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Food and monastics

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  • Food and monastics

    I was just reading one of abisheks posts and ajahn b says that "monks too often enjoy their food". This reminds me of something that has been bothered me for a while.

    At your monastery i think you are only allowed to eat two meals a day plus sweets in the evening.

    How come monks are so beefy if this is the case. They must be eating more than two meals a day or eating a great many sweets. I ask this because at the goenka retreat i was eating a large breakfast and a large lunch before midday and had 3 pieces of fruit at night and could not possibly be putting on any weight. In fact i am sure i was losing a little weight.

    But more importantly why is it better to eat sweets than fruit if one needs a little extra something in the evening. I am sure the eating of a lot of sweets is an extremely bad idea for health. And is there a particular sort of sweet that is ok and which is not ok. ie boiled sweets are ok but anything with butter and milk, nuts etc is not.

    In a book by Pankaj Mishra called An End of Suffering: The buddha in the world, he talked about the one meal a day that the monks of the time could eat but they were allowed to supplement it with fruit. Presumably the fruit mentioned was that which could be picked off trees in the wild since in india one doesn't see a lot of fruit growing and they have to compete with the monkeys. I am sure there was more wild fruit growing then but today there are still plenty of mango trees about.

    I would think this should be an excellent option for monastics to follow and in fact they should and could grow their fruit without compromising the dependence on the buddhist community since one cannot live on fruit without compromising health.

    I can't but help think that any monastic i see who is not thin is not doing well at managing their craving for food.

    Certainly i know that when i go to a monastery on a retreat if i am allowed to eat sweets, (which presumably i buy myself so i could guy as much as i like), I would over indulge since sugar leads me to wanting more where as fruit satisfies - unless one is really hungry.

  • #2
    Dear Andrea,

    In the Vinaya, the Buddha has allowed five foods that can be eaten in the afternoon if one needs a bit of an energy boost. These are: ghee, butter, oil, honey and sugar. Any of these in their own right, or any combination of these, are allowed for monastics in the afternoon. Pankaj Mishra is wrong to state that monks "were allowed to supplement it with fruit", if he means to say that such supplementation happened after mid-day.

    With metta.


    • #3
      G'day Andrea,

      Originally posted by Andrea Collisson View Post
      They must be eating more than two meals a day or eating a great many sweets...
      Your insinuation that monks *must* be breaking the Vinaya (or be otherwise somehow gluttonous) is not the first statement from you that I find in poor taste. Much of what you have posted in this forum has had a confrontational/disrespectful ring to it. I get the distinct impression that you're here not to ask Dhamma questions, but rather to stage your own parade.

      While that's not necessarily a big deal out wide, your approach does not fit in well with the purpose of the monastic, moderated forum. This forum gives the general public the rare opportunity to *ask* a practising Theravadan monk and world-class Pali scholar questions from his perspective. It's not an opportunity, for lengthy point-and-counterpoint debate, throwing cliched controversies about and expounding one's own perspectives. I think Ajahn Brahmali has been exceedingly kind and patient overall.

      As moderator I ask you to please bear this in mind and consider posting such topics in the the non-monastic forums. I have already moved one unsuitable discussion thread started by you to the General forum. I'm also closing this thread as it largely appears to be a futile attempt to elicit a defensive response or 'score some points' for personal pleasure.

      Best Wishes



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