Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The wisdom of Diamond Sutra - chapter 1



My rendition:

This was what I (Subhuti) heard. Once upon a time the Buddha was at rest at his residence (祇樹給孤獨園) in Shravasti(舍衛城) the capital city of Kosala, situated in Northern India (Buddha lived and preached there for over 20 years) with a group of around 1,250 senior male monks (大比丘).

One morning, as usual, the World-honored One and other monks enrobed, each carrying a bowl, entered the city center of Shravasti to beg for food. Each begged from door to door, when done, each returned to his corner and took his meal (the only meal of the day and had to be taken before noon). When each had finished eating and with his robe and bowl carefully stored away, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down.

Paul's comment:

This chapter shows the daily life of the Buddha and His disciples: Doing the basic things to keep physical life going: eating one meal a day (no need to prepare, eat whatever was given) plus doing some exercise - begging around meant a lot of walking. The rest of the day was devoted to spiritual practice, with reverence - washing one's feet before practice (meant to be both physical and symbolic cleaning).

It is interesting to note that the Buddha and his monks were probably not vegetarians, because one couldn't be to choosy when one begged for food in those days. It is actually the same for Thai monks nowadays. Tibetan monks are also not vegetarians (the Muslims kill the yaks, the Buddhist monks [are allowed to] eat the beef). Monks in China turned vegetarian started from an official mandate of Emperor Wu of Liang (梁武帝: 464–549), a learned Buddhist who interpreted the Sutras as not only prohibiting animal-killing, but also meat-eating for monks.

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