Since it’s Thanksgiving, I thought I would take this time to offer thanks and gratitude and present some useful Buddhist tips for the holiday.
First of all, I would to thank anyone who actually takes the time read this! Second, I am thankful for my grandmother who is now out of the hospital and can actually spend Thanksgiving at home with the family. Thank you everyone for your prayers and thoughts. I am thankful for my beautiful fiancee, who makes me laugh my ass off, comforts me when I need it the most, and is all around the coolest person I’ve ever met. I am thankful for my family – my brother and his beautiful family, and all of the family that I can’t see this holiday because of the distance between us. I am also thankful for the job that keeps me from being homeless, and the Buddhist practice which continues to help me towards awakening every single day.
Thanksgiving is also well-known for the huge meal, of course centering around turkey. A chant which can be used before meals is included in the Paritta Suttas (as translated by Piyadassi Thera) which goes:
“Wisely reƒlecting I will partake of food not for pleasure of it, not for the pride (resulting from physical strength obtainable), not for adornment, not for beautifying the body, but merely to maintain this body, to still the hunger, and to enable the practice of the holy life; also to resist the pangs of hunger (due to previous want of food), and to resist the pain (resulting from excess of food). Thus will my life be maintained free from wrong doing and free from discomfort.”
There are also some more meal chants, such as the Gokan No Ge (as part of the Gyohatsunenju, or “Meal Sutra”) which is used in some Zen traditions:
“First, we consider in detail the merit of this food and remember how it came to us;
Second, we evaluate our own virtue and practice, Lacking or complete, as we receive this offering;
Third, we are careful about greed, hatred, and ignorance, to guard our minds and to free ourselves from error;
Fourth, we take this good medicine to save our bodies from emaciation;
Fifth, we accept this food to achieve the Way of the Buddha.”
Since we are giving thanks, we should also keep in mind the principle of “parinamana” which means “transfer of merit” or “dedication”. There are benefits to be derived from the non-attached practices of Wisdom and Compassion. These practices include the Buddhist Precepts which are guidelines for enlightened living. These benefits, or “merit,” may be accumulated and subsequently transferred to any or all sentient beings for their benefit (transpersonal) or rededicated so as to transform it into a benefit for one’s self (personal). The three bases of merit are giving, virtue and mental development.