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The precept,

Uccasayana mahasayana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

in eight precepts suggests that one should abstain from high and luxurious beds and seats. How should one define which bed or seat is not high and which one is not luxurious?

Can this precept be practiced at home?

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3 Answers 3

It's an interesting question; for lay people, I've never been able to well-define this one. I usually translate it as "don't get attached to the pleasure of lying down or sleeping." But, we should probably go with the Buddha's words for monastics in the Brahmajala Sutta:

"Or he might say: 'Whereas some recluses and brahmins, while living on food offered by the faithful, enjoy the use of high and luxurious beds and seats, such as: spacious couches; thrones with animal figures carved on the supports; long-haired coverlets; multi-colored patchwork coverlets; white woollen coverlets; woollen coverlets embroidered with flowers; quilts stuffed with cotton; woollen coverlets embroidered with animal figures; woollen coverlets with hair on both sides or on one side; bedspreads embroidered with gems; silk coverlets; dance-hall carpets; elephant, horse or chariot rugs; rugs of antelope-skins; choice spreads made of kadali-deer hides; spreads with red awnings overhead; couches with red cushions for the head and feet — the recluse Gotama abstains from the use of such high and luxurious beds and seats.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.01.0.bodh.html

I would venture to guess that modern spring beds of all kinds could arguably be included in this list.

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1  
Thank you Ven Yuttadhammo. I guess then I can't sleep on my bed. Perhaps sleep on the floor on such a day? –  dmsp Aug 28 at 17:16
    
I don't think that it's likely that as laypeople there is much to be said from a legalistic analysis of one fibre over another or establish some maximum furniture height. If we lie on the floor with some outer clothes thrown over we on those days we choose, we can benefit from that. It seems likely that central heating or aircon may be more of a modern concern. But it's for you (and me) to decide whether we want to adopt a in-the-word or in-the-spirit interpretation: neither seems inherently looser. –  Dan Sheppard Aug 29 at 19:28

I think that part of the reason for this precept was that high and luxurious seating has pretty much always existed for the sole purpose of setting the seated personage above those around them (often literally as well as figuratively), and that there is attachment in this kind of luxury.

If you examine our most ancient notions about royalty and power, you will find that these are very often associated with some ornate or large furniture. Etymologically, we say the "seat" of power, for example.

I think that, when attempting to practice this precept at home, ask yourself: "what are my desires and intentions in owning this or that bed or chair? Do I seek to set myself above others, to project my opulence and status in any small way? Is the purpose of this furniture strictly functional, or is it decorated and flourished to convey said opulence and status in any way? Do I feel that I deserve this luxury?" I think, in the answers to these questions (and bearing the Middle Way in mind), you will be able to determine whether you are breaking this precept for yourself.

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Try asking yourself the following. Does your home cause others to suffer? Does your bed cause more suffering to others than it needs to? Try to have a home, bed, and chairs that reduce the amount of suffering in the world.

I would look at the question, why does this precept exist? Because beds, chairs, and homes cause suffering. This precept exists to help us be mindful of the suffering of others and to take steps to lessen that suffering even in our beds, chairs, and homes.

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