sleeping on the floor

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sleeping on the floor

Postby pedro1985 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:58 am

I read somewhere that monks are advised not to sleep in a bed, but they
should sleep on the floor. What is the benefit of sleeping on the floor?

I can imagine sleeping on the floor in countries like India, Thailand is
comfortable, but if you sleep on the floor in Europe during the winter
when everything outside is frozen, you are most likely to catch a lung
infection from the cold floor.

At least the floor in my home is very cold. I wear shoes in the
house, because it's too cold to walk on my socks because the floor feels
frozen.

So I was wondering why the Buddha advises sleeping on the floor.
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:15 am

I think you will find Pedro that monks are not supposed to sleep in luxurious high beds.
I think most monks most of the time take the Middle Way and sleep on low, non luxurious beds.

Although I did know one Ajahn who slept for some time standing up !
But that was exceptional.
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby cooran » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:19 am

Hello Pedro,

All rules which the Buddha made for the Bhikkhus are in the Vinaya Pitaka:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/

Bhikkhus do not have to sleep on the floor -
''When a bhikkhu is having a new bed or bench made, it is to have legs (at most) eight fingerbreadths long — using sugata fingerbreadths — not counting the lower edge of the frame. In excess of that it is to be cut down and confessed.''
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#Pc87

with metta
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby pedro1985 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:33 am

Thanks for the replies. I read the link you submitted, Chris, but still
I am left with this question:

Still, when a monk has a high bed, even higher than the measures you quoted
above, what would be wrong with that?

Why would monks should refrain from sleeping on (too) high beds?
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:39 am

The Vinaya ( the rules for monks and nuns ) has survived for more than 2000 years they came about for pragmatic reasons..because they work. So monks do not eat after noon time. This came about partly because walking through the forest at night was potentially dangerous...but even today in city monasteries monks keep that rule because they found that it was condusive to meditation.
In the same way The Buddha and his monks found that sleeping on a low hard bed meant that they slept only lightly..which was also condusive to meditation, and that in fact they could continue to meditate while asleep.
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby cooran » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:59 am

Hello Pedro,

It has to do with living a simple life, a life of virtue and reducing craving.

From DN 2 Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life
"Whereas some priests and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to high and luxurious furnishings such as these — over-sized couches, couches adorned with carved animals, long-haired coverlets, multi-colored patchwork coverlets, white woolen coverlets, woolen coverlets embroidered with flowers or animal figures, stuffed quilts, coverlets with fringe, silk coverlets embroidered with gems; large woolen carpets; elephant, horse, and chariot rugs, antelope-hide rugs, deer-hide rugs; couches with awnings, couches with red cushions for the head and feet — he abstains from using high and luxurious furnishings such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... tml#luxury

Even lay people when they undertake the Eight Precepts, commit to:
8. Uccasayana-mahasayana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:45 am

PeterB wrote:but even today in city monasteries monks keep that rule because they found that it was condusive to meditation.

In the same way The Buddha and his monks found that sleeping on a low hard bed meant that they slept only lightly..which was also condusive to meditation, and that in fact they could continue to meditate while asleep.

Indeed! Not that I am a monk, but I can confirm both from personal experience. I can't remember in which sutta, but the Buddha praised the practice of only eating one meal a day (interpreted to mean a snack at dawn and a more substantial meal before noon). In recent years on retreats I have followed this practice and consciously ate less without resorting to fasting. It has led to a noticable improvement in my meditation.

Likewise, this year on a retreat I slept on a low wooden bench that was softened by a woven grass mat and two thin quilts. It was also conducive to light sleep and the maintenance of sati and sampajjana.
But your best reference as to the actual reason why particular vinaya rules were implemented is the vinaya itself as the rule is always preceeded by a particular precedent which warrantd the rule's introduction.
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby pedro1985 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:17 pm

Thanks, this indeed clears up a lot for me.
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:30 pm

This issue recently came up while at a week-long seminar regarding vipissana/samatha meditation practice. An elderly monk was mentioned who lived his entire adult life, due to an infirmity, sleeping, and meditating in a hard wooden chair. He was said to be but one lifetime from being A Non-returner, not because of this but because of his vast knowledge of The Dhamma and his practice.

_/\_Ron
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A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: sleeping on the floor

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:33 pm

pedro1985 wrote:What is the benefit of sleeping on the floor?


You'll never fall out of bed.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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