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Glossar (Englisch)

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Verse for Bowl Raising (Keihatsu no ge 擎鉢の偈, Keihatsumon 擎鉢文)

Verse chanted when raising bowl of rice in both hands, prior to eating:

The upper portion is for the three treasures.
The middle portion is for the four benefactors.
The lower extends to the six destinies.
May all alike be given nourishment.
The first mouthful is to cut off all evil.
The second mouthful is to cultivate all good.
The third mouthful is to deliver all living beings.
May all together attain the buddha way.
jo bun san bo  上分三寶
chu bun shion  中分四恩
gekyū roku do  下及六道
kai do kuyō  皆同供養
ik-ku idan is-sai aku  一口爲斷一切惡
niku i shu is-sai zen  二口爲修一切善
sanku i do shoshu jo  三口爲度諸衆生
kaigu jo butsu do  皆共成佛道

In most East Asian Buddhist liturgical manuals these are considered two separate verses of four lines each, but in Soto Zen they are treated as a single verse to be chanted straight though without pause.

The first half of the verse names the "three treasures" (sanbō 三寶), the "four benefactors" (shion 四恩) to whom monks are indebted, and all living beings in the "six destinies" (rokudō 六道) as symbolic recipients of an "offering of nourishment" (kuyō 供養) of the food that is about to be consumed by the monks themselves. The designations "upper" ( 上), "middle" (chū 中), and "lower" (ge 下) invite one to imagine three separate portions (bun 分) in what is actually a single bowl filled with rice; the point is that offerings are given "up" to worship and honor superior beings, "across" as thanks to those of equal status who have provided help, and "down" to pitiable beings in unhappy rebirths who need help. Such distinctions are drawn among recipients of offerings of merit in the daily sutra chanting services, as well. →"three treasures," "four benefactors," "six destinies."

The second half of the verse is called the Verse of the Three Spoonfuls (Sanshi ge 三匙偈) in other East Asian Buddhist liturgical manuals. The idea that a bodhisattva should vow to "cut off all evil, cultivate all good, and deliver all living beings" is also found in the three sets of pure precepts (sanjujōkai 三聚淨戒) that Soto monks receive upon ordination: the precepts of restraint, precepts of adopting good qualities, and precepts of benefiting all living beings.