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Feb 20, 2008 05:50 PM

5 Buddhist eating principles: go kan mon

after a week or so of reading & participating in threads that have gotten negative, argumentative, and ugly, i ran across an article in food & wine that described a buddhist lunch at a tokyo establishment, daiga. this restaurant is vegetarian and follows these principles:

1) respect the labor of everyone whose work has contributed to the meal.

2) commit good deeds worthy of sharing in the meal.

3) arrive at the table without any negative feelings toward others.

4) eat in order to achieve spiritual and physical well-being.

5) be dedicated to the pursuit of enlightenment.

any thoughts?

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  1. "eat in order to achieve spiritual and physical well-being"

    Gulp... does this mean i have to go back on my diet?

    But seriously, what a lovely philosophy of eating (and living)! Thanks for taking the time to post this, and for refocussing my thoughts on food and an enlightened way to be.

    1. Honestly? I don't understand #2

      1 Reply
      1. re: Glencora

        I think it means be good and do nice things for your significant other so that when you sit down to dinner you can share... share in everything that goes with a meal from conversation to space to food to company.

      2. My mum is Buddhist so I can appreciate your posting. Are you saying that we should apply these principles to our own life? It's really nice in theory if you're actually Buddhist but not very practical if you are non Buddist.

        1.Overall I do respect that people work in the resturant industry. It's hard work. But what happens when the waiter brings something clearly burnt and inedible? I usually ask them to take the first bite. After they examine it they look like they've just only seen it for the first time.

        2. see other posting

        3. There are times when the only time you get to talk to your friends or family is over a meal. If you're going through tough times are you supposed to sit there and grin foolishly and say, "Yeah everything is just hunky dory!" BTW even Buddhist monks have bad days. My massage therapist has a Buddist monk for a client and he's always saying how stressed he is.

        4. Buddists do not eat animals. They are vegetarians. So unless you're going to give up surf and turf or chicken a la king or pork roast or fresh Pacific Salmon...

        5. Buddists mediate and chant (sometimes for hours) before eating are you going to be doing that every meal?

        Don't get me wrong... I'm not knocking Buddists or your eating principles. I'm just being realistic and these are my 2 cents or maybe it's 5 cents... inflation! Someone pass the dry ribs. I'm hungry!

        6 Replies
        1. re: sleepycat

          many buddhists may be vegetarians, but the buddha was not. many accounts say he died choking on a piece of pork,, or was poisoned by a spoiled piece. Buddhism is about the middle path, not extremes.

          neti neti

          1. re: thew

            Oh yes Buddism is one of the most open and accepting. The tenet behind not eating meat is not to kill other living animals. If one adheres to the principles you don't eat meat. Some people limit the kind of meat or don't eat meat on the day they go to temple.

            You're right.. it is not about extremes. It's neither here or there.

          2. re: sleepycat

            About #4 -- it really depends. Although they strive not to eat animals, they do so at times, depending on the situation. My sister is a Tibetan Buddhist. In Tibet, the climate was not conducive to growing vegetables. So a lot of the people needed to have meat in order to survive, and their bodies have evolved that way. The Dalai Lama eats meat about every other day when ordered by his doctor. And it is preferable to eat meat where the animal died of natural causes as to eating meat from an animal that was purposely slain for its food.

            And one of the main tenets of Buddhism is that you are supposed to strive for non-attachment as everything is impermanent. That includes food. So there are many Buddhists who definitely eat to live, not live to eat. A lot of them view food in a different way than Chowhounds do.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              In her Chez Panisse Cafe cookbook, Alice Waters describes a meal she cooked for the Dalai Lama: she relates that she was surprised when planning the meal to learn he eats meat (she said nothing about medical reasons, but did note that the Tibetan climate is not conducive to vegetarianism), and decided to serve him a lamb stew (recipe in the book) and says he cleaned his plate!

            2. re: sleepycat

              I would think that to respect the labor that goes into a meal would go far beyond those in the restaurant industry. I think it means to take the time to consider the farmers, the packers, the butchers, the fishers, those whose labor produced your silverware, your plates, your table linens. The labors of others are all over our meals.

              1. re: nc213

                Yes I would agree with you there that there's a world beyond the resturant industry. I know beef doesn't grow on trees. With my black thumb, I wouldn't make it as a farmer and as much as I like eating meat I couldn't bring myself to do the actual butchering. I was taking Soupkitten's comments just in the realm of the resturant and eating in the resturant.

                It'd be nice to stop and smell the roses and have 3 hour dinners just to do a lot reflecting and appreciating. Sometimes there's simply not enough time.

            3. Wouldn't these same principles fit most of our activities, from gardening to going to the opera?

              1 Reply
              1. re: yayadave

                Yes, yayadave -- I think that's an astute observation. My experience with Tibertan Buddhism would say that these principles would fit our whole lives, and I believe they're totally feasible whether one practices or not: simply view the sharing of food as one of many sacraments and treat it as such. I think it's gorgeousand a very appreciated reminder. Thanks, soupkitten!

              2. I was taught that as the family's cook, it is important to clear one's mind of negativity when preparing food. The anger or other bad vibes affects the value of the food.

                Whether one buys into this or not, a happy cook makes for a happier meal.