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Thread: LIVING by VOW: The Meal Chants - pp 110 to 119 (thru Verse of the Rinse Water)

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    LIVING by VOW: pp 109 Verse of Food for... to 119 (until Verse of the Rinse Water)

    Time to move on:

    In this section we are reminded of the role of "offerings" in practice:

    "We cannot live without the offerings we receive, but we should not keep them all for ourselves." pg112

    We are also introduced to the idea of "On (En)" - the debt of kindness and the need to repay that kindness, not only with our practice of zazen but also through our lives.

    The two concepts very much connect to one another.

    Can you think of an offering you have received, especially a "difficult" one, that has been significant?
    To what or whom do you feel you owe a "debt of kindness"? Is it repayable? Can we practice, knowing we are indebted to so many beings, without keeping "score"?

    "May everyone realize the Buddha's way."

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Last edited by Shugen; 09-08-2017 at 01:30 AM.
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  2. #2
    Glad to get at it Shugen, thank you. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Glad to get at it Shugen, thank you. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday/LAH
    Thank you for this

    Gassho,
    Jason

    Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Hi! Need to read faster to catch up!

    Thanks Shugen

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  5. #5
    Thank you, Shugen.

    "We cannot live without the offerings we receive, but we should not keep them all for ourselves." pg112
    This reminds me of a favourite passage from The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo:

    "Heaven and earth make offerings. Air, water, plants and human beings make offerings. All things make offerings to each other. It is only within this circle of offering that we can live. Whether we appreciate this or not, it's true.

    Without demanding, 'Give it to me!' we make and receive offerings. The world in which we give and receive is a serene and beautiful world. It differs from the world of scrambling for things. It's vast and boundless."

    -- Chapter 63 (p179) 'The Blessings of the Universe'


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Wonderful quote Kokuu! Thank you.

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  7. #7
    This practice is called saba in Japanese. We leave this small amount of food for all living beings.
    In terms of practical application, where does this small offering actually go? Does someone like the Tenzo eat it on behalf of all living beings? Is it discarded in a compost? My sense is that this verse, when applied to primarily vegetarian monks, growing their own food, composting the offering is not only symbolic but also real in the sense that the compost will feed many beings. But at least here in North America only a small percentage of people compost so the offering would just end up in a garbage landfill and be of no benefit.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today & LAH

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by awarren View Post
    In terms of practical application, where does this small offering actually go? Does someone like the Tenzo eat it on behalf of all living beings? Is it discarded in a compost? My sense is that this verse, when applied to primarily vegetarian monks, growing their own food, composting the offering is not only symbolic but also real in the sense that the compost will feed many beings. But at least here in North America only a small percentage of people compost so the offering would just end up in a garbage landfill and be of no benefit.

    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat today & LAH
    Hey Warren,

    You can compost it if you wish, but you can also just put it outside under a tree if you wish too. Sentient beings numberless ... even the little bugs. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hello Warren,

    The small amount of food that is left over is taken outdoors and placed somewhere where it can be returned to the earth or eaten. It is usually the "youngest" (in terms of ordination date, not chronological age) monk's duty. (At least that's the way it was done at the retreats I have been to. I'm positive there are variations)

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH

    (edit - Shingen beat me to it!)
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  10. #10
    Eishuu
    Guest
    I have to say that the word 'debt' brings up associations of obligation and guilt for me. It doesn't inspire me at all.

    I really enjoy devotional practice and making offerings and nurturing generosity and kindness but the concept of a debt somehow doesn't connect with that for me. It comes from a place of love and connection, not from a sense of owing anything. Maybe it's the Western cultural background or something to do with my family background, I don't know.

    In terms of who I owe a 'debt of kindness' to, I would say definitely my husband who has been taking care of me for years. But he's very clear that it is not a debt, and even tells me off when I say thank you. It doesn't feel very skillful to me to practice generosity from a place of indebtedness and obligation. Is there something I'm missing here? Is it just me or does anyone else find this language tricky? I wonder if these concepts are experienced differently in Eastern and Western cultural backgrounds...

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Hi Lucy,

    I would say it is partially a translation issue. "Debt" is a very loaded word for many as you mentioned. The same issues occur with other words, "priest" for example. Perhaps it would be more helpful to look at it more as an "interconnectedness" instead of a "debt".

