Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Pondera » Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:52 pm

I tried to avoid lofty, comfortable beds. It becomes nearly impossible to sleep well when you do not have a pillow, or you have a pillow made of concrete (for all of the Pearl Jam fans out there). In the absence of a real pillow I have found two ways to make a one out of my arms. Neither way works very well. In both cases, I am unable to sleep more than four hours without waking up. And when I wake up my hips are sore, as are my neck and shoulders. So I don't do it. I sleep on a lofty bed made of baby porcupine dander. Quite expensive, that stuff.

Anyhow. This is the first arm pillow. It's simple. You stretch your right arm out so that your head rests on your shoulder when you lay on your right side. I wake up from this posture with a sore neck and a sore shoulder.

The second arm pillow is a bit more crafty. You assume the sleeping posture on your right side. You move your right arm so that the shoulder is placed under your neck. You then turn your right elbow inward so that the palm of your hand is now right about beneath your ear. Then you take your left arm beneath your head grasping the thumb of your right hand. This forms a steady cradle which you can rest your head on. I wake up from this posture four hours into sleep with sore joints in my hip.

I really like my sleep. Food; I can take it or leave it. But this is the thing about fasting.

The mind is like the intestines in a very literal way. The mind clings to perceptions and feelings in the same way that the stomach clings to food.

Constipation of the mind is similar to constipation of the bowels in the sense that the contents of each organ will not leave the body despite any effort. In the case of the mind, the undesirable contents represent a complicated attachment to feelings built on craving and lust; made possible by consciousness. In the other case, the undesirable contents are too much digested waste, built on the foundations of too consumtion, with the help of a total lack of restraint.

The cure for the constipation felt in ones intestines is simple abstinence from food. This allows the gut to loosen up. Many will advise that a person continues eating as he prefers but adds more fiber to his diet. This addresses the symptoms of the constipation, but not the causes. The cause is over consumption of food.

There is no way to address the attachment one's mind has to perceptions and feelings without also considering the material aspect of nutrition. The two cannot be discussed separately as if the mind were but one thing and the body a whole other made out of something completely different. Consciousness, to be sure, is quite distinct from matter, however; an over consumption of food indirectly helps the cause of a continued attachment to the mental desires, cravings, lusts, and delusions which constitute the fundamental obstructions that exist around a persons desire for happiness.

But if the problem of over eating is resolved by discipline and restraint something beneficial, besides the vanishing of ones bunged up stomach, occurs. The mind gradually allows itself to fall into dispassion. The mind solemnly accepts the irrelevant fight it takes on day after day for the satisfaction of the ego. Beyond this, the mind becomes able to let go of those attachments. This cannot ever be accomplished in the case of a person who does not show restraint with regards to eating. Your karma is bound up with your material existence and your metal formations in a co-dependence of scenarios.

When you appease the torrent of violence created by the over consumption of food the body allows the faculties of the mind to relieve themselves of all perception. The ego accepts the dissolution of its existence, consciousness vanishes like evaporating steam, and this incurs the state of neither perception nor non-perception. Followed by this is the total cessation of perception and feeling.

The mind relaxes only after the body has relaxed and thus we get the reason for why those who are intent and devoted towards an understanding or a life of seclusion and self-denial with regards to the goal of spiritual gnosis show restraint and moderation in their consumption of foods.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:09 pm

Since graduate school I have preferred sleeping on a mattress on a floor. I recently bought a bed. I'll let you know if it turns me into more of a worldling :)
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:18 pm

One of the benefits I experience from sleeping on the floor is a readiness to wake up in the morning and stretch - filling the space left by a disinclination to remain absorbed in drowsiness.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby befriend » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:50 pm

if you eat less food it also helps curb lust, as well as make the mind light. think of how much energy it takes to digest a dinner in the evening when your already tired. now if you dont eat dinner you have more energy because your not digesting. also i agree with the last poster, when you sleep on the floor you wake up fast, buddha said he didnt want monks to sleep through the morning.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby befriend » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:52 pm

alan wrote:Sleep on a nice bed, and eat regularly. Don't fall into the stupid belief that following outdated rules will make you any more spiritual, or morally superior. Thinking for yourself is a better example of how to follow the path.



i used to think for myself. i thought it was fine to kill animals. get revenge. and smash things when i got angry. then i humbled myself, saw how wise buddha was listened to his advice and now im not a fool.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:24 pm

daverupa wrote:One of the benefits I experience from sleeping on the floor is a readiness to wake up in the morning and stretch - filling the space left by a disinclination to remain absorbed in drowsiness.

