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Thread: Meal time chant during Ango

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Meal time chant during Ango

    Hey guys. The first day of Ango went pretty well for me and so far so good.

    Everything I'm doing seemed perfectly natural and I felt great with two long sittings during the day. Well three, really, because of the Zazenkai.

    But when I sat at the table and started to chant before eating... I couldn't do it.

    The reason is because I felt so Christian! I know Buddhist monks chant before meals. I've seen it in movies and documentaries. I know I need to be mindful of my eating. That all is clear to me.

    Thing is that when it comes down to it, years upon years of Catholic/Christian imagery get to my head and I feel like I am praying to a god instead of just being mindful of what I eat.

    At the end of the day I just said the chant in my mind through out my meals, but I felt very strange.

    Perhaps is just a mental block I need to get rid of. I will work on that.

    Has this happened to you?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Has this happened to you?
    I did have a similar experience with this on our 1st day of Ango. Breakfast and lunch were no problem because having to work this weekend I ate breakfast alone and lunch at work by myself. Chanting the meal verse was easy. Come suppertime when the wife and kids were seated around the table it was kind of ackward to request and then chant this aloud. However I know that I only feel this awkwardness because it is something new and different. By the end of Ango it will become like second nature for us!
    Well three, really, because of the Zazenkai.
    Speaking of Zazenkai, do you remember your 1st Zazenkai here? How did it feel? For me if felt the same as chanting the meal verse for the first time! It was difficult at first but now I greatly enjoy everything about it. Just hang in there and drop all ideas of hard, easy, Zen, Christianity or any other distraction of the mind.

    Gassho,
    John

  3. #3

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    I've been following the Ango commitments for over a week now (I thought it best to start when my school year started), and I've been having a similar block around this simple little meal gatha, which, I think, is from Aitken:

    We receive this food in gratitude
    From all beings who helped to bring it to our table,
    And vow to respond in turn to those in need
    With wisdom and compassion.
    It's the only aspect of Ango I've literally forgotten about, over and over again! I just did, in fact, eating my bowl of cereal before settling into Treeleaf and my morning sit! ops: I can't trace it to this or that: literally just forget about it.

    My clear, confused resistance makes me recall Jundo's oft-repeated point about paying attention to precisely those things we resist (most recently in the Sit-A-Long), including meal gathas and earthquakes and chants and evictions and radiation. That which we seek (and seek to run away from) can be "small amounts," as Xin Xin Ming states, but those "small amounts" are precisely what separate us from the whole.

    So good for us, Morelos! We've found something to which we can attend in our practice during Ango, something very real and not real at all, something that can teach us quite a bit, I think.

  4. #4
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Hey Morelos!

    Interesting you bring this up. I've not had the issue you've stated, but I can remember when I first started to do liturgy how foreign it felt. I'm a technology guy and very linear in my logic. Normally requiring a thorough detailed analysis of anything before I proceed with it. In the end I just went with it. I did the chanting and prostrations and such and found, much like John, it quickly became an outward expression of an inward conviction.

    For me, my twin 9 year olds are Christians. As such, we pray before our meals and do it in a round-about-way...each having an opportunity. When it's my turn it is always the Meal Gatha (the one from Daido Roshi's book, which is the same as Aitken Roshi on this thread). And I end it with Amen (they end with in Jesus' name, amen). I find that this is the middle way for my family and just works.

    Many times our past creeps into our present, maybe just be in the present.

    Thank you for your practice.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

    PS - Good sitting with you this morning!!

  5. #5

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Gassho, Shawn. Middle way, indeed.

  6. #6

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Hi,

    I will just echo much of what has been wisely said by others.

    If one is feeling "baggage" from one's childhood ... put that baggage down. The only one making mental "associations and connections" between the practice and some other experience or interpretation is you.(Furthermore, Christianity is a beautiful religion for many people. As well, one can practice this Buddhist thing with a belief in God or absent a belief in God. Our own Fr. K is an excellent example of how one can open one's heart to both paths).

    Next, the Meal Gatha can be interpreted in many ways, but is primarily an expression of gratitude to all that contributed to putting each crumb before you ... the farmers, truck drivers, the whole world, sun, wind and rain, stars and whatever may or may not be behind that. Buddhism 101 teaches that each and all, everyone/everything, are profoundly inter-connected and interdependent, whole. Further, the food is medicine sustaining our practice, and fueling this practice. It is also an aspiration that all the hungry people be fed.

