During the vegetarian lunch at our visit to Chuang Yen Monastery this past Sunday, we noticed these five items posted in the cafeteria:

  1. I contemplate how much positive potential I have accumulated in order to receive this food.
  2. I contemplate my own practice, and only if there are no defects do I deserve these offerings.
  3. I contemplate my mind, cautiously guarding it from wrongdoing, greed, and other defilements.
  4. I contemplate this food, treating it as wondrous medicine to nourish my body.
  5. I contemplate the aim of buddhahood, accepting and consuming this food, in order to accomplish it.

As mindful as I’ve been aiming to be these last few months, I realized that more often than not, when eating, I’m not entirely present—when eating, I’m usually thinking about other things. So before I began to eat that lunch, I contemplated, and as I ate, I paid attention to the food, and surprised me to really notice the food that I was eating, chewing, and really tasting.

These five contemplations were one of several items that I felt like I learned from the visit to the monastery.