Five Contemplations When Eating
1) I think about where the food came from and the amount of work necessary
to grow the food, transport it, prepare and cook it and bring it to the
2) I contemplate my own virtuous nature. Is it sufficient to Merit receiving
the food as offering.
3) I guard my mind against transgression, the principal ones being greed and
4) I realize that food is a wholesome medicine that heals the suffering (Dukkha)s of
5) I should receive the food offerings only for the sake of realizing the
“I. Consider the amount of work involved to bring the food to where it is
“Think it over. How much human labor was necessary to bring even a single
grain of rice to the table. It first had to be planted, then tended, then
harvested and stored. And so the ancients had a poem which reads:
The farmer hoes in the midday sun;
His sweat falls on the soil.
Who can guess how much toil it took
To bring the food to the bowl?
“II. Consider whether one's own virtuous conduct is sufficient to enable one
to accept the offering.
“again, think it over. Have you cultivated any virtuous conduct? Count it
up. How much do you have? Is it sufficient? Is it lacking? Are you entitled
to receive this offering of food?
“III. Take as one's guiding principle the guarding of the mind against
transgressions such as greed.
“Take as your principle, as your doctrine, a mind free from greed, hatred,
stupidity, pride, and doubt.
“IV. Properly taken, the food is like Medicine, to keep the body from
“If you don't eat, you body grows weak. Therefore, it is only to prevent
weakness that you receive the food.
“V. This food is accepted only in order to accomplish the way.
“think to yourself, 'I only take this food in order to cultivate and
accomplish the karma of the way.'” (SV 55-56)
1) Chinese: wu gwan , 4) Alternate translations: five Contemplations performed
See Also: Vegetarianism.
BTTS References: SV 54-56.
1) wealth, 2) sex, 3) fame, 4) food, 5) sleep.
When I obtain the five desires,
I vow that living beings
Will pull out the arrow of desire,
And attain ultimate peace and security.
(FAS Ch11 99)
The Buddha said, “Those on the way are like dry grass: it is essential to
keep it away from an oncoming fire. people on the way look upon desire as
something they must keep at a distance.” (S42 60)
The Buddha said, ”people who cannot renounce wealth and sex are like small
children who, not satisfied with one delicious helping, lick the honey off
the blade of the knife and so cut their tongues.” (S42 48)
The Buddha said, “There are people who follow emotion and desire and seek
for fame. But by the time their reputation is established, they are already
dead. Those who are greedy for worldly fame and do not study the way wear
themselves out with wasted effort. It is just like a stick of burning
incense which, however, fragrant its scent, consumes itself. So, too, greed
for fame brings the d[[anger of a 'fire' which burns one up in its aftermath.”
The Buddha said, “As to love and desire: no desire is as deep-rooted as sex.
There is none Greater than the desire for sex. Fortunately, it is one of a
kind. If there were something else like it, no one in the entire world would
be able to cultivate the way.” (S42 51)
There was once someone who, plagued by ceaseless sexual desire, wished to
castrate himself. The Buddha said to him, “To cut off your sexual organs
would not be as good as to 'cut off' your mind. Your mind is like a
supervisor: if the supervisor stops, his employees will also quit. If the
Deviant]] mind is not stopped, what good does it do to cut off the organs?”
The Buddha recited a verse for him:
”desire is born from your will;
Your will is born from thought.
When both aspects of the mind are still,
There is neither form nor activity.”
The Buddha said, “This verse was spoken by Kashyapa Buddha. (S42 63)
An alternate list of the five desires is comprised of: 1) forms, 2) sounds,
3) smells, 4) tastes, 5) tangible objects. See the entry eighteen Realms.
1) Chinese: wu yu , 2) Sanskrit: Pancha-kama-Guna, 3) Pali Pancha-kama Guna, 4)
Alternate translations: sense desires and enjoyments plus objects of the
See Also: ignorance, love.*
BTTS References: S42 47, 48-54, 57, 62-63, 61; FAS Ch11 99.