    Gassho,

    Shugen

    Sattoday/LAH
    Meido Shugen
    明道 修眼

  12. #12
    I will just drop in a bit that, yes, perhaps "debt" is a very Japanese and Asian-Confucian concept vital to society here. I do not see it as a bad thing however and, as Shugen say, I feel it is just the interconnectedness of all supporting all. We are in the debt of all in this world that supports our life.

    Starting with the concept of On 恩 which translated definition is [4] a favor; a benefit; an obligation; a debt of gratitude; kindness; goodness. On 恩 is an obligation when someone does something for or to another. [5] On is in all its uses a load, indebtedness, a burden, which one carries as best one may. An On 恩 may be small or large, good or bad. It may be a minor thing such as an acquaintance picking up the tab for lunch or a major insult requiring a vendetta. If one accepts or adopts this concept as a way of life, it requires you to keep a mental “file cabinet” of all your obligations. In Japanese society one that follows Giri as a way of life never worries about On debt owed to himself. Sometimes I give neighbors vegetables from my garden, apples from my tree or I will help them with a chore. I give these things without expectation of a return. I once saw a documentary on Japanese culture where a farmer kept a list of all of the unpaid On debt, which is inherited, he and his family had incurred. He periodically would review these On debts and decide which one he needed to tend to without worrying about what was owed to him or his family. Some of these On debt dated more than a hundred years. His sense of Giri was evident.

    Regardless of how many On debt one has accrued, it is inherent to the one that follows Giri as a way of life that they get repaid. The one that the debt is owed to may have forgotten about what he did that caused the On debt. It does not matter. It still must be repaid. It is inherent in Western society to forget about a debt if it is perceived that the person the debt is owed to have forgotten.

    The thing that insures that one does not forget is called Giri 義理. One either possess it or does not; however, if one has Giri 義理, one will never forget it. Call it honor, duty, or obligation, a man with Giri 義理 can be relied upon 100% of the time. Observing and practicing Giri 義理 demands that all obligations are repaid in full measure and with interest if required. Personal feelings in the matter are completely irrelevant. It is irrelevant whether one wants or likes what is provided to them. If one has received an On debt, Giri 義理 demands that it be repaid. There is an old Japanese saying that goes, [6] Death is lighter than a feather, but Giri 義理 is heavier than a mountain. It is impossible to have a little Giri 義理. One has to fully embrace it if it is a professed way of life.
    http://kenukan.com/blog/2016/10/12/j...E%A9%E7%90%86/
    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-09-2017 at 02:13 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Thanks Shugen and Jundo, that helps.

    This has started to remind me of when I studied Anthropology and we looked at reciprocity. It was a long time ago but what I remember was that there was an implied 'debt' - ie an expectation of reciprocity, this reciprocity was always delayed, and the gift giving itself was part of creating and maintaining relationships. It was more like a dance of generosity - like at Christmas where you give presents to loved ones and they give them back. If someone gives you a present you give one back, partly because of a sense of debt, but if you reduced it to the concept of debt it would take away from what was going on...the giving is an expression of and a way of maintaining the relationship and connectedness. Maybe it's the same with interconnectedness in general.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH

  14. #14
    We are in the debt of all in this world that supports our life.
    This is beautiful. I can't quite say I possess Giri, but the attitude that I'm indebted to everything and everyone that supports life creates a shift in me.

    In the book, I especially liked the verse on p 118:
    The first portion is to end all evil;
    The second is to cultivate every good;
    the third is to free all beings.
    May everyone realize the Buddha's Way.
    I may incorporate that into the meal chant I use for the Ango.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday/LAH

  15. #15
    Just wanted to note that I am enjoying everyone's comments and considering them carefully. Thank you all for the discussion. It is definitely swimming upstream to focus on eating with attention and gratitude, in this age of increasingly "fast" and processed food. It's one of the habits I have found most difficult to change, as there are many layers and obstacles to it.