    (Hands in Gassho) This food comes from the efforts
    of all sentient beings past and present,
    and is medicine for nourishment of our Practice.
    We offer this meal of many virtues and tastes
    to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
    and to all life in every realm of existence.
    May all sentient beings in the universe
    be sufficiently nourished.


    Next, yes, an important aspect of Ango is to do some things (nothing immoral, mind you ... only kind and gentle things) that we RESIST ... because we create the resistance as much or more than the object we resist. If you were practicing in a retreat or monastic setting, there would be many things that were resisted, uninvited, not ideal ... from the moment they wake you up each day at 4:30AM! :shock: Yes, resistance to the parts of life we do not like is also largely between your own ears. Get over it, and one masters a vital lesson in freedom from the mental bonds of life!

    Gassho, J

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    I have always had a struggle with the outloud bit of chanting, and really have not yet forced the issue as when sitting down with the family and such. We are not really formal sit down eaters (though I would like to change that moderatly) When I do sit down for a meal either alone or with others I tend to recite the chant silently to myself and the universe. I still forget often, and allow eating to become too automatic open mouth shove food in, repeat.

    I want to work on this more regulary, but without it becoming just another routine, or just because it is Ango and I want to be a better Buddhist. For me I want it to be a reminder that life is the universe's engine transfering energy form place to place, being to being, and a meal is a precious thing that does not materialize out of thin air but is our one real link with everything else.
    Those are my aspirations, but sometimes I'm just so damn hungry I forget, and I want to eat!
    Bon appetit.
    Gassho ~ Hogo.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    I put the meal chant on an index card and stuck it between my salt and pepper shaker so I "can't" forget it (I already have once or twice :roll: ).

    I watch a lot of documentaries on where food comes from . . . it's often an unpleasant story. For me, the chant reminds me that food isn't just a given, and that I can sometimes make better choices about what I buy and where it comes from, and to be grateful for the people who did grow it, pick it, pack it, ship it . . .

    Gassho

    Jen

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    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    I forgot a couple times already, but I did chant before my lunch meal about an hour ago . However, I have been chanting silently since it weirds my husband out :roll: .

    Thanks,
    Jodi

  10. #10
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by chocobuda
    The first day of Ango went pretty well for me and so far so good.
    I'm glad. My first day of Ango was hectic! We decided to replace my break pads ourselves and had a lot of trouble! Many trips back and forth to the auto parts store! They're getting finished up now by my boyfriend and his dad. I wonder how many people take TWO days to fix their break pads! Only on a Chrysler... But I didn't forget, "Just this... just this..." as it wore on, even though I lost my cool a couple of times.

    I haven't had a chance to sit yet, nor have I been able to observe the more formal aspects of Ango, but I'm making sure not to forget. I was stranded away from my house for the night, so I'm a little disorganized.

    Quote Originally Posted by chocobuda
    But when I sat at the table and started to chant before eating... I couldn't do it.

    The reason is because I felt so Christian!
    I am trying to make an effort to go through with the things that I don't really understand or resonate with, because it's good for my ego to be denied its gratification for "why, what, when, where, how, who... blah blah blah." Chanting before meals is awkward for me too. I just think of the Sangha, chanting anyway, working for the benefit of all beings, and my stubborn little ego moves out of the way for a time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer G P
    I put the meal chant on an index card and stuck it between my salt and pepper shaker so I "can't" forget it (I already have once or twice :roll: ).
    Good idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    It's the only aspect of Ango I've literally forgotten about, over and over again! I just did, in fact, eating my bowl of cereal before settling into Treeleaf and my morning sit! ops: I can't trace it to this or that: literally just forget about it.
    There's a lot to remember about Ango, and it is hard when we are not in a Zen setting constantly. The important thing is that we try when we remember. Remembering and not trying is the "sin," if there is such a thing. Just a word.

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    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    If one is feeling "baggage" from one's childhood ... put that baggage down. The only one making mental "associations and connections" between the practice and some other experience or interpretation is you.(Furthermore, Christianity is a beautiful religion for many people. As well, one can practice this Buddhist thing with a belief in God or absent a belief in God. Our own Fr. K is an excellent example of how one can open one's heart to both paths).
    Indeed. I reckon the block has been mine all these years. Today I sat on this this morning and by breakfast I simply chanted. My girlfriend gave a funny look, but stayed respectfully silent.

