Monastic rules on eating

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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ihrjordan
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Monastic rules on eating

Post by ihrjordan »

So a couple questions. 1st, are monks allowed to reject food from supporters even if they pass the allowable food test? i.e not human flesh, horse etc. I ask because what if a monk has a sensitive digestive system and can't eat meat for a while until his system regulates?

2nd are monks allowed to heat up or "cold down" the drinks they're given? I know the Buddha was influenced by aryuvedic medicine and it's usually recommended to stay away from cold drinks in the summer and drink hot drinks in the morning to get the digestive system fires burning.
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DNS
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by DNS »

Not sure about the second question; in regard to the first, I believe a monk is only allowed to refuse if it is one of the inappropriate foods or if it is any food, but at the wrong time, i.e. after 12 noon. However, in practice I have heard that all the monks gather the food and put it on the tables buffet style and then the monks pick and choose what they want to eat. It is usually no problem for vegetarian monks as they can choose the vegetarian foods and leave the meat for the omnivore monks. I have heard that being vegan, though is next to impossible as a monk or nun unless of course the donors were donating only vegan foods, which might occur in some convert Buddhist communities (although very rare and not to be counted on).
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ihrjordan
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

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The Buddha must have known about food allergies when making the precepts, as it's even recorded that Hippocrates used to apple cider vinegar to cure allergies and he lived around 460 B.C.E. I've heard rumors and read things from misc web pages claiming that fasting cures food and seasonal allergies while the Buddha is quoted as saying "Eat one meal a day so you will be free from sickness" at least 40 times (rough estimate) throughout the cannon. Surely he didn't want the Sangha suffering from allergies so perhaps this was his way to combat various maladies, and besides in the way of allowable medicine the pickings were grounded on natural cures and I don't recall to many monks getting sick to the point it's debilitating (with a few exceptions) so it might have been a case of "If you can prevent than great but fasting usually works too"
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by ihrjordan »

But those are really the reasons why the Buddha allowed his monks to eat meat and this is also why monks should NOT be vegans (imo) since it makes them impossible to deal with in terms of their needs and requirements. I have a feeling that it's not necessarily the quality of the food that counts but the quantity.
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by Dhammanando »

ihrjordan wrote:So a couple questions. 1st, are monks allowed to reject food from supporters even if they pass the allowable food test? i.e not human flesh, horse etc.
Despite a widespread belief to the contrary, the Vinaya doesn't actually oblige a bhikkhu to ever accept any offering from anybody. And so in theory a bhikkhu could walk on almsround ignoring all the requests to stop from donors who offer food that he doesn't like. In so doing he wouldn't be breaking any Vinaya rule. Socially, however, this would be quite a serious faux pas in Asian Buddhist countries. As a bhikkhu one is expected to be encouraging and facilitating dāna on the part of householders, not obstructing it, and so a bhikkhu's rejection of a householder's allowable offering would be viewed as perverse and mean-spirited.
ihrjordan wrote:I ask because what if a monk has a sensitive digestive system and can't eat meat for a while until his system regulates?
If he's living alone and has a sensitive digestive system, he should accept whatever he's offered but eat only what agrees with him. If he's living in a monastery, then he can make arrangements with his fellow monks after notifying them of his condition. In either case, if he's seriously ill then the Vinaya allows him to request special foods.
ihrjordan wrote:2nd are monks allowed to heat up or "cold down" the drinks they're given?
Yes.
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by Dhammanando »

ihrjordan wrote:But those are really the reasons why the Buddha allowed his monks to eat meat and this is also why monks should NOT be vegans (imo) since it makes them impossible to deal with in terms of their needs and requirements.
A bhikkhu can practise vegetarianism or veganism and still be Vinaya-observant, provided he doesn't do it in the way that East Asian Mahayana monastics are wont to do, i.e., by issuing gastronomic directives to their lay supporters.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by samseva »

ihrjordan wrote:So a couple questions. 1st, are monks allowed to reject food from supporters even if they pass the allowable food test? i.e not human flesh, horse etc. I ask because what if a monk has a sensitive digestive system and can't eat meat for a while until his system regulates?
Sekhiya rule 33 reads (from Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's Buddhist Monastic Code I):
33. I will eat almsfood methodically (§): a training to be observed.
The aim of this rule is that a bhikkhu work steadily across his food from one side to another while eating and not pick at it here and there. Special treats, though, may be passed over—either as a form of self-denial or to save them for the end of the meal. Also, there is no offense in picking here and there when taking food from one’s bowl to give to another person (§).
However, I did watch one of Ven. Yuttadhammo's videos stating that a monk refusing food is not well perceived, but he can be selective about what he eats. Probably Ven. Dhammanando could clarify this.
ihrjordan wrote:2nd are monks allowed to heat up or "cold down" the drinks they're given? I know the Buddha was influenced by aryuvedic medicine and it's usually recommended to stay away from cold drinks in the summer and drink hot drinks in the morning to get the digestive system fires burning.
I don't see why there would be a rule against this.
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by ihrjordan »

