MN 70 wrote:I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was wandering on a tour of Kasi with a large community of monks. There he addressed the monks: "I abstain from the night-time meal. As I am abstaining from the night-time meal, I sense next-to-no illness, next-to-no affliction, lightness, strength, & a comfortable abiding. Come now. You too abstain from the night-time meal. As you are abstaining from the night-time meal, you, too, will sense next-to-no illness, next-to-no affliction, lightness, strength, & a comfortable abiding."
MN 66 wrote:For in the past, lord, we used to eat in the morning, in the evening, and in the day at the wrong time (the afternoon). Then there was the time when the Blessed One addressed the monks, saying, 'Monks, please discontinue that daytime meal at the wrong time.'...
So we ate both in the evening & in the morning. Then there was the time when the Blessed One addressed the monks, saying, 'Monks, please discontinue that evening meal at the wrong time.'
jason c wrote:why can't the monks eat at different times if it suits there own bodies needs.
This practice of ours is not easy. We may know some things but there is still much that we dont know. For example, when we hear teachings such as "know the body, then know the mind within the body"; or "know the mind, then know the mind within the mind." If we havent yet practiced these things, then we hear them we may feel baffled. The Vinaya 1 is like this. In the past I used to be a teacher, 2 but I was only a "small teacher," not a big one. Why do I say a "small teacher"? Because I didnt practice. I taught the Vinaya but I didnt practice it. This I call a small teacher, an inferior teacher. I say an "inferior teacher" because when it came to the practice I was deficient. For the most part my practice was a long way off the theory, just as if I hadnt learned the Vinaya at all.
However, I would like to state that in practical terms its impossible to know the Vinaya completely, because some things, whether we know them or not, are still offenses. This is tricky. And yet it is stressed that if we do not yet understand any particular training rule or teaching, we must study that rule with enthusiasm and respect. If we dont know, then we should make an effort to learn. If we dont make an effort, that is in itself an offense.
For example, if you doubt... suppose there is a woman and, not knowing whether she is a woman or a man, you touch her. 3 Youre not sure, but still go ahead and touch... thats still wrong. I used to wonder why that should be wrong, but when I considered the practice, I realized that a meditator must have sati, he must be circumspect. Whether talking, touching or holding things, he must first thoroughly consider. The error in this case is that there is no sati, or insufficient sati, or a lack of concern at that time.
Take another example: its only eleven oclock in the morning but at the time the sky is cloudy, we cant see the sun, and we have no clock. Now suppose we estimate that its probably afternoon... we really feel that its afternoon... and yet we proceed to eat something. We start eating and then the clouds part and we see from the position of the sun that its only just past eleven. This is still an offense. 4 I used to wonder, "Eh? Its not yet past mid day, why is this an offense?"
An offense is incurred here because of negligence, carelessness, we dont thoroughly consider. There is a lack of restraint. If there is doubt and we act on the doubt, there is a dukkata 5 offense just for acting in the face of the doubt. We think that it is afternoon when in fact it isnt. The act of eating is not wrong in itself, but there is an offense here because we are careless and negligent. If it really is afternoon but we think it isnt, then its the heavier pacittiya offense. If we act with doubt, whether the action is wrong or not, we still incur an offense. If the action is not wrong in itself it is the lesser offense; if it is wrong then the heavier offense is incurred. Therefore the Vinaya can get quite bewildering.
At one time I went to see Venerable Ajahn Mun. 6 At that time I had just begun to practice. I had read the Pubbasikkha 7 and could understand that fairly well. Then I went on to read the Visuddhimagga, where the author writes of the Silanidesa (Book of Precepts), Samadhinidesa (Book of Mind Training) and Pannanidesa (Book of Understanding)... I felt my head was going to burst! After reading that, I felt that it was beyond the ability of a human being to practice. But then I reflected that the Buddha would not teach something that is impossible to practice. He wouldnt teach it and he wouldnt declare it, because those things would be useful neither to himself nor to others. The Silanidesa is extremely meticulous, the Samadhinidesa more so, and the Pannanidesa even more so! I sat and thought, "Well, I cant go any further. Theres no way ahead." It was as if Id reached a dead end.
...read further "Understanding Vinaya - Food for the heart"
Cittasanto wrote:The rule is for equanimity, dispassion regarding food intake, to restrain oneself from over indulgence of sensual pleasures. the way the rule is in the Vinaya has to do with not being a burden on the lay supporters, or putting oneself in danger, as traveling at night can have problems such as the inability to see where ditches stones... are.
jason c wrote:hi everyone,
thanks for the replies, i have often thought this precept had another lesson. the buddha lived a life of luxury he had all the food he could ever want and ate whenever he wanted, this not putting an end to his suffering he went out and began the life of an ascetic living off of bird droppings and at times 1 grain of rice per day. this only led to sickness and had no profitibility, it did not put an end to his suffering. finding the middle way, not taking too much food and not taking too little was the practice that led to his enlightenment. i believe the buddha saw many beings living with too much and he saw many beings living with not enough. so he created the order of monks , because most of us come from plentiful lifestyles we view the limited food of a monk as a restriction, but the order of monks and nuns is open to people of all backgrounds, and one coming from a life of extreme poverty would find salvation from hunger by joining, they would not view this as a dicipline but as the appropriate amount of food for survival. with this knowledge i try and live a similar lifestyle not too much but not to little. with my lifestlyle; job, kids ,level of physical activity, i cannot always follow a particular time schedule for my meals (my kids usually come first) but i do only take two meals a day, breakfast and lunch, this i have found works for my individual body and the amount of food i take depends on different factors (cold weather, hot weather, much activity, less activity etc...). i also find the empty stomach is agreeable for my morning and evening sits. i like to think that the meal i skip, the new pair of shoes i don't buy, the new bathroom that i don't install, is left for some other being that really needs these things.
this is my personal interpretation of this precept and eating at (the forbidden time) has no real benifit to practice other than a level of personal comfort in seated meditation. it seems to have great benefit with large groups of men and women begging for there meals, keeping order and not inconviencing others, but there does not seem to be any other reason one should not take a meal say at 1 pm.
there seems no reason for a layperson to adopt this precept into his or her lifestyle.
thoughts on this, metta
jason c wrote:hey cittasanto,
i suppose the timeframe can force compassion to arise in devotees, if we dont get the food to them on time the poor folks will go hungry for the night. and if nobody gives, the monks move on or starve to death. so the timeframe could also be to solicit compassion.
i'm having a hard time fidguring out your message, i believe its the language barrier. but thanks for the reply
57. I will not teach Dhamma to a person with an umbrella in his hand who is not ill: a training to be observed.