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Thread: Meal Verse

  1. #1

    Meal Verse

    When you chant the meal verse, what images/thoughts do you hold in your mind?

    It occurred to me yesterday that sometimes my recitation is shallow, perfunctory. I just say it out of habit, without much reflection.

    I've started to hold an image in my head each time. Perhaps that of a farmer toiling in the field, a worm crawling through the earth, a truck driver hauling produce to the market, etc. Basically something to help cement the idea that this meal comes from literally everything, and holds everything within it. We would starve without the efforts of everything.


    Gassho, Kaishin
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  2. #2
    Sorry my phone cut off the end of my post:

    So, what goes on in your mind when you chant the meal verse? Do you ever find it more like a habit than a meaningful ritual? How do you make it meaningful.

    Thank you,
    Kaishin
    Gassho, Kaishin
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Daido's Avatar
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    When i recite the meal chant I focus or practice on just chanting. If my mind wanders (and it does) I try to bring it back to just chanting. For me I try not to make a judgement about it whether it is a habit or meaningful. It is both meaningful and non-meaningful and beyond. For me, I chant because I choose to.

    Interesting post Kaishin

    Gassho,

    Daido


  4. #4
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    I stick the spoon in the bowl with the handle facing away from me and offer my gratitude!
    --- In every moment of our sitting all beings are receiving the ultimate help; they are all achieving perfect peace and perfect rest. --- Norman Fischer

  5. #5
    I imagine all the effort that has gone into producing each part of the meal - planting, watering and tending, picking, transporting, selling etc - and inwardly bow to all those involved and the plants and animals themselves. So, similar to you, Kaishin.

    I have always loved this meal gatha from Thich Nhat Hanh and the first line forms the essence of my visualisation:

    This food is the gift of the whole universe - the earth the sky, and much hard work.
    May we eat in mindfulness so as to be worthy to receive it.
    May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat with moderation.
    May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
    We accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love and joy.


    Gassho,
    Andy

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    I imagine all the effort that has gone into producing each part of the meal - planting, watering and tending, picking, transporting, selling etc - and inwardly bow to all those involved and the plants and animals themselves. So, similar to you, Kaishin.
    Great topic Kaishin. I often have found myself doing the same. I'm going to make more of an effort to do as Andy has posted. This seems like a solid way to add more meaning to the verse. Thanks Andy!

    Gassho.
    Seimyo

    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  7. #7
    As Daido says, in our tradition no need to think about anything at all, don t add to the recitation, just chant and that s it. No mental blablabla, no images or inner mudra are necessary. No merit. Just sing your heart out. Gratitude is not a thought, sentient beings are not thoughts.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  8. #8
    You may make a clear dedication before chanting and then forget everything, throw everything and every inch of yourself into the chant. When chanting, just chanting.

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    You may make a clear dedication before chanting and then forget everything, throw everything and every inch of yourself into the chant. When chanting, just chanting.

    Taigu
    Yes! Thank you Taigu ... I love the simple and heart felt approach.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  10. #10
    Daido's answer has great depth.

    Gassho

    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    The meal gatha makes me conscious of what I'm eating, where it comes from and all the life involved in the process.

    But most importantly, the words: it's medicine for my practice changed my life.

    I need to eat in order to nurture my practice and body. Like any medicine, if I abuse of it, I'll become ill.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  12. #12
    Thank you for the clarification, Taigu and Daido.

    Gassho
    Andy

  13. #13
    Thank you for the follow-ups. I will keep the contemplation to before or after the chanting, as you advise, Taigu. When chanting, just chant. But of course
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  14. #14
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Now that i'm getting back in the habit of this chant. I try to feel every word of the chant be every line of the verse. But after that as I eat I try to experience the food on a deeper level ,and like you mentioned I think of those who had a part in getting the food to my [late ( myself included as we are involved in the cooking of our food. We are part of that process).The farmers, the sacrifice of sentient beings losing their lives so I and others may eat. The person who took my order, the cooks, The processing plants, etc.

