Saying Grace: The Five Contemplations

Though many people no longer ‘say grace’ before meals, it can be a meaningful practice even for those who no longer pray or believe in God. What hinders many people is the superficial speed of their lives and their movement away from the traditions of their youth.

Here is our version of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Five Contemplations. We adapted them to speak most directly to our own lives and situation. They are contemplations, rather than prayers or supplications. As such, we quietly steep ourselves in them, allowing each one to saturate our being. We recite them everyday before breakfast, taking turns reading, and allowing a few moments of silence between each contemplation – a few seconds, two or three breaths.

If we are well-steeped in these five contemplations, they carry us through the day with tenderness and grace, and with a deeper connection to each other and our world.

The Five Contemplations

This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.

May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.

May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.

May we keep our compassion alive by eating in a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.

We accept this food so that we may nurture our bond with all humanity, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

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