November 26 : Eating Mindfully

The first three of the five contemplations we use at the Abbey provide us with the right attitude towards the food we are about to eat. “I contemplate my mind, cautiously guarding it from wrongdoing, greed, and other defilements.” Examples of wrongdoing while eating would be taking two pieces of food when there are ten people and only ten pieces or taking huge portions so people later in the food line do not get any. Whenever the sangha is given offerings, we should not take a second serving until everyone else has been served.

The mind of greed is something to really watch when we eat. We may take a moderate portion at first but still, be checking other people’s bowls to make sure we can go back and get seconds before they can. “Cautiously guarding our minds against other defilements”, refers to the complaining mind that says, “I wish they had made something I like” or “They should have put more/less salt in this food” or “I need more protein/carbs/sugar/caffeine, etc”. We make it our practice to accept whatever is served, even though sometimes it may not accord with our taste buds or digestive systems. Of course, if you are getting sick by eating something, hopefully other people will notice and comment to the cook on your behalf that you are getting very thin and consider cooking something different. But let us face it, no matter what is served it is not going to be exactly what we want to eat that day. It is impossible for the cook to make something that everybody is going to be happy with. It is much nicer to be glad that somebody cooked today and saved us from having to eat PB&J because we are too lazy to make something else.

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