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Seyyā Suttaṃ

(A.ii.244)

Lying Down

“Monks, there are these four postures for lying down. What four? The posture of the hungry ghost,¹ the posture of the sensualist, the lion’s posture, and the posture of the Tathāgata.

“And what, monks, is the posture of the hungry ghost? As a rule, monks, hungry ghosts lie on their backs. This, monks, is called the posture of the hungry ghost.

“And what, monks, is the posture of the sensualist? As a rule, monks, sensualists sleep on their left side. This, monks, is called the posture of the sensualist.

“And what, monks is the lion’s posture? [245] The Lion, monks, the king of beasts sleeps on the right side, having placed one foot on the other, and his tail between his legs. On waking up, he stretches out the front of his body and looks at the back of his body. If, monks, the lion, the king of beasts, sees any disorderliness or spreading, then, monks, the lion, the king of beasts, is displeased. However, monks, if the lion, the king of beasts, sees no disorderliness or spreading, then, monks, the lion, the king of beasts, is pleased. This, monks, is called the lion’s posture

“And what, monks, is the posture of the Tathāgata? Herein, monks, the Tathāgata, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome mental states, abides in the first absorption … the fourth absorption. This, monks, is called the posture of the Tathāgata. These, monks, are the four postures for lying down.

Notes

1. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates this as the posture of the corpse. The implication, of course, is that monks should not lie flat on their backs like a dead person or a hungry ghost who has done their time and departed from this life.

2. Monks and meditators should lie down to sleep mindfully using the lion’s posture, lying on their right side, with one foot placed on the other. On waking, if they notice that the body is in disarray they can know that they were unmindful at the time of falling asleep. However, if the posture is well composed they should be pleased that they slept and awoke mindfully.

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