Moderation in eating

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Moderation in eating

Postby phil » Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:16 am

Hi all

It seems there is always a lot of discussion about vegetarianism in the online Dhamma groups, but I don't recall every having seen a thread about the aspect of eating that the Buddha mentions so often, moderation in eating. (For just one example, this verse from Dhammapada, "whoever lives contemplating pleasant things, with senses unrestrained, in food immoderate, indolent, inactive, him verily Mara overthrows, as the wind a weak tree." (verse 7)

I would appreciate discussing this a bit. It's ironic that I get such self-satisfaction about being a vegetarian, but wolf down food the way I do.

We have an expression here in Japan, hara hachi bu which means that one should ideally eat to 80% of the stomach's capacity, and then stop. I am currently incapable of this, but discussion with Dhamma friends would be a helpful conditioning factor!

metta,

phil

p.s worth noting that the Buddha teaches this to lay followers, not just monastics. One of the best examples is a short sutta in SN when he helps a king who eats "bucketful measures of curries" and is always huffing and puffing. The king overcomes this unwise way, and ...I forget the end of the story, but it is happy. :smile:
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
User avatar
phil
 
Posts: 707
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: Moderation in eating

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:25 am

At the following topic there was some discussion about One meal a day (what the monks and nuns do) and some lay people also follow that too:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=604

That can be 'one' way to do some moderation in eating.
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8283
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Moderation in eating

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:04 am

I think the Vinaya rules have the most to say on this matter besides the sutta you mention, I will have a look through later and paste the relevant rules here
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5876
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Moderation in eating

Postby phil » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:05 am

TheDhamma wrote:At the following topic there was some discussion about One meal a day (what the monks and nuns do) and some lay people also follow that too:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=604

That can be 'one' way to do some moderation in eating.


Thanks David.

As a monthly observance I can see lay people taking the 8 precepts, but doesn't seem reasonable for an ongoing lifestyle for working people. (Though who knows for sure?)

I think some people struggle with this more than others. I suspect it has something to do with the caritas , the way people are born with different predominant roots of character. There is certainly a lot of lobha/raga at work in me, that plays out in various ways. Some would say that one should just see this with a kind of wisdom and accept it, but I disagree. We have to stand firm against the defilements even as we accept that as deeply rooted as they are, progress in gaining freedom from them takes time.

Moderation in eating can be good for reflection on the middle way between excessive austerity and indulgence in sense objects. If one were to say "no more ice cream for me, period" it would be silly, but if one finds oneself indulging one's sweet tooth several times a day, it is a sign of a lack of moderation, that kind of thing. Of course that applies to the sheer amount of food as well, the number of calories etc.

Also seems that there can be citta nupassana at times, mindfulness of the state of mind. You can catch yourself, catch the lustful mind state that is at work when one is devouring food. And you can see it in the bodily intimation, the way those cittas contort the facial features. One becomes aware of this sort of thing gradually...there can be satipatthana there at times....too late to put down the oily, salty delight that is already smeared all over one's face though...it's tough.

Is vowing "no empty calories" a reasonable way for lay followers, or would that be an excessive austerity? Thich Nhat Hahn and others have prescribed eating only what plays a role in maintaining health. (i.e abstaining from junk food.) And I guess the Buddha did as well, saying that eating should be for the purpose of putting away the unpleasant feeling that is caused by not eating enough, and that it should be to maintain one's health. He did say that didn't he?

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
User avatar
phil
 
Posts: 707
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: Moderation in eating

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:31 am

here is some of the stuff I found from the vinaya rules index which may be of use, it is any of the rules directly related to Food or Bowl. I think the food chapter may be too big to post directly but what I could see from the index I have posted here

Taking what is not given

Making use of cloth or a bowl stored under shared ownership — unless the shared ownership has been rescinded or one is taking the item on trust — is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 59)

Killing

Intentionally bringing about the death of a human being, even if it is still a fetus — whether by killing the person, arranging for an assassin to kill the person, inciting the person to die, or describing the advantages of death — is a pārājika offense. (Pr 3)

Pouring water that one knows to contain living beings — or having it poured — on grass or clay is a pācittiya offense. Pouring anything that would kill the beings into such water — or having it poured — is also a pācittiya offense. (Pc 20)

Deliberately killing an animal — or having it killed — is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 61)

Using water, or getting others to use it, knowing that it contains living beings that will die from that use, is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 62)

Food

Eating any of the five staple foods that a lay person has offered as the result of a bhikkhunī's prompting — unless the lay person was already planning to offer the food before her prompting — is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 29)

Eating food obtained from the same public alms center two days running — without leaving in the interim — unless one is too ill to leave the center, is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 31)

Eating a meal to which four or more individual bhikkhus have been specifically invited — except on special occasions — is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 32)

Eating a meal before going to another meal to which one was invited, or accepting an invitation to one meal and eating elsewhere instead, is a pācittiya offense except when one is ill or during the time of giving cloth or making robes. (Pc 33)

Accepting more than three bowlfuls of food that the donors prepared for their own use as presents or as provisions for a journey is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 34)

Eating staple or non-staple food that is not left-over, after having earlier in the day finished a meal during which one turned down an offer to eat further staple food, is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 35)

Eating staple or non-staple food in the period from noon till the next dawn is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 37)

Eating food that a bhikkhu — oneself or another — formally received on a previous day is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 38)

Eating finer staple foods, after having asked for them for one's own sake — except when ill — is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 39)

Eating food that has not been formally given is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 40)

Eating staple or non-staple food, after having accepted it from the hand of an unrelated bhikkhunī in a village area, is a pāṭidesanīya offense. (Pd 1)

Eating staple food accepted at a meal to which one has been invited and where a bhikkhunī has given directions, based on favoritism, as to which bhikkhu should get which food, and none of the bhikkhus have dismissed her, is a pāṭidesanīya offense. (Pd 2)

Eating staple or non-staple food, after accepting it — when one is neither ill nor invited — at the home of a family formally designated as "in training," is a pāṭidesanīya offense. (Pd 3)

Eating an unannounced gift of staple or non-staple food after accepting it in a dangerous wilderness abode when one is not ill is a pāṭidesanīya offense. (Pd 4)

Bowls and other requisites

Keeping an alms bowl for more than ten days without determining it for use or placing it under shared ownership is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense. (NP 21)

Asking for and receiving a new alms bowl when one's current bowl is not beyond repair is a nissaggiya pācittiya offense. (NP 22)

The Etiquette of a Contemplative

Handing food or medicine to a person ordained in another religion is a pācittiya offense. (Pc 41)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5876
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin


Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 5 guests