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Thread: LIVING by VOW: The Meal Chants - PP 87 to 98 (thru Verse Upon Hearing Meal Signal)

  1. #1

    LIVING by VOW: The Meal Chants - PP 87 to 98 (thru Verse Upon Hearing Meal Signal)

    Hi Guys,

    As I set of to visit Treeleafers on my American travels, the Book Club will be in the good hands of Shugen. This is also fitting, as he is our guide in the Oryoki Circle here at Treeleaf:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...ractice-Circle

    Shugen will take the rest of the Chapter in a few pieces, over the next few weeks.

    And speaking of pieces, today's section again speaks of the vital Mahayana Buddhist experience of the whole thoroughly in each of the pieces of life, and each of the pieces a whole universe. Every moment and action is all moments, and and all moments and all time is thoroughly contained in each moment.

    It is very important that, through this Practice, one learns to experience so. It brings all the broken pieces of the world, although still sadly sometimes broken, into wholeness and completion.

    Can you, and have you got better at, finding this in all your actions and moments in life? Oryoki is one way to express all our actions, from changing a tire to a baby diaper.

    The last section honors the historical Buddha, and the four great places of his life that I was honored to visit as a pilgrim last winter. Certainly, easier for me to visit by plane and train than pilgrims of old.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...do+visit+train

    Anyway, without further ado, I turn things over to Shugen. Perhaps he will add some words here.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hello all,

    What a wonderful description of broken - not broken life!

    I will be road tripping over the weekend to meet Jundo and some of our other Sangha mates so will post again early next week.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  3. #3
    Just wondering if anyone could suggest some further reading on Oryoki as I feel I need some background to this chapter. I have this book by Tony Duff https://www.amazon.com/Oryoki-Chant-.../dp/9937903106 already, has anyone read it and if so how do you rate it? Thank you everyone.

    Gassho
    Frankie

    satwithyoualltoday/lah.

  4. #4
    Whoa! I am going to need to read this section again. Some of it is pretty clear like the hand and fingers description others not so much. I think part of my stumbling block is that dharma clearly has a more expansive meaning than what I've been using. Anyone else find this section a challenge?

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by awarren View Post
    Whoa! I am going to need to read this section again. Some of it is pretty clear like the hand and fingers description others not so much. I think part of my stumbling block is that dharma clearly has a more expansive meaning than what I've been using. Anyone else find this section a challenge?

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today
    Yes Warren! I will definitely need to re-read this chapter, at least a couple of times. Having said that, while I'm reminding myself of the doctrinal side of some of what is being discussed, eg, the three bodies of the Buddha and the concept of the gift, the giving and the receiver, which are Big Subjects by themselves- I'm trying to understand and keep in mind the overall meaning and purpose of Oryoki, which as I see it is a gateway to understanding and celebrating interdependence, even by the act of sharing, as well as an embodiment of the gift of gratitude.
    A while back I watched a few videos on You Tube of various Oryoki ceremonies, but to be honest I was more moved by Jundo and our own Sangha members sharing the Oryoki practice in Hobart yesterday - it really brought home to me that sense of what the practice means in terms of gratitude, sharing, serving each other with pleasure and care and understanding how we are all connected and dependent upon each other. I thought it also demonstrated how something with so much form can also be intimate, relaxed and informal, amongst people who care deeply about what they are doing. I loved it!

    Gassho
    Frankie,

    satwithyoualltoday.

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    HI Frankie,

    I am not familiar with the book that you mentioned. I put it on my list. As to other resources, I have not found much. Even the "official" version from Soto-Shu is vague and not well written. I will update if I come across anything else.

    I am glad that you enjoyed our version of Oryoki in Hobart. It may not have been a perfectly choreographed dance but the intent was exactly what it should have been. As Shingen has mentioned on other threads, intent is key.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  7. #7
    Joyo
    Guest
    Each chapter in this book is helping me with my practice. It's one of those books to be read over and over again.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today/lah

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Shugen View Post
    HI Frankie,

    I am not familiar with the book that you mentioned. I put it on my list. As to other resources, I have not found much. Even the "official" version from Soto-Shu is vague and not well written. I will update if I come across anything else.

