the 6th precept

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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anthbrown84
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the 6th precept

Post by anthbrown84 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 3:05 pm

Hi everyone, I am about to start observing to Uposatha days from this Friday onwards and I have a question regarding the 8th precept.

This states that we should not eat afternoon and also to not eat before sunrise.

If I get up early in the morning and start work at a time that doesn’t fit in with the whole before dawn thing, am I breaking the precept by eating before dawn? if i cant eat before noon but can eat between 12 and 12.30 during work days is this bad?

I am sure I have stayed at monasteries and had breakfast while it is still dark outside? Any input is greatly appreciated. I have read intentionally breaking these precepts while trying to observe them carries heavy negative kamma, for the 2 situations i have mentioned there is this the case?
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ryanM
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by ryanM » Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:09 pm

I'm sure someone that's much more savvy will come around, but for a quick and dirty answer... before dawn would break the precept as, well, it states before dawn. If you can see your own hand or the color of the leaves outside, you're good. Regarding afternoon, well that would be when the sun is the highest. I know of some monasteries that allow you to eat after that point as long as you've started eating before noon i.e. when the sun has reached its highest point. Hope this helps!
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:00 pm

First light in the UK is at least an hour before sunrise.

Tomorrow Sunrise is at 08:05, which is about as late as it gets. Dawn is about 6:50 am, but it may be still dark outside if there is cloud cover.
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:10 pm

anthbrown84 wrote:Hi everyone, I am about to start observing to Uposatha days from this Friday onwards and I have a question regarding the 8th precept.

This states that we should not eat afternoon and also to not eat before sunrise.

If I get up early in the morning and start work at a time that doesn’t fit in with the whole before dawn thing, am I breaking the precept by eating before dawn? if i cant eat before noon but can eat between 12 and 12.30 during work days is this bad?

I am sure I have stayed at monasteries and had breakfast while it is still dark outside? Any input is greatly appreciated. I have read intentionally breaking these precepts while trying to observe them carries heavy negative kamma, for the 2 situations i have mentioned there is this the case?
it is Civil Twilight and Solar Noon so if you can find out the times of these in your area then you may have some extra minutes. But if you are following theprecept then eating before Dawn (civil twilight) and after solar noon would be a breach of the precept.

You can opt out of the full uposatha and only take on the precepts that you can keep. It is better to fully keep seven precepts than take on the full eight and break the Uposatha.

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Re: the 6th precept

Post by ihrjordan » Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:47 pm

They didn't have digital clocks in the Buddha's time so the whole "4 am to 12 pm" thing is a bit arbitrary. The point is, eat a meal at one sitting in the morning/afternoon time and do so again the next day. It's the spirit that counts and not the letter.

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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:23 am

ihrjordan wrote:They didn't have digital clocks in the Buddha's time so the whole "4 am to 12 pm" thing is a bit arbitrary. The point is, eat a meal at one sitting in the morning/afternoon time and do so again the next day. It's the spirit that counts and not the letter.
The rule is very specific. how to judge dawn and noon, there have been books writen trying to establish what what being refered to in modern language.

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Cittasanto
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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: the 6th precept

Post by MaeCheeWannabe » Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:39 am

While Mae Chee we had a puja and there were huge crowds. It took extra long to finish the ceremony and i was hungry watching in dismay as they clock passed noon. We ate anyway. Our Ajahn appeared to be concerned more of the spirit of the precept and not the exact details. I am sure views on this vary from temple to temple, order to order, person to person. I am not saying this was right or wrong...this is just what happened.
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:01 am

Once I took an undertaking to give a lunch for monks at our local temple.
My date was one month in advance and I forgot all about it.
Monk call me at 11.00 noon to remind me about the Dana.
I ran to the local fast food store and rush to the temple, it was past noon.
The head monk do not make any fuss and ate the lunch.
However the trainee monk was not happy about it.
After all it was my fault.

After that incident monk gave me a reminder call the day before the Dana.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Anagarika » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:44 am

I observe the 8 precepts and truly choose to perceive them as the language of the precept acceptance states: " I undertake the training rule to..." In this sense, we are the owners of our actions, our kamma, and our adherence to these training rules influences our path of purification. Yet, I don't like the precepts being synonymous with "laws" or "requirements" or "commandments." I don't feel that we should view these precepts as inviolable laws, which, upon violation, we are subject to some terrible self-sanction, or a sense of having sinned. Didn't many of us abandon this Xtian sensibility of guilt, sin, and penance upon renouncing the religions we were born into?

Having said the above, the precepts are to be taken seriously. I don't view them as malleable, nor do I see them as arbitrary, and useful only when convenient, If the observance of the training rule means that you eat at 11:31 .am. in the winter, and in good faith you understand that you ate a minute too late, this is not an offense that calls for self-flagellation, IMO. If one's intention is pure, and once's effort at staying within the training rules is consistent and sincere, we are undertaking the training rule as a testament of our dedication and pure intention, and not as a blind obedience to a law or commandment.

I try to be strict, but only because I respect these precepts and do my absolute best with them. This kamma seems bright enough. But, if I am late to eat lunch, and need to eat at 12;01 in order to function the remainder of the day, I'll eat and it is my last meal of the day.

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Re: the 6th precept

Post by SarathW » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:48 am

What if it was 12.30 or 1.00pm?
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:44 am

SarathW wrote:What if it was 12.30 or 1.00pm?
daylight savings time happens because the time of dawn and solar noon and dusk changes. In the UK there can be about 2 hours difference throughout the year (from earliest to latest time it occurs)

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Cittasanto
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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: the 6th precept

Post by ihrjordan » Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:13 am

Cittasanto wrote:
ihrjordan wrote:They didn't have digital clocks in the Buddha's time so the whole "4 am to 12 pm" thing is a bit arbitrary. The point is, eat a meal at one sitting in the morning/afternoon time and do so again the next day. It's the spirit that counts and not the letter.
The rule is very specific. how to judge dawn and noon, there have been books writen trying to establish what what being refered to in modern language.

