Friday, 27 November 2009

The Buddha's Begging Bowl

Just before the Buddha attained enlightenment, he was offered a bowl of milk rice by a young lady named Sujata. He was eating very little at the time in order to enhance his meditative practices but realised he would have to eat more if he could take the final steps to enlightenment.

When he reached enlightenment he threw away a small amount of rice left in his bowl to signify his denunciation of all material possessions. It is deemed to signify the middle way in between the extremes of complete austerity and complete attachment to life. The middle way is a key principle of Buddhism.

The bowl also signifies the monk's daily way of life - from the monastery to the village of town at the start of each morning and surviving on the food put into the bowl by the laiety.

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