Vinaya cotton mattress

I read somewhere that cotton matresses are not allowed, and somewhere else that they are allowed.
Whats true?

(Bhikkhu) Pācittiya 88 forbids it


Thank you, do you know which ones are allowed?

The only article of furnishing stuffed with cotton down allowed to bhikkhus is a pillow (§), although the pillow should be made no larger than the size of the head (Cv.VI.2.6).

Cv.VI.2.7 mentions five kinds of allowable stuffing: wool, cloth, bark, grass, and leaves. According to the Commentary, wool here includes all kinds of animal fur and bird feathers. Goose down would thus be allowable. Synthetic fibers and synthetic down would apparently come under “cloth.”

~ From the BMC


Thanks for your help.

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Hello Bhante, thank you for your reference. does using a zafu all together break this precept, since it seems to indicate overly comforting the body as opposed to the materials used. I’ve seen different monasteries approach this with and without zafus. what are your thoughts altogether?

I (personally) take the rule to be an encouragement to use whatever you have lying around. Sometimes I’ll sit on an old pair of shoes. These days, I have a small, rectangular section of old foam that I sit on.

If you already bought a zafu and like it, and it helps you sit longer, I don’t think there’s any reason to throw it away.

But this is my take on the monastic rule: there are other reasonable interpretations and lay people are of course welcome to pick it up as a practice or ignore it as they like. :grin:

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For unordained (incl. novices, laity etc.), it is perfectly fine to use a cotton mattress, upholstery or covering. For bhikkhus, it is an offence (called Pācittiya [No. 88]) when beds and seats are covered with cotton (tūlonaddhaṃ), with no apparent reference to stuffing (please correct me if I am wrong):

Whatever monk should have a couch or a chair made covered with cotton, there is an offence of expiation involving tearing off (yo pana bhikkhu mañcaṃ vā pīṭhaṃ vā tūlonaddhaṃ kārāpeyya, uddālanakaṃ pācittiyaṃ).

I don’t know on what Ā. Ṭhānissaro’s rendering of “upholstered” for onaddhaṃ is based upon, but as far as I consulted the commentaries, they also seem to state that a covering is what is meant. Mrs. Kieffer-Pülz also translated the relevatn Pātimokkha commentary (called Kaṅkhāvitaraṇī) accordingly (pp. 491–2):

“[C]overed with cotton means: cotton is stretched over here … [With this] is said: Having spread an undermat (cimilikā) having thrown cotton on [top of] it, the cotton is stretched over the undermat” (tūlaṃ onaddhametthāti tūlonaddhaṃ, cimilikaṃ pattharitvā tūlaṃ pakkhipitvā upari cimilikāya onaddhanti vuttaṃ hoti).

However, regarding a mattress filled with cotton (tūlikā) as explained in a context outside the Pātimokkha rules, having unraveled it (vijaṭetvā), it has to be made into a pillow (bibbohanaṃ). Again, not applying to unordained people. Furthermore, five kinds of cushions (bhisī; incl. those for beds and seats) were allowed by the Buddha, either filled (pūritā) with wool (uṇṇaṃ), cloth (coḷaṃ), bark (vākaṃ), grass/straw (tiṇaṃ) or leaves (paṇṇāni).

But any abstention from perceived luxury is certainly no problem from the point of dhamma, as opposed to vinaya, where some things potentially perceived as such are actually unproblematic, such as silk robes.


Thanks for the quick reply. I will be giving up the home life in the next few months. I will be practicing towards full ordination and would like to be able to practice the Vinaya to the best of my ability, as the Vinaya has been a defining factor in me finding a suitable location to practice.