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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.

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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.

August 2017
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