    Somewhere on here in an old thread, where someone mentioned the premise that we are all just biological one-way tubes with everything else that is attached (the neuromuscular sytem, musculoskeletal system, etc) just appendages to make the tube more efficient. Indeed our basic need is centered around ingesting something else in order to gain enough energy to eventually self-propagate, if you boil it down enough! In that we are no different than a Hydra (the simple biological organism, not the Marvel monster/organization). Viewed at this level, we are indeed just trading molecules with the rest of the universe in what could be seen as the most sacred of all rituals. Something gives itself to us, in turn we give either directly or indirectly back. There is no reason to take more than we need, because it has to all equal out eventually. As yucky as I feel when eating it, even a leftover Pop Tart fits in to that equation.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Somewhere on here in an old thread, where someone mentioned the premise that we are all just biological one-way tubes with everything else that is attached (the neuromuscular sytem, musculoskeletal system, etc) just appendages to make the tube more efficient. Indeed our basic need is centered around ingesting something else in order to gain enough energy to eventually self-propagate, if you boil it down enough! In that we are no different than a Hydra (the simple biological organism, not the Marvel monster/organization). Viewed at this level, we are indeed just trading molecules with the rest of the universe in what could be seen as the most sacred of all rituals. Something gives itself to us, in turn we give either directly or indirectly back. There is no reason to take more than we need, because it has to all equal out eventually. As yucky as I feel when eating it, even a leftover Pop Tart fits in to that equation.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    Wow. Thank you.

    Gassho, Zenmei (sat/lah)

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Somewhere on here in an old thread, where someone mentioned the premise that we are all just biological one-way tubes with everything else that is attached (the neuromuscular sytem, musculoskeletal system, etc) just appendages to make the tube more efficient. Indeed our basic need is centered around ingesting something else in order to gain enough energy to eventually self-propagate, if you boil it down enough! In that we are no different than a Hydra (the simple biological organism, not the Marvel monster/organization). Viewed at this level, we are indeed just trading molecules with the rest of the universe in what could be seen as the most sacred of all rituals. Something gives itself to us, in turn we give either directly or indirectly back. There is no reason to take more than we need, because it has to all equal out eventually. As yucky as I feel when eating it, even a leftover Pop Tart fits in to that equation.
    Just to be clear, my understanding is that not all biologists would necessarily agree with the "ingesting ... to gain enough energy to eventually self-propagate" interpretation. Recently, for example, I have heard some biologists and geneticists very critical of some interpretations, by Richard Dawkins and others, that we are just vehicles to pass genes on to the next generation and such. Here, for example, David Wilson calls Dawkins someone who could not get many of his assertions published in a peer reviewed journal ...

    Forty years ago Richard Dawkins wrote the landmark book “The Selfish Gene,” where he argued that the gene is what drives evolution. But what if he got it all wrong? What if cooperative groups also shape evolution? David Sloan Wilson has a new theory that could revolutionize our understanding of human nature - and finally explain altruism.
    https://www.ttbook.org/show/what-if-...d-it-all-wrong
    In any case, other scientists offer the observation and interpretation that, for example, we are stardust which has become self-aware of all the other stardust, in a very real sense thus constituting this universe having become sentient and looking at itself, the universe. While sentience might exist just to support the acquisition of calories to pass on our genes, there is no scientific reason yet to conclude that the opposite (or some other way of looking at things) is not true, e.g., that acquiring calories and procreation exist as vehicles to allow sentience.

    Buddhists tend to note the amazing, wondrous fact that we are born and sentient despite all the seeming original unlikelihood of that fact, and to feel gratitude for all the food and ancestors, the sun and other stars, air and ground, and other sentient beings who all connect to make that possible.

    Anyway, back to the discussion ...

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-11-2017 at 01:58 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Just to be clear, my understanding is that not all biologists would necessarily agree with the "ingesting ... to gain enough energy to eventually self-propagate."
    Well, it is still the basic principle of Biology as taught in college, so most of them do. But the voices of those with the new, dissenting theories get a disproportionately large voice in the media.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    ....there is no scientific reason yet to conclude that the opposite (or some other way of looking at things) is not true, e.g., that acquiring calories and procreation exist as vehicles to allow sentience.
    Ha! On that you are absolutely right, I don't think there really would be any way for Science to prove if either theory is really true! The funny thing is, I haven't perceived this as a conflict for a long time now, because someone taught me that sometimes multiple stories can be true at the same time, depending on which eye you are looking out of

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  19. #19
    I mentioned in an earlier section that I had lost a substantial amount of weight by eating mindfully...