:heart:



Having done that for over 10 years I would like to point out to you that it can lead to orthopedic issues, particularly if you sleep on your side and you have broad shoulders. Get a good mattress, if you want to be close to the ground put it on a futon base. Good luck.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:26 pm

befriend wrote:if you eat less food it also helps curb lust, as well as make the mind light.


I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years and a vegan for over 15 years. My libido has never decreased.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby befriend » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:30 pm

what does being a vegetarian or vegan have to do with eating less food?

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby manas » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:31 pm

Hi all,
yes I've practised the eight precepts a few times (usually this was on full moon days), and I agree they can be very useful for strengthening the mind's resolve, clarity and power. But alas, I too am chronically underweight, and I find that I cannot do it too often. Fortunately, I have discovered that skipping anger is much more conducive to spiritual development than skipping dinner. We should keep it in perspective. Between not eating dinner at night, and not yelling at someone who has just pushed us too far, my personal feeling is that giving up the outbust of anger is the more crucial spiritual practice. So, in my experience, if as a householder we find the eight precepts too stressful, and if we become snappy as a result with the people around us, then it would be better to just eat less at dinner time (ie a light easily digestible meal), than to try to fit ourselves into some kind of ideal that is really designed for a more contemplative lifestyle.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby befriend » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:32 pm

good thinking, if we try to renounce too much at once, it will create MORE suffering, not less, and possibly lead to anger. i have experienced that.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Nicro » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:37 pm

daverupa wrote:One of the benefits I experience from sleeping on the floor is a readiness to wake up in the morning and stretch - filling the space left by a disinclination to remain absorbed in drowsiness.

:heart:



:toast:

Best part in my opinion.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Nori » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:40 am

daverupa wrote:One of the benefits I experience from sleeping on the floor is a readiness to wake up in the morning and stretch - filling the space left by a disinclination to remain absorbed in drowsiness.

This is a really good point. Thanks for pointing this out. When you wake up on an overly comfortable bed, you are inclined to indulge in it's pleasure (basically like having sex with it) like "ahhhhhhh" and roll around in it, stuffing your face in the pillow, or comforter, and rubbing your face on the soft sheets; and like you said inclined to oversleep.

---

I think many people are missing the point of the ascetic practice:

Indulgence in sensual pleasure makes a person weak and more prone to aggravation, anger and discontent.

Dhammapada - Yamakavagga (Dhp 1:7,8):

"He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled, immoderate in his food, idle, and weak, Mâra (the tempter) will certainly overthrow him, as the wind throws down a weak tree.

He who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well controlled, moderate in his food, faithful and strong, him Mâra will certainly not overthrow, any more than the wind throws down a rocky mountain."


This is clear to me from observation.

---

Some other benefits I can think of from eating once a day:

- According to the Buddha, pleasure, and the delight of this world is supposedly what keeps bringing us back to this existence, thus having to experience grief, decay and death over and over again. Eating is indeed one of the great pleasures and delights of this world. So by eating just what is necessary, one is detaching himself from this world.

- One's mind is not constantly preoccupied, thinking "what will I eat?", taking the time to purchase, prepare and eat it (which actually occupies much time and takes much effort), leaving time and energy to pursue other objectives.

A story: I was once out in the mountains backpacking. I was out for a few days and I began to run out of food. Toward the end of the trip, I was enjoying myself so much that I decided to stay a few more days by eating less food. During the last two days, I only had a little oatmeal for the morning. While I felt hunger at certain times, it was not too uncomfortable. What I noticed is that I didn't need to poop so often, and that it was greatly reduced. So what was happening is that my body was completely assimilating all of the food. Considering now, how much the common man poops, it goes to show how much we eat in excess. Also on the last day, I found a blueberry bush. I was astounded to experience how just a handful of blueberries nourished me. It felt like I ate a full meal. So I think when your body is in that state, it is very efficient at processing/utilizing food.
Last edited by Nori on Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:50 am

Jhana4 wrote:Having done that for over 10 years I would like to point out to you that it can lead to orthopedic issues, particularly if you sleep on your side and you have broad shoulders. Get a good mattress, if you want to be close to the ground put it on a futon base. Good luck.


