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A Mosaic of Traditions - One Virtual Sangha => The Metta Station => Socially Conscious => Topic started by: Ron-the-Elder on January 05, 2010, 08:11:18 am

Title: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 05, 2010, 08:11:18 am
OK.  I'll take a risk and be the first one to vent.

I have often wondered what happened to all the food left at the grave sites and at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities.  However, I have never had the time or patience to wait around to find out.

So, what's the deal?  Is it the same thing that happens to flowers left at an Abrahemic's grave?  Are offerings/rememberances left to rot?  If so, it seems a waste when there are those who are desperately in need of nutrition.  Wouldn't it be better to donate food to a shelter in rememberance of the departed?

There!  I got it out of my system!  :whew:
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Monkey Mind on January 05, 2010, 11:18:00 am
I know in some traditions a gift of flowers or fruit represents the impermanence of all things- the flowers rapidly wilt and die, and the fruit decays. It is a symbolic gesture, but I absolutely agree that an action "more consistent" with Buddhism would be to donate the food to a needy cause.

[Edit: So I split this topic off, so that it can be a topic in it's own right, under the category of Danger Zone. My opinion is it is important to keep the rules of the Danger Zone intact. (However, I am immediately in over my head... as the original post was stickied, this post too is now stickied... Wonky et al, how do de-sticky this?   :cheesy:)]
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: humanitas on January 05, 2010, 11:38:22 am
OK.  I'll take a risk and be the first one to vent.

I have often wondered what happened to all the food left at the grave sites and at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities.  However, I have never had the time or patience to wait around to find out.

So, what's the deal?  Is it the same thing that happens to flowers left at an Abrahemic's grave?  Are offerings/rememberances left to rot?  If so, it seems a waste when there are those who are desperately in need of nutrition.  Wouldn't it be better to donate food to a shelter in rememberance of the departed?

There!  I got it out of my system!  :whew:

 :brick: and here I was thinking that the little foodie gnomes came and collected.. HAHA!  I'd hope people present would take some home as to not waste...


And Monkey, thanks for splitting topic.  LOL!  I agree with Ron!  Shouldn't Buddhists at least organize the remainder of what is not used for donation to more needy beings, whether they be animals or people?  Like one could take left over food to a shelter, soup kitchen, etc?  The problem is many organizations for example, have a long list of what they won't accept as donation... it's kind of appalling sometimes.  Others will take everything...

But Goodwill for example, if you have well functioning donations or any kind from clothes to furniture, they will not accept items with a little bit more use than almost brand new.  It's interesting.  In Mexico if you give away a pair of used shoes, someone will give them to someone that needs shoes that can make do... I take a lot of my daughter's stuff she outgrows here to the local red cross (they have a donation center-and yes they take EVERYTHING) because I know that someone will get use out of it, even if it's been used.  Then again, I'm always more comfortable in poorer places because I find people still have a strong sense of kindness and humanity towards each other to survive.  We have a saying in Italian, "The opportunity makes man a thief."  The idea is applicable to kindness and self-importance.  When given the opportunity for self-importance, most people choose themselves over others.    That spirit of being it in together while going at it alone is still a way of life in places where one needs to depend on their neighbor for help.  In consumer-based cultures where affluence is more prevalent, I feel that interaction of kindness between people is much less present (that kind of kindness is (usually) borne of suffering) and people forget that their suffering is JUST suffering and fixate on their own needs and wants because they have enough options to escape from xbox to American Idol.   Others become less important in their worldview and satisfying one's own self becomes more important as there is more opportunity.
 :twocents:
 :headbow:

Monkey at the bottom you will see set sticky topic or if it's stickied you can unsticky.  Don't worry... you're doing great!  :cheesy:

Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 05, 2010, 11:40:18 am
Well,  I guess I don't understand the concept of "The Danger Zone", which wouldn't be the first time I didn't understand something I read. :scratch:

Or is it? :scratch:
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: humanitas on January 05, 2010, 12:06:40 pm
Well,  I guess I don't understand the concept of "The Danger Zone", which wouldn't be the first time I didn't understand something I read. :scratch:

Or is it? :scratch:

Well, we've heard people get banned from forums for arguing things that are "unbuddhist" (but really they're just things that challenge awareness of what we think is right) and this has in the past really upset moderators or staff or other members or combinations of all of the above.  Since at FreeSangha we don't believe in policing what the dharma is, we found ourselves in a bit of a conundrum.  How do we negotiate these co-existing realities (of people who want peace and quiet, and people who want to argue till they're blue in the face)?  We conceived the Danger Zone (yes the name is intentionally cheesy as heck) as a way to say we also recognize that ignorance has a need to be exposed and ventilate.  This way, with a name this cheesy, the logic was that people would know before even going in there that what is discussed may or may not be accurate, may be highly controversial, and may actually straight up upset you!  In the Danger Zone where moderation is light, it keeps our more feisty and argumentative posters able to outlet more of their inner flailings with the teachings while not disrupting other forums or those members who want less inner mental flailing in their immediate online space.  That is the role and purpose of the Danger Zone.

Does that make sense?  :headbow:

Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 05, 2010, 12:54:52 pm
OK!  Gottcha.  Or maybe not.

Just to test for understanding:

This topic is not worthy of The Danger Zone, because it actually is a reasonable approach to "engaged Buddhism"?