    And I felt great. I didn't even think about it. Just did it. Lunch time is in a few minutes so I will chant again.

    So far day 2 has been smooth.

    Oh and I'm sorry if I sounded disrespectful with the Christianity comment. It wasn't my intention.

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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Speaking of Zazenkai, do you remember your 1st Zazenkai here? How did it feel? For me if felt the same as chanting the meal verse for the first time! It was difficult at first but now I greatly enjoy everything about it. Just hang in there and drop all ideas of hard, easy, Zen, Christianity or any other distraction of the mind.
    Your words were very helpful. I am learning to drop ideas. To be honest, a day later, it all now seems a little easier.

    Thanks, John.

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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer G P
    I put the meal chant on an index card and stuck it between my salt and pepper shaker so I "can't" forget it (I already have once or twice :roll: ).

    I watch a lot of documentaries on where food comes from . . . it's often an unpleasant story. For me, the chant reminds me that food isn't just a given, and that I can sometimes make better choices about what I buy and where it comes from, and to be grateful for the people who did grow it, pick it, pack it, ship it . . .

    Gassho

    Jen
    Jen, that's a great idea. If you don't have a copyright on that, I'll just do the same! :P

  14. #14
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Morelos, I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt like that! I'm not even from a strong Christian background. But memories of family Thanksgiving dinners (full of drama once that prayer was over) keep coming back to me.

    I also mean no offense to Christianity, it's just a funny feeling about things seeming to blend together when I had them "separate" in my mind. But we know that there is no separateness...

    I also admit I'm a huge meal chant forgetter, and my ango doesn't yet feel like an ango for that and other reasons, but I will get there, just hold your hands out the back of the moving train so I can grab them and climb on.

    Jen: I must have watched some of the same documentaries, because I'm mindful of that, too (not "mindful" in a Buddhist way, but a "what's-this-world-coming-to" kind of way). It makes sense to me now that making those better choices is nourishing not just for the body.

    gassho
    Julia

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    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Growing up Catholic, the meal prayer always seemed like something we did just because we had to. There was no feeling to it. With the gatha, there is feeling for me, so I have no troubles... other than remembering to do it.

  16. #16

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    I think that it's fascinating that so many of us are finding these little chants so challenging! Me, I hasten to add, included: I forgot again before dinner, my google reminder having come and gone in the gap between prep and service. With nearly everything else I'm locked in, even the truly difficult stuff for me. Perhaps it goes to how little we perceive the extent to which food -- of all things! -- is a vivid example of our connectedness to myriad things. I mean, really, if chewing isn't as much of a this/here/now moment as breathing, what else is?!?

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    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    I think that it's fascinating that so many of us are finding these little chants so challenging! Me, I hasten to add, included: I forgot again before dinner, my google reminder having come and gone in the gap between prep and service. With nearly everything else I'm locked in, even the truly difficult stuff for me. Perhaps it goes to how little we perceive the extent to which food -- of all things! -- is a vivid example of our connectedness to myriad things. I mean, really, if chewing isn't as much of a this/here/now moment as breathing, what else is?!?
    I was just thinking the same thing this evening after I forgot to do the meal chant at dinner!

    Jodi

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    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Just a note:

    I sometimes pass by a church downtown with a side door where their food pantry is. Yesterday . . . in fact a lot of days lately . . . the line of people needing food was well out the door.

    Today I did the meal chant and really meant it.

    Gassho

    Jen

    P.S. Next month I will be participating in a food drive.

  19. #19

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Good point. I have a friend who works for the RI Food Bank, and as your anecdote suggested, there are a lot of hungry people out there -- and winter is coming to the northern hemisphere.....

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    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    I sometimes pass by a church downtown with a side door where their food pantry is. Yesterday . . . in fact a lot of days lately . . . the line of people needing food was well out the door.

    Today I did the meal chant and really meant it.
    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing this story Jen. It's nice to see how this practice has the ability to make us look at things from a different perspective.

    An example for me is similar to this wonderful insight from Chris, as he mentioned here
    Perhaps it goes to how little we perceive the extent to which food -- of all things! -- is a vivid example of our connectedness to myriad things. I mean, really, if chewing isn't as much of a this/here/now moment as breathing, what else is?!?
    After dinner last night I remembered that I had forgotten the meal chant. At that moment I realized this: If I am so mindless as to even think of the meal chant before eating, am I not just as mindless while I'm actually eating?! Open mouth, insert food, repeat. My meal is not the only thing being consumed! So too is my mind by all the myriad things, none of which are truly taking place at that moment!

