Monasteries and Sleep

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Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Christopherxx » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:05 pm

Hey guys,

So what is up with the lack of sleep in the Theravada context.

I know many individuals leave many western standpoints behind when embracing buddhism - however I think we can all agree that 4-5 hours of sleep a night on a day to day basis is not recommended for health.

I'd love for people that have experienced the forest monasteries either in the chah lineage, mahasi, or Dhammayutika Nikaya, etc to chim in.

And hate to say it but it's okay to think this custom should be changed. We don't have to think every tradition is inspired just the teachings ;).
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby daverupa » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:12 pm

Well, it's useful to consider general activity levels for monks (walking up and down, sitting) as well as their lower caloric intake. This, plus a quiet mind, contribute to a lesser sleep need, in my experience.
    "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: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Christopherxx » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:40 pm

I would definitely agree that maybe the 8-9 hours as recommended by western agencies and hospitals may not be needed but 4-5? That's a pretty drastic reduction.

And as you noted there is quite a lot of walking involved in the lifestyle along with chores, etc.

Just my two cents let's give those monks more sleep ;)
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Ben » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:54 pm

My experience on many silent retreats is that one requires much less sleep.
And if it were a problem, I am sure it would have been addressed and resolved at some point in the past 2,600 years.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby bodom » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:57 pm

Questions & Answers with Ajahn Chah:

Question: What about sleep? How much should I sleep?

Answer: Don't ask me, I can't tell you. A good average for some is four hours a night. What is important, though, is that you watch and know yourself. If you try to go with too little sleep, the body will feel uncomfortable and mindfulness will be difficult to sustain. Too much sleep leads to a dull or a restless mind. Find the natural balance for yourself. Carefully watch the mind and body and keep track of sleep needs until you find the optimum. If you wake up and then roll over for a snooze, this is defilement. Establish mindfulness as soon as your eyes open.


http://www.buddhanet.net/bodhiny2.htm

There is no hard and fast rule. Its up to each individual to see for themselves how much sleep is needed.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:59 pm

You do need much less sleep if you are doing intensive meditation throughout the day. Most centres I've been in usually allow for 6 hours per night plus a nap after lunch, some push for 4 hours when you've been there a long time. I often find on retreat that though my body needs to rest at night my mind does not.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Christopherxx » Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:03 am

it's good to hear.

i kind of felt that the tradition may be submitting the monks to a unhealthy lifestyle simply out of tradition requirements.

not so ascetic as to be seen as obscene but possibly harmful to their health and well-being. it seems this assumption may have been mistaken though.

could it be intresting though if the monks where allowed to find their own balance as bodom stated? this may be a route the traditions should investigate in the future.

:) with kind regards to all the great posters in this thread.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:32 am

Greetings,

Meditation centres are typically stricter than many monasteries because they run to defined schedules.

The only Vinaya requirement for a bhikkhu that I'm aware of is that he's up before sunrise.

Metta,
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Mr Man » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:23 am

I imagine that there are very few who take 4-5 hours sleep as an ongoing behavior. I would imagine 6 to 8 is a more accurate average.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby DAWN » Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:16 pm

Napoleon said that a men sleeps 4 hours, a women for 5 hours, a leezy man for 6 hours :smile:

Peronaly I sleep 5 hours every day, from 10 PM to 3 AM, with one hour of lying meditation from 9PM to 10AM.

I see that:
- when you meditate before sleeping, you sleep less and better
- hours before midnight are more efficient that after midnight
- if when you go sleeping, you think not about "that is cool to sleep a little bit afret a day of work", but about "that its cool to rises tomorow", the body will sleep less, and better, and will stop sleeping when it's ok. Sometimes I sleep for 2 or 3 hours and i fill my mind clear and body full of energy
- when you eat less you sleep less and better

Anyway, our mind need to rest when he is tired from interaction with dhammas, when he suffering during the day. When some one walks on ditry slushy ground, it's brings fatigue, but if he is slipes on ice, he is less tired for the same distance. So to sleeps less we have to slide on the dhammas, not apropriate it; slide on waves but not sweeming agains it.
When our mind is here and now, complitely awere about the think that he do now, there is no suffering, the mind is peacefull, no fatigue, so dont need to sleep alot.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:35 pm

When the Mahāsi Sayādaw started teaching meditation the schedule allowed for four hours sleep — from 11 pm to 3 am.

That was relaxed for foreign meditators to allow for six hours — clearly six hours is enough for health if you're not sick, very elderly, or doing hard physical labour.

In my experience in Burma when I was about thirty years of age, after months of intensive practice I could get by on five or even four hours, though I was never comfortable on less than five. Those meditators who attain the higher stages of insight, 2-3 hours of sleep is not unusual. My meditation instructor said that he went for 12 days without any sleep at all.