This is definitely a case of the variability of mileage. Correct posture is more essential than sleeping surface, and the two most common ways to negatively affect sleeping posture are too many pillows and a sagging mattress. Humans slept "on the floor" for at least 100,000 years; I found it useful to thoroughly explore this natural environment for understanding healthy sleep.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Nori » Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:12 am

Also just to mention, even the Buddha had some straw cut to sit on before his enlightenment.

The precept is not (necessarily) to sleep on the floor; just not a high lavish bed.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Nyana » Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:17 am

Nori wrote:I am just wondering if anybody on the forum has followed the precepts of not eating after mid-day or avoiding lofty beds (most standard beds are considered "lofty beds") continuously for many years?

If so, it would be nice if you can share your experience on how it brought some benefit or how it may have changed your disposition.

(Also - does hunger in the evenings go away after some period of time?)

As others have already said, hunger goes away. Eating less is also beneficial for meditation retreat and for keeping the weight off if one lives a contemplative lifestyle long term.

A low bed is also not a problem, although the only boon I've noticed is that it makes for more spaciousness in one's bedroom, and moving from location to location is easier without having to move large beds.

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:20 am

daverupa wrote:This is definitely a case of the variability of mileage. Correct posture is more essential than sleeping surface, and the two most common ways to negatively affect sleeping posture are too many pillows and a sagging mattress. Humans slept "on the floor" for at least 100,000 years; I found it useful to thoroughly explore this natural environment for understanding healthy sleep.


Okay, you've been warned. Seriously, best of luck with that.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby Cilla » Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:45 am

Many millions of indians still sleep on the floor. I can't even think who amongst the buddhist of his day would have slept on a lofty bed? Only the richest of people. When i was in india i went to the house of a physics professor at 5am. The whole family was still asleep on the living room floor at 5am in the morning.On another trip, i was staying in a guesthouse in the Andmans. I got the chance to notice that the owners of the guesthouse also slept on the living room floor. None of these people slept on mattresses. Just blankets.

When i got on certain trips, I tried slept one the ground on a thin but dense camping mat. I usually wake up in pain. When i was younger it was not an issue but for some reason, its become an issue as i've got older. So now i take an inflatable camping mattress which is somewhat better. But still very depriving since the width of the thing is a few inches wider than my shoulders at the widest point and it tapers off towards the feet. and the length of it is a few inches longer. It would be challenging to sleep all the rest of my days on that mattress. I don't know how the indians do it so tough.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby PeterB » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:10 am

Its all much more simple than we are making it....or perhaps need it to be.
The Dhamma is about where you are. Not being an imitation sadhu or monk.
Its about the heart ....not the thinness of the duvet. If it were then the homeless of London who sleep under railway arches would be characterised by upekkha...and most of them aren't.

Just live your dhamma. In your life as it is. Leave aside romantic notions of being a jungle hermit in an urban setting.
Eat enough, sleep enough in enough comfort . Be normal. But be aware.

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby manas » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:43 am

PeterB wrote:Its all much more simple than we are making it....or perhaps need it to be.
The Dhamma is about where you are. Not being an imitation sadhu or monk.
Its about the heart ....not the thinness of the duvet. If it were then the homeless of London who sleep under railway arches would be characterised by upekkha...and most of them aren't.

Just live your dhamma. In your life as it is. Leave aside romantic notions of being a jungle hermit in an urban setting.
Eat enough, sleep enough in enough comfort . Be normal. But be aware.
These are wise words, and I gained this same understanding only after much trial, error, and dukkha.

:namaste:

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Re: Precepts: Not eating after mid-day / Avoiding lofty beds

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:07 pm

This article might be of interest with respect to sleeping habits. It's certainly not scientifically rigorous, but not much information on sleep is.

Discussion of its various points will likely warrant another thread; it is here simply as a reference.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]


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