If someone posts a problematic question on the main site, to handle that some other SE sites:
- Put the question (on the main site) on hold
- Open a corresponding topic on meta, with the specific-question tag, to discuss how to improve the question
- Edit the question on the main site (after the discussion on meta), and reopen for answers.
Anyway I was thinking of posting the following question on the main site. But I think it's not very good question.
- Is it perhaps too subjective (i.e. "primarily opinion-based")?
- Alternatively is it too restrictive (i.e. perhaps I should welcome answers which are justified by "In my experience")?
- Is it too theoretical (i.e. does it identify an "actual problem that I face", given that the Help says, "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.")?
- Does it have too many topics (should I split it into multiple questions)?
So I'm not sure about it. Would you like to suggest any improvements/edits you think I could or must make to this question before I post it on the main site? Thank you for your time!
Keeping a daily time schedule?
Assuming that you don't have external constraints (i.e. needing to fit it with other people's schedules at work or home) is it nevertheless important to have a daily timed schedule of activity? Is that a human need? A skillful practice for everyone even when they're alone? Or is it just some kind of social or cultural constraint, usually needed for coordination when people are living and working together?
I listed below a few striking/famous examples.
By the way, in reply to this question I think that an answer like "Well in my experience..." might be too subjective. Also I'm aware that having a schedule is the norm in society among people who work in conventional jobs. So I guess I'm asking:
- What's the experience of Buddhist monks who aren't living communally: for example do forest monks keep a routine? What advice are they given on this topic? If they do regulate their day into distinct activities then how long is each activity (I'm thinking back to school, for example, where the day is divided into 'lessons' or 'classes' or 'periods' each about 45 minutes long).
- Is it known that people (e.g. lay people) go a bit crazy if they don't stick to a schedule? Is this more-or-less universal or do some people cope without much sense/keeping of time-of-day?
- Does meditation potentially interfere with (i.e. harm) routine lay life? A different explanation of "eat when hungry, sleep when tired" (this time attributed to Rinzai rather than Bankei) is that it's about doing one thing at a time. Is it necessary to have a schedule to tell you what to do when? Is making such a schedule planning the future too much, or is it a matter of basic hygiene and self-discipline and common-sense?
From an interview with Robert Pirsig,
What followed was the point where he either found enlightenment, or went insane, depending on how you look at it (really the root of all the questions in his first book).
'I could not sleep and I could not stay awake,' he recalls. 'I just sat there cross-legged in the room for three days. All sorts of volitions started to go away. My wife started getting upset at me sitting there, got a little insulting. Pain disappeared, cigarettes burned down in my fingers ...'
It was like a monastic experience?
'Yes, but then a kind of chaos set in. Suddenly I realised that the person who had come this far was about to expire. I was terrified, and curious as to what was coming. I felt so sorry for this guy I was leaving behind. It was a separation. This is described in the psychiatric canon as catatonic schizophrenia. It is cited in the Zen Buddhist canon as hard enlightenment. I have never insisted on either - in fact I switch back and forth depending on who I am talking to.'
I wonder if, instead of sitting for three days, he got for breakfast, went to work when scheduled by the alarm clock, to "chop wood and carry water".
The Dalai Lama seems to have a carefully-timed and well known Routine Day (or 'daily routine'),
When His Holiness is at home in Dharamsala, he wakes up at 3 am. After his morning shower, His Holiness begins the day with prayers, meditations and prostrations until 5 am. From 5 am His Holiness takes a short morning walk around the residential premises. [etc.]
There's an alleged Zen story (famous but I don't know how authentic it is),
Bankei opened a Zen school not far away from another Buddhist school. Over a few weeks, many students from the other school began to attend Bankei's lectures. Eventually the other school's Master called on Bankei, who was in the middle of a lecture. The other Master scolded his students for abandoning his school, and yelled at Bankei, saying that his teacher could perform miracles such as walking on water and signing his name from the other side of a river. Bankei replied, "My miracle is that when I'm hungry, I eat, and when I am tired, I sleep."
The 'eat when hungry and sleep when tired' sounds like it might be (though not necessarily) devoid of external time-keeping: I probably misinterpret the point of it, but it doesn't say "eat at breakfast time and sleep at 10 o'clock in the evening." Is it pointing towards being 'natural', or more towards being single-mindedly disciplined (perhaps while wearing blinkers)?