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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby waterchan » Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:52 pm

Are there any Vinaya rules prohibiting monks from engaging in friendly sports, or even just solitary physical exercises such as gym exercises and weight-lifting? I can't say I've seen monks do any of those.
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:44 pm

When the monks were suffering from health problems due to too much rich food, the Buddha made an allowance for them:

“Monks, I allow you to do sweeping.”

This is a common practice in the forest monasteries, to sweep the footpaths. It also serves a practical purpose to remove leaf cover for centipedes, and other poisonous creatures, that might sting if trodden on.

“Playing in the water” is not allowed, due to the group of seventeen monks being spotted by King Pasenadi playing in the water. He gave them a ball (guḷapiṇḍaṃ) as a present to give to the Buddha. The Buddha then laid down the rule against playing in the water. Swimming in order to do some work, such as repairing a monastery or Ordination sīma built on stilts in the water is allowable. (Edited to correct error)

Swimming for healthy exercise is done by some monks in remote areas, but I don't think it is widely accepted.

Running is not allowable. Playing football and other sports are unsuitable. Martial arts are also unsuitable IMO, though T'ai Chi or Qigong may be acceptable. Ajahn Sucitto encouraged the monks to do Qigong while I was at Chithurst, but I declined.

I did weight-lifting at one time while in Burma, using some reinforcing steel and bricks that were there for building work, but I was discrete about it. Some lay-people might disapprove of such activities.
Last edited by Bhikkhu Pesala on Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby waterchan » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:26 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:When the monks were suffering from health problems due to too much rich food, the Buddha made an allowance for them:

“Monks, I allow you to do sweeping.”


LOL :D

This is a common practice in the forest monasteries, to sweep the footpaths. It also serves a practical purpose to remove leaf cover for centipedes, and other poisonous creatures, that might sting if trodden on.

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:“Playing in the water” is not allowed, due to the group of six monks being spotted by the king (larking about while bathing I presume). He gave them a ball as a present to give to the Buddha.


Double LOL! I can only imagine the expression on the Buddha's face as the monks handed the ball to him.

Why a ball, Bhante?

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Swimming for healthy exercise is done by some monks in remote areas, but I don't think it is widely accepted.

Running is not allowable. Playing football and other sports are unsuitable. Martial arts are also unsuitable IMO, though T'ai Chi or Qigong may be acceptable. Ajahn Sucitto encouraged the monks to do Qigong while I was at Chithurst, but I declined.


So I understand that it depends on what the community considers to be monkish and unmonkish behavior, rather than a matter of hard and fast rules in the Vinaya.
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby Sati1 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:04 am

How about yoga? I would have thought that some basic exercise would be encouraged to protect the back, legs, etc for practice in old age.
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"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby daverupa » Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:42 am

Walking and stretching, surely - and quite a bit of both I expect - were normal parts of the early monastic regimen.

But perhaps there are issues surrounding taking extra food for the purpose of sports nutrition? Do issues of beautification arise here?
    "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: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby culaavuso » Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:47 am

Sati1 wrote:How about yoga? I would have thought that some basic exercise would be encouraged to protect the back, legs, etc for practice in old age.


From Being A Monk: A Conversation with Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Rich Orloff and Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Are you allowed recreation of any sort?
For us, recreation is going out into the wilderness. Sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon and meditating, opening our eyes every now and then, looking at the Grand Canyon, and meditating some more. We do a lot of walking meditation; it's really emphasized in this tradition. When I get a chance, or when I've had enough of the monastery, I go out and hike around awhile.

What else do monks do for exercise?
A lot of sweeping up. Some Western monks and modern Thai monks do yoga in their rooms.

But you can't say, "Hey, I've meditated all day, I just want to toss around a football."
No.
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:49 am

I can see why sports would not be suitable. The Buddha did not allow the monastics to watch entertainment shows, which included sports. Additionally, imagine a lay person rushing over to the vihara on their lunch break from work to provide lunch dana in time, only to find the monks in the back yard playing football (soccer) or baseball or cricket.

I like the practice of sweeping, as it is productive too, as the venerable mentioned. And let's not forget walking meditation! Especially, if it is a long walk, can be good exercise.