For an ordinary meditator, to sit completely still for four hours without a break in the 104°F heat and 100% humidity of Burma, would be impossible, but there are many such examples of sitting that long or even longer without any outward sign of fatigue. See, for example, the Biography of Daw Hla Myint

The Buddha's routine allowed for just 1 hour of sleep from 2-3 am. He also lay down sometimes during the day to rest his body.

Forget what western doctors say on this — they do not practise meditation throughout the entire day without a break. The lazy person is incapable of gaining even the lowest stages of insight, let alone the higher stages of insight or the Noble Path.

In the Thai Forest tradition, one can find similar examples. It is customary for the monks to practise the whole night without lying down to sleep on the full-moon and new-moon days. The normal routine would not allow for more than six hours sleep, (about 10:30 pm to 3:30 am plus an optional nap in the afternoon). The forest monks also do a lot of heavy manual work, cutting logs, etc.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby marc108 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:52 pm

you dont need as much sleep when you have deep Samadhi, the Samadhi is refreshing like sleep sometimes even more than sleep.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Christopherxx » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:53 pm

Great posts guys

And I agree in a respect.

But I think we have to avoid mythologizing.

metta to everyone for their comments on this board :)
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:35 pm

Christopherxx wrote:Hey guys,

So what is up with the lack of sleep in the Theravada context.

I know many individuals leave many western standpoints behind when embracing buddhism - however I think we can all agree that 4-5 hours of sleep a night on a day to day basis is not recommended for health.

I'd love for people that have experienced the forest monasteries either in the chah lineage, mahasi, or Dhammayutika Nikaya, etc to chim in.

And hate to say it but it's okay to think this custom should be changed. We don't have to think every tradition is inspired just the teachings ;).

there is no hard and fast fixed number of hours a person needs, each individual is individual here, and other factors would alter the need, such as, amount of physical/mental work, nutritional intake, and much more.
I need about six hours, then I wake up, a friend of mine needs 4hrs then wakes up naturally, these are our individual basal sleep needs.
while on retreat once or twice my sleep needs decreased an hour a day from about half way through until I was having 3hrs sleep on the last night!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:41 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Meditation centres are typically stricter than many monasteries because they run to defined schedules.

The only Vinaya requirement for a bhikkhu that I'm aware of is that he's up before sunrise.

Metta,
Retro. :)

I am not familiar with that one, do you know where it is?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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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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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:00 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:The only Vinaya requirement for a bhikkhu that I'm aware of is that he's up before sunrise.

Metta,
Retro. :)

I am not familiar with that one, do you know where it is?

I think he must have dreamed about that one :)

Maybe thinking of the rule not to lie down under the same roof as a novice for more than three consecutive nights, but there's no offence if one gets up before dawn.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:28 pm

The sunrise reference is probably half-remembered from the Buddha declaring that, of those signs of a declining Sangha, one is the rising sun shining on a sleeping bhikkhu. It's in a Sutta, somewhere...

* Ah! Here we are:

Samyutta Nikaya, Opammasamyutta (19), Sutta 8

…Monks, at present the monks live diligent and zealous to dispel as though have taken a block of wood for the pillow. And Màra the Evil One does not obtain a cause and reason to intervene.

6. Monks, in the future there will be a time when the softness of the beautiful hands and feet of the monks would dry up and they would sleep until sun rise with their huge bodies. Then Màra the Evil One will obtain a cause and chance to intervene.
    "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: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:16 pm

Samyutta Nikaya, Opammasamyutta (19), Sutta 8

6. Monks, in the future there will be a time when the softness of the beautiful hands and feet of the monks would dry up and they would sleep until sun rise with their huge bodies. Then Màra the Evil One will obtain a cause and chance to intervene.


Cool, the Buddha even foresaw the current obesity epidemic.

Also, alms food is obtained from dawn to 12 noon, so it would seem to imply that one should be up by that time.
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby DAWN » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:50 am

Tonight i went sleep with a great intention to meditate well and deepely before, so i stand up at 1:10AM. 3:30 hours of sleeping, and i feel the mind clear and calm, established in the present moment, full of energy, without any lazy or weakness.

So it's works. :namaste:
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Re: Monasteries and Sleep

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:05 am

Here, almsfood is sometimes not obtained until 11:00 am, so getting up before dawn can mean that one has to wait six or seven hours before getting anything to eat. Wherever possible, I go for alms to local houses by about 7:00 am.

In Burma, the morning meal is taken at 5:15, with another meal at about 11:00 am.

In the Thai Forest tradition, and in Thailand generally, the monks go for alms about 5:30 to 6:00 am, and eat soon after returning from almsround — at least that's how it was for me nearly thirty years ago.

In the UK, the time of sunrise varies greatly through the year, now it is at 6:12 am, but may be 8:00 am in the winter or 4:30 am in mid-summer.
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