December 3 : The Merit of Offering Food and Drink

“By the merit of offering food, may they have a good complexion, magnificence, and strength. May they find foods having hundreds of tastes and live with the food of samadhi.” Here we wish that our benefactors be physically attractive, perhaps by practicing fortitude, have magnificent qualities that allow them to succeed in virtuous projects, and have physical and mental strength.

A strong mind is one that does not crumble and remains composed in the face of adversity, criticism, or stress. We often stress ourselves out unnecessarily over our to-do list because it gives us a big sense of self-importance. When I notice myself doing this, I reflect on the kind of decisions the President has to make, like declaring war, and the karmic weight they carry. Then my piddly-dunk stuff seems rather manageable.

“Food with hundreds of tastes” was the optimum you could have in classical Indian texts in regard to food, and I assume it means a hundred good tastes. Samadhi is also food because concentration nourishes not only the mind but also the body. In deep concentration, your mind is so focused that your body needs very little food. The Tibetans make pills out of flowers and herbs called “culen” (meaning “taking the essence”) which really advanced meditators can subsist on when they do not want to be disturbed.

The next dedication verse is, “By the merit of offering drink, may their afflictions, hunger, and thirst be pacified. May they possess good qualities such as generosity and take a rebirth without any sickness or thirst.” Often in the scriptures, “hunger” and “thirst” stand for craving all kinds of external things, like sensory stimulation and ego-pleasing words. This kind of thirst drives most of our actions during the day and a lot of our choices. In this country, we think that going online and ordering whatever we want in five seconds is freedom, but we are actually being controlled by the power of our cravings. Imagine what our lives would be like without craving if whatever we had was “good enough, dear” as Lama Yeshe used to say. We are wishing that our benefactors have the confidence that they are a valuable person simply because of their Buddha potential and that their life is meaningful no matter the state of their body. They still should practise for their craving to be subdued, but prayers can really help them if they create the fundamental cause.

We end the verse by wishing that our benefactors continue to have generosity and other far-reaching qualities, as well as qualities like love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness. Taking a rebirth without sickness or thirst applies to both the body and mind since the mind can be sick with anger, greed, and other afflictions and constantly thirsting for fulfillment and satisfaction.

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