You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘"mealtime prayer"’ tag.

When I began this intermittent blog, my first reference was to the interconnected web of actions and beneficence that accompanies us, including having food to eat during the day.  Using a photograph of tea-pickers, I wrote that no food or drink comes to our table without considerable and an equally-balancing sacrifice of energy and effort somewhere in the world.

Image

Since that time and similarly to before I had first-publised this Mealtime Prayer, I have spoken it aloud at least once a day… wherever I happened to be.  And the consequence has been that I’ve slowly “fine-tuned” the prayer to reduce ambiguity and to ease “seeing” the words as a tangible, energetic tribute.

So now, many months later, I pass along this refined version of our Mealtime Prayer.  It echoes and contains all the elements of traditional Tibetan mealtime prayers.  This includes 3 repetitions of “Taking Refuge” at the beginning… something not intrinsically expected of non-Buddhists (who may want to recite the dedication in the centre section, without the other Buddhist elements).

• In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha most excellent, I take Refuge until enlightment is reached.  Through the benefit of Generousity and the other Good Deeds, may I attain Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings.

In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha most excellent, I take Refuge until enlightment is reached.  Through the benefit of Generousity and the other Good Deeds, may I attain Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings.

In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha most excellent, I take Refuge until enlightment is reached.  Through the benefit of Generousity and the other Good Deeds, may I attain Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings.

May the energy, effort, blessings, sacrifice and good will which created this meal and brought it here for me to eat, be transformed through my actions, words and thoughts for the benefit of all I may encounter in the coming day… or may affect in any way.

May all the teachers, lamas and lineage leaders be equally well nourished and blessed.

This dedication of food and your own actions can become part of your own thoughtful “balancing” of the otherwise disproportionate wealth and nourishment we acquire at the unavoidable expense to others.  Most Buddhist practitioners in North America and Europe are significantly better cared-for and fed than the people who provide us with our food and many household “goods.”  The expenditure of their effort cannot be truly balanced by a few words, but our connection with them is inescapable and so knowing-that becomes part of a balance.

Our frequently-repeated conceptual evocation of this relationship (and our vow to transmute the food provided us into will and effort to benefit others) will absolutely keep all this in mind, and make “guilt” an un-useful outcome.  Guilt is a closed system of self-blame.  Dedication creates an open environment for beneficial intention… which consciously engages with outcomes for the entire connected world.

We can indeed use well the sustenance we have received… especially when such is how we truly intend the energy to be re-cycled and given to others.  Like many other Buddhist prayers (such as the Four Immeasurables), when such a recitation is “perfectly” conceptualised when spoken, it has an excellent chance of becoming true.  May it likewise be so for you.

tiny tea set

 

It’s just a gentle cup of tea.

It’s not easy to keep track… nowadays… of all the places, people, animals, environments and situations affected by every item of food and drink we take into our bodies.  

Isn’t that true?

tea picking - Rwanda

tea picking - Rwanda

I thought about this more a few years back, after I saw a stunning close-up Sebastião Salgado photograph of the hands of a Rwandan tea-picker.   A tea-picker… who undoubtedly was the second or third, maybe even the fourth generation in his or her family to have been stripped of land, and forced to labour for the contractors of absentee owners – now living in some distant European, Asian or American country.  

Looking closer, you see that the hands extended towards the camera were bloodied with numerous small cuts, almost like the paper-cuts we encounter occasionally in our offices… cuts made by the jagged edges of the leaves.   For tea… for the tea used in our benign and genteel Buddhist ceremonies of “no harm” and gracious hospitality.

So what does this all mean, exactly, then – to dedicate fully one’s drink or one’s meal?  

I guessed there could be a way to at least partially acknowledge everything that and everyone who transpired (and perhaps expired) before the fork-full or gulp hits our mouths.  So looking at a bunch of Tibetan meal-time prayers, and getting the gist of what I was hoping to do, in 2004 I came up with a prayer of my own.

Here it is:

 

This wealth of nourishment before me has been blessed, created, energized and transported to me by many beings.  

Those beings and energies grew, ripened, grew tired and grew older, and were compromised to bring sustenance to my table and my mouth.

May I be mindful of these blessings, and be thankful to those beings and resources who have been worked and been taken from to contribute to my life.

May all that I take into myself be joyfully transformed by my thoughts, my words and my actions for the benefit of all sentient beings.

May my teachers be equally or better nourished, be protected from harm, and be surrounded by attentive and caring students.

 

That should do it.   For a little more about tea-picking, see here.

salgado_teapickershands Salgado – “Tea Picker’s Hands”

May 2017
S M T W T F S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

My Professional Work and History

View Michael Cerulli Billingsley's profile on LinkedIn

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3 other followers