    QUOTE=Jundo;207037]Ah, feel free to share here. It might be helpful to many folks.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH[/QUOTE]


    So here goes, Jundo. I do have to mention that on reflection, I biked maybe 15 minutes twice a week, but that was it.

    This whole thing got started because I had started meditating/concentrating, and that newly developed awareness led me to realize that I was never satisfied after I ate. In fact, the more I liked the food, the less satisfied I was. So I took a week or two and really paid attention to how I ate, and noticed that afterward, I could barely even remember eating. I was anticipating the loss of the food even before the first bite (hello, dukkha!). So I devised some tools to encourage myself to slow down, pay attention, and try to see food for what it is. Here were my "tactics:"

    1. Before eating, I looked at my food for at least one full minute, realizing that a full plate of food is about to be in my stomach, which is something only the size of my fist.
    2. Take a moderate-sized bite of food.
    3. Put down my fork, spoon, sandwich, or anything else in my hands.
    4. Chew slowly. I would pay attention to the food in my mouth, and mentally describe it...texture, taste, temperature, time...whatever. Chew until it's nearly liquid.
    5. Swallow.
    6. Take a drink of water.
    7. Most importantly - take a breath in and out before picking up anything and assess how I feel...hungry? in pain? panicked? content?...whatever.
    8. Repeat 2-7 until the last bite, or until I don't feel like eating anymore.
    9. Lastly, I would let that last bite sit on my plate, just to prove that I could not eat it. Especially important if I really wanted it.

    About 30 minutes after I ate, I would again take stock of how I felt. Do I feel healthy? yucky? lean? bloated? energetic? lethargic? It was amazing how the unhealthy stuff clearly made me feel bad, which made it easier not to choose it next time.

    I read long ago in a book on the Tao that after a meal, one's stomach should be 1/3 food, 1/3 water, and 1/3 empty space...so my tactics were one bite, one drink, and one breath.

    Maybe this could help someone else, I hope so.

    There is an organization called The Center for Mindful Eating, but I've never looked at their stuff and had never heard of it when I started this. These tactic were just born out of a need to actually get some satisfaction from eating.

    Gassho,
    Dan
    Sat today/lah

  20. #20
    Thank you for posting the tactics you used. I really appreciate it and I think it will help me. They will certainly give me a new appreciation of the food I do eat.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday/LAH

  21. #21
    Yes, thanks for sharing your eating technique! I tend to wolf down my food, also not feeling satiated. I'm going to try this approach today.

    -satToday/LAH
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by danieldodson View Post
    ... Here were my "tactics:"

    1. Before eating, I looked at my food for at least one full minute, realizing that a full plate of food is about to be in my stomach, which is something only the size of my fist.
    2. Take a moderate-sized bite of food.
    3. Put down my fork, spoon, sandwich, or anything else in my hands.
    4. Chew slowly. I would pay attention to the food in my mouth, and mentally describe it...texture, taste, temperature, time...whatever. Chew until it's nearly liquid.
    5. Swallow.
    6. Take a drink of water.
    7. Most importantly - take a breath in and out before picking up anything and assess how I feel...hungry? in pain? panicked? content?...whatever.
    8. Repeat 2-7 until the last bite, or until I don't feel like eating anymore.
    9. Lastly, I would let that last bite sit on my plate, just to prove that I could not eat it. Especially important if I really wanted it.

    About 30 minutes after I ate, I would again take stock of how I felt. Do I feel healthy? yucky? lean? bloated? energetic? lethargic? It was amazing how the unhealthy stuff clearly made me feel bad, which made it easier not to choose it next time.

    I read long ago in a book on the Tao that after a meal, one's stomach should be 1/3 food, 1/3 water, and 1/3 empty space...so my tactics were one bite, one drink, and one breath.
    Lovely Dan,

    And if you add just a couple of touches ... chopsticks instead of forks (smaller bites, slows things down even more), , small bowls holding small amounts, a bit of Chanting and Bowing to be even more mindful and slowed down, leaving a bite for the "hungry ghosts" ... do you know what one has?

    Oryoki!