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
It is not immoral to eat at 12:01 pm instead of 11:55 am. Spirit, not the letter.

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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:16 am

ihrjordan wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
ihrjordan wrote:They didn't have digital clocks in the Buddha's time so the whole "4 am to 12 pm" thing is a bit arbitrary. The point is, eat a meal at one sitting in the morning/afternoon time and do so again the next day. It's the spirit that counts and not the letter.
The rule is very specific. how to judge dawn and noon, there have been books writen trying to establish what what being refered to in modern language.

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
It is not immoral to eat at 12:01 pm instead of 11:55 am. Spirit, not the letter.
This precept is not one of morals, rather training in restraint. it is a spiritual precept.
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: the 6th precept

Post by anthbrown84 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:38 am

Thankyou for the input so far everyone, some mixed opinions here so I may have to use the upcoming retreat I am on to speak to my local Ajahn and see what he says.

I think for now, I will observe the days and instead of chanting the 6th precept, I may simply state ''I will not eat a meal before 'a certain time' and after my lunch''

maybe this way I am still keeping to the spirit of the precepts without actually officially breaking them?

I think its still training in restraint in some way isn't it?

There also seems to be some mixed opinions on it being 1 meal a day or as many meals as you like between dawn and 12? Anyone know the correct definition here?
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:50 am

anthbrown84 wrote:There also seems to be some mixed opinions on it being 1 meal a day or as many meals as you like between dawn and 12? Anyone know the correct definition here?
The monks may eat any number of times between dawn and midday. Usually, they will eat twice, but only once in the forest tradition. A stricter ascetic practice (dhutaṅga) is to eat at a single session. I have already had most of my meal in the house where I went for alms this morning. I have had a cup of tea since I came back, and I will have another, plus some fruit before midday.

A lay person observing the eight precepts should keep them in both the spirit and the letter, otherwise there is not much meaning or purpose to taking the extra precepts. Just observe the five precepts properly.

The Eight Precepts are about higher morality (adhisīlasikkha). You make a promise to undertake the eight precepts. If you break them, then you break your promise. That is not quite the same as telling deliberate lies, unless you have no genuine intention to observe the precept in the spirit and the letter.

The Uposatha-day practice as it is generally practised nowadays is a sham. People take eight precepts in the morning, then take five precepts at the end of the day before they go home for their evening meal, and then sleep with their partners as usual. If done in that way only for public show, there is little merit in it. The purpose is to remove thoughts of sensuality so that one can devote one's full energies to meditation practice like an Anagārika or a meditator on a ten-day retreat.

The proper and original practice is to observe the eight precepts until the dawn of the following day, staying in the Vihāra the entire night to listen to Dhamma talks, and practise meditation. That is how at least some pious people used to practise at Wat Pah Nanachat when I was there. In the early hours of the morning, they might take a nap in the kitchen, but they did not go home to sleep in their own beds.

From the story of Mahākāla, it seems that that was the practice during the Buddha's time too.
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by anthbrown84 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:27 am

Thankyou Bikkhu Pesala,

Venerable Sir, If I may bother you just once more, I am left wondering now, after what you have said, is there any point in me trying this, because I will not be able to eat on the majority of Uposatha days as my work hours do not allow this. Would you advise, if I cant guarantee sticking to this noon meal to the exact time allowed, then to simply not do the observance days at all?

I would be able to stick to all the other extra precepts, but this eating before noon will 100% cause an issue as my lunch starts at 12.

I may indeed be able to ask for an earlier lunch on religious grounds but I would have to see what they say for that

Thankyou for your time
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:55 am

I suppose you could manage with sandwiches, fruit, and yoghurt to take at your desk or on the bus on the way to work if it's after dawn. It's not difficult to take a lunch box to work, then you can eat whenever it suits you.

It might be best to limit the observance to your days off as not eating properly while working may harm your health.
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Mr Man » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:03 am

anthbrown84, Bhikkhu Pesala; How about the idea of dedicating 1 day a week which doesn't coincide with the Uposatha to more intensive dhamma practice and the 8 precepts - a day when one doesn't have other responsibilities like work?

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anthbrown84
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Re: the 6th precept

Post by anthbrown84 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:03 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I suppose you could manage with sandwiches, fruit, and yoghurt to take at your desk or on the bus on the way to work if it's after dawn. It's not difficult to take a lunch box to work, then you can eat whenever it suits you.

It might be best to limit the observance to your days off as not eating properly while working may harm your health.
Thankyou very much Venerable Sir
"Your job in practise is to know the difference between the heart and the activity of the heart, that is it, it is that simple" Ajahn Tate

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Re: the 6th precept

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:50 am

anthbrown84 wrote:
There also seems to be some mixed opinions on it being 1 meal a day or as many meals as you like between dawn and 12? Anyone know the correct definition here?
Some Monasteries I have stayed at observe noon according to the clock (GMT time so 12:00 winter 13:00 summer). And the meal was at 11:00/11:30. But that is for ease of the laity who bring them food. And others had an early meal (10:30ish) so not to fall into offence, and make life easier for lay supporters to arrange travel.
But the cut of is solar noon.
I like Bhante's suggestion of a packed lunch.

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Cittasanto
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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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