But it requires splitting off from The Danger Zone because?

And, why is it sticky?

And, just how do we know what sticky means?

And, did I miss some training course somewhere?

Just wondering.   :D

(Sorry to be such a dunderhead.) :wacky:
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: humanitas on January 05, 2010, 01:05:57 pm
OK!  Gottcha.  Or maybe not.

Just to test for understanding:

This topic is not worthy of The Danger Zone, because it actually is a reasonable approach to "engaged Buddhism"?

Right. It's more like it's not necessary in the Danger Zone as it's a pretty tame discussion as far as discussions go...  :headbow:

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But it requires splitting off from The Danger Zone because?

It's not a controversial discussion or particularly inflammatory or dangerous ideology.  It's common kind sense.

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And, why is it sticky?

It stayed sticky by accident as Monkey Mind didn't know how to unsticky it.

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And, just how do we know what sticky means?

Sticky is when it has a little tac symbol next to it.   What that means is that it's pinned to the top of the forum, so that while new posts come in it's stickied like a post-it to the top of the forum.  This is only done for very commonly used threads or important information like announcements, news, etc.  Anything that needs to "not get lost in the shuffle" of pages of posts, gets stickied, as something you can immediately see when entering the forum.  While a good post, this doesn't warrant a sticky..

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And, did I miss some training course somewhere?

No, but I think I'll start a thread in Tech Support delineating some help for basic Forum navigation and functions if anyone's interested.  I was also considering a thread with Tech Glossary terms commonly used in forums like the words "sticky" and common abbreviations people use in typing like IMHO etc.  The thing is not everyone knows what all this stuff means as they don't necessarily spend that much time on a computer.  

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(Sorry to be such a dunderhead.) :wacky:

It was poor clarification on my part meeting incorrect assumptions and my own overestimation of our members of technical knowledge, apologies. :cheesy:
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Quiet Heart on January 08, 2010, 03:13:56 pm
 ;D

From what I've seen in Thailand...the offerings of food (as at a funeral ceremony) are often taken up and returned to the the people who originally contributed them. Or they may be distributed among those who the Wat takes care of (in Thailand the poor and children without families often live in the Wat). There are usually lay women attached to the Wat...who cook the food.... as monks don't prepare food. Often these women will take charge of the food leftover from the ceremony...and redistribute it as they feel approriate.
Once the food had been offered, whatever is left is just considerd to be unimportant, the essence already having been offered to honor Buddha.
Now that may not be a Buddhist thought, but it is what the local Thais feel.
The food is never wasted, there are always those who need it. For a funeral, the family who hosts the funeral ceremony often go to the Wat quite early in the morning. They spend the whole  day there, and leave quite late. They are hungry, and they need to eat, so often they will eat the leftover food. No insult intended...the food is already been offered to Buddha. The leftover is just everday food.
 :ishift:


Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 08, 2010, 04:09:01 pm
Thank you!  Very interesting post.
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Shi Hong Yang on January 19, 2010, 02:05:22 pm
We also encourage families to take back their food offerings to the dead.  We have dinner plate offerings and this goes right back to the family and if they refuse it we find someone in most need of it.  They do take it most of the time but some leave it for us to take off the altar.  So we distribute the food, and we use it if we need it.  Mostly we find someone who could use the good associated with the offered food; someone particularly suffering like from illness, mental illness or fallen on hard times. 

The only altar that they cannot take food or fruit off is the Buddha altar; this food is also kept and distrubed but out of courtesy for the Buddha image only the monastics remove it. This is the most active altar and the food is eaten by the temple residents, fruit is gathered and given to the lay people often. 

No food is abandoned on gravesites...modern cemetaries forbid this and the families would face fines for littering.  All my temple experiences are in the Chinese Buddhist community so my experiences mainly come from Mahayana and the temples are in the USA.
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 19, 2010, 11:48:23 pm
Thank you for your input, Venerable.

With regard to littering of grave sites, in the case of my deceased wife's grave, my #2 daughter, or her daughter, my #1 grandaughter removes and disposes of the devotional food left for my deceased wife.  She was particularly fond of Tootsie Rolls, which are left in wrappers and because of the sugar attracts ants as well as aunts.   <3 <3 <3

It's funny how some attachments follow you beyond the grave.   :namaste: :grouphug:
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Yeshe on January 20, 2010, 01:56:50 pm
I know very little about this except that blessed offerings are distributed after a ceremony on the basis that the recipeints of the offerings have taken what they need and will rejoice as other share the nectar.
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: catmoon on March 23, 2010, 09:14:02 am
 I was taught, but I can't remember where, that the right way to deal with offerings was to leave them out so long as they were in nice condition.
then eat em yourself or give them to the birds or wild animals of one sort or another. Water can be used to water plants, and should not be thrown down the drain. A rotting offering is not a good thing, and empty bowls, plates and unlit candles should not be left on a shrine.

So that's what I was taught and it works pretty well.
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: Caz on March 23, 2010, 09:24:46 am
I havent seen offerings left for the dead ? The only time i see food offerings is during a puja.  :pray:
Title: Re: Food left at ceremonial gatherings of Buddhist communities
Post by: GoGet on March 24, 2010, 10:50:46 am
Tsok/feast practices sometimes put out a plate of "leftovers" for hungry ghosts.
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