Life of the Buddha

Electronically Distributed by BuddhaNet

(Part Two) 1. The Buddha’s Daily Routine

The Buddha’s daily routine was divided into five parts:

  1. the morning session
  2. the afternoon session
  3. the first watch
  4. the middle watch
  5. the last watch

The Morning Session
(4.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon)

The Buddha would get up at 4.00 a.m. and as soon as he had had a wash would sit down to meditate for an hour. From 5.00 to 6.00 a.m. he would look around the world with his mental eye to see if anybody needed help. At 6.00 a.m. he would put on his robe and either go out and help the needy or beg for food.

When on alms round the Buddha would go from house to house, eyes fixed to the ground, receiving in silence any food that was put into his bowl. Sometimes he would go begging with his disciples, who would walk behind him in single file. Often people would invite him to their houses for lunch and he would give a discourse to them and his followers.

The Afternoon Session (12.00 noon to 6.00 p.m.)

In the afternoon the monks would usually go to the Buddha to ask questions and be taught and advised. The Buddha would then retire to his room and look around the world with his mental eye to see if anyone was looking for his help. He would then go and meet people who were waiting for him. He would teach to them in such a way that everybody felt that the Buddha was teaching to each one of them separately, “giving joy to the wise, promoting the intelligence of the average people and dispelling the darkness of the dull-witted”.

The First Watch (6.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.)

During this time the followers would come again to the Buddha to either listen or ask questions to clarify their doubts.

The Middle Watch (10.00 p.m. to 2.00 a.m.)

During this period the devas would seize the opportunity to go to see the Buddha and learn the truth of life. The Buddha, on answering their questions, would complete the middle watch of the night.

The Last Watch ( 2.00 a.m. to 4.00 a.m.)

For the first hour the Buddha would walk up and down meditating and freeing himself from the discomfort of sitting all day. He then would sleep for an hour. Thus we can see the Buddha was busy the whole day. In fact he only slept one hour each day during this 45 years of teaching. During the early hours of the day he saw the whole universe, blessed it with his boundless love and brought happiness to millions.