    I am glad that you enjoyed our version of Oryoki in Hobart. It may not have been a perfectly choreographed dance but the intent was exactly what it should have been. As Shingen has mentioned on other threads, intent is key.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday
    It's quite strange because this book is about Oryoki as it was introduced to his students by the Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa, so the liturgy ( long and lots of it) comes from the Tibetan tradition. The author Tony Duff does say at the beginning that he was reluctant to write the book because he felt that the instructions for Oryoki should be transmitted orally as they always have been. I wonder if this is why there is a dearth of literature about the practice?
    Shugen, your intent shone

    Gassho
    Frankie

    satwithyoualltoday/lah

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    I have to say I have no experience with the Tibetan version. And, I'll admit it's easier to show than it is to tell but I'm sure that the monks in the monastery took notes for reference. Some of them probably even created "cheat sheets".

    An idea for Jundo's next book?

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie View Post
    It's quite strange because this book is about Oryoki as it was introduced to his students by the Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa, so the liturgy ( long and lots of it) comes from the Tibetan tradition. The author Tony Duff does say at the beginning that he was reluctant to write the book because he felt that the instructions for Oryoki should be transmitted orally as they always have been. I wonder if this is why there is a dearth of literature about the practice?
    Shugen, your intent shone

    Gassho
    Frankie

    satwithyoualltoday/lah
    Trungpa was a friend of Shunryu Suzuki, and borrowed some Japanese Soto Practices into his Shambhala Tradition. This is one case.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Eishuu
    Guest
    This chapter was my first taste of this book - wow, really mind blowing. Will probably need to read it several times. The bit that really left me with a question was the bit about desire: "When we eat, we should be happy. This happiness is the enjoyment of dharma. When we receive or eat a meal, we shouldn't grasp the taste. Usually when we eat, we encounter our food with our desires. These desires are the cause of delusion or samsara. The Buddha and Dogen Zenji teach us to become free from desires caused by objects. ...Our joy when we receive food is not the fulfillment of our desire. It is the joy of dharma and zazen".

    I can see that food and eating is a particularly useful way to work with desire.

    I have just come off a 21 month strict diet - low carb, dairy/gluten/soy/caffeine/alcohol/sugar-free, pretty bland. Now I have started eating a more varied diet in the last few days - strawberries, vegan cheesecake, beans - and drinking green tea again, I am noticing a significant rise in craving and desire around food where there was little before. A lot of this seems to be physiological to some extent. I saw a great documentary on sugar, in which they did a brain scan of someone eating a cake (I think it was a cake) and also looking at a cake. The same parts of the brain lit up - it seems both pleasure and anticipated pleasure have the same affect on the brain which is why the anticipation and desire makes us want to eat the cake (I'm now careful to put the chocolate out of sight of I don't want to eat it!).

    So my question is what to do with this desire around food? How do I not 'grasp the taste'? Do I just sit with it and notice but not feed it somehow? I quite enoy the anticipation of eating strawberries or cheesecake, it's seems like it's part of the enjoyment. Or is it about changing focus and attitude towards food and regarding it as 'reality itself' and maintaining awareness? I'm not talking about oryoki in particular but just eating my breakfast or a bowl of strawberries.

    Also, on rereading this passage, I notice I feel a slight panic about the idea of giving up desire around food - will it taste as good? I think there's an attachment to the desire itself. Without desire will life be boring?

    Thanks...I'd be really interested in any thoughts or advice.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    sat today

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hi Lucy,

    I don't think we can completely give up our desires. Nor should we. I think it's more about being aware of them and not becoming "a slave to desire" so to speak. You see the chocolate cake, you feel the desire welling up, you notice it - maybe even enjoy it a little, and then take a mental step back. You don't have to immediately grab the fork and dig in. You can, but you don't have to. The point of practice is not to turn us into unfeeling robots but to give us a little more control over our actions. Now, some days, it's not going to work out so well, before you know it, the cake will be half gone. That's okay too. No point in feeling guilty, just be aware, and move on. Food and desire can be very problematic for some, that's what makes this so powerful.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Shugen View Post
    You see the chocolate cake, you feel the desire welling up, you notice it - maybe even enjoy it a little, and then take a mental step back. You don't have to immediately grab the fork and dig in. You can, but you don't have to. The point of practice is not to turn us into unfeeling robots but to give us a little more control over our actions. Now, some days, it's not going to work out so well, before you know it, the cake will be half gone. That's okay too. No point in feeling guilty, just be aware, and move on. Food and desire can be very problematic for some, that's what makes this so powerful.
    The point about chocolate cake is a good one. Like just about everyone I have a weakness for chocolate cake. Desire! Even though I know better there is always that desire to have the biggest piece (or at least not the smallest one). Then after getting the cake, rather than savouring and enjoying each mouthful, it is mindlessly shoveled in. Gone in no time. If I am lucky I get another piece and same thing happens.

