the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

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the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby steveb1 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:27 am

Is there a Buddhist way of meeting social situations such as being called upon to say grace? Is there a non-denominational blessing that a Buddhist could use that would be appropriate to the occasion and at the same time honor the Dharma?

A similar example might be being expected to pray at weddings or funerals. Is it okay to recite, say, the Lord's Prayer in order to show solidarity with the celebrators and/or the mourners? Or is a bowed head and silent lips the preferred course?
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby duckfiasco » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:56 am

I would personally join in the spirit of the prayer or grace. If you're uncomfortable saying words, then don't say them :) It's better than doing the motions while hypocritically lacking a spirit of love or gratitude. If you are comfortable saying the words, then I personally see it as another part of our unending practice. We practice love by saying silly things to our children or spouses, or by making small talk to put someone at ease. So any specific concept or word is just a tool for this, unless you think it might bring suffering to others somehow.

Specifically for grace, if you're called on to do it and people know it will be non-denominational, keep it simple :) Since ideally giving gratitude is good practice before any meal, there's lots of time to find something that works for you. When I'm by myself, I use a Kagyu prayer that resembles taking refuge but would be fairly opaque to non-practitioners:
The unsurpassed teacher is the precious Buddha; the unsurpassed protector is the precious Dharma; the unsurpassed refuge is the precious Sangha. To these three jewels, I make this offering.

Off the top of my head, a totally secular, non-denominational grace may resemble:
We are grateful for this meal. It is the gift of much hard work, countless people, and the earth and sky. May we stay in the present moment with each other and this food, so we don't miss this precious opportunity to eat together. May everyone be happy and meet with success in all things, and through this meal, may we in some way learn to be gentler, kinder people.

It's really up to you. I haven't been put in that situation yet, so good luck! Intention is more important than form, I think. HHDL has attended Catholic services and participated fully, as I recall. :thumbsup:
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby steveb1 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:04 am

duckfiasco, thank you for your reply and thoughtful ideas :)
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby dakini_boi » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:16 pm

steveb1 wrote:Is there a Buddhist way of meeting social situations such as being called upon to say grace? Is there a non-denominational blessing that a Buddhist could use that would be appropriate to the occasion and at the same time honor the Dharma?


"We acknowledge all the inconceivable circumstances that were required to bring this food to our table. May it nourish our body, mind, and spirit, and may all beings share in the wealth of this offering. May all beings' virtuous desires manifest simultaneously with unconditional bliss. Amen."

steveb1 wrote:A similar example might be being expected to pray at weddings or funerals. Is it okay to recite, say, the Lord's Prayer in order to show solidarity with the celebrators and/or the mourners?


Sure, why not? If you practice Mahayana, or especially Vajrayana, everything in the Lord's prayer can be construed as Buddhist.
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:58 pm

This food is the gift of the entire universe
each morsel is a sacrifice of life
may I be worthy to receive it.
May the energy in this food
bring me strength
to transform my unwholesome qualities
into wholesome ones.
(leave out the following:) I am grateful for this food,
may I realize the path of awakening for the sake of all beings.

Reciting the Lord's Prayer to please others would damage your refuge vows.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby Jikan » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:11 am

Here's a verse that might be appropriate for the purpose you describe:

The Five Reflections

The first is to examine our own actions and contemplate how this meal was prepared

The second is to contemplate whether our virtue and practices are complete or deficient, many or meager

The third is to contemplate whether we are free from desires, anger, and ignorance

The fourth is to contemplate how this food nourishes us and is taken only as necessary

The fifth is to contemplate right livelihood as our model and not to seek worldly fame


There are many such verses. Maybe there's one out there that fits the situation at hand appropriately.
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby steveb1 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 4:07 am

Again, thanks to all who are replying for all the suggestions and insights :)
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:29 am

steveb1 wrote:Is there a Buddhist way of meeting social situations such as being called upon to say grace? Is there a non-denominational blessing that a Buddhist could use that would be appropriate to the occasion and at the same time honor the Dharma?

A similar example might be being expected to pray at weddings or funerals. Is it okay to recite, say, the Lord's Prayer in order to show solidarity with the celebrators and/or the mourners? Or is a bowed head and silent lips the preferred course?


In Chinese Buddhism, there are the "Five Mealtime Contemplations". If I may just cut-and-paste (trs. my own):

五(wǔ) 觀(guān)
The Five Mealtime Contemplations


1. 計(jì) 功(gōng) 多(duō) 少(shǎo) 量(liàng) 彼(bǐ) 來(lái) 處(chu)
Consider the effort involved, weigh up its sources.

2. 忖(cǔn) 己(jǐ) 德(dé) 行(háng) 全(quán) 缺(quē) 應(yìng) 供(gòng)
Reflect upon one’s own virtues as worthy or not to receive the offering.

3. 防(fáng) 心(xīn) 離(lí) 過(guò) 貪(tān) 等(děng) 為(wéi) 宗(zōng)
Guard the mind against faults, greed, etc. in particular.

