Is it appropriate for a Buddhist monk to sit on the floor while the lay people sitting in a chair?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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SarathW
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Is it appropriate for a Buddhist monk to sit on the floor while the lay people sitting in a chair?

Post by SarathW »

Is it appropriate for a Buddhist monk to sit on the floor while the lay people sitting in a chair?
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Sam Vara
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Re: Is it appropriate for a Buddhist monk to sit on the floor while the lay people sitting in a chair?

Post by Sam Vara »

It depends entirely on the prevailing culture. Here in the UK, there is little precedent for showing respect in these matters, and people are not used to sitting on the floor. So I see it all the time: monks sitting on the floor because they are of Asian origin, or have spent time in Asia training, or because their vinaya follows such customs; with indigenous Brits sitting in chairs because that's what they've always done and anyway they are too stiff-jointed to sit on the floor. I do it myself, due to back problems. Nobody seems to mind at all.
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Bhikkhu_Jayasara
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Re: Is it appropriate for a Buddhist monk to sit on the floor while the lay people sitting in a chair?

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara »

going strictly from the rules and ignoring culture, it's fine, so long as that monk is not teaching Dhamma. in the Sekhiya rules of the vinaya a monk should not teach Dhamma to people in a variety of conditions, wearing a hat, holding a weapon, etc, one of which is if the monastic is lower then the person they are teaching.

I think over thousands of years what has developed is monastics sit on big high asanas, and lay people sit below them, while eating or any other time. but it is out of respect for the Dhamma that the person teaching it should be seated higher then those listening, not really out of respect for the monastic.

In the west it gets complicated because you are then teaching to people, many of whom cannot sit on cushions on the floor and need chairs. In the years I've been traveling to share Dhamma I can recall once or twice me technically being lower then some others in chairs while teaching. I've either also sat in chairs or just let it slide and continued with the teaching when most people were on cushions and people in chairs were in the back. It doesn't happen that often because the speaker being raised is something common in the West in general.

I like the idea of a high empty seat that whomever is sharing the Dhamma ascends to and then descends when the teaching is over.
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