Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Individual » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:35 am

In reaction to mindfulness of my life, I had recently decided to attempt to follow an extreme form of morality.

It failed, of course. I have not been able to give up my addictions to contentious speech, alcohol, pornography, laziness, or lack of meditation, and have even been neglecting my daily ritual of offerings to the Buddha, and I will suffer tremendously for this....

...But... I have been sleeping on the floor. And I've strangely noticed that it seems to be more comfortable, in a way.

When a person lays down on something soft, like a bed, the spine isn't in proper alignment. The body is like a pile of jello, with the spine being twisted and sinking through it, instead of a spine sitting on a pile of well-placed stones. So, when I sleep on the floor, I seem to sleep better, it feels more cozy in a way, and when I wake up, my posture seems to be better. I slouch less and sit up more straightly, which is good for avoiding back pain in the long-term (a study on the comparative degrees of back pain among monastics vs. the general population would be interesting). I also like it because, in the possibility that I might one day not have a bed, I am preparing myself for the possibility that I might have to sleep without having a bed because the floor is about as soft as the earth. The lion's posture (similar to the fetus position), too, seems to be the best posture to sleep in, when it comes to proper circulation and proper placement of the body, although I am not used to it, from having never slept in it before.

When monks and Buddhists on uposatha days observe the ninth precept, where and how do they sleep? Does anyone observe this precept of avoiding soft beds and what has been their experience?
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Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby GrahamR » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:15 am

Hi
Just to be pedantic, I thought this was the 8th precept.
Anyway, it's the one I find hardest as I have a bad hip and it tends to make it worse. :cry:
As for the others:
I'm not really much of a killer anyway
Can't be bothered to take anything unless it's dropped on my lap
Married with one kids and another coming so that one is much reduced by now.
Occasionally the odd bad word slips out at work ... :jumping:
Gave up drinking two years ago after I got a handover from one glass of wine :toast:
My two year old is all the entertainment I get :tantrum:
I thought not eating after 12 would be the hardest, but I've done that for the past two months with no difficulty. I can even sit with my family as they eat and not burn with too much jealousy, though I do feel colder at night. :zzz: :popcorn:
How do others get on?
With metta :bow:
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:35 am

Greetings,

A related comment... venerable Dhammanando said elsewhere that the application of the precepts applied from 'dawn to dawn'. In that case, I don't understand how this precept is supportive of one's intensified Uposatha efforts? It would seem to make more sense to avoid high and luxurious beds the night before... or maybe there's something I'm missing here.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:41 am

Hi Individual

It is completely understandable to react to periods of hedonistic behaviour by trying to adopt the eight precepts and attempting to keep them perfectly. Its a pendulum motion and it usually results in swings from one extreme to another.
What I recommend you do is to concentrate on the five precepts and keeping them to the best of your ability. Keeping the eighth precept to the exclusion of the others won't be much help to you, whereas the five precepts are the basis of sila and the foundation of the path. If you can keep the five precepts well, then move on to the eight precepts during the uposotha days and during retreats.
Metta

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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:04 am

Just put a suitable mattress right on the floor. That's low and whatever else is necessary. I think the tough one is intoxication as so much in life can be 'intoxicating', try to peer into the 'spirit' of the precepts and you will see the kind of mindfulness they reflect and then you can try to apply that awareness more broadly.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:16 am

Hi Individual

the maximum hight allowed is about eight finger widths high I believe.
I don't observe this unless I am on retreat and find it comfortable although there are thin mattress from fold out beds provided.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:57 pm

GrahamR wrote:Just to be pedantic, I thought this was the 8th precept.

Correct, it is the 8th precept of the 8 precepts lay people take occasionally. It is the 9th precept of the 10 precepts, but those are normally reserved for the monks, nuns, especially novices.
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:59 pm

Manapa wrote:the maximum hight allowed is about eight finger widths high I believe.

Correct, it is from Vinaya, Paac. 87.

That is only about a few inches, I suppose. My platform bed is low, but not that low. But I figure it is 'close' enough since I am not a bhikkhu. :tongue:
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby green » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:07 pm

I just use an old, ripped up sleeping bag on the bare floor.

This training is important, it toughens up your body.

In one of the suttas, Buddha discusses how the Licchavis will not be defeated by Mara as long as they sleep on hard wooden beds with wooden pillows. But they will be defeated by Mara in the future since future generations will be sleeping on soft beds.
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:19 pm

Greetings,

Further to my earlier question, do you people adhere to this precept on the night before and/or after Uposatha?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:12 am

Retro et al,

I observe this precept to refrain from lying on high or luxurious sleeping places from the dawn of the uposatha until the following dawn. This one's not too hard for me. Where I get all forgetful isthe precept to refrain from singing as I find I often do when I'm nervous or joking around at work.

Metta,

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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Mawkish1983 » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:25 am

Someone mentioned back pain. I get back pain A LOT. I've never attributed back pain to my sleeping arrangements because I had always assumed sleeping in a bed with a matress was the social 'norm' for good reason. That being said, in the past the pain has got so bad that I've slept on the floor and it does seem to help in the short term.