4. 正(zhèng) 事(shì) 良(liáng) 藥(yao) 為(wéi) 療(liáo) 形(xíng) 枯(kū)
The correct action is good medicine, in order to treat physical emaciation.

5. 為(wéi) 成(chéng) 道(dào) 業(yè) 應(yìng) 受(shòu) 此(cǐ) 食(shí)
In order to accomplish the path, one should accept this food.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby plwk » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:54 am

A similar example might be being expected to pray at weddings or funerals. Is it okay to recite, say, the Lord's Prayer in order to show solidarity with the celebrators and/or the mourners? Or is a bowed head and silent lips the preferred course?

Some of my favs...
For funerals:
From the here, here and one format
"All conditioned things are impermanent" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
"All conditioned things are unsatisfactory" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
"All things are not-self" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.


Behold this body — a painted image, a mass of heaped up sores, infirm, full of hankering — of which nothing is lasting or stable!
Fully worn out is this body, a nest of disease, and fragile. This foul mass breaks up, for death is the end of life.
These dove-colored bones are like gourds that lie scattered about in autumn. Having seen them, how can one seek delight?
This city (body) is built of bones, plastered with flesh and blood; within are decay and death, pride and jealousy.
Even gorgeous royal chariots wear out, and indeed this body too wears out. But the Dhamma of the Good does not age; thus the Good make it known to the good.


Just as a mighty mountain range,
Scraping the sky with rocky crags,
Might advance from four directions,
Crushing everything before it —

So also do old age and death
Roll over all living beings.

Nobles, brahmans and working folk,
Peasants, outcastes and garbage men —
None of them can escape [this end]:
Everybody surely gets crushed.

Nothing on earth can defeat them:
Not elephants, chariots or troops;
Nor the use of a magic spell;
Nor [can you buy safety] with gold.

So the person who's firm and wise,
Seeing what is best for themselves,
Will place their faith in the Buddha,
The Dhamma and the Sangha too.

One who practices the teaching,
With body and speech and with mind —
That one is praised here in this world,
And after enjoys the pure realms.
http://www.cttbusa.org/42s/42sections.asp
Section 38
Birth Leads to Death

The Buddha asked a Shramana, "How long is the human life span?" He replied, "A few days." The Buddha said, "You have not yet understood the Way."
He asked another Shramana, "How long is the human life span?" The reply was, "The space of a meal." The Buddha said, "You have not yet understood the Way."
He asked another Shramana, "How long is the human life span?" He replied, "The length of a single breath." The Buddha said, "Excellent. You have understood the Way."
http://www.diamond-sutra.com/diamond_su ... age32.html
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:"
"Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream."
"So is all conditioned existence to be seen."
http://wahiduddin.net/budh/hundred_verses.htm
Birth, sickness, ageing and death flow on, a river without ford or bridge;
People of Tingri, have you prepared yourselves a boat?

While you're busy being distracted, the demon of Death will catch you;
People of Tingri, practice from this very moment onwards.

When will the demon of Death appear? There is no easy way to tell;
People of Tingri, right now be always on your guard.

The day you die, there's no one who'll protect you;
People of Tingri, be ready to have yourselves alone to count on.

If you reflect on death, there's nothing you will need;
People of Tingri, always keep your death in mind.

Your flesh and bones took form together, but in the end are sure to separate;
People of Tingri, do not believe that you will live forever

Seek for that most sublime of progeny, the young child pure awareness,
People of Tingri, for which there is no birth or death

With its freedoms and advantages, human life is like a treasure island;
People of Tingri, do not come back an empty-handed failure.

If you aspire to happiness in future, accept your present trials;
People of Tingri - then Buddhahood is right here just beside you.

On marriages/weddings:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nara.html
"In five ways, young householder, should a wife as the West be ministered to by a husband:
(i) by being courteous to her,
(ii) by not despising her,
(iii) by being faithful to her,
(iv) by handing over authority to her,
(v) by providing her with adornments.

"The wife thus ministered to as the West by her husband shows her compassion to her husband in five ways:
(i) she performs her duties well,
(ii) she is hospitable to relations and attendants
(iii) she is faithful,
(iv) she protects what he brings,
(v) she is skilled and industrious in discharging her duties.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"If both husband & wife want to see one another not only in the present life but also in the life to come, they should be in tune [with each other] in conviction, in tune in virtue, in tune in generosity, and in tune in discernment. Then they will see one another not only in the present life but also in the life to come."

Husband & wife, both of them
having conviction,
being responsive,
being restrained,
living by the Dhamma,
addressing each other
with loving words:
they benefit in manifold ways.
To them comes bliss.
Their enemies are dejected
when both are in tune in virtue.
Having followed the Dhamma here in this world,
both in tune in precepts & practices,
they delight in the world of the devas,
enjoying the pleasures they desire.
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby Simon E. » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:32 pm

The common ground is gratitude.
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Re: the social squeeze, e.g. saying grace

Postby seeker242 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:47 pm

Is it okay to recite, say, the Lord's Prayer in order to show solidarity with the celebrators and/or the mourners?


That would be "very Buddhist" IMO, if most everyone else was christian and a christian prayer was expected by them. :smile:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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