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

    In fact, it is better than Oryoki in some ways, because Oryoki in the monastery tends to be more rushed than "slow and mindful." Gobble gobble gobble, not thinking about what one is eating except as medicine. I like your way better.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Such an interesting thread ...again.
    While I was reading this I could not help but be reminded of the TV show "My name is Earl". I hardly watch TV but my kids all liked this show so it was on the box sometimes.

    The concept of repaying a "debt" or a deed runs through this show in a comedic fashion, but possibly there is a degree of value in its message. I like the idea of "paying it forward".... roughly translated I think that just = "kindness" , but also offers a great way to demonstrate to kids the power of good deeds.

    Thank you for this thread and I will carry these thoughts today

    Gassho
    Richard
    SAT/LAH

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    This is beautiful. I can't quite say I possess Giri, but the attitude that I'm indebted to everything and everyone that supports life creates a shift in me.

    In the book, I especially liked the verse on p 118:

    I may incorporate that into the meal chant I use for the Ango.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    SatToday/LAH
    Ah Onkai, this is exactly how I feel too!

    I don't really have much to add about this chapter. One thing that interested me however, was the passage where Okumura Roshi talks about the loss of shrines in his home town, and how as a child he felt something special when playing in the grounds of a shrine, but when he returned that feeling had gone. I liked that he didn't say, oh now that I'm older I don't believe...etc, but rather that the spirits had gone away, driven out by the concrete jungle that his hometown has become. Then later in the same passage he talks about how he doesn't believe in spirits per se, but believes in their symbolism. I love the way he writes; those apparent contradictions which often contain a deeper subtext, the personal reflections, his writers voice. The more I read, the richer I find this book, there is so much more to it than a dry or academic commentary, it's something to keep close and refer to time and again.
    Gassho
    Frankie

    satwithyoualltoday/lah

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Thank you, Shugen.



    This reminds me of a favourite passage from The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo:

    "Heaven and earth make offerings. Air, water, plants and human beings make offerings. All things make offerings to each other. It is only within this circle of offering that we can live. Whether we appreciate this or not, it's true.

    Without demanding, 'Give it to me!' we make and receive offerings. The world in which we give and receive is a serene and beautiful world. It differs from the world of scrambling for things. It's vast and boundless."

    -- Chapter 63 (p179) 'The Blessings of the Universe'


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    I love this passage - thank you, Kokuu.

    Peter

    Sat today

    Sent from my SM-G935L using Tapatalk

  26. #26
    Random thoughts after reading the chapter and sitting zazen.

    Thank you for the Homeless Kodo quote, Shugen. I love that book but had forgotten those quotes, even though I think I either underlined them or wrote them down in my journal after reading them.

    Jut a quick comment about the idea that we're only here to eat so we can procreate and Dawkins' selfishness. I would argue that it is self-less-ness that accounts for why the human race is still here. Of course, this doesn't negate the biological imperatives of eating and procreating, but if it were all about self-ish-ness, then we probably would never have made it this far. In other words, I believe that we are here to serve, not be served, though the message in popular western culture is pretty much the opposite and trending strong in that sad direction. Anyway...

    That I am still here as an increasingly creaky and disabled old man is a small miracle. I am thus so indebted to everyone and everything in my past that that has allowed me to still be here, or at least spared my passing for the time being, that I can never hope to pay it back. On the other hand, paying it forward, as Richard mentioned, is the only thing that I can do. What's been done is done, what's been paid has been paid, so all that's left is move on and share those blessings as best I can, a process that occupies the intersection between my professional life and Buddhist practice. Strangely, though, I don't think I've ever thought of it as "debt" in the way we typically think of the word in the Western world until I read this section of the chapter and the above questions and comments. I have no qualms about the word at all, as I understand it more intellectually than personally. For me, however, service to others - regardless of what is or is not owed to me or anyone else - is a form of self-care. I am learning through my practice that whatever "I" want (self-ish-ness) leads to suffering of some kind in myself and/or others. This is just me and my particular life aspects. I certainly do not endorse this simple transaction for anyone else. If I started to think of "debt" in any of the forms discussed here or in the chapter it would ruin the process for me. My understanding has always been that if your Being is in the Doing, then it's Zen. Leave the rest of those delusions alone, please.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 09-21-2017 at 03:15 PM.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

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