Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eating Dinner Alone in New York City

Glenn Powers prepared this veggie paella for a sangha potluck in February. Good stuff.

I’m in New York City for a month, lucky to have some time to read and write. The dilemma is that, without Lee here, I need to pay attention to all the food I eat. The responsibility is mine. Needless to say. I miss Lee. The habits of our 40 something years together. At home, although many times I cook, she's usually the cook, and I'm the cleaner-upper. Besides, the conversation is fun, the food delicious. All the ingredients of our lives together. A true well-seasoned feast. The practice here, though, is good, although monkish in a way. I remind myself each meal to give thanks for the food. I use the prayer that I've pasted below, and it reminds me that the food comes to my table through the lives and the hands of many beings. In fact, the more I understand it, I’m beginning to understand that it’s the whole universe collaborating to feed me. To feed each of us. And so I’m learning to give true heartfelt thanks. It’s taken 70 years.

A note on the prayer. It’s an adaptation of a meal prayer my friend Rob Dowtin sent me (see the second rendition). Rob found the prayer in one of Brad Warner’s books, so its probably a translation of something from his teacher Nishijima. Private practice is just that: private. And I'm always fiddling with words. So I reworked the prayer to fit my own understanding, sense of language and needs.
--Bobby Kankin

This food nourishes our lives and our practice,
A gift from the universe, arriving at our table
From the efforts of all sentient beings past and present.
We offer this meal to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,
And to all life in every realm of existence.
With this food we pray that all sentient beings
Be sufficiently nourished in their body, mind and spirit.

And the prayer from Rob via Brad.

This food comes from the efforts of all sentient beings past and present,
And is medicine for nourishment of our Practice.
We offer this meal of many virtues and tastes to the Buddha,
Dharma, and Sangha, and to all life in every realm of existence.
May all sentient beings in the universe be sufficiently nourished.

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