    Dave _/\_

  15. #15
    Kaishin, I love this question as I haven't thought about this very much. I appreciate you pointing at this part of practice so we can all reflect a bit. I find that like Daido and Reverend Taigu have expressed, just chanting has it's own fullness. As Dogen Zenji says in Genjo Koan: "All things coming and carrying out practice-enlightenment through the self is realizaton", so I would say in the case of the meal verse we just stay awake recite it and let it do it's work just a we stay awake and let Zazen do it's work. I find that when things are simple and clear gratitude comes up pretty naturally.

    With Gratitude,
    Arnold

  16. #16
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    When thinking, chant. When not thinking, chant. When not chanting, chant.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    I have always loved this meal gatha from Thich Nhat Hanh and the first line forms the essence of my visualisation:

    This food is the gift of the whole universe - the earth the sky, and much hard work.
    May we eat in mindfulness so as to be worthy to receive it.
    May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat with moderation.
    May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
    We accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love and joy.


    Gassho,
    Andy
    I really like this verse. I just now said it before drinking my green tea and I plan on making a habit of saying this before every meal! It really makes you reflect on the impact of food on different cultures. It seems here in America (and in industrialized nation) no one cares what they eat as long as they can gorge themselves, as in a 3rd world country people are grateful to get a slice of bread.

    It really shows me how little gratefulness I have given to my nourishment.

    Gassho,
    Alex

  18. #18
    P.S. Here is the version I use on many occasions around others that is less Buddhist-y (doesn't use words like sangha, dharma etc) :P

    "With gratitude to all those past and present whose efforts brought this food to our table, we pause to consider whether our thoughts, words, and actions are worthy of its benefits. In return for this sustenance, we vow to help all those in need with wisdom and compassion"
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    I like it Kaishin. Thank you.

    Gassho.
    Seimyo

    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    P.S. Here is the version I use on many occasions around others that is less Buddhist-y (doesn't use words like sangha, dharma etc) :P

    "With gratitude to all those past and present whose efforts brought this food to our table, we pause to consider whether our thoughts, words, and actions are worthy of its benefits. In return for this sustenance, we vow to help all those in need with wisdom and compassion"
    We should see how to implement this to our practice!

    Thanks, Kaishin.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin View Post
    "With gratitude to all those past and present whose efforts brought this food to our table, we pause to consider whether our thoughts, words, and actions are worthy of its benefits. In return for this sustenance, we vow to help all those in need with wisdom and compassion"
    I also dig this more inclusive version, I will have to remember it when I am in company that would appreciate it
    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post

    May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
    We accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love and joy.
    I am pretty certain cake is both nourishing and prevents illness.
    I am sure it is in the sutras . . .

    Mindful trifle eating is love and joy.

  23. #23
    Thank you everyone,
    that was very helpful for me.
    Gassho
    Myoku

  24. #24
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    I have always loved this meal gatha from Thich Nhat Hanh and the first line forms the essence of my visualisation:

    This food is the gift of the whole universe - the earth the sky, and much hard work.
    May we eat in mindfulness so as to be worthy to receive it.
    May we transform our unskillful states of mind and learn to eat with moderation.
    May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
    We accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love and joy.


    Gassho,
    Andy
    This is a beautiful meal verse, I have never done this before but I think I will start.

  25. #25
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.
    We must consider our merit when accepting it.
    We must protect ourselves from error by excluding greed from our minds.
    We eat least we become lean and die
    We accept this food so that we may become enlightened


    Recited this verse so many times, so many years, that it is difficult to adopt another version; though I'm trying to use the one provided in our ceremonial/verse packet.

    The verse above isn't a very eloquent verse in non-Buddhist environs (as I tried it once for Thanksgiving Day), and it seems more direct to training (either priest or lay) in a monastic setting. The fourth remembrance is especially poignant inasmuch as it recognizes food as medicine....essential life-giving nutrient.....enough to provide stability in health. That's it! The rest is, well, poetic at best, superfluous and damaging at it's worst.

    I, too, appreciate the Thich Nhat Hanh version, but I think it suffices to say that "we accept this food to realize the way" The rest is just some of Rev. Hanh's favorite words.

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