    Gassho,
    John

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    Re: Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer G P
    Just a note:

    I sometimes pass by a church downtown with a side door where their food pantry is. Yesterday . . . in fact a lot of days lately . . . the line of people needing food was well out the door.

    Today I did the meal chant and really meant it.

    Gassho

    Jen

    P.S. Next month I will be participating in a food drive.
    Thanks for sharing this. This is something close to my heart as well. I am in the middle of a food drive myself. In Dallas there are so, so many hungry people ..and visually so. I can only imagine how many go hungry behind the scenes. There is a school about 20 minutes away where 80 percent of the kids are what they classify as at risk in relation to hunger. Some of the stories of kids only eating well at school and practically fasting during the weekends just breaks my heart...

    Thanks for your practice.

    Gassho

    Shawn

    Sent from my SGH-I897 using Tapatalk

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    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Dang it, I forgot to chant today again too. For lunch because I was exhausted and preoccupied about some pressing issues, and for dinner because I didn't really eat dinner. I was so busy I shoved a protein bar in my face quickly so I could get on to putting out the next fire. How's that for Ango? :roll: I guess it's like dropping thoughts in zazen -- you just keep on doing it until you do it.

  23. #23

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Sounds like we need a gatha for when we forget our meal gatha!

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    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    Sounds like we need a gatha for when we forget our meal gatha!
    :lol: Interesting idea Chris!

    Gassho,
    John

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    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    Sounds like we need a gatha for when we forget our meal gatha!
    Inception-Gatha!

  26. #26

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Thanks to Shinkai, we've got one!

    Realizing my forgetfulness
    I vow with all beings
    to acknowledge every moment as a new beginning
    and start fresh with renewed faith.

  27. #27
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Hi All,

    I've been doing the mealtime chant with the family when we are together for dinner. My wife had a special request. She(being Japanese) wanted me to sometimes do it in Japanese as well. Does anyone have the Japanese version of this which is said before meals?

    Thanks in advance,
    John

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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Hi All,

    I've been doing the mealtime chant with the family when we are together for dinner. My wife had a special request. She(being Japanese) wanted me to sometimes do it in Japanese as well. Does anyone have the Japanese version of this which is said before meals?

    Thanks in advance,
    John
    I didn't see that John while googling around but did find a pretty neat gem:

    http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/doc ... Gathas.pdf

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  29. #29

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Hi,

    Our 'Meal Gatha' which we are chanting this Ango is based (my abbreviation) on the longer "Formal Meal Verses" (Gyohatsu Nenju 行鉢念誦) recited during Oryoki in a Soto Zen Monastery, and mainly the portions known as:


    I - The Verse of Five Contemplations (Gokan No Ge 五観の偈)

    The Gokan No Ge is ...

    一つには功の多少を計り彼の来処を量る
    二つには己れが徳行の全缺を忖つて供に應ず
    三つには心を防ぎ過を離るることは貪等を宗とす
    四つには正に良薬を事とするは形枯を療ぜんが為なり
    五には成道の為の故に今此の食を受く

    or (in a way a bit easier for modern Japanese to read)

    一には功の多少を計(はか)り彼(か)の来処(らいしょ)を量(はか)る。
    二には己が徳行(とくぎょう)の全欠を[と]忖(はか)つて供(く)に応(おう)ず。
    三には心を防ぎ過(とが)を離るることは貪等(とんとう)を宗(しゅう)とす。
    四には正に良薬を事とすることは形枯(ぎょうこ)を療(りょう)ぜんが為なり。
    五には成道(じょうどう)の為の故に今此(いまこ)の食(じき)を受く。

    Translations vary (Shawn linked to some versions above), but generally something like ...

    First, innumerable labors have brought us this food. We should know how it came to us.

    Second, as we receive this offering, we should consider whether our virture and practice deserve it.

    Third, as we seek the natural condition of mind, to be free from clinging.

    Fourth, we regard this meal as medicine to sustain our life

    Fifth, to attain our way, we take this food

    II - Food Offering Verse (Sejiki Ge 施食偈)

    三徳六味。施仏及僧。法界有情。普同供養。 (さんてるみ、しふぎすん、はかいうじん、ふずんきゅんにょう)
    「三徳と六味を仏及び僧と法界の有情に施し普く同じく供養せん」

    The three virtues and six tastes of this meal. Are offered to buddha and sangha. May all sentient beings in the universe. Be equally nourished.

