Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chanting from the Heart - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 7

This week I read Chanting from the Heart - Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book ties into the fourth spiritual practice I'm focusing on during the last two weeks of February: devotion.

Although there were many beautiful words and thoughts in this book, for the majority of it I skimmed through it since I couldn't picture myself reciting many of the passages.

However, there were some parts that I liked and wanted to remember. One of passages was the Silent Meal Practice. The author said, "From time to time, you might enjoy having a silent meal at home with your family or friends. Eating in silence allows us to see the preciousness of the food and our friends, and also our close relationship with the Earth and all species.

"Sitting silently at the table with others, we also have the opportunity to see them clearly and deeply, and to smile to communicate real love and friendship."

This is the Silent Meal Practice:

1. Looking at your Empty Plate or Bowl

My plate (bowl), empty now,
will soon be filled with precious food.
I see how fortunate I am
to have enough to eat
to continue the practice.

2. Serving Food
In this food
I see clearly
the entire universe
supporting my existence.

3. Sitting Down
Sitting here
is like sitting under a Bodhi Tree.
My body is mindfulness itself,
free from distraction.

4. Looking at the Plate of Food before Eating
Beings all over the Earth
are struggling to live.
I aspire to practice deeply
so that all may have enough to eat.

5. Contemplating the Food
This plate of food,
so fragrant and appetizing,
also contains much suffering.

6. Introducing the Five Contemplations
...[We are advised] to eat in mindfulness,
establishing ourselves in the present moment
so that we can be aware of the food in front of us and
the community surrounding us.
We eat in a way that makes peace, joy, brotherhood,
and sisterhood possible
during the whole time of eating.
Brothers and sisters, when you hear the bell,
please meditate on the Five Contemplations.

7. The Five Contemplations
This food is the gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
May we recognize and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed.
May we take only foods that nourish us and keep us healthy.
We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood and nourish our ideal of serving living beings.

8. Beginning to Eat
(Recited silently while chewing the first four mouthfuls)
With the first mouthful, I practice the love that brings joy.
With the second mouthful, I practice the love that relieves suffering.
With the third mouthful, I practice the joy of being alive.
With the fourth mouthful, I practice equal love for all beings.

9. When the Plate or Bowl Is Empty
My plate (bowl) is empty.
My hunger is satisfied.
I am determined to live for the benefit of all beings.

10. Drinking Tea
This cup of tea in my two hands,
mindfulness held perfectly.
My mind and body dwell
in the very here and now

11. Washing the Dishes
Washing the dishes is like bathing a baby Buddha.
The profane is the sacred.
Everyday mind is Buddha's mind.


The Five Remembrances

1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
2. I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape having ill health.
3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
4. All that is dear t me and everyone I love are of the nature of change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5. I inherit the results of my actions of body, speech, and mind. My actions are my continuation.


The Five Awarenesses

We are aware that all  generations of our ancestors
and all future generations are present in us.

We are aware of the expectations that our ancestors, our children,
and their children have of us.

We are aware that our joy, peace, freedom, and harmony
are the joy, peace, freedom, and harmony
of our ancestors, our children, and their children.

We are aware that understanding is the very foundation of love.

We are aware that blaming and arguing can never help us
and only create a wider gap between us;
that only understanding, trust, and love
can help us change and grow.


The past has already gone,
and the future has not yet come.
Let us not drown ourselves
in regret for what has passed
or in expectations and worry for the future.
The Buddha has said that we can
be peaceful, happy, and free
in this present moment.
Let us hear the Buddha's words
and let go of our sadness and anxiety.
Let us come back to ourselves
and establish ourselves in what is present right now.
Let us learn to recognize
the conditions for happiness
that are present within us
and around us.

Can we hear the birds singing
and the wind in the pines?
Can we see the green mountains,
the white clouds, the golden moon?
The Pure Land is available
in the present moment.
Every day we can enjoy ourselves
in the Buddha Land.
Every mindful breath and step
takes us to the Pure Land,
revealing all the wonders
of the Dharma body.

I am determined to let go of
hurrying, competing,
being busy and disgruntled.
I shall not run after fame, power,
riches, and sex
because I know
that this does not lead to true happiness.
All it will bring me is
misery and misfortune.

I shall learn to know what is sufficient,
to live simply,
so that I have time to live deeply
every moment of my daily life,
giving my body and mind a chance to heal,
and to have the time to look after and protect
those I have vowed to love.

I shall practice for my mind to grow
in love and compassion,
so that I have the ability to help
beings anywhere
who are drowning in craving.

I ask the Buddhas everywhere
to protect and guide me,
to support me on my path,
so that I can live in peace, joy,
and freedom every day,
fulfilling the deepest aspiration
as your disciple
whom you trust and love.


Discourse on Happiness

Not to be associated with the foolish ones,
to live in the company of wise people,
honoring those who are worth honoring —
this is the greatest happiness.

To live in a good environment,
to have planted wholesome seeds,
and to realize that you are on the right path —
this is the greatest happiness.

To have a chance to learn and grow,
to be skillful in your profession or craft,
practicing precepts and loving speech —
this is the greatest happiness.

To be able to serve and support your parents,
to cherish and love your family,
to have a vocation which brings you joy —
this is the greatest happiness.

To live honestly, generous in giving,
to offer support to relatives and friends,
living a life of blameless conduct —
this is the greatest happiness.

To avoid unwholesome actions,
not caught by alcoholism or drugs,
to to be diligent in doing good things —
this is the greatest happiness.

To be humble and polite in manner,grateful,
content with a simple life,
not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma —
this is the greatest happiness.

To persevere and be open to change,
to have regular contact with monks and nuns,
and to fully participate in Dharma discussions —
this is the greatest happiness.

To live diligently and attentively,
to learn about what is wonderfully true,
and to be free of wrong perceptions —
this is the greatest happiness.

To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.

For he or she who accomplishes this,
unvanquished wherever she goes,
always he is safe and happy —
happiness lives within oneself.

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