    I have tried (and many times failed) to pause as I take a mouthful of any food and appreciate it. It may not even be food I enjoy but there was effort made to plant it, grow it, transport it, purchase it, prepare it, serve it. Seems like the least I should do is pause to enjoy and marvel at the flavours, the textures, the aromas. I should also remember to pause and be thankful for all the sentient beings that contributed to that mouthful.

    Last Ango I took up the practice of reciting the Meal Gatha (http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post47586) before eating lunch and then spend the lunch time contemplating everything past and present that contributed to the food I was consuming. It was very enlightening to consider the web of inter-dependencies that contribute to a meal.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today

  14. #14
    we see the chocolate cake
    neurons fire
    an explosion of dopamine

    we take one bite
    fewer action potentials
    much less dopamine

    the second bite of chocolate cake
    a subtle feeling of nausea
    which we ignore

    and we eat the rest of the cake
    out of habit.

    Gassho
    Meishin
    sat today

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Shugen View Post
    Hi Lucy,

    I don't think we can completely give up our desires. Nor should we. I think it's more about being aware of them and not becoming "a slave to desire" so to speak. You see the chocolate cake, you feel the desire welling up, you notice it - maybe even enjoy it a little, and then take a mental step back. You don't have to immediately grab the fork and dig in. You can, but you don't have to. The point of practice is not to turn us into unfeeling robots but to give us a little more control over our actions. Now, some days, it's not going to work out so well, before you know it, the cake will be half gone. That's okay too. No point in feeling guilty, just be aware, and move on. Food and desire can be very problematic for some, that's what makes this so powerful.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hey Shugen,

    I've found myself bogged down in this chapter because I do have a problem with desire and food. Ever since I quit drinking in January, I have been using food as a kind of stress reliever/source of pleasure. In fact, throughout my life, food has been a source of both desire and aversion. It's fair to say that food has been the focus of a lot of my emotional problems--not so much the cause as the means of escape (if this makes sense). This chapter has forced me to confront a significant effect of this problem: I refuse to acknowledge the sacred function of food as both sustenance for my life (and life in general) and means by which I am undeniably connected with other beings. That my life depends on the life (and death) of other beings is profoundly humbling, and to realize this insight demands that I transform utterly my relationship with food. Writing this, I feel a sense of shame that needs to be understood in terms of atonement instead of self-judgment. To see food as it is, as life, demands a reevaluation; I need to learn to treat food with honor, as Okumura implies, instead of treating it as an instrument of my own self-satisfaction.

    Gassho,

    Michael

    Sat today

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Joseph View Post
    Hey Shugen,

    I've found myself bogged down in this chapter because I do have a problem with desire and food. Ever since I quit drinking in January, I have been using food as a kind of stress reliever/source of pleasure. In fact, throughout my life, food has been a source of both desire and aversion. It's fair to say that food has been the focus of a lot of my emotional problems--not so much the cause as the means of escape (if this makes sense). This chapter has forced me to confront a significant effect of this problem: I refuse to acknowledge the sacred function of food as both sustenance for my life (and life in general) and means by which I am undeniably connected with other beings. That my life depends on the life (and death) of other beings is profoundly humbling, and to realize this insight demands that I transform utterly my relationship with food. Writing this, I feel a sense of shame that needs to be understood in terms of atonement instead of self-judgment. To see food as it is, as life, demands a reevaluation; I need to learn to treat food with honor, as Okumura implies, instead of treating it as an instrument of my own self-satisfaction.

    Gassho,

    Michael

    Sat today
    Hi,

    All that is yummy yummy like sex, drugs and rock and rock = dopamine in the brain. Food is yummy yummy too! Find some other yummy yummies for your tummy and you will be alright!

    My yummy 2 cents.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hello Michael,

    It's great you are becoming more aware of your relationship with food. For me, if I could sum up all of practice in two words it would be "pay attention".

    I would try and go light on the "shame" though.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday


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    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  18. #18
    Jishin and Shugen,

    Thanks. That was the kind of support I was hoping for: encouragement with a side of smiles. Yummy!