Dhammanando wrote: Despite a widespread belief to the contrary, the Vinaya doesn't actually oblige a bhikkhu to ever accept any offering from anybody. And so in theory a bhikkhu could walk on almsround ignoring all the requests to stop from donors who offer food that he doesn't like. In so doing he wouldn't be breaking any Vinaya rule. Socially, however, this would be quite a serious faux pas in Asian Buddhist countries. As a bhikkhu one is expected to be encouraging and facilitating dāna on the part of householders, not obstructing it, and so a bhikkhu's rejection of a householder's allowable offering would be viewed as perverse and mean-spirited.
14th dhutaṅga practice. anyone?....anyone? Just walk around denying everyone's dāna and you can only eat when a supporter gets angry enough to force it down :rofl: No, but in all seriousness how closely associated was the Buddha to the Aryuveda teachings? Did he see most of these teachings as of benefit or did he only keep the stuff he felt was truly necessary whilst leaving the chaff? Are there any references in the canon to well known A.Indian M.D's?
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by tattoogunman »

ihrjordan wrote:The Buddha must have known about food allergies when making the precepts, as it's even recorded that Hippocrates used to apple cider vinegar to cure allergies and he lived around 460 B.C.E. I've heard rumors and read things from misc web pages claiming that fasting cures food and seasonal allergies while the Buddha is quoted as saying "Eat one meal a day so you will be free from sickness" at least 40 times (rough estimate) throughout the cannon. Surely he didn't want the Sangha suffering from allergies so perhaps this was his way to combat various maladies, and besides in the way of allowable medicine the pickings were grounded on natural cures and I don't recall to many monks getting sick to the point it's debilitating (with a few exceptions) so it might have been a case of "If you can prevent than great but fasting usually works too"
My understanding, which may be wrong I admit, of the whole one meal a day thing was to be respectful to the people in the community he/they were staying or living in. The Buddha did not want the monks going door to door asking for food all day long essentially bugging the community, so it was decided to do the alms round once in the morning and that was the basis for the once a day meal. I also saw something in the book I'm reading now (The Buddha and His Teachings by Narada) where he (Narada) says not to eat after 5pm and not noon - not that it really matters I supposed. In either case, what if one chooses to eat their one meal at night rather than the morning - what's the logic behind only eating before noon?
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ihrjordan
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by ihrjordan »

samseva wrote: Sekhiya rule 33 reads (from Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's Buddhist Monastic Code I):
33. I will eat almsfood methodically (§): a training to be observed.
The aim of this rule is that a bhikkhu work steadily across his food from one side to another while eating and not pick at it here and there. Special treats, though, may be passed over—either as a form of self-denial or to save them for the end of the meal. Also, there is no offense in picking here and there when taking food from one’s bowl to give to another person
I find it interesting that the Buddha didn't say that monks could skip desserts in order to maintain their heath and only as self denial or eating it as the end reward. This sits in stark contrast to the modern notion that cholesterol, sugar and fat are to be avoided at all costs. So if the Buddha wasn't worried about his monks getting diabetes, maybe he knew something we don't know in this regard... perhaps modern notions of calorie intake and vitamins are wrong. I've noticed that monastics seem to baffle nutritionists left and right with strange feats contrary to what is prescribed...
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

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ihrjordan wrote:So a couple questions. 1st, are monks allowed to reject food from supporters even if they pass the allowable food test? i.e not human flesh, horse etc. I ask because what if a monk has a sensitive digestive system and can't eat meat for a while until his system regulates?
As far as I am aware, they should accept what is given, whether they eat it or not is another matter.
Monks can refuse from certain people if they are seen as being to faithful i.e. their generosity is putting their own basic needs in jeopardy.
2nd are monks allowed to heat up or "cold down" the drinks they're given? I know the Buddha was influenced by aryuvedic medicine and it's usually recommended to stay away from cold drinks in the summer and drink hot drinks in the morning to get the digestive system fires burning.
I do not know 100% but I do not think they are. it would be classed as cooking and thus not allowable. but I may be wrong.

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But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by Cittasanto »

ihrjordan wrote:So a couple questions. 1st, are monks allowed to reject food from supporters even if they pass the allowable food test? i.e not human flesh, horse etc. I ask because what if a monk has a sensitive digestive system and can't eat meat for a while until his system regulates?
As far as I am aware, they should accept what is given, whether they eat it or not is another matter.
Monks can refuse from certain people if they are seen as being to faithful i.e. their generosity is putting their own basic needs in jeopardy.
2nd are monks allowed to heat up or "cold down" the drinks they're given? I know the Buddha was influenced by aryuvedic medicine and it's usually recommended to stay away from cold drinks in the summer and drink hot drinks in the morning to get the digestive system fires burning.
I do not know 100% but I do not think they are. it would be classed as cooking and thus not allowable. but I may be wrong.

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

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Reheating of already cooked food is allowable — heating a tin of baked beans for example.
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by peterve »

They are allowed to reject food but since they are monks they will not reject food since it may hurt the feelings of people who are donating them.
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Re: Monastic rules on eating

Post by ihrjordan »

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Reheating of already cooked food is allowable — heating a tin of baked beans for example.
So drinks are or are not allowable, for instance if a monk was given an iced coffee can they heat it up in a microwave or on a stove if they prefer hot coffee?
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