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Zen (Rinzai) Meal Meditations

At every morning and midday meal, (dinner is traditionally not offered in Japanese Zen Buddhist monasteries), the Five Reflections are chanted:


      First, let us reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought

              us this food.

      Second, let us be aware of the quality of our deeds as we receive this meal.

      Third, what is most essential is the quality of mindfullness, which helps us

              transcend  greed, anger, and delusion.

      Fourth, we appreciate this food, which sustains the good health of our minds

              and bodies.

      Fifth, in order to continue our practice for all beings, we accept this offering.



Eido Shimano Roshi, Abbot and founder of the Catskill Dai Bosatsu Zendo, says "Cooking is not only the preparation of food but a practice of spirituality....The tenzo (cook) works in the kitchen as if it were a zendo....When the tenzo is good, the rest of the sesshin goes well.  If he is sloppy, the other monks find it difficult to go on.  Working behind closed doors in the kitchen , the tenzo himself remains inconspicuous, but his work is most conspicuous, most influential'



Before every meal, monks place food on a board that is passed down the tables.  After the meal, this offering is taken outdoors and put at the feet of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.  The animals that live in the mountains around the monastery help themselves to this food.  This offering symbolizes that we have all we need, and more.  



Before eating, the monks chant:  The first morsel is to destroy all evils

                                                  The second morsel is to practice all good deeds

                                                  The third morsel is to save all sentient beings

                                                  May we all attain the path of Buddhahood.


After eating, the monks chant:    However innumerable all beings are

                                                  We vow to save them all

                                                  However inexhaustible delusions are

                                                  We vow to extinguish them all

                                                  However immeasurable dharma teachings are

                                                  We vow to master them all

                                                  However endless the Buddha's way is

                                                  We vow to follow it


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