David N. Snyder wrote:The problem with giving gilāna such a wide interpretation is that it opens the door to eat the evening meal just about everyday and then making the rule on the noon meal moot, which I don't believe was the intention of the rule or precept.
Well the 'wide interpretation' does come from the vinaya, and the origin stories, not just a commentary interpretation of what ill is. those who want to gain a evening meal are going to interpret it the way they want, or ignore it completely, regardless, some use money but this is against the precepts completely, and how many lay people interpret the 5th precept to be in moderation? there are even monks (Dharmagupta) who consider touching a woman with lustful intent as a Pācittiya even though it is a sanghadisesa. people will use things inappropriately regardless of the actual rule. but it is considering the well behaved Mendicants, those who don't mistreat the rules the 'wide interpretation' is possible for.
The great standard can be used to ensure the precept does not get broken, for example, the Patimokkha could not possibly list every possible food, so using the great standard we could interpret any food of substance, i.e., with calories as not allowable after noon for a monk who is not ill.
Sorry but the tonics are or can be of substance, and do have calories.
If we look at another precept, on intoxicants, they are not allowed at all, even unintentionally. yet there is an allowance to take alcohol in very specific conditions, i.e. medicine, which has lead to morphine being allowed in medical situations, even though technically it shouldn't be. but it is only used in specific situations so is accepted, not exactly with the letter, but with the spirit, I believe.
I think there can be some adjustments and leeway and the Vinaya allows this, for example for a monk who is ill. But allowing the tonics which could easily become a meal itself for mild discomforts opens the door for the whole precept to go out the window. Too much leeway I think may be the reason we are starting to see over-weight and sometimes even obese monks.
well regarding the obese monks you can get obese from eating only during the appropriate time. it happened to me, just eating in the morning I was 13st which isn't overweight for my height & build, but considering I levelled of at between 11.5St-12.5St (my weight fluctuates about a stone normally).
but then I was particularly hungry at the time for about a month.
I also think there can be some leeway and adjustments for monasteries in non-Buddhist countries who don't have a supportive community for regular alms rounds. In some cases, the monks may need to purchase and prepare food, but the meal could still be eaten before noon.
so you would advocate breaking two rules for one?
there is the famine allowance which using the great standard should be allowable for that situation; and then there is the allowance to be able to ask for the tonics if one is not getting enough food. so there are potentially (the famine allowance may cover this situation also in the vinaya?) two allowances which enable all the rules to be kept.
unfortunately I do not have a copy of the Vinaya so am relying on memory from my studies, so apologies for any inaccuracies.