Gardening and landscaping would have been another good, productive exercise, but alas, it is not allowed.

pacittiya 10. Should any bhikkhu dig soil or have it dug, it is to be confessed.
pacittiya 11. The damaging of a living plant is to be confessed.
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:28 am

waterchan wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:“Playing in the water” is not allowed, due to the group of six monks being spotted by the king (larking about while bathing I presume). He gave them a ball as a present to give to the Buddha.

Double LOL! I can only imagine the expression on the Buddha's face as the monks handed the ball to him.

Why a ball, Bhante?

I hope I remembered rightly. The Pāḷi word is “guḷapiṇḍaṃ,” which might perhaps be a ball of sugar. Whatever, it was a device that King Pasenadi used to give the Buddha reason to admonish the monks.

It was, in fact, the group of seventeen monks, not the group of six monks. Here is the full account of the Hasadhamma sikkhapadaṃ (Pacittiya 53) from Ajahn Thanissaro's Buddhist Monastic Discipline.

53. The act of playing in the water is to be confessed.
Here again, the factors for the full offence are three.
1) Effort: One jumps up or down, splashes or swims
2) Object: in water deep enough to immerse one’s ankle
3) Intention: for fun.
Effort. According to the Commentary, each individual effort counts as a separate offence. Thus if one is swimming for fun, one incurs a Pācittiya for each hand or foot stroke.
Object. Jumping up or down in water less than ankle deep entails a Dukkaṭa, as does splashing water with the hands, feet, a stick, or a piece of tile; playing with water in a tumbler or a bowl; or playing with such things as sour gruel, milk, buttermilk, coloured dyes, urine, or mud.
The Vibhaṅga states that there is also a Dukkaṭa for playing in a boat. This the Commentary defines as paddling a boat with an oar, propelling it with a pole, or pushing it up on shore.
Intention. The Vibhaṅga defines this factor as “for a laugh,” which the Commentary translates as “for fun” or “for sport” (kiladhippayo).
The question of swimming for fitness or exercise does not come up in any of the texts, and seems to have been virtually unheard of in Asia until recent times. Swimming in most Asian countries has long been regarded as a childish form of play, and the one mention in the Canon of athletic bhikkhus keeping their bodies in strong shape is disparaging: In the origin story to Saṅghādisesa 8, Ven. Dabba Mallaputta assigned separate lodgings to different groups of bhikkhus — those who studied the Suttas, those who studied the Vinaya, those who meditated, etc. — and, finally, “for those bhikkhus who lived indulging in animal talk and keeping their bodies in strong shape, he assigned lodgings in the same place, ‘So that even these venerable ones will live as they like.’” Thus it does not seem likely that the Buddha would have recognised physical fitness as an appropriate reason for bhikkhus to go swimming.
On the other hand, if a bhikkhu has a medical reason for swimming — e.g., he has injured his shoulder, and his doctor has recommended that he swim to help speed its healing — this would probably count as an instance of “having business to do in the water” and thus would come under the relevant no‑offence clause.
Non-offences. The Vibhaṅga states that there is no offence in jumping in or out of the water, swimming, or using a boat:
· if one goes into the water not for fun but because one has business to do — examples would include bathing or helping a person who cannot swim;
· if one is crossing to the other shore of a body of water; or
· if there are dangers — e.g., one is escaping a fire or a wild beast.
Summary: Jumping and swimming in the water for fun is a Pācittiya offence.
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby melancholy » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:22 pm

at the time of the buddha, his doctor jivaka saw monks becoming fat and recommended sauna and walking meditation. therefore the buddha allowed monks to use sauna and walking meditation.
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
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gO tO wORK, gET mARRIED, hAVE sOME kIDS;
wATCH yOUR tV, fOLLOW fASHION, aCT nORMAL;
pAY yOUR tAXES, pAY yOUR bILLS, oBEY tHE lAW;
aND rEPEAT aFTER mE: "i aM fREE."
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby gavesako » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:05 pm

The Vinaya passage describing the misbehaviour of the group of six monks includes at the end:

"They indulged in many kinds of bad behavior such as cultivating flowering trees, making them into garlands and sending them to women and girls of respectable families; eating and socializing with women and girls of respectable families; eating after noon; drinking intoxicants; dancing, singing and playing musical instruments; playing various games; training in elephant, horse and cart knowledge; training in archery and swordsmanship; wrestling and fighting; applauding dancing girls; etc."

