sun has moved to a particular point in the sky or causing your parents worry and distress.

is this a sudden decision by you? anyhow, you are 18, an adult and by the laws of the land you are your own master

:namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Is rejecting food after noon sometimes wrong?

Postby Feathers » Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:48 pm

On the one hand Kitztack is totally right, it sounds ridiculous when phrased like that. The trouble is, especially with family or other close community, one issue that's trivial by itself is generally symptomatic. If they're not able to tolerate his decision on this, what else will they not tolerate?
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