    Just as a reminder, our version for Treeleaf Ango is ....


    (Hands in Gassho) This food comes from the efforts
    of all sentient beings past and present,
    and is medicine for nourishment of our Practice.
    We offer this meal of many virtues and tastes
    to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
    and to all life in every realm of existence.
    May all sentient beings in the universe
    be sufficiently nourished.
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-07-2012 at 02:18 AM.

  30. #30
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Thank you Jundo Sensei and Shawn for helping out on this one!

    Gassho,
    John

  31. #31

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    I keep forgetting as well. I forgot again yesterday. I don't know why this is hard to remember. I think it is just years of NOT doing anything like a gatha before meals and just "grab and go".

    *sigh*

  32. #32

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Forgot again last night. I've had enough: I loaded the gatha into Evernote and my google calendar. That, plus a few laminated cards, are this week's strategy. If that fails, I'm thinking about a tattoo....

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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    loaded the gatha into Evernote
    Same here. I always have said the short gatha from MRO and so still trying to memorize ours @ Treeleaf. I like the one Jundo came up with, seems like a good length. I also found a nifty Evernote feature that allows you to make a shortcut to a document so it makes it easy and quick to get to.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    If that fails, I'm thinking about a tattoo....
    lol!

    Gassho,

    Shawn

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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    John;

    Here is a romanji version of the verse Jundo-oso is referring to. You may find it helpful if you want to read along with your wife.


    Gokan no Ge

    Hitotsu niwa kono tasho o hakari ka no raisho o hakaru.
    ?には??の??'??は????彼?? ?の来??????????'??は??? ???

    Futatsu niwa onorega toku gyo no zen ketto hakatte kuni o zu.
    ?には己?徳??とく?????の? *?'[と]??は??つて??く?に ????????

    Mitsu niwa shin o fusegi toga o hana ruru koto wa tonto o shu to su.
    ?には??'????と???'????? ?とは貪*??と??と???'?????? ?と???

    Yotsu niwa masa ni ryoyaku o koto to suru wa gyoko o ryo zen ga tamenari.
    ??には*に???'?と????とは形? ????????'????????????? ?な????

    Itsutsu niwa jodo no tame no yue ni ima kono jiki o uku.
    ?には???????ど??の?の?? ?*??ま??の???き??'?く ??

  35. #35

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by ezzirah
    I keep forgetting as well. I forgot again yesterday. I don't know why this is hard to remember. I think it is just years of NOT doing anything like a gatha before meals and just "grab and go".

    *sigh*
    Same here...I usually remember after I have finished eating...~sigh~

  36. #36
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    John;

    Here is a romanji version of the verse Jundo-oso is referring to. You may find it helpful if you want to read along with your wife.


    Gokan no Ge

    Hitotsu niwa kono tasho o hakari ka no raisho o hakaru.
    ?には??の??'??は????彼?? ?の来??????????'??は??? ???

    Futatsu niwa onorega toku gyo no zen ketto hakatte kuni o zu.
    ?には己?徳??とく?????の? *?'[と]??は??つて??く?に ????????

    Mitsu niwa shin o fusegi toga o hana ruru koto wa tonto o shu to su.
    ?には??'????と???'????? ?とは貪*??と??と???'?????? ?と???

    Yotsu niwa masa ni ryoyaku o koto to suru wa gyoko o ryo zen ga tamenari.
    ??には*に???'?と????とは形? ????????'????????????? ?な????

    Itsutsu niwa jodo no tame no yue ni ima kono jiki o uku.
    ?には???????ど??の?の?? ?*??ま??の???き??'?く ??
    Thanks Shokai! Romaji will definitely help because even though the wife was interested, it's still my job to chant it!

    Gassho,
    John

  37. #37

    Re: Meal time chant during Ango

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Quote Originally Posted by ezzirah
    I keep forgetting as well. I forgot again yesterday. I don't know why this is hard to remember. I think it is just years of NOT doing anything like a gatha before meals and just "grab and go".

    *sigh*
    Same here...I usually remember after I have finished eating...~sigh~
    I'm with all of you guys Had to stop the meal halfway several times to say the chant.

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