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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby melancholy » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:43 pm

gavesako wrote:The Vinaya passage describing the misbehaviour of the group of six monks includes at the end:

"They indulged in many kinds of bad behavior such as ... eating and socializing with women and girls of respectable families; eating after noon; drinking intoxicants; ... etc."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... guide.html


no wonder they became fat
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
__________________________________

gO tO wORK, gET mARRIED, hAVE sOME kIDS;
wATCH yOUR tV, fOLLOW fASHION, aCT nORMAL;
pAY yOUR tAXES, pAY yOUR bILLS, oBEY tHE lAW;
aND rEPEAT aFTER mE: "i aM fREE."
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby Kasina » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:31 pm

gavesako wrote:The Vinaya passage describing the misbehaviour of the group of six monks includes at the end:

"They indulged in many kinds of bad behavior such as cultivating flowering trees, making them into garlands and sending them to women and girls of respectable families; eating and socializing with women and girls of respectable families; eating after noon; drinking intoxicants; dancing, singing and playing musical instruments; playing various games; training in elephant, horse and cart knowledge; training in archery and swordsmanship; wrestling and fighting; applauding dancing girls; etc."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... guide.html


Haha, oh my.
"This world completely lacks essence;
It trembles in all directions.
I longed to find myself a place
Unscathed — but I could not see it."


Sn 4.15 PTS: Sn 935-951 "Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself"

"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go... This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life..."

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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby waterchan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:37 am

Seems that the Vinaya is full of awkward humor! It's a pity we don't have an easily accessible translation of it yet, although I hear Bhante Sujato and co are working on getting it to SuttaCentral.
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buddha's sense of humour

Postby melancholy » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:21 pm

waterchan wrote:Seems that the Vinaya is full of awkward humor! It's a pity we don't have an easily accessible translation of it yet, although I hear Bhante Sujato and co are working on getting it to SuttaCentral.


how about this for the buddha's sense of humour?

Now at that time a certain monk, tormented by dissatisfaction, cut off his own male organ. They told this matter to the Lord. He said, "This foolish man, monks, cut off one thing when another (defilements) should have been cut off. Monks, one should not cut off one’s own male organ. Whoever should cut it off, there is a grave offence."

-Vinaya (Culavagga - Khuddakavatthu) The Book of the Discipline, V, pg. 149
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
__________________________________

gO tO wORK, gET mARRIED, hAVE sOME kIDS;
wATCH yOUR tV, fOLLOW fASHION, aCT nORMAL;
pAY yOUR tAXES, pAY yOUR bILLS, oBEY tHE lAW;
aND rEPEAT aFTER mE: "i aM fREE."
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby waterchan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:28 pm

LOL! :jumping:

Thanks for that. I'm saving that one in my notes. The Buddha's response to that is just side-splitting...

I wonder what the commentary says about that one. Maybe the monk was doing too much body contemplation?

Can't wait for SuttaCentral's centralized Vinaya to come out.
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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby Sylvester » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:20 am

waterchan wrote:Why a ball, Bhante?




The story -

One day the royal couple looked down upon the river from the palace and saw a group of the Buddha's monks playing about in the water. The king said to Queen Mallika reproachfully: "Those playing about in the water are supposed to be Saints?" Such was namely the reputation of this group of the so-called seventeen monks, who were quite young and of good moral conduct. Mallika replied that she could only explain it thus, that either the Buddha had not made any rules with regard to bathing or that the monks were not acquainted with them, because they were not amongst the rules which were recited regularly.

Both agreed that it would not make a good impression on lay people and on those monks not yet secure, if those in higher training played about in the water and enjoyed themselves in the way of untrained worldly people. But King Pasenadi wanted to avoid blackening those monks' characters and just wanted to give the Buddha a hint, so that he could lay down a firm rule. He conceived the idea to send a special gift to the Buddha to be taken by those monks. They brought the gift and the Buddha asked them on what occasion they had met the King. Then they told him what they had done and the Buddha laid down a corresponding rule. (Pac. 53)


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Re: Vinaya on sports and physical exercise

Postby waterchan » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:25 pm

Thanks Sylvester :thumbsup:
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