Mindful at Mealtime: The Zen Buddhism Five Reflections

Jul 11, 2018 · 2 min read

I first read about the Zen Buddhism Five Reflections in the book Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki.

This post highlights three different translations. Choose your favorite!

The Zen Buddhism Five Reflections chant, Gokan no Ge

Here’s the version from Goodbye, Things:

  1. Reflect upon how the food has come before you — how the food might have been grown, how it was prepared, and how it was brought to you as your meal.
  2. Reflect upon your virtues and conduct. Are you worthy of the meal?
  3. Focus only on the meal in front of you without rushing through it and without thinking any other thoughts.
  4. Eat not from a gourmet perspective, weighing whether the meal is tasty, but simply to support your life.
  5. Eat so you are able to pursue the objectives that you would like to achieve.

Another Five Reflections translation:

  1. First, let us reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought us this food.
  2. Second, let us be aware of the quality of our deeds as we receive this meal.
  3. Third, what is most essential is the practice of mindfulness, which helps us to transcend greed, anger and delusion.
  4. Fourth, we appreciate this food which sustains the good health of our body and mind.
  5. Fifth, in order to continue our practice for all beings we accept this offering.

One More Five Reflections translation:

  1. Engage with the food. Consider how nature’s miracles and people’s hard work have culminated in the creation of the food you are about to enjoy.
  2. Reflect upon your day and yourself. Contemplate whether your actions make you worthy of the meal in front of you.
  3. Observe whether your own spirit is pure like the food. A mind full of the three greatest evils (greed, anger and ignorance) cannot truly appreciate or savor the food.
  4. Chew slowly and enjoy every bite. Good food is medicine. It is a way of rejuvenating and purifying your fatigued body.
  5. Be thankful for all, and eat with gratitude. To make and eat good food once the monk has meditated is part of walking the virtuous path of Buddhism.

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