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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Temple Stay: Daily Rites -- Balwoo-gongyang (Communal Buddhist Meal Service)

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Even taking a meal is part of a monk's religious practice. Before eating, a monk thinks in gratitude of the countless number of people who were involved, directly or indirectly, in the production, processing and preparation of the meal. He also thinks of the endless number of beings suffering from hunger and starvation. And he thinks of the equality and harmony of the community of monks he is sharing the meal with. The true Korean Buddhist meal offering (Balwoo-gongyang, literally "Bowl Offering") is one in which the participant strives to keep in mind the law of interdependence of everything and, consequently, great compassion for all sentient beings.

The meal offering is conducted in the half-lotus position and in total silence, without even the wooden spoons and chopsticks making a sound, and not a single grain of rice is wasted. There is no talking, with the monks chanting being the only words uttered in this stirring ritual.

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