I've never observed the additional precepts (I stick to the big five) but that's not to say I won't in the future. Maybe sleeping on the floor once a month would help?

Incidentally, I'm a classically trained Pianist so my sitting posture isn't an issue. I have back pain all the time (even now) because I'm 6'7" (2m) tall and this world was not designed for us giants <laughs> sinks are at knee level etc.

Anyway, when is the next Uposatha Day? I'll try sleeping on the floor on Uposatha Days from now on and relay back if it helps :). As someone with chronic back pain this could be interesting.
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:44 am

Hi Mawkish

Sorry to hear about the chronic back pain. When we were packing up our house in Victoria prior to moving across the waters to Tasmania, I was sleeping on the floor on one of those dense foam mats you see people take camping with them. It seemed to be doing my back some good.

Here's a calendar of uposotha days:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/uposatha2009.html
Kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:03 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
Manapa wrote:the maximum hight allowed is about eight finger widths high I believe.

Correct, it is from Vinaya, Paac. 87.

That is only about a few inches, I suppose. My platform bed is low, but not that low. But I figure it is 'close' enough since I am not a bhikkhu. :tongue:


I knew it was from somewhere, but couldn't remember exactly to reference it, I have a standard bed with draws as I live in a flat with no storage space for towels and sheets which is available, but as long as I am warm I don't really mind
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."
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Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby GrahamR » Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:13 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Someone mentioned back pain. I get back pain A LOT. I've never attributed back pain to my sleeping arrangements because I had always assumed sleeping in a bed with a matress was the social 'norm' for good reason. That being said, in the past the pain has got so bad that I've slept on the floor and it does seem to help in the short term.

I've never observed the additional precepts (I stick to the big five) but that's not to say I won't in the future. Maybe sleeping on the floor once a month would help?

Incidentally, I'm a classically trained Pianist so my sitting posture isn't an issue. I have back pain all the time (even now) because I'm 6'7" (2m) tall and this world was not designed for us giants <laughs> sinks are at knee level etc.

Anyway, when is the next Uposatha Day? I'll try sleeping on the floor on Uposatha Days from now on and relay back if it helps :). As someone with chronic back pain this could be interesting.

Hi
Vesakha Puja is May 08 2009 This day is sometimes called Buddha day.
Asalha Puja is July 07 2009, Dhamma Day
Pavarana Day October 04 2009 Rains Retreat
Kathina November 01 2009 Robe Ceremony
Go on, give 8 precepts a try once a month or at festivals.
By the way, you make me feel a dwarf and I'm 1.85!
With metta :bow:
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:11 am

Thank you GrahamR :)

Just to update, as I just missed an Uposatha day I decided to sleep on the floor last night. Bhikkhu Bodhi mentioned in his lectures once that he supposed 'night' in the indian tradition ran from 7pm to 5am, so I slept on the floor until 5am. The immediate effect is DEFINATELY a notable reduction in back pain but whether it's long lasting or not, time will tell. I'll keep you posted and try again next week.

With regards to all eight precepts, I'll try adding them gradually so I can make it sustainable practice. Which of the additional precepts do you all recommend I add next week?
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby appicchato » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:28 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:Which of the additional precepts do you all recommend I add next week?

Try to be mindful of all of them Mawk...and do what you're able to... :smile:
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:45 am

Ironically, I did a short retreat at my Wat last weekend and I think I got a sore back from sleeping on the overly soft bed that someone must have donated for the particular kuti I was staying in... I was pleased to be back to my regular hard bed at home... :zzz:

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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:13 pm

I knew a Thai man once who disrobed after over 30 years as a monk. He got so used to sleeping on the floor, that he continued to do so as a layman. So I suppose it is something that we can easily adjust to and then eventually prefer it that way.

(A few years back he re-joined the Order again.)
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Re: Sleeping on the floor (the ninth precept)

Postby Individual » Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:46 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Someone mentioned back pain. I get back pain A LOT. I've never attributed back pain to my sleeping arrangements because I had always assumed sleeping in a bed with a matress was the social 'norm' for good reason. That being said, in the past the pain has got so bad that I've slept on the floor and it does seem to help in the short term.

I've never observed the additional precepts (I stick to the big five) but that's not to say I won't in the future. Maybe sleeping on the floor once a month would help?

Incidentally, I'm a classically trained Pianist so my sitting posture isn't an issue. I have back pain all the time (even now) because I'm 6'7" (2m) tall and this world was not designed for us giants <laughs> sinks are at knee level etc.

Anyway, when is the next Uposatha Day? I'll try sleeping on the floor on Uposatha Days from now on and relay back if it helps :). As someone with chronic back pain this could be interesting.

When it comes to back pain and joint paint, three main things are neglected:
1) The way you sleep... Sleeping on soft beds is bad.
2) Posture... Slouching is bad.
3) Diet... Obesity is very rough on the spine and the joints, such as the knees and ankles.
The best things in life aren't things.

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