Sat, Nov 27, 2021

Buddhism and Zen Food


  • 11/15/2021 - by Soren

Within the practices of Zen Buddhism, cooking and eating are fundamental. This is expressed by the teachings that are even described in the Instruction books for the Zen cook, in Japanese: Tenzo. Cooking and eating is something we do regularly and within practice we must be attentive to what foods we use to cook, how we cook them, and when we eat, paying attention to how we receive, share, offer and eat these foods.

On the day Buddha Shakyamuni reached enlightenment, through zazen practice, he saw the morning star and said: "I, the great earth and sentient beings, simultaneously reach the Way."

The great earth and all beings live in impermanence and interdependence. We are one with the great land.

In Zen Buddhism, at the Soto Zen School, we promote principles for an ecological life:

To protect plants, not waste water, fuel or electricity; to keep the air clean and live harmoniously with nature, promoting actions, words and thoughts to benefit the great earth and all its inhabitants.

How can we incorporate daily, in our regular routines, acts for the good of our planet and all beings? A simple way is to carry out small actions related to our diet.

Within the practices of Zen Buddhism, cooking and eating are fundamental. This is expressed by the teachings that are even described in the Instruction books for the Zen cook, in Japanese: Tenzo. Cooking and eating is something we do regularly and within practice we must be attentive to what foods we use to cook, how we cook them, and when we eat, paying attention to how we receive, share, offer and eat these foods.

Just as Buddha expressed the union of all things, food unites us to all beings and that is why in Zen Buddhism it is very important to be aware in all the stages of eating, including getting, preparing, cooking, serving, sharing, eating and finishing the meal.

We must be aware of the type of food we eat and where it comes from by simplifying and using  what we have, taking advantage of everything we already have in the kitchen. When washing, preparing and cooking food, we must pay attention not to waste it, nor waste water, electricity and gas. We must take care of the cooking stages and be attentive so that they are correct, and thus obtain a food that is healthy. When serving these foods we will offer them with kindness, knowing that we are sharing life. Before eating, we must thank these foods. When we eat, we do so knowing that we are nurturing our precious human body, and if we are sharing these foods with someone else, keeping the other person in mind while we feed. At the end, we must leave the plate clean without food remains, so that we also help the environment.

Daily we perform sutras before eating the food, after having served it.

Joining both palms of the hands in Gassho in front of our plate of food is recited:

Sutra Title: GO KAN NO GE

(Verses of the Five Contemplations)

Hitotsu ni wa Kō no Tashō wo hakari Ka no Raishō wo hakaru

Futatsu ni wa Onore ga tokugyō no zenketto haka a te ku ni ō zu

Mitsu ni wa Shin wo fusegi toga wo hanaruru koto wa tontō wo shu to su

Yotsu ni wa Masa ni ryōyaku wo koto to suruniwa gyōkō wo ryōzen gatame nari

Itsutsu ni wa jōdō no tame no yueni ima kono jiki wo u ku


Translation:

First, countless workers brought us this food. We must know how it got to us.

Second, by receiving this offer, we must consider whether our virtue and practice deserve it.

Third, since we want the natural condition of the mind, in order for it to be free from attachment, we need to be free from greed.

Fourth, this food is like a medicine to sustain life. We accept these foods.

Fifth, to realize the path of Buddha we now eat this food.

Gassho


Soren
Zen Buddhist Nun