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Venerable Master Hua’s Talks on Dharma Volume Nine

化老和尚开示 Lectures by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua



The Three Recollections and the Five Contemplations Performed at Mealtime

为什么睡觉? 迷迷糊糊,得过且过。
We shouldn't casually go through life in a muddled manner, not knowing why we eat, wear clothes, and sleep.



Left-home people make three recollections before taking their meal. They begin the meal by drinking three spoonfuls of soup, making one recollection with each spoonful.


The first recollection is, "I vow to cut off all evil." This includes not discriminating whether the food is good or not. Just eat whatever food is served. Don't be picky or indulge in idle thoughts as you eat. Don't think, "This place is not nice at all. We're not allowed to talk when we eat, and there's no freedom. It's like being in jail. I only came to bow to the Buddha, and there are so many rules to follow. It's no fun at all!"


If you have such thoughts, you won't be able to digest your food. Don't always look at other people's faults. "If you always see the faults of others, then you haven't put an end to your own suffering." Why don't you reflect upon and examine yourself?


The second recollection is, "I vow to cultivate all good." We should vow to correct all bad habits and faults. Cultivating the Way is nothing more than "doing no evil and practicing all good."


The third recollection is, "I vow to save all living beings." We vow to help all living beings leave suffering, attain bliss, and end birth and death.


During the meal, we should also make the five contemplations:

(一)计功多少,量彼来处:先计量自己有何功德来受此供养,又计算农人要经多少劳苦来耕耘这分米粮;应该筹量碗里食粮的来历,是很不容易得来的。   1. Consider the amount of work involved in bringing the food to the table. Contemplate whether we have the merit and virtue to accept this meal. Then consider how much energy the farmers expended in planting and harvesting the crops. Think about all the different stages of preparation the food went through before it reached our plate. None of it came easily.
(二)忖己德行,全缺应供:忖者,度也。看看自己的德行,是否圆满了?还是不圆满?我能够对得起这钵饭吗?   2. Reflect on whether or not one's virtuous conduct is sufficient to entitle one to receive this offering. Have we perfected our virtuous conduct? Do we deserve to accept this meal?
(三)防心离过,贪等为宗:戒备己心,离开过非,不生贪念。不是说好吃的就多吃一点,不好吃的就不吃。不要拣饮择食,好吃和不好吃的都是平等,要以此为宗旨。   3. Guard the mind from transgressions, principally that of greed. We must watch over our own mind and keep it from errors and greedy thoughts. We shouldn't help ourselves to more of the good food while not touching food that is not as appetizing. In other words, we shouldn't be picky about food. Whether it tastes good or not, it's food all the same.
(四)正事良药,为疗形枯:为什么要吃饭呢?要把它当做良药,资助身体。汽车没有汽油不能走动,人不吃粮食不能生存。吃饭不是为贪好味,而是为治饥饿的病。   4. Regard the food as medicine to prevent the body from collapsing. Why do we need to eat? We should regard the food as medicine that provides energy for our bodies. Just as cars cannot run without gasoline, people cannot survive without food. We eat not for the taste of the food but to cure hunger.
(五)为成道业,应受此食:吃饭不是为了要吃好东西,而是为了修自己的法身慧命,成就道业。   5. This food is taken only in order to accomplish the Way. We eat not because we want to enjoy good food, but because we want to cultivate our Dharma body and wisdom life to accomplish the Way.
以上五观,是吃饭时策励身心的准绳。其它日常生活上,例如穿衣、睡觉等,也应该一样。不要不知道为什么吃饭?为什么穿衣?为什么睡觉?迷迷糊糊,得过且过。这些都是最切身的问题,应该了解得一清二楚。    These five contemplations are guidelines to be observed when we eat. They should also be applied to our other daily activities, such as dressing and sleeping. We shouldn't casually go through life in a muddled manner, not knowing why we eat, wear clothes, and sleep. These are all essential matters, and we should understand them very clearly.
一九七九年十一月七日开示   A talk given on November 7, 1979

法界佛教总会 . DRBA / BTTS / DRBU