    Gassho,

    Michael

    Sat today

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Shugen View Post
    Hello Michael,

    It's great you are becoming more aware of your relationship with food. For me, if I could sum up all of practice in two words it would be "pay attention".

    I would try and go light on the "shame" though.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    It's interesting to see the direction this thread has taken, and comforting too for me personally. I suspect that part of my ongoing fascination with Oryoki is because I too love the yummy, too much for my own good and too much for my bathroom scales. I'm also married to an Italian chef - pity me! I think Shugen is right, a big part of the battle is recognising and being with our relationship to food, practising compassion for ourselves and then looking at ways to be more mindful and meditative when we eat. Even saying a few little words of gratitude either out loud or silently gives pause for thought, and helps bring attention to the moment.
    Having said that, I do like how this chapter connects food and eating to the Dharma itself and through that, connects everything in our lives to Dharma - I always enjoy it when teachings are illustrated by the everyday stuff that we all do - it helps me toward living the Dharma rather than just pulling it out of my pocket a couple of times a week.

    Gassho,
    Frankie
    Satwithyoualltoday/LAH.

  20. #20
    I've been reading this chapter little by little and letting it soak in. I just finished it tonight and Wow!! That is perhaps some of the clearest writings I've read on Buddhism and how it all ties together. At first glance i wondered why eating and meals received such a prominent place in comparison to other necessary bodily functions but it really becomes clear the more one considers it how truly interdependent we all are with everything. . I know I will be coming back to this chapter again in the future.

    Related note - I've been reading about the modern food culture and how disconnected we have become from the origins of the food we eat. In many ways what we eat bears almost no resemblance to the original. I was appreciating this all the more earlier today when I was out in my garden harvesting vegetables for supper.

    A few months ago we had a discussion here at Treeleaf about a show on Netflix about a Buddhist Chef (http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...hlight=Netflix) it was profound to watch such a humble approach to food

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today/LAH

  21. #21
    My father grew up in the Great Depression when food was sometimes scarce and later served in the air force where you ate what they gave you, period. Because of that history, he always cleaned his plate, and I don't ever recall him complaining about the food like us kids did. He was a rather devout Christian, but he ate food like Okumora describes how Buddhists should eat it, as sustenance without thoughts of good or bad because he was just glad to have it.

    I try to be mindful of my food when eating it. This has been a focus of my practice in the past, and I need to get back to it now after reading this chapter. I'll start by sitting zazen today before I eat.

    One strange note on this chapter I need to share. Its extensive description of how food is dharma and dharma is food is probably the best explanation of the eucharist I have ever been exposed to. I have't been a practicing Christian in a long time, partly because that religion's explanation of things like Holy Communion never made much sense to me. Transubstantiation, really? But I get it now, just way too late.

    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  22. #22
    HeyJigen/Al;
    I think we must have gone to the same church.

    gassho,Shokai

    sat/LAH
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  23. #23
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    I've just managed to catch up with having bought the book a few weeks back, plus having family here on holiday. Much to reread at a slower pace.

    I'd have to agree with Warren that there is so much here that's giving me a better understanding of Buddhism and especially Mahayana.

    One thing that I'll still struggle to get my head around and covered in this section, is Relative and Absolute. The one hand five fingers helped and if I look at Indra's Net or the Whole Universe as Absolute and everything within that as Relative, I start to think I understand the concept but find it difficult to apply to daily life.

    Is there any sources to get a low tech explanation or description of these concepts, that anyone could recommend.

    Gassho

    Toby

    STMIZ

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    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Seishin-Do View Post
    One thing that I'll still struggle to get my head around and covered in this section, is Relative and Absolute. The one hand five fingers helped and if I look at Indra's Net or the Whole Universe as Absolute and everything within that as Relative, I start to think I understand the concept but find it difficult to apply to daily life.
    Hi Toby

    I am curious what you mean by "apply to daily life". This doesn't strike me as a something to be applied. It just is. We simply need to be aware and observe. At least that's how i took it.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hi Toby,

    The interplay between Relative and Absolute is a key concept in our practice. As has been stated, it's relatively easy to understand intellectually but a bit more difficult to internalize. An argument could be made that every teaching touches on it. Let me look around and I'll see if I can come up with some reading recommendations for you.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  26. #26
    Hi Toby,

    personally, I see the Universe/Multiverse in its completeness as the only "Absolute", I can think of.

