Shravasti Dhammika, The Buddhist Precepts III
達爾卡法師 著 伍煥炤 譯 ：〈佛教戒律 III〉
The sixth of the eight Precepts and ten Precepts is Vikala bhojana vermani sikkhapadam samadhiami, I take the precept not to eat at the wrong time. 'Wrong time' (vikala) has long been interpreted to mean after noon or midday, although I know of no place in the suttas where this is specifically stated. The overall purpose of this rule is clear enough – to encourage moderation in eating (Sn.707) and to keep drowsiness due to a full stomach at bay. But the part about not eating after midday is less clear. The origin story in the Vinaya explaining this rule is unconvincing and obviously a later invention. According to this story, a monk was standing at someone's door late at night. As the woman of the house approached the door a sudden flash of lightening illuminated him, frightening the woman half to death, and to prevent this from happening again the Buddha instituted the rule. The only justification the Buddha gives for this rule is that it is good for the health and he does not mention what the 'wrong time' is other than to say the 'evening' or 'night' (ratti). He said, 'I do not eat in the evening and thus I am free from illness and affliction and enjoy health, strength and ease' (M.I, 473). But I can see no reason why eating only in the morning should be any more or less healthy than eating only in the afternoon.
八戒中的第六戒是Vikala bhojana vermani sikkhapadam samadhiami，我遵守戒律不會在不適當的時間進食。雖然我在佛經中找不到特別提及「非時」(vikala) 的地方，但它長久以來都解作過了正午或中午。這條戒律整體的目的是十分清晰的 — 鼓勵節制飲食 (Sn.707) 和避免因滿腹而昏睡。有關午後不進食的部份則不太清晰，《律藏》中解這條戒律來歷的故事並不具說服力，顯然是後來加上的。根據這個故事，一位比丘在晚上站在一家人的門前，一位該戶家庭的女人走近門前，突然而來的閃電照出了他的樣貌，把她嚇得半死。為避免同樣的事情再發生，佛陀制訂了這條戒律。佛陀制訂這戒律的唯一理據是它有益健康，但他沒有提到「非時」是甚麼，只說了「傍晚」或「晚上」(ratti)。他說：「我不在傍晚步進食，因此我會遠離疾病和痛苦，得到健康、力量和安樂」(M.I, 473)。但我看不到只在早上進食是比只在下午進食不健康或更健康。
I suspect that the rule has its origins in two things. That eating before noon was already a well-established convention amongst wandering ascetics and the Buddha simply asked his monks and nuns to follow this convention. And the reason why this convention evolved in the first place was probably because, then as now, Indian peasant women cooked all the day's food early in the morning and the main meal of the day was in the morning. In other words, the most convenient time to go for alms gathering (pindapata) was in the morning. Noon was probably used as the cut-off point for eating because it could be known exactly. It's also pretty certain that monks and nuns only eat one meal a day because, not doing hard physical labour, they did not need that much food. So it is important to understand that noon is not some magical time, after which consuming food becomes a serious moral failing. It is just a convenient, and at that time a practical, way of dividing the day.