This Sunday at Fo Guang Shan Temple in Guam, we will be having a Meditation Luncheon after regular services. Everyone is invited to attend.
In meditation we consciously and silently focus on the present moment, and thus gain an understanding of what is going on within and all around us. Mindfully focusing on eating our meal in unison with others during meditation can be an enlightening experience.
This guide will provide an overview of the steps and protocols to help participants follow through the experience.
1. At the end of the Sutra Service, the congregation and everyone joining them will line-up together to enter into the dining hall. Two lines will be formed to enter the dining hall through both the East and West side of the hall.
2. After entering the hall and sitting, join in the meal prayer. The food will be served during the prayer, and the Abbess will give an additional chant. Everyone will remain silent during the meal, and to help digestion, sit with good posture and avoid leaning back against the chair.
3. The table setting will be ordered in front of each participant, placed at the table’s outer edge.
(3A) what you will choose to eat or wish to have removed,
(3B) if you would like more or less of what you are eating, and
(3C) that you are finished and serving can stop for you.
3A. Use your eating utensils/chopsticks and one hand to bring the plate and bowls forward toward yourself for those items you wish to eat (if you leave anything at the outer edge, it will be picked up and removed by the servers). First bring the vegetable plate from the middle to your middle; second, bring the rice bowl on your left across to your right; third, bring the soup bowl on your right across to your left; and finally, bring-in any fruit, bread or other food being served.
Rice is the first food to be eaten, which is taken in three small bites. The Abbess will lead as you silently make the following vows to yourself: [#1] I vow to stop all wrong doings, [#2] I vow to cultivate good deeds, and [#3] I vow to emancipate all beings from suffering.
3B. Servers will give small portions. Yet if you would like a smaller portion than what has been served, move it back to the front edge and use your utensils to motion at this serving so an attending server can assist (If you want more of a dish after finishing the serving, place it back out to the edge where servers will refill it. If rice, place the bowl back moving it from right across to left; if soup, move the bowl from the left back to right).
3C. When you are finished, arrange the plates back to the front edge. Stack the bowls on your right by placing the soup bowl in the rice bowl; move the vegetable plate back to the front edge and then move the bowls back forward crossing right to left; finally place the chopstick/eating utensils between the plate and stacked bowls to signify that you are done.
Wait as others finish eating, and join in the end of the meal verse led by the Abbess. Everyone will then stand and file out together.