    All, we can grasp is only a part of this Absolute Universe, only seen from one/more certain, 'self' deluded views.
    All Relative. Part of the Absolute.

    So in a way, it is our 'self', that stands between the Absolute, and us, recognising it.
    We can just grasp some Relative things and thoughts (setting us in relation to it).
    Sitting Zazen lets us 'feel' that there is this Absolute, that will never be totally understood by our deluded minds.

    In daily life, I recognise this fact, which makes it easier to understand, that other people have other thoughts and beliefs.
    This is fine. Nothing to accept or refuse. My Relative view is as wrong or right, as the Relative view from everybody else when seen in relation to the Absolute
    Sitting Zazen to put all this Relative in relation to the Absolute seems to be the right thing to me.
    It encourages me to accept others and to understand sitting as a natural thing to do.

    Well, just some relative thoughts.
    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Last edited by Kotei; 08-22-2017 at 04:34 PM.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidou Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  27. #27
    Member Seishin's Avatar
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    Warren - I was responding to your question before the others posted and then the PC glitched ! Apply is probably the wrong word, more as Kotei stated, to recognize. I guess that's my issue at the moment but maybe I'm slowly grasping the concept.

    Shugen - Absolutely (or maybe Relatively) yes I understand that it is central to this practice, so hence the post. I'd be grateful if you find anything on the subject. As I say I think I'm beginning to get the overall bigger picture.

    Kotei -Thank you for that. Guess if I reverse engineer what you are saying and look at the individuality I recognize in all things and people and then accept that they are just many facets of one big Universal/Multiversal whole, then perhaps I get it after all.

    Anyway sounds like I need to do more reading/studying on the matter.

    STMIZ


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  28. #28
    The last five days I have been visiting my in-laws, and it has deepened my understanding of the co-existence of relative and absolute. Given all their history and my (relative!!) newness in my husband's family, I was astonished by their perceptions of one another and themselves--compared to how I saw and experienced each person. Realizing that neither their nor my perceptions were objectively true but instead reflected only a few facets of each person's objective existence was a big step for me. None of us is right, and yet we all are.

    But I have to admit that I haven't yet been able to hold this in mind when it comes to food. I understand it intellectually, and I found it profoundly moving to consider that my life depends on sacrificing and consuming other life, without which I cannot exist--and that this perfectly illustrates the cohesion of "independence and connectedness" (p. 94) at the heart of Buddhism. "All food is dharma."

    However, set a dinner plate in front of me, and all intentions to be aware of this fly right out of my head. I am completely lost in the experience of textures and flavors, temperatures and fragrances.

    If I am eating and noticing what I'm eating, then I am completely absorbed in the noticing. I often halt a conversation, just so I can fully experience the food. So grand ideas of how food connects me to all reality? So far, I can't even remember to think about that!

    I guess the chants are especially helpful for people like me who get a little too lost in their own senses.

    Gassho,
    Melanie
    SatToday

  29. #29
    A few years ago, I lost over 100 pounds in a year by only eating mindfully. I won't bore anyone with the details of my "tactics," as I called them. But I will mention that, as Meishin hinted, we often relate to our idea of food more intimately than the actual food. The idea of a doughnut is wonderful, but by the third bite the taste buds are so burned out on sugar, it's not really enjoyable anymore (not to mention the unenjoyable bodily feeling after a whole doughnut or two). But we continue to eat, hoping to bring to fruition that initial wonderful idea.

    I believe when a person gets high the first time, it's the highest they'll ever be, and all their using after that is just trying to recapture that feeling. I think the same can be said about that first bite of food.

  30. #30
    Thank you for sharing. As I've been trying to lose weight, I'd actually be interested in what your "tactics" were, although the part about only the first bites of a doughnut really tasting good gives some direction.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday/LAH

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    Thank you for sharing. As I've been trying to lose weight, I'd actually be interested in what your "tactics" were, although the part about only the first bites of a doughnut really tasting good gives some direction.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday/LAH
    Onkai, I'd be happy to send you a private message if you're interested - just a series of steps I followed with every bite to engender mindfulness.

    Dan
    About to sit right now....

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by danieldodson View Post
    Onkai, I'd be happy to send you a private message if you're interested - just a series of steps I followed with every bite to engender mindfulness.

    Dan
    About to sit right now....
    Ah, feel free to share here. It might be helpful to many folks.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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