A Loaded Word

From WoodenZen

One Summer Morning

"A Loaded Word" number 87 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

We venerate the Three Treasures
And are thankful for this meal -
The work of many people
and the sharing of other forms of life.

This is the informal gatha changed before each meal at the retreats I've attended in Spokane. Aitken Roshi states that it may have originated at San Francisco Zen Center and may have ended with "and the suffering of other forms of life."

Sharing vs. suffering. In this context this is a big deal. The switch softens the gatha and in a way attempts to let us off the hook. We live and other forms of life suffer and die both directly and indirectly. Sharing makes it seem as though all those cows enjoy been paraded to the slaughter house. Or, less dramatic, do you think the eggs in the pasta with buy were produced by happy chickens? Not likely. Even the wheat we eat in our bread, I can tell you as I live next to a 800 acres of wheat, that in the process of planting and harvesting hundreds of sentient beings are killed, some quite horribly.

This switching suffering for sharing is a white wash, an extension of double speak. Sharing doesn't quite feel as upright as it once did.

Any error